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Curriculum

Aaron School students in grades 8-12 participate in classes that support their academic, social and emotional development. Students engage with curricula that is rooted in the Common Core and College Readiness Standards, while also working to develop essential skills for success after high school, such as problem-solving, self-advocacy and effective communication. Students are instructed by teachers and related service providers who have expertise in both their content area and in instructional strategies and programs for students with learning differences. Student learning is supported by small class sizes with high student-teacher ratios, course content that is geared toward enhancing student strengths and supporting student challenges, and an integrated, hands-on and multi-sensory approach to education.

 

Aaron School students graduate with a local, private school diploma, which enables them to apply to any post-secondary program. To graduate from Aaron School, students participate in a departmentalized schedule and complete a minimum of 21 credits in English, Science, Social Studies, Math, Foreign Language, Physical Education, Health and elective courses. Additionally, students must also fulfill program requirements pertaining to social development and transition. The Aaron School curriculum builds upon prior skills and content learning in the elementary and middle grades, and critical thinking and problem-solving skills are infused across all subject areas. Student learning is focused on application of mastered concepts with the goals of independence and the development of skills that lead to success in adulthood. Instruction is differentiated to meet the needs of each student, and each child’s progress is consistently assessed, both formally and informally.

 

In addition to the standard courses, Aaron School also offers a series of Applied courses that parallel each core High School academic subject. Applied courses adhere to the same curricula as the standard courses, but are rooted in factual understanding and provide an introduction to key concepts. Applied courses typically provide more individualized support, utilize less complex vocabulary, and move at a slower pace than the standard courses; these courses enable students to obtain a deeper understanding of course content. Student placement in all courses occurs following the admissions process, during which evaluations and prior school reports are reviewed. Additionally, communication occurs between the administrations at both campuses, so an appropriate class placement can be determined for students who transition from one campus to the other.

Advance Program

Aaron School students in grades 8-12 participate in Advance four days per week.  Through a curriculum designed for Aaron School, students work to enhance executive functioning skills by learning how to formulate and execute a plan, prioritize, set and achieve goals, focus attention, self-advocate, follow instructions and multi-task.  These skills are crucial for learning, development and decision-making, and impact success in school and throughout adulthood. Through participation in Advance, which begins with foundational skills such as organization, time management, prioritization of tasks and study skills, and progresses to the application of these concepts through goal setting, planning and research, students develop an understanding of their individual learning styles and the strategies and supports that enable them to achieve success.  Skills learned in Advance are reinforced throughout the school day to facilitate generalization of strategies that can be applied to the high school setting, post-secondary educational opportunities and the workplace.

English Program

The Aaron School English department for students in grades 8-12 focuses on enhancing reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, while also developing and strengthening critical thinking skills. Students in 8th grade take English 8, a survey course that provides foundational skills pertaining to figurative language, story elements, reading comprehension strategies, and expository writing. Through literature, students also develop foundational skills that enable them to analyze and think critically about text. The skills and concepts learned in 8th grade are then developed and expanded upon in high school, during which students take the following courses: English 9, American Literature 1, American Literature 2 and British Literature. High school students need to fulfill four credits of English to meet program requirements.

 

Throughout their high school courses, Aaron School students engage with a variety of texts, including short stories, poems, epics, plays, novels and non-fiction texts. Through guided discussions, close readings, partner and small group work, as well as interactive and integrated lessons, students learn discrete skills that enable them to comprehend text on a variety of levels, from basic plot points to character motivations. Students also learn to identify themes, analyze figurative language and think critically about text. In English classes, students also work to develop their writing skills by implementing strategies and techniques from structured writing programs. Through discrete writing instruction, use of outlines and graphic organizers, and collaboration with the Speech-Language Pathologists, students engage in tasks such as summarizing text, and writing argumentative and analytical essays.

 

To support students in developing their reading comprehension and writing skills, English teachers provide instruction that is differentiated for the various learners in their classes. Assignments are scaffolded and material is made more accessible by providing students with reading materials that are on their instructional level. English teachers also collaborate with Speech-Language Pathologists and other members of the Humanities department to promote generalization of skills and concepts.

Math Program

The Aaron School Math department for students in grades 8-12 focuses on enhancing basic math skills and number sense, while also developing and strengthening problem-solving skills.  Students benefit from a highly differentiated approach to math instruction that emphasizes learning based on ability and optimal engagement so that students can learn discrete math skills and means for applying those skills in real-life.  Technology, including the use of computers and calculators, are used as tools of instruction.  Students are placed in math classes that meet them at their skill level and conceptual understanding of mathematical concepts. Whether students need instruction in foundational concepts of math, such as number sense and rational numbers, or whether they need to be challenged to perform complex, high level math, appropriate class options are available.  

 

8th grade Mathematics

When students enter 8th grade at Aaron School, they take one of two courses: Math 8 or Pre-Algebra.  Students in Math 8 participate in lessons that work to solidify basic math computational skills in the areas of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division, as well as enhance number sense through instruction on topics such as place value, rounding, estimation, fractions, percentages and decimals.  Students who demonstrate prior strength in these areas participate in a traditional Pre-Algebra course that remains consistent with the mission of Aaron School, and is therefore supportive of students with learning differences.  

 

High School Mathematics

When students enter High School they either participate in more traditional math courses, or courses that are geared towards developing skills and concepts that are rooted in real life application.  Students who demonstrate a strength in mathematics with strong computational skills and a strong understanding of math concepts will take some or all of the following courses: Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus.  Students who continue to require support in developing computational skills and understanding mathematical concepts will participate in a Math Applications sequence, courses 1-4, that focus on learning skills that enable them to apply math in real world contexts, such as determining sales tax and budgeting for life events.  High school students need to fulfill three credits of math to meet program requirements.

Social Studies/History Program

Aaron School 8-12 grade students participate in Social Studies courses that explore ancient and contemporary history, while continuing to study modern day current events, government and economics.  Students in the 8th grade take Social Studies 8, a course that provides continuous instruction from their 7th grade Social Studies course by beginning with the Progressive Era following the Civil War.  High School students participate in the following courses: Global History, United States History 1, United States History 2 and Government and Economics.  High school students need to fulfill four credits of Social Studies to meet program requirements.   

 

To enhance critical thinking skills and broaden perspectives on a particular culture or era in history, students examine a variety of written materials including textbooks, classic literature, contemporary news media sources, and televised speeches.  Through guided analysis of primary and secondary sources, students are taught to think critically and formulate their own opinions about relevant issues so they can be active citizens in society.  Student learning is supported by differentiation of instruction and materials, scaffolding, integration across subject areas and a multimodal approach to instruction.

Science Program

Aaron School 8-12 grade students participate in a series of Science courses that utilize experimentation and inquiry to implement the scientific method and engage in analysis of scientific concepts.  Students in 8th grade take Science 8, which covers three areas of science: life science, earth science and physical science.  In High School, students take some or all of the following courses: Biology, Chemistry, Environmental Science and/or Physics.   Students who take Physics or Applied Physics demonstrate strength in the area of mathematics, and their ability to generalize learned mathematical concepts in new environments. Throughout these courses students apply the scientific method in labs designed to generate critical thinking and collaboration skills. Students also engage in activities that apply science to the real world, including an examination of current geological events.  High school students need to fulfill three credits of science to meet program requirements.  

 

To engage with science content and concepts, and support student learning, instruction and materials are differentiated and information is scaffolded.  Students participate in labs during which they follow the scientific method to perform dissections, conduct observations and draw conclusions about scientific concepts.  Emphasis is also placed on collaboration, problem-solving and an ability to think critically about lab findings.  

 

Foreign Language Program

Aaron School students participate in a two-year course sequence during their Junior and Senior years, during which they are exposed to Spanish language and culture.  Students who demonstrate a strength in language acquisition take Spanish I and 2, a course sequence that emphasizes Spanish language, including learning and retaining Spanish vocabulary and grammar rules, and applying this knowledge in reading, writing, listening and speaking activities.  Students for whom language acquisition is an area of difficulty take Spanish Cultures 1 and 2.  This course sequence consists of strategic introduction of vocabulary as it pertains to all aspects of Spanish speaking cultures around the world, including religion, traditions, food, dance, music and art.  High school students need to fulfill two credits of a foreign language to meet program requirements.

Physical Education Program

Through Physical Education class, Aaron School students in grades 8-12 acquire the skills and knowledge needed to demonstrate and maintain physically active lifestyles. Students learn and practice these skills with an emphasis on connecting what they learn in the program to their lifestyle choices outside of school.  During Physical Education classes, students participate in a variety of activities that allow for growth in three domains: psychomotor, cognitive and affective, while learning about safety, kindness, teamwork and the physical and mental benefits of partaking in physical activity.  Students also work to build cooperative skills through participation in team sports, such as floor hockey, soccer and lacrosse.  High school students need to fulfill one credit of Physical Education to meet program requirements, as such students will not necessarily be enrolled in a Physical Education course each year.  

Health Program

Aaron School students in grades 8-12 participate in Health courses that assist students in obtaining accurate information, developing lifelong positive attitudes and behaviors, and making responsible decisions related to their personal health.  Themes for the courses are: the acceptance of personal responsibility for lifelong health, respect for and promotion of the health of others, an understanding of the process of growth and development, and informed use of health-related information, products, and services.  Students learn about food and nutrition, relationship building, human development, physical well-being, drugs and alcohol and emotional health. Students also learn how to navigate their community resources to seek out health-enhancing opportunities, such as how to obtain a gym membership and how to find support groups.  Students in the 8th grade take a Health survey course, while 10th grade students take a course that explores each topic on a deeper and more detailed level. High school students need to fulfill half of a credit of Health to meet program requirements.  

Electives Program

Throughout their time in high school, Aaron School students participate in a variety of courses that develop and enhance their academic and social experiences.  Students are placed in elective courses that are taught by Aaron School faculty and employ the same instructional tools and strategies that are used in the core academic courses, including differentiation of instruction and materials, multimodal instruction and scaffolding of information.  Some elective courses that students may take are Writer’s Composition, Art electives, Public Speaking, World Cultures and/or Spanish Literature.   Elective courses are subject to change depending on course offerings in a given school year. High school students need to fulfill three and a half elective credits to meet program requirements.

 

Writer’s Composition

Research shows that students with learning differences benefit from discrete writing instruction that is systematic in its approach.  During their time at Aaron School, students in grades 8-12 may take one or more Writer’s Composition courses that provide discrete writing instruction using comprehensive writing programs that are designed for students who require specialized instruction.  When students take Writer’s Composition courses, they also have the unique opportunity to practice generalizing learned skills across discipline areas, as the instructors of the Writer’s Composition courses collaborate frequently with subject area instructors.  

 

Arts

The visual arts program for students in grades 8-12 is fine-arts based and offers students the opportunity to explore art through various themes, such as Global Art Perspective, Identity and Ingenuity, Foundations of Personal Expression and Environmental Art.  The program also provides the foundation for a more disciplined art practice for those art students who demonstrate an interest in developing their technical skills. Art classes include a study of art history, focus on development of art skills, and emphasize critical response.  Art students study various disciplines, such as drawing, painting, mixed media, sculpture, printmaking, digital art and photography.