While our students need to continue to work on their individual goals, the program is developed to expand their scope to group dynamics. With a focus on developing the foundation necessary for effective functioning in high school and the larger community, our middle school division has created unique experiential programming to foster skill development, greater independence, self-advocacy and attunement to one’s learning style.
Critical thinking and problem solving skill development are integral components of how the curriculum is executed. Hands-on projects and team building assignments are designed with the purpose of making studies relevant and connected to the world around them.
Additionally, students are encouraged to develop effective leadership and negotiating skills when working on long range projects with peers. Executive functioning skills are explicitly targeted to develop greater time management skills to lay the foundation for students’ future academic pursuits.
English Language Arts
Students are assessed and placed in small groups based on their similar literacy skill regardless of grade level. By integrating the middle school grades, it creates a greater opportunity to broaden social relationships within the community.
Students are exposed to and study a variety of genre, such as fiction, including historical fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, in small skill-based groups. Students engage in literacy activities that strengthen their comprehension and critical thinking skills.
Themes are discussed and analyzed so students gain a greater understanding of plots, ideas, character development, social nuances in relationships, conflicts and resolutions. In addition, students obtain a better appreciation of literacy awareness through author studies, class discussions and study of varied styles of writing. Progress is monitored through a variety of projects, a writing journal, vocabulary/spelling quizzes, unit tests as well as check-in sessions during instruction.
Instruction also focuses on student responses to literature through multi-sensory activities such as role-playing, reader’s theater, and oral presentations in addition to written responses. The English Language Arts curriculum moves through a scaffolded structure: students are introduced to a skill, apply and practice it, and then based on assessment of that skill, move forward to another more sophisticated variant of that skill.
Reinforcement is provided in the writing curriculum to provide additional opportunities for students to demonstrate their knowledge and understanding of the material covered in class.
The writing curriculum is designed to build student knowledge and an appreciation of different types of writing and styles of writing. Influenced by the English Language Arts curriculum, students create writing projects through studying various types of genres.
Organization and critical thinking skills are explicitly taught to strengthen writing skills and assist students to express themselves through various forms of writing. Project based learning and written expression assist students to make more meaningful responses to literature. The curriculum comes to life through multi-sensory activities, such as oral and written responses, student memoirs as well as visualization activities.
The writing curriculum also guides students in constructing various narrative and expository text. Students will draft, revise, and publish pieces. Writing instruction will also focus directly on grammar, sentence structure, brainstorming, editing, and written organization strategies. Thinking Maps are employed to provide greater structure to written responses and projects.
In addition, practice is integrated within all curriculum areas and the schedule has been designed to incorporate two discrete writing periods weekly. Writing conferences and check-ins with teachers help students address their individual writing needs so to meet their writing goals more readily.
Students utilize a portfolio to understand their strengths and develop strategies to improve their writing. End of year portfolio review showcases student written language progress throughout the year.
Students are assessed and placed in small groups based on their similar math skill regardless of grade level. By integrating the middle school grades, it creates a greater opportunity to broaden social relationships within the community.
Our math program is drawn from a variety of research based programs and is taught in small skill-based groups. Instruction focuses on strengthening basic skills and achieving grade level mastery of mathematical concepts. There is a strong emphasis on and commitment to helping students use mathematical reasoning and problem solving skills.
Problem solving instruction is embedded in every lesson to provide opportunities to practice and reinforce concepts learned in class. A variety of strategies are employed to help students organize their thoughts, develop reasoning skills and provide explanations for solutions.
Students learn to problem solve through a backwards approach by thinking of the desired solution first. Students are taught to use these techniques in order to help solve mathematical inquires not only in an academic setting but also to apply them to use in their everyday life.
Real world applications also give students a foundation for the math they will use in the future. Formative and summative assessments are conducted often using a variety of methods to measure progress.
The philosophy of the social studies program is for students to build a knowledge and an appreciation of history and the world around them. Students will use a variety of higher order cognitive skills to demonstrate their understanding of historical concepts, eras, themes, developments and turning points in history.
Students are taught to examine a broad sweep of history from a variety of perspectives to realize that history is a story of peoples’ lives and the multitude of obstacles, joys and decisions experienced by these people.
The curriculum comes to life through project based learning and multi-sensory activities such as role-playing, audio-visual projects, field trips, and visualization activities. An emphasis is placed on experiential learning to reinforce concepts.
Students learn to collaborate and problem solve with peers to create a more meaningful learning context. Progress is monitored through completed projects, vocabulary quizzes and unit tests as well as check-in sessions during instruction. Students work in whole and small group activities which allows them to synthesize abstract concepts and make better generalizations about the material.
The science program covers the study of life, physical and earth sciences over the course of three years. Similar to other subject areas at Aaron, science is taught using a multi-sensory approach that incorporates both traditional academic texts as well as numerous hands-on activities in the classroom.
Students will benefit from working in the science lab to conduct studies and engage in projects that explore the Big Ideas of Science through scientific inquiry. Instruction provides opportunities to demonstrate understanding through exploring, explaining and interpreting information.
Students learn to investigate, collect evidence, and communicate their research and results to answer content related questions. Students expand upon their investigations of scientific questions through both short and/or extended in-depth responses.
Mathematics and technology are also employed to further enhance their comprehension of concepts and strengthen their ability to apply scientific knowledge and method to learn about the world around them. The skills and processes learned in science will benefit students’ critical thinking skills to develop more abstract problem solving and creative decision making approaches.
The integrated visual arts and technology program is designed to provide our artists with opportunities to explore both contemporary and traditional global media. The curriculum rotates from year to year to investigate questions within such themes as story telling, gender and the media as well as sociopolitical independence. Artists build technical skills in drawing, painting, sculpture, ceramics, photography and stop motion animation. Our process oriented art studio incorporates academic and social goals so that our students can develop their identities as contemporary artists. Each spring their best work is featured in a student art show.
Formulation of critical and artful thinking skills will prepare our artists to appreciate works of art in everyday life.
Middle school students will have the opportunity to express themselves as young musicians through a variety of instrumental and choral performances as well as through improvising and composing their own music. Students will also be learning the essential elements of music such as music theory, composition and arranging in keyboard lab as well as through a variety of music software programs.
Through all of these musical experiences, students will become fluent in their ability to discuss and analyze music, identify musical genres and develop a greater understanding of music within cultural and historical contexts. Additionally, students will learn the basics of guitar, including playing individual melody lines and strumming patterns, as well as note-reading.
Adaptive Physical Education
This program has been developed to follow the guidelines set by the New York State and National Physical Education Standards.
Our program promotes each student’s optimum physical, mental, emotional and social development through activities and sports that they will enjoy and can pursue throughout their lives.
The curriculum is more team sport focused and emphasis is placed on personal health and fitness training. Physical Education classes are scheduled for an hour and occur twice a week at the Vanderbilt Y. Students will develop skills to be applied to intramural sports and athletic leagues.
Project adventure philosophies will also be incorporated into the curriculum so that students develop a greater trust among their peers and to problem solve more effectively in a team structure.
The digital literacy program uses an integrated curriculum which emphasizes the use of technology throughout the learning and creative processes as well as in the organization and presentation of ideas and information. Smart Boards, LCD projectors, Internet resources, assistive technology, and wireless laptop computers are utilized throughout the Middle School academic and enrichment curricula.
Students explore social studies, science, math, literature, music and visual arts through the use of integration and technology. Our new Google Apps platform aims to provide sustainable approaches for students to use technology for a variety of functions such as word processing, communication, navigation, organization and academic research.[/vc_column_text]