Lower and Middle School
Lower and Middle School students change classes throughout the day. This allows for discipline-specific curriculum to be emphasized while maintaining focus on multisensory strategies. Students attend seven classes per day plus homeroom. Classes are 45 minutes long Monday through Thursday. Classes on Friday are 30 minutes long and students are dismissed at 12:30. Friday afternoons are devoted to discussing of the needs of individual students, groups of students, and professional development for the staff.
- Am Group (third grade), has a primary teacher for social studies, literature, and science that allows for a block of time to be dedicated to using those content areas as a means to equip students with the ability to recognize, process, and organize the basic elements of language. Am Group also has tutorial, math, math lab, music/art/drama, and homeroom.
- Star Group (fourth grade), receives English language arts, tutorial, math, math lab, science, literature, music/art/drama, and homeroom.
- D Group (fifth grade), receives tutorial, social studies, literature, science, math, *fluency lab class, music/art/drama, and homeroom.
- E and M Groups (sixth and seventh grades), receive tutorial, social studies, literature, science, math, English language arts, music/art/drama, and homeroom. Advanced writing, organization, assistive technology, and critical thinking are emphasized. Students are expected to produce lengthier and more complex work with greater independence.
Y Group (eighth grade), receives tutorial, social studies, literature, science, math, English language arts, music/art/drama, and homeroom. An additional class called Multiple Intelligences allows students to refine self-awareness skills concerning their unique patterns of strengths and weaknesses. Self-advocacy is practiced as students solidify strategies that will allow for a successful transition to high school.
Students work 1:1 or 2:1 with an Orton-Gillingham tutor focusing on decoding, spelling, handwriting, phonological awareness, reading comprehension, reading fluency, vocabulary, and written expression. Students work in-depth with tutors to remediate their greatest areas of need. Each student’s tutorial curriculum is unique and individualized.
Technologies, such as cloud-based word processing, allow students to produce increasingly more sophisticated forms of writing. For some students, text-to-speech technology bolsters their ability to self-edit their own work as it allows the computer to read their writing back to them. Additionally, speech-to-text may be introduced to circumvent obstacles with working memory or fine-motor control. Learning Ally or other audio books may be used to challenge a student to develop more reading comprehension.
Math and Math Lab
The Math-U-See curriculum offers a multisensory, mastery-based approach to math. It systematically gives students the opportunities to master concepts. In math classes, students are encouraged to build problems with blocks so they can “see” how math works. Multi-sensory reinforcement occurs as students build it, write it, say it, and teach it back. Concepts are arranged sequentially from simple to complex. Lessons contain reinforcement of a new concept and review of previously taught skills so that students maintain the gains they make. The Math-U-See curriculum is self-paced and individualized. Students who grasp concepts quickly have the opportunity to push forward. Math class sizes are between 5-7 students as each Group is further divided to allow for “as fast as we can, as slow as we must” instruction.
Math lab, a daily class for Lower School students, builds fluency with basic math facts. Students practice facts in a variety of ways including iPad apps. Daily repetition of math facts ensures a solid foundation, prevents gaps in knowledge, and allows math concepts to be more easily taught and understood. As needed, some Middle School math classes may use traditional math curricula to provide credits and ensure adequate preparation for high school math courses.
*Fluency lab class for D Group students, allows for flexibility in scheduling and addresses individual needs. During lab class, students may spend time focusing on math fact fluency, reading fluency, or keyboarding fluency.
Science class fosters curiosity in students through inquiry-based teaching with an emphasis on observation. Lower school students spend many classroom periods exploring nature outside, while middle school students utilize tools such as CAD and a 3D printer for interactive learning.
Music/art/drama class works to cultivate an appreciation of creativity while building on the concepts of sensory, spatial, and emotional awareness.
Social Studies uses traditional content material as a means to teaching textbook and study skills. Students practice locating salient information in textbooks so that they develop the ability to read for details and prepare for tests. Study guides, outlining skills, and essay writing are also addressed. Classes focus deeply on few topics rather than covering many units at a merely superficial level.
Literature class introduces students to literary genres and develops in-depth comprehension skills. Teachers read entire novels aloud, guiding students to follow along and develop an understanding of storyline and author intent. Course texts are selected because they are classic titles that dyslexic students would typically not choose on their own. Classes feature frequent discussion with an emphasis on vocabulary development.
English language arts classes deliver language instruction via keyboarding, computer, and research writing skills. Lower school students focus on the structure of grammar and writing high-quality sentences. Middle school students use sentence knowledge as they develop paragraphs and research papers. Attention at the middle school level is given to MLA format for research papers.
This class period occurs at the beginning and end of each day. It provides structured time for students to take ownership of their daily schedule and establish routines and systems that promote executive functioning and critical organizational skills. All classes have color-coded notebooks schoolwide with sectioned tabs for clarity. Each paper requires the same heading featuring “name, date, and day” so that filing paperwork becomes simple and automated. Homeroom teachers help students organize and begin homework each afternoon, and organize and file completed homework each morning.