Middle school students use the Project Read- Report Form program to learn the nuts and bolts of nonfiction reading comprehension. This program is integrated with outlining and graphic organizers to help students assemble and organize facts as they tackle text and research projects in their science and social studies classes. Strategies and programs such as Orton Gillingham, morphology, Project Read-Written Expression and Benchmark are reinforced throughout the content areas. In addition, the reading and social studies departments collaborate with historical fiction novels, making sure students have the relevant background information for their reading. To reinforce the writing process, when students are given a writing assignment in the content area, middle school students are required to make an outline on Webspiration and complete a checklist to edit. All students are asked to incorporate the principles of Project Read- Written Expression into their content area writing. The art teacher frequently collaborates with content area teachers to incorporate any relevant activities into the art curriculum.
Vocabulary Development: High frequency vocabulary words are posted in the hallways, in the classrooms and on the tera station and their use is reinforced across the curriculum. Students are tested on the words every two weeks and a review takes place after 20 words are acquired.
Morning Gym/Brain Gym: Brain Gym is a series of movements that children undergo at the start of each day as well as often after lunch and at the start of a class to induce optimal learning. These activities were developed by Paul and Gail Dennison who base their work on “the interdependence of movement, cognition, and applied learning.” The movements lead to improvements in such areas as: concentration and focus, memory, organizational skills and academics. The movements are geared to subject areas, for example, moving one’s eyes up and down is preparation for a math class, moving eyes left to right prepares for reading. Having students rapidly tap below their clavicles helps energize them. Many exercises involve crossing the midline such as touching elbow to the opposite knee and crossing arms and then legs in succession. These exercises help develop core stability, bilateral coordination and hemispheric dominance and have also been found improve cognitive skills.
Movement Break: “Moving with intention leads to optimal learning” Each day students have a movement break for twenty minutes, mid morning. This allows students to take a break, move and have a snack. In the nice weather students enjoy time outside playing and in the cooler weather, students will move to many of their favorite music videos as well as Brain Gym exercise indoors. In addition, students have a twenty minute recess daily after their lunch period.