Middle School Academic Overview
Class Size: 6-8 students
Students in our Middle School Program receive a daily one-to-one Language Arts Tutorial, as well as small group classes, including:
- Language Arts
- Social Studies
- Oral Expression/Literature/Study Skills
- Electives / Physical Education
Electives are paired with Physical Education classes and meet on alternating days. They include:
- Physical Education
- Kids Around the Globe
- Visual Arts
- Digital Art
- Computer Science
- Small Engine Repair
- Practical Arts
Read detailed information about each of Landmark's classes:
Each student receives a one-to-one Language Arts Tutorial as the primary component of the remedial program. Literacy profiles of Landmark students lie along a wide spectrum of development, and no single approach meets the needs of all students.
Following formal and informal evaluation, an individualized tutorial program is constructed for each student to address goals across an array of reading competencies (decoding, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension), spelling, and study skills.
Reading instruction is direct, sequential, and hierarchical; tutors employ a multi-sensory approach involving auditory, visual, and tactile-kinesthetic techniques across a broad range of reading skills.
- Phonemic and phonological awareness skills are addressed with intensive training of sounds, their letter symbols, and their corresponding oral-motor feedback.
- Tutorials focus on decoding and spelling from the most phonetically regular to low-frequency patterns.
- Through interactive fluency practice, students develop rate, accuracy, and expression in oral reading.
- Vocabulary is emphasized through the study of morphology and the application of contextual strategies.
- Comprehension is developed concurrently with oral reading from fundamental reading levels through the most advanced.
Spelling instruction follows an ordered progression of patterns closely paralleling oral reading. As the decoding-encoding link is reinforced, students utilize knowledge of common expectancies and syllabication to improve their spelling in isolation and in context.
Fluid, legible cursive handwriting is integral to the instruction of spelling and written expression. Cursive handwriting has been shown to activate cognitive resources helpful to language remediation, fine motor skills, and memory.
Language arts class is a small-group writing class that emphasizes the development of oral to written expression (listening, speaking, discussing, observing, and brainstorming for ideas prior to writing). In addition, language instruction incorporates strategies and techniques that combine theme-centered and structured linguistic approaches to teaching language skills. In the initial stages of learning skills, most written work is done collaboratively, with the teacher encoding students' oral language onto the board. Once skills are mastered, students gradually work independently with teacher support as needed.
Thematic units (e.g., Early Whaling, The Olympics) provide the basis for all instruction. Theme-related pictures tap into students' visual abilities, stimulating word retrieval and contextual associations. Awareness of the sound and syllable structure of words is emphasized and students are encouraged to use phonetic spelling to represent new or unfamiliar words. The effective organization of work on paper as well as following directions are stressed. Accurate copying from both near and far points is an area of ongoing concern and is an important part of class assignments.
Vocabulary expansion focuses on generating theme-specific vocabulary and providing appropriate synonyms and antonyms. Emphasis is placed on identifying and generating specific nouns, action verbs, prepositional phrases, and adjectives. Practice generating examples of complete sentences (e.g., expanded kernel sentence, compound and complex sentences) is provided. Lessons in basic capitalization and punctuation are presented within the context of written expression. Basic sentence and paragraph skills are taught in highly structured sentence and paragraph frames, which improve the ability to visually organize materials and to structure the patterns of newly introduced sentences and paragraphs. Special attention is given to proofreading all work.
Mathematics is viewed as a language, subject to the same obstacles encountered by students with language-based learning disabilities. Instruction is sensitive and reactive to these issues. We employ compensatory whole-to-part strategies that support and mitigate expressive language and sequencing demands. We utilize multi-modal strategies to elicit verbal and written communication. Demonstrations and diagramming activities are vehicles for student reflection and expression. Grade-appropriate fact fluency is addressed through methods and materials developed at EMS.
The Landmark EMS mathematics program provides a learning environment tailored to the individual needs of the student. Academic goals are created to meet grade-level standards or provide necessary remediation while moving toward grade-level curriculum. Emphasis is placed on developing math skills that provide students with a depth of understanding, reflect applications in the real world, and relate to other curricular areas. Students are grouped in small classes based on mathematical skill set. These levels are determined by informal and formal placement tests, as well as past academic performance. Studentsʼ abilities and needs are continuously assessed by the classroom teachers and the department head, with specific attention given to individual learning styles.
Offerings in a typical year range from the development of number concepts and patterns to Algebra I. The fall semester is typically dedicated to learning error-recognition strategies, solidifying and advancing computational skills, and ensuring that the student has developed a correct conceptual understanding of existing skills. During the second semester, the emphasis shifts toward recognizing and using learned skills in relevant situations and learning new skills. Thematic units provide the vehicle to develop oral and written expression skills by describing math concepts, procedures, and applications. In this manner, the math curriculum connects to other Landmark curricular models. Instruction includes appropriate use of available technological resources.
All of the students at Landmark EMS are enrolled in daily oral expression classes designed to enhance language proficiency and communicative competence. The curriculum focuses on five linguistic areas of language development: phonology (speech sounds, syllabication), morphology (meaningful word parts), syntax (sentence structure), semantics (vocabulary, word meaning and use), and pragmatics (social communication, discourse). Through direct instruction in each of these areas, the students are immersed in the rules and structure of the English language. Thematic units and literature serve as vehicles for instruction in the linguistic areas. The classes are organized homogeneously, according to age, skill levels, and social maturity.
Language must be correctly processed and understood so that accurate and meaningful oral production can follow. Research demonstrates that in addition to listening, students learn through self-expression. As they talk, their thoughts are clarified, comprehension deepens, and self-confidence increases. For the teacher, listening to students express themselves allows a window to their thinking process. Students are provided with scaffolding (templates/graphic organizers) to help them formulate their thoughts as they answer questions, provide descriptions, express compare and contrast, report an event, retell a story in sequential order, explain a process, or state and support an opinion. During oral presentations, students are evaluated by the instructor and peers in nonverbal communication skills (e.g., eye contact, posture, gestures). They are also monitored for prosodic features (e.g., volume, clarity, intonation) that enhance communicative intent. Memorization of poetry is an ongoing activity throughout oral expression classes.
The literature selections at Landmark Middle School are dynamic; each year they are determined by the current profile of the students. Age-appropriate selections of varied genres alternate between literature that the entire class can decode and read aloud together, and quality literature that is above the students’ decoding level, but serves as a rich resource for higher-level discussion and analysis. Students are encouraged to draw upon prior knowledge and real-life experiences as they participate in group discussions. Through brainstorming activities, main ideas and sequence of events are determined. Literary elements (setting, plot, character development) are introduced as appropriate to students’ ages and skill levels. Templates are also used to facilitate coherent delivery of description, opinion accompanied by supporting data, and inferences or predictions based upon logic. Incorporating the graphic organizers from oral expression activities, students express comparisons and contrasts of characters, plots, settings, and author’s point of view. Vocabulary development is addressed through the study of meaningful word parts and categorization skills.
The science curriculum focuses on the presentation of thematic units representing the domains of science (physical science, life science, earth and space sciences) utilizing language-based and guided inquiry approaches. Emphasis is on developing an interpretation of science as a problem-solving and discovery tool available for everyday use as well as for technical application in the real world. Controlled experiments are studied as a way to investigate predictions and draw conclusions resulting from observations. Metric measurement and proper use of scientific equipment are practiced. As the students become familiar with the inquiry process, they are guided through the challenge of designing experiments to solve specific problems, answer questions, and communicate results. The steps of the scientific method (problem, hypothesis, experiment, and conclusion) are used as a problem-solving tool for exploring specific units of study. Topics related to science, technology, human affairs, and current events are presented and integrated with the fields of mathematics, language arts, and social studies. Class placement and topics of study are determined by reading level, comprehension skills, prior knowledge, and age.
In addition to the content information presented in science classes, much emphasis is placed on developing study skills. The skills presented are modified for the students’ levels. These include organization of subject notebooks, class materials, pre-reading, using a textbook, discerning main ideas and relevant details, note taking, summarizing, paraphrasing, researching and writing reports, and test-taking. Computer skills are integrated throughout all aspects of the content courses so that students become familiar with hardware and software capabilities. Guidelines for appropriate participation in class discussion are reinforced.
Landmark EMS students engage the social studies curriculum by focusing on four major branches of the human experience: history, geography, economics, and government. All classes are taught in small groups and emphasize a sequential inventory of reading, writing, critical thinking, and study skills. Students are grouped primarily according to ability level, with a secondary focus on age and grade. The discipline’s content provides the background through which information processing deficits characteristic of students with language-based learning disabilities are remediated. Themes for class content are selected with attention to the most recent state curriculum frameworks and adapted for use with graphic organizers and templates to structure written expression.
Students at the elementary and middle school levels are encouraged to view social studies through the widest lens possible, examining the many aspects of each body of knowledge and assuming ample opportunity for specialization throughout high school and post-secondary years. In geography, for instance, students strive to understand a sense of place, including regions, physical space, and geography’s effects on human endeavors and vice versa. The history curriculum encourages students to grasp principles of chronology and cause, research, society and the individual, as well as interdisciplinary topics. In government, students take up essential concepts, such as authority, responsibility, and power; the Founding Documents; federal, state, and local branches of government; forms of government abroad; and civil rights. Landmark students are exposed to domestic and world economies, focusing on fundamental principles, reasoning, economic history, various theories, and contemporary issues. Finally, current events represent an integral part of the social studies curriculum.
For more information on Landmark’s Elementary•Middle School curriculum please contact Deborah Blanchard, academic dean, at 978-236-3117.