- Ortgon-Gillingham Approach
- Literature and Language Development
- Social Studies
- Execution of Tasks
- Exploratory Courses
- Beyond Academics
Swift’s Middle Division serves students in grades 6-8 where emphasis is placed on improving executive function and problem solving skills. Our Language Arts and Language Development classes coexist in such a way that strengthens reading, writing, and comprehension skills. Language development classes, with smaller student-to-teacher ratio, allow for more individualized instruction. All teachers are Orton GIllingham trained. We seek to prepare students to enter high school with highly developed strategies to be successful. Strategies include using technology to increase academic success and building relationships to encourage confident self-advocates.
A Holistic Approach
In addition to academics, life in the middle division is filled with opportunities that include physical education, art, music, Broadcast Production, and Spanish. These activities, community service projects, and social events support whole-child learning where students are encouraged to step out of their comfort zone to try something new, experience real-world problems, and lead by example.
Our middle school students are full of energy, changes, and curiosity and it take a special teacher who is full of patience (to match their energy), consistency (to support their changes), and knowledge (to engage their brains in healthy ways). We have these types of teachers and that is what makes our place exceptional.
Our Caring Community
At every level, Swift values community, excellence, individuality, potential, and nurture. Excellence permeates our language arts and reading programs which elicits increased reading and writing fluency, along with critical thinking skills. In math, teachers meet students where they are, provide the support needed, and challenge students to work towards their potential. Teacher use the science and social studies curriculum as opportunities to nurture curiosity about the world around them.
Swift thrives on unlocking the hidden talents of the dyslexic mind. Please visit our links to view more in-depth information.
The foundation of the academic program is the Orton-Gillingham Approach, which emphasizes instruction in every subject with multisensory techniques that involve the auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic pathways. Although Swift’s intensive reading and language arts instruction is the foremost consideration, the subjects of math, social studies, and science are also taught using the Approach.
The Orton-Gillingham Approach
Techniques of studying and learning language are implemented that involve the mechanisms involved in the language acquisition processes.
Teaching sessions are action-oriented with auditory, visual, and kinesthetic elements that reinforce each other for increased learning outcomes. Students learn spelling simultaneously with reading.
Structured, Sequential, Cumulative
The elements of language are introduced systematically. Students begin by reading and writing sounds in isolation. Sounds are then blended into syllables and words. Students learn the elements of language – consonants, vowels, digraphs, blends, and diphthongs – in an orderly, sequential, progressive fashion. Students proceed to advanced structural elements including syllable types, roots, and affixes.
As material is introduced, a review of previously introduced material continues to be reinforced to a level of automaticity. Vocabulary, sentence structure, composition, and reading comprehension instruction occur in a similar structured, sequential, and cumulative manner.
The study of the English language and the many generalizations and rules that govern its structure are the building blocks of the Orton-Gillingham Approach. Students learn how best to apply the language knowledge necessary for achieving reading and writing competencies.
Instruction begins with the assessment of what a student knows about the structure of language and then builds on that knowledge using the application of phonetic principles.
Teachers are trained experts who access the learning strengths of students to best meet their needs.
Students experience academic success and gains in confidence as well as skill. Learning becomes a rewarding experience and the mysteries of the English language are unraveled, step-by-step.
The Middle Division literature/composition curriculum includes the incorporation of oral reading techniques which continuously enhance reading fluency and comprehension. Students who are decoding at grade level are introduced to novels where guided reading is employed to develop independent reading skills. Students benefit from a guided writing process, so a multi-disciplinary, sequential approach to writing is in place to successfully move students from writing simple paragraphs to developing multi-paragraph responses and standard written reports. To support both independent reading skills and the development of age appropriate written responses, students will study the grammar of the English language and systematically learn to build spoken and written responses through the use of sentence diagramming.
Vocabulary development will be accomplished through the sequential use of word patterning programming.Literature employed in the language arts will be thematically integrated to grade level social studies subjects. Communications requirements in the areas of composition, spelling, and vocabulary will pervade all content area instruction.
The Language Development class is designed to enhance the Language Arts Program. Language Development provides structured, sequential instruction in the writing process, reading fluency, and comprehension. These classes, with smaller student-to-teacher sizes, allow for more individualized instruction. It is similar to having a double period of Language Arts.
The Middle Division math curriculum consists of grade level groupings. Students, through exposure to structured math series are taught to better understand the processes which need to be mastered to become successful mathematicians. Teachers incorporate a variety of instructional groupings and formats as well as project-based learning in order to guide students to solve problems using different approaches and have the opportunity to experience math in a hands-on manner. The majority of students will complete middle division mathematics with a pre-algebra course.
The Middle Division science curriculum is based on the philosophy that students learn best through experimentation, exploration, manipulation, and discussion based on the fundamentals of the scientific method. 6th-8th graders will experience a fully lab-based science curriculum delivered in three courses based on content that is fundamental to higher levels of scientific study. The distinct science courses are:
- Life Science
- Earth Science
- Physical Science
Middle Division students at Swift are challenged to make informed and reasoned decisions based on the historical understandings of societies throughout the world and locally based on analytical skills with a focus on comprehending how governments, climate, and geographic location impact the development of societies and cultures. Sixth graders will study societies throughout Latin America, the Caribbean, Canada, Australia, and Europe. Seventh graders will study societies throughout Southwest Asia, Southern and Eastern Asia and Africa. Eighth graders will study the state of Georgia with a focus on conflict and change, the distribution of power, governance, institutions, migration, production, distribution, consumption, the Rule of Law, and technological advances. The social studies will be thematically integrated with language arts so historical novels and the development of written expression are elements of both subject areas.
Executive function (study skills, planning, and task strategies) is a fundamental precept of learning at Swift School. Students will be taught the methods and strategies for effective and successful scholarship. Specific areas of instruction include note taking, outlining, test taking techniques and preparation, SSAT preparation, locating information in texts and digitally, stress management, time management, self-expression, self-advocacy, communication and effectively listening, and organization of materials. Additionally students will learn keyboarding, research techniques, and the use of technological applications for study. As a part of executive function, students may be required to participate in tutorials and ‘focus blocks’ as a method for applying executive function.
Middle Division students participate in several electives so they are exposed to a diverse, enriched curriculum. ORFF, a unique approach to music education, is a percussion/instrumental class for 6th grade students. Studio Art is designed to expose students to the fundamental elements of two and three dimensional art forms based on a historical perspective of these artistic venues. Physical Education affords each student the opportunity to understand the importance of a healthy lifestyle through physical agility and the knowledge of a variety of team games. The importance of fitness is a key feature of the physical education program. Broadcast Production and other exploratory courses of a spatial nature are offered on a cycle to 7th and 8th grade students.
Middle Division students at Swift School will have the additional benefit of a faculty advising program. In advisory class, students will meet daily with an assigned faculty advisor for the purpose of engaging in social and character development, along with strengthening executive function skills. Additionally the middle division students are required to perform community service and to lead the school assembly programs. Accountability for one’s actions is meant to build pro-social behaviors and allow for the application of worthy character choices in the school community.
The following activities and opportunities are part of the culture of the Middle Division:
- Student Council
- Recycle Team
- Field Trips
- School Performances such as the Variety Show and Night to Shine
- Day of Achievement
- School Assemblies
- School Dances
- Community Service
- National Junior Honor Society
Middle Division Retreat
Each academic year will be launched with a Retreat designed to construct focus for service projects and governance of the school community. During this overnight trip, student council officers will be nominated, along with launching community service projects. Most important, students and faculty together build bonds with each other to create a more vibrant, cohesive community.
Middle Division Extended Travel Program
Swift School Middle Division students participate in extended travel based on the content of science and social studies coursework. Trips are scheduled to occur in the spring. Students depart for the two or three night trip accompanied by teachers to areas such as the Coastal Islands, outdoor adventures, and Washington, D.C. Specific locations are determined at the beginning of each the school year.