The Newton Middle School (grades 6-8) is designed to prepare students for a variety of high school opportunities. The primary goals of our program are to further academic skills and learning, foster independence and responsibility, and sharpen study habits and organization skills.
Our academic program is guided by the Virginia Standards of Learning. Students in our middle school take the core subjects of Reading, Writing and Math every morning in 45-60 minute blocks, following the same schedule each day until 1pm. Science or Social Studies are taught each afternoon along with electives.
In reading, students typically participate in reading groups incorporating read aloud opportunities and group discussions. The focus is to develop comprehension skills and critical thinking abilities. With our small class sizes and supportive culture, each student is able to share his or her thoughts and opinions with peers and use these discussions to develop higher order thinking skills.
Writing is an important aspect of our program; there is a dedicated Writing subject block every day for our middle school students. Our curriculum incorporates graphic organizers, webs and other supports to assist with idea generation and organization. Students are taught to proof-read and edit their work through visual checklists and teacher support. Students write and type using their laptops which are provided and maintained by the School.
Our Mathematics program is unique in that it is highly differentiated to meet the needs of each of our students – for those who excel in math and for those who struggle with the concepts and processes. The Newton School goes to great lengths to group our students at appropriate levels and customize the content for each type of learner.
Science and Social Studies are taught using a multi-media approach incorporating videos, visuals, manipulatives, textbooks, and traditional written work. Experiments are a key focus of our science curriculum as are special projects in Social Studies. We find this approach makes the content tangible and relevant for the students.
Middle school students participate in two movement blocks each day, usually interspersed between core academic blocks in the morning. Movement consists of small group physical activity in one of the designated areas of our 10,000 square feet of gym space, which includes trampolines, a foam pit, a ball pit, a basketball court, a sports room, and an obstacle course. We believe that this physical activity enhances the overall school experience through increasing motivation, social opportunities and self-regulation.
Art, Drama, Music and Yoga are taught one to two times per week by professionals who are experts in their subjects. Students enjoy expressing themselves through painting and other visual arts as well as through performing. Parents and peers are frequently invited to see their creativity in action at shows and performances.
Weekly field trips are a unique and special aspect of the curriculum at the Newton School. The outings provide hands-on, real world learning experiences. Middle school students have participated in private tours to the Capitol, the Washington Monument, The Fairfax County Courthouse, and The Howard B. Owens Science Center; they have attended musicals and dramatic performances at The Kennedy Center and Imagination Stage; and the students have participated in team-building events at Adventure Links and nearby sports facilities.
Middle school students typically spend from one to two hours per night on homework, depending on the grade level and course work. Students are provided with a single binder with all internal components to ensure they are using a structured system to keep them organized at school and home. As well, each student participates in a weekly Organizational Skills class to increase their Executive Functioning skills such as time management and planning, further preparing them for the demands of high school.
Technology is another important part of our program. The Newton School provides laptops and Wi-Fi access for all middle school students. Laptops are consistently equipped with Microsoft Office, Inspiration, typing programs and other specialized software. Laptops remain at school at all times, though the students can access most programs at home as well. Some textbooks are available online and may be accessed at school and home as well.
Across all subject areas and activities, the core aspects of our program are small group instruction, personalized attention, and a culture with respect and support. It is our goal at The Newton School to develop confident, socially-adept, well-rounded young men and women who are prepared to thrive in the high school environment.