Omega Middle School Overview
Omega Middle School’s holistic, experiential and project-based approach to education is vitally important during the middle school years when children experience tremendous cognitive, emotional and biological changes.
The Omega program challenges students to know who they are as academic learners, have a strong sense of personal self worth and find their voice to express themselves authentically.
The low teacher-to-student ratio, rigorous individualized curriculum and child-centered approach makes the Omega program stand out above the rest.
Developmentally, the middle school years are vastly different.
The 6th grader is a completely different student compared to the 8th grader. Even though a 6th grader believes she is ready to take on the world, she needs a further nurturing environment in the 6th grade year to gradually grasp the emotional, biological and physical changes occurring. This is why our 6th graders are in a class of their own.
In contrast, our 7th and 8th grades are combined to accommodate the rapid cognitive growth and the sophistication of the developing high school student.
This unique Rainbow Learning program also provides continuity with the same dynamic teachers to further build relationships and academic growth.
Integrated Thematic Curriculum
The holistic curriculum at the Omega Middle School is founded on the Seven Domains™ and is designed to be both personally meaningful for the student and socially relevant.
Student engagement is one of the most important indicators for student success. Students are engaged when they see meaning in their work and tasks, when they can connect to the material or subject and when they feel empowered with choice in their learning.
Omega uses robust and authentic assessments, which include holistic narrative reporting, end of year outcomes checklists in all the learning domains, authentic and student-designed self-assessments (e.g. taking on whatever form student feel expresses his/ her growth), student and peer reflection, as well as norm-referenced standardized tests. To learn more click here.
In Omega there is quite a focus on the craft of writing. Lessons on basic structure and parts of speech are weaved seamlessly into the integrated lessons and practiced on a regular basis.
Guided assignments review information covered in class and also allow the student time to apply their understanding of grammar and structure.
Students write essays, reflections, create poetry and explore fiction all while reviewing and assessing their understanding of science, history and literature. Technical pieces include bibliographies and in-text citations.
Additionally, students can take an elective where they publish work through the creation of the annual school-wide yearbook.
The middle school students practice basic writing skills daily, edit and revise weekly, and stretch their imagination often.
Students have an opportunity to develop interviewing skills, explore creative and narrative writing strategies and learn how to use literary elements discovered in literature and poetry.
In the end, with the combination of fantastic teachers and a well-designed program, students discover that they are, in fact, really good writers!
Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM)
Science, social studies, civics and history themes are embedded within the year-long integrated curriculum map. To learn more click here. In addition to these themes there are several specific projects described below.
Technology, Design and Engineering
Mac laptops are available for every student to utilize daily.
In addition, Omega uses Excel graphs, Web 2.0 tools including Prezi presentations, Zoom, Power Point, and Picasa.
Students interested in 3-D printing, vinyl printing, photography, and publishing software to make videos, and to publish the yearbook, can take this as an elective.
Design and engineering are an integral part of the Omega Experience.
One very important way the Omega Middle School embraces design and engineering is through a long-term design project that is presented at the Design Fair. For the 2017 – 2018 school year, the use of design and engineering will look a little different. Please click here for more information.
Science Fair Project
Each year, students design and execute a science fair project that they will share with the greater Rainbow community. They begin their planning and research months in advance.
The 7th and 8th grade years involve rediscovering the scientific method to create winning and testable science projects.
The creative arts are an integral part of our program.
In the majority of the experiential thematic units, there is a form of art expression that is required.
In addition, students go to a classic art class weekly to study sculpture, pottery, outdoor murals, 3D modeling, painting, modern art, book making and set design. Students also learn technique and the discipline required to create amazing forms of work.
At the end of the year, students prepare for the Imagine performance. Students work with the school’s Creative Coordinator to create a theatrical performance that is the pinnacle of the year.
Middle school students also learn to play a variety of instruments: various percussion instruments (such as marimba), the ukulele, alto recorders and the drums. Through each of these instruments, they learn essential elements: tempo, meter, rhythm, melody, style, harmony, and key, as well as learning to read music.
Students are then able to utilize these skills and apply to any instrument. Learn more about our music teacher Sue Ford.
The Omega program strives to meet students where they are.
Holistic teaching and an integrated curriculum approach supports those efforts.
In addition, Omega Middle School holds math classes at the same time as the other middle school grades. This allows for movement across grades so that students may join a “just right” math class that best meets their learning needs. There can be as many as 5 different math classes offered each year.
The 6th grade has adopted the Singapore Math Method. Teaching math through the Singapore Method helps students to:
- See math as an integrated whole, not as isolated pieces
- Use questioning, thinking and reasoning skills
- Gain a mastery of concepts by understanding not only the how but the why
- Learn through experiences that build confidence, express the usefulness of math, are enjoyable and shape an overall positive attitude about math
The Singapore Math approach:
- Thinking about numbers
- Understanding place value
- Finding part-whole relationships in math
- Breaking down or decomposing numbers into friendly numbers (ones that are easier to work with while using the four operations)
- Using model drawing strategies that help students comprehend challenging problems
- Using the C-P-A approach. Strategies are taught math moving from concrete concepts (using manipulatives) to the pictorial (solving problems where pictures represent numbers) and finally to the abstract (where numbers symbolize values).
Pre-Algebra is a prerequisite to Math 1.
All Math 1 concepts are covered, but in a broader sense.
Students start with the review of basic math skill such as working with integers and move into solving equations and exploring geometrical figures.
There is a lot of focus on word problems which deepen the students’ understanding of concepts and bridge to real life situations.
Polymath literally means “one who is a master of many disciplines or fields of study.”
The Polymath class nurtures the logical-mathematical intelligence, in addition to the visual-spatial and kinesthetic learning styles.
Polymath will integrate 3-D model construction, compass and architectural drafting, animated multimedia presentations, and art-based assignments.
In this multi-faceted course, students will explore the narrative within the history of mathematics (Leonardo DaVinci and Buckminster Fuller) and discover the profound connections that math history has to art history.
The focus will primarily be Geometry, but not writing proofs and theorems.
Rather, Polymath will look deep within nature to see the interconnection of life from the molecular (structure of crystals, chemical compounds, atoms) to the human (anatomy, architecture, art, music) and lastly to the global and universal scales (cartography, astronomy). For more about Polymath visit: geometryofnature.com
Math 1 students tackle perplexing problems and challenging concepts with their teachers that simplify and arouse a zest for this subject.
Math 1 is an integrated course that reviews four major concepts: Algebra & Functions, Geometry & Trigonometry, Statistics & Probability and Discrete Mathematical Modeling. RCS Math 1 is student-centered and is aligned with the public high school system curriculum.
Math 2 is a high-school level class offered to students who have mastered previous levels and show initiative to challenge their learning.
Students receive high school credit for this course.
- Spanish 1 and 2
- Literary Magazine
- Exploring Forms in 2D and 3D Art
- Marimba Percussion Ensemble
- Iron Body
- Micro Controllers and Programming
- Equity Educators
- Hip Hop Dance
- Electricity and Magnetism
- Modern Dance
- Nature Awareness
- Technology and Music
- Myth and Media
6th Grade Entrepreneurship
In partnership with the Asheville Chamber of Commerce and local businesses, the 6th grade investigates the world of commerce by creating, implementing and sharing their researched business model.
Students are asked to interview local businesses, engineer a viable business model, create a cost analysis and present their business to the community in a PowerPoint presentation and with business cards and fliers.
All business plans will have a socially beneficial factor and students will have an opportunity to present their plan on our Haywood Road kiosk.
PIPS (Personal Interest Projects)
Students research and create mini-documentaries on a passionate topic. A PIP includes three main components: a written paper of 5-7 pages in length, a PowerPoint presentation, and a creative portion.
An audience assessment accompanies the project. Written papers include bibliographies and citations. Students are given a rubric to guide them as they work. Within this rubric are assigned due dates to create multiple edited drafts of their projects before completing their final drafts.
The teachers have many one-to-one check-ins to be sure the students are on the right track. The PIP projects are a wonderfully intrinsic way to teach students about the process of researching, writing, editing, presenting to peers, and using their creative abilities to finish a milestone project.
Spirituality is the thread that ties us all together. It is the practice of mindfulness experienced in deep breaths, kind words and thoughtful actions. It is the peace that we experience throughout the day starting with centering.
Centering is led by the teachers three times a week in the 7th and 8th grades and expected to be led by students the rest of the week. The middle school students are the role models of mindfulness throughout our campus and will practice centering activities with younger grades.
Typically, students write the chosen quote for the day in their journals and then verbalize how this quote relates to their life. This is a very powerful experience to hear peers open up and expand upon a theme from their life’s experiences.
Thought-provoking topics are cultivated in this setting and great wisdom is shared openly. Maturity is expected and is a part of the honor code. Through lifting up those that surround us, we are in turn lifted.
Sports are taught formally in the PE classes and are available for competition throughout the year with the Hospitality League.
Students can participate in flag football and ultimate frisbee (fall), basketball (winter) and soccer (spring) against schools of similar size. This co-ed league focuses on comradery, techniques and teamwork.
Teams end the game with a group discussion of the game to review plays and encourage sportsmanship. A full-day ski trip is also scheduled once a year. Learn more about RCS Athletics.
Gender Mysteries Council
There is a trend for schools to be completely single gender during the middle school years due to many reasons, one being the fears of ever-changing hormones and emotions.
Here at RCS, we provide a safe environment for maturing adolescents to engage in heartfelt dialogue free from censure, to share frustrations and confusions and to explore solutions in an inclusive community.
Our program aims to create positive opportunities for life-long friendships and understanding between genders. We do separate the boys and girls every other week to explore gender issues in a safe, sacred space.
A variety of activities are used to create strong femininity and masculinity including martial arts, yoga, ropes courses, climbing, group challenges, storytelling, and ceremonies.
The 7th and 8th grade years begin with an outdoor overnight excursion to enhance bonds of the community.
The single gender class topics can include computer and texting safety, navigating friendships, parental relationships, confidence in self and body image, as well as honoring elders. Students are able to ask big questions in a loving atmosphere.
Want to know more?
The best way to experience Rainbow Community School is first-hand. We encourage you to make an appointment to tour our campus and discover the magic of learning.