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.
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. Student’s 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. Lessons are layered in both discipline and in learning domains, which encourages engagement with the theme from many angels and through many lenses. This not only allows to student to connect with the material through their preferred learning domain it also encourages students to build comprehensive and lasting relationships with what they are learning. To learn more click here.
Omega uses robust and authentic assessment, 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 publish work through the creation of the annual school-wide yearbook and submit articles for the Omega Newsletter. 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.
Science Fair Project
Because everything is well thought out and planned, the February science fair is first introduced in August. This allows the teachers to meet the desires of our Omega scientists. We begin 7th and 8th grade years rediscovering the scientific method and begin working on our long-term science fair projects. As a result, students have the opportunity to choose a project that takes several months of observation and testing the results in order to produce a well-crafted product and conclusion.
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, Skype, Power Point, and Picasa. Omega also integrates 3-D and vinyl printing into many of its project-based learning experiences. Omega students also utilize cameras and publishing software to make videos and to publish the yearbook.There is usually one aspect of technology that is integrated into the thematic units.
Design and engineering is a 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. Please click here for more information.
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. Through working alongside a talented artist in residence, students get the first-hand experience of the artist’s profession and craft. A large theatrical performance is the pinnacle of the year. The middle school students also learn to play a variety of instruments: various percussion instruments (the marimba is one of them), 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.
School Wide Math
The Omega program strives to meet students where they are. Teaching holistically and through an integrated curriculum supports those efforts. In addition, Omega Middle School holds school wide math at the same time each day. This allows for movement across grades so that students may join a “just right” math class that best meets their learning needs. There are a total of 5 different math classes offered.
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 revolves around several key strategies:
- Thinking about numbers
- Understanding place value
- Finding part-while relationships in math
- Breaking down or decomposing numbers into friendly numbers (ones that are easer to work with while using the four operations)
- Using model drawing strategies that help us to make sense out of challenging problems
- Using the C-P-A approach. Strategies are taught beginning with the concrete (using manipulatives) then moving to the pictorial (solving problems where pictures represent numbers) and finally working with he abstract (where numbers symbolize values).
The 6th grade Singapore Math class is taught by Jenny Armocida
Pre Algebra is taught by Jason Cannoncro: This is a prerequisite to Math 1. All of the 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.
Math 1 is taught by Susan Waddell: Susan has a love for math that could possibly be called an obsession. She loves perplexing problems, dreams about ways to teach challenging concepts that will both help to simplify and arouse a zest for math in her students, and is usually working on a mathematical score that her students will not forget. Math 1 is an integrated course that reviews four major concepts: Algebra & Functions, Geometry & Trigonometry, Statistics & Probability and Discrete Mathematical Modeling. The RCS Math 1 is student centered and is aligned with the public high school system.
Polymath is taught by Mark Hanf: Polymath literally means one who is a master of many disciplines or fields of study. The Polymath class will nurture 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 2 is taught by Niki Gilbert: This high-school level class is offered to students who have mastered previous levels and show initiative to challenge their learning. Students will receive high school credit for this course.