Lower Middle School
A Focus on Strengths First
In a one size fits all world, many students can fall through the cracks between their developmental journey and the expectations of a rigid school system. Divergent learners have many strengths which are often ignored in favor of a focus on their challenges, and this can grind down self esteem and make it feel like progress will never happen. Ann Arbor Academy students thrive because of a focus on strengths first, with needed remediation happening within the structure of a nurturing, developmentally appropriate classroom structure.
A Nurturing Environment
The Lower Middle School uses differentiation, a skills based curriculum, multiple approaches to comprehension, and a nurturing environment full of social skills support and the arts to build student skills and teach content. Building on success establishes a strong foundation for learning, and connects students to their own educational outcome.
Differentiated Learning Instruction
The Lower Middle School program serves students in grades 4-7 who need intensive, differentiated learning instruction. The LMS is a single, multi-age classroom designed to meet the needs of learners through individualized instruction, cooperative learning opportunities, social skills supports, and a high level of student engagement. The curriculum builds on the strengths of each young learner, and identifies and remediates areas of need. Reading instruction in the LMS ranges from phonics via the Wilson Program (an Orton Gillingham based system), vocabulary building, fluency practice, and comprehension support to help students understand and take ownership of their own learning. Students read and write daily, and are instructed at a level that helps them move forward in their reading and writing skills.
Mathematics instruction is skill based and multisensory, and is intended to find and fill in gaps in understanding to allow students to move forward in their math level. Problem solving, fluency, and reading word problems are common areas of need for our LMS students, and our multi-faceted, individualized approach allows learning to take place at a pace that is right for each child. Skill levels taught in the LMS take students up to the Pre-Algebra level, after which students enter the Upper School math classes at the appropriate level and progress through the Upper School math program.
Supported Play Time
Students in the LMS have daily opportunities for play, both at recess and at lunchtime. Play within the classroom is also encouraged, and used as a learning strategy. Play teaches students many helpful things, particularly students who struggle with appropriate social interactions. Supported play time helps young learners connect to their bodies and brains, explore their world, make connections, practice social skills, and apply problem solving strategies in real time.
The arts are important for holistic development of the child, and are valued at Ann Arbor Academy as an integral part of the learning process. LMS students also receive art instruction daily, along with opportunities for music class several times per week.
Science and social studies are taught throughout the year in units that allow students to work on project based learning based on their strengths.