VOICE Middle School
Our objective at VOICE has been to design a middle school that would build on the foundations laid in Elementary School at VOICE and evolve to be developmentally responsive to our students as they enter adolescence and the middle school years. At VOICE we recognize that Middle School is a unique, special and incredibly important developmental and learning stage for our students that needs to be planned for and treated as such.
At VOICE Middle School, we see incredible opportunity in being able to support students during such a crucial time in their lives. We believe, for all students - especially middle school students - in the impact of strong relationships and trust on learning. To quote Jessica Lahey, educator and author of The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn to Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed: “Great teachers understand that the best, most durable learning happens when content sparks interest, when it is relevant to a child’s life, and when the students form an emotional bond with either the subject at hand or the teacher in front of them. Meaningful learning happens when teachers are able to create an emotional connection to what might otherwise remain abstract concepts, ideas or skills.”
Our goals at VOICE Middle School reflect our belief that our objective and role for our students goes beyond their performance in the classroom and on any standardized test. Our goals at VOICE Middle School are to develop students who are:
Critical and Independent Thinkers, and
Autonomous, Collaborative and Empathetic People
Content and Curriculum
Towards that end, we employ a school design that enables students to experience both breadth and depth in the content, topics and methods in which they learn. At VOICE, Middle School students have access to a robust academic program. Below, please find our current content with a brief description of VOICE Middle School’s approach to each:
6th Grade ELA is a balanced literacy program where students are both supported and challenged in their growth as readers, writers, speakers, and thinkers. By reading a variety of engaging novels and relevant non-fiction articles, sixth-graders sharpen their reading and critical thinking skills while also enhancing their vocabulary. Sixth-graders continue to develop their writing skills by crafting and editing narrative, informational, and argumentative pieces. All instruction and materials are designed to help students fulfill the requirements of the Common Core Standards.
7th Grade ELA uses a combination of literature and current events to study the English Language. Through project based learning, students develop research, critical thinking, 21st Century technology, and next level writing and presentation skills. Additionally, we develop and practice the mechanics of grammar and writing skills through both cooperative and competitive classroom activities and assignments.
In 8th Grade ELA, students expand on their understanding of literary concepts by examining the effects of time, context, and perspective on ideas. Students will develop their thinking and creativity through a variety of writing activities, class discussions, peer collaboration, and debates. Throughout the year, students will hone their vocabulary, grammar, and sentence fluency in order to express themselves with more clarity and confidence.
VOICE Middle School Math Program Goals:
- That all students will enjoy math class and see the importance of mathematics in the real world.
- That all students will believe in and actualize their own potential to have success in mathematics, regardless of whether or not they consider themselves a "math person".
- That students will practice math literacy through frequent opportunities to read and write in math class with a focus on written note-taking and reflection to further develop student metacognition.
In Middle School, we do not follow one math curriculum exclusively. We primarily utilize curricular resources from Eureka Math and Ready NY Math and support our teachers to craft curricula that meet our students’ needs and that engage students in both the conceptual and procedural understanding needed to meet the New York State Math Standards.
VOICE Middle School Social Studies Program Goals:
- To gain knowledge of history and the world around us
- To develop students’ nonfiction literacy skills through work with primary and secondary sources
- To develop students’ historical thinking skills, specifically the skills of analysis and argument through speaking and writing
Students will study content aligned with the New York State Social Studies Scope and Sequence as summarized below. As they engage with this content through the lens of dominant and non-dominant perspectives, students are encouraged to ask challenging and critical questions about equality and justice and to engage with and value their own cultures and family histories.
6th Grade: World History (Ancient China through the Renaissance)
7th Grade: Early American History (Pre-colonial through the Civil War)
8th Grade: Post Civil War American History
At VOICE Middle School, we employ an inquiry-based approach to science instruction grounded in:
- In-class, hands-on labs and activities
- Scientific literacy and scientific writing in which students learn to make claims and support their claims with scientific evidence and reasoning
- A connection to authentic, real-world application
Our instruction is driven by the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Music and Choir
At VOICE Middle School, all 6th, 7th and 8th grade students receive lessons in sex education. These lessons are taught by the school’s social workers who follow a middle-school curriculum called Get Real from the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts. Get Real is a curriculum designed to delay sex and increase correct and consistent use of protection methods when a person becomes sexually active. Get Real views sexuality in the context of relationships and focuses on social skills as a key component of making responsible and healthy decisions.
The following four premises are built into the curriculum:
- Sexual health is an integral part of health education.
- Parents and other caring adults are students’ primary sexuality educators.
- Consensual sexual behavior occurs in the context of relationships; therefore relationship skills are key elements of a comprehensive sex education curriculum.
- While abstinence from sex is the healthiest choice for avoiding sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies, adolescents require a comprehensive understanding of sexual health, sexuality, and protection methods, which they will need when they become sexually active.
Advisory is a formal class that meets three times per week in which students are split into groups of less than 15 with a single staff member. Socio-emotional development and learning is crucial for middle school students and advisory is an important foundation of VOICE Middle School culture. The role of the advisor is crucial.
In advisory, advisors lead their “advisees” to build strong, trusting relationships and culture through the following practices and more:
- Establishing group norms.
- Participating in group and team building activities and debriefing them.
- Circling up to share personal “highs and lows,” celebrate student successes and address student issues.
- Discussing, analyzing and resolving social and school culture issues.
- Using readings and other daily rituals to inspire thinking and discussion.
- Contacting parents on a regular basis and building strong relationships.
- Monitoring the academic progress and needs of each advisee through communication with other faculty and use of our electronic student information system
- Discussing and practicing organizational and social skills.
Electives are teacher-created, student-selected courses that meet twice each week. Electives give teachers a chance to design a course either within or outside of their core content area. They give students an opportunity to choose a course based on a personal passion or interest that they have. Whenever possible, our electives align with programs that students will be able to focus on in their high schools of choice. Electives provide students starting in sixth grade with the opportunity to choose a course of study. Below, please find some examples of elective opportunities at VOICE this year:
- Robotics, Art, Programming (Game Design), Dance, Theater, Mathletes, Astronomy and many more!
- One elective to highlight is the very popular “SSC,” School, Society and Culture, that was designed and created by VOICE Middle School Staff. Find an excerpt from the course syllabus below:
- School, Society and Culture encourages and challenges students to develop and use their voice. Students are empowered to become critical participants in their diverse environments through exploring the themes of human society, social interactions, culture, and life-skills.
Beginning in the 2017-18 school year, VOICE Middle School students now have access to many technological tools.
Physical Education and Health Education
Physical Education and Health Education
To increase the breadth of experiences our students have with fitness activities, lifestyle activities and sport. Students will leave with a passion for at least one sport activity and one fitness or lifestyle activity.
To improve our students level of cardiovascular fitness, muscular strength and muscular endurance.
To utilize heart rate monitors as a tool for improving cardiovascular fitness as well as guiding students to reflect on their personal fitness and performance.
Voice Charter School Curriculum Design
The Physical Education curriculum is designed to offer middle school students a wide range of sport and recreational experiences including but not limited to basketball, soccer, volleyball, badminton, ultimate frisbee, spikeball and Kan Jam. In addition to sport based activities, students will learn about lifestyle activities and fitness through weight lifting and personal training and yoga. Students learn to measure and reflect on their performance through triennial Fitnessgram testing as well as class sets of Polar Heart Rate Monitors.
The Health Education curriculum offers our middle school students a variety of topics that are related to their personal health and fitness including basic anatomy and physiology, nutrition, relationships, substance abuse, body image and communication skills. Through these units of study, our students are provided the opportunity to learn how to research health based information on their own, form arguments and debate those positions using accurate data and information, advocate for personal and community health, to reflect on how personal behavior is influenced by family, peers and the media and finally how to interview in order to prepare our graduating 8th graders for high school and future job interviews.
At VOICE middle school, we know that having access to a well-rounded educational experience is paramount. Student greatly benefit when they have access to a variety of after-school, extracurricular activities including athletics, musical theater, and STEM. Learn more about our middle school programs here!
At VOICE Middle School, students and staff participate in a variety of social and spirit events that help students develop their identities, build teamwork and community, engage in collaboration and competition, and perhaps most importantly...HAVE FUN! Some highlights of our culture events include:
Athletic events such as:
Volleyball and Basketball Tournaments capped off with Staff-Student final games!
VOICE’s Annual Sports Day!
Monthly dress down and spirit days such as: Twin Day, Ugly Holiday Sweater Day, Wacky Tacky Day, and many more…
Social events such as: Movie Night, the Winter Dance, and more...