English Language Arts consists of instruction in Reading and Writing. Guided by a comprehensive Language curriculum, English Language Arts is designed to remediate students’ difficulties with decoding, reading comprehension, written expression, and language.
The reading program is Orton Gillingham-based. Students may continue to work on decoding using Preventing Academic Failure, by Phyllis Bertin and Eileen Perlman, or enter a defined reading comprehension curriculum. They read high-interest books from a variety of genres and different types of expository texts, which provide world knowledge relevant to their work in the subject areas. Within this framework, students continue to solidify their decoding and fluency skills, advance their vocabulary, and learn organizational strategies that support comprehension of both fiction and non-fiction.
In Writing, students learn to write clearly and to use writing to learn. Following The Hochman Method of Teaching writing by Judith C. Hochman, Ph.D., students learn the skills to become competent writers. In turn, students become better readers, communicate more effectively in writing and speaking, and further develop their critical thinking skills.
Through Gateway’s Math program, students evolve into strategic and competent problem solvers. Using a multisensory approach, students acquire foundational understandings and develop the reasoning skills that enable them to tackle a wide variety of Math problems. Following the defined sequence of skill-building in Singapore Mathematics, and as augmented by teacher-designed experiences and activities, students explore the basic concepts of quantity, the relationships between quantities, and counting. In flexible, proficiency-based groups, students solidify their understanding of place value, multi-step operations with whole numbers, fractions, decimals, pre-algebra, and geometry. Basic fact and procedural fluency, reasoning, and flexible, strategic thinking are emphasized. Along with the content, students are taught the study skills necessary to organize their work, prepare for assessments, and retain skills. In Middle School, the groupings allow for appropriate instruction of students who are continuing to work on their mastery of foundational concepts and skills, as well as those ready to apply their conceptual understanding to topics such as ratio, percent, and higher-level algebra.
The Language of Math is addressed throughout. Through direct instruction in mathematical vocabulary, writing about mathematical concepts using The Writing Revolution techniques, and Gateway’s word problem boot camp, students learn to navigate the Language of Math when reasoning through word problem application scenarios.
The uniting theme of the Social Studies and Humanities across the grades is the exploration of community. In Middle School, students examine how people meet their many needs through a study of civilizations: how they are created, how people organize and govern themselves, how they respond to tension and conflict, and the ways in which conflict can be resolved. Their course of study from 5th through 8th grade begins with Mesopotamia and includes Ancient Greek and Roman civilizations, American history, and the defining events of the 20th century, with an emphasis on human and civil rights.
The Humanities curriculum is closely integrated with Reading, Writing, and Language and emphasizes the development of critical-thinking skills.
Science in Middle School excites and sparks the interest of students in natural world phenomena, both seen and unseen. Through laboratory and building projects, they are introduced to a variety of scientific concepts in the life, Earth and planetary, and physical sciences. They learn the scientific method for investigation and practice observing, recording, tabulating, interpreting, and drawing conclusions. As they progress through the curriculum, students use the processes and analytical skills of a scientist to investigate and explain natural phenomena and learn to report their conclusions in lab reports. In the lab, they also learn to collaborate on problem-solving and share responsibility with a lab partner. Carefully integrated with Reading, Writing, and Language, the curriculum guides students to develop their scientific reasoning skills through discussion, debate, reading, and writing.
Study skills are woven into every subject and are key strategic tools for our students as they “learn how to learn.” Directly taught, study skills equip students to realize academic success in mainstream classrooms. Students learn how to organize and track assignments. When taking notes, they learn how to discern the most important information, to organize it, to identify the relevant detail, and to paraphrase and summarize information. When outlining, they learn to synthesize information from increasingly complex sources including lectures, textbooks, newspapers, documentaries, interviews, and a variety of informational media. They also learn how to prepare study guides and take tests of various sorts.
Language is the tool we use to understand, think, and communicate. It is essential for learning in every area of life, and it is especially important for learning in school. Organized according to the milestones in children’s oral language and literacy development, the Language curriculum is designed to help students develop academically, socially, and emotionally. Its focus is language comprehension and processing, verbal reasoning and problem solving, oral and written language, literacy skills, and pragmatic language. The goal is to develop students into efficient communicators, to have students internalize valuable learning strategies and skills, and to build self-esteem and confidence.
The Middle School Language program addresses foundational skills and targets higher linguistic processes. Skills build upon one another and are directly and explicitly taught in small-group instruction. Carry-over and generalization of skills occurs through consistent integration by teachers, specialists, and other therapists into various settings throughout the day.
The Integrated Research course prepares our students for success in mainstream high school in the 21st century. While covering a variety of important topics, including identity, race, and gender, this course teaches students to research and write papers while reinforcing skills from our Reading and Writing curriculum. As students move to higher grades, they learn to synthesize greater amounts of information – using print, online, and other sources – and demonstrate independent thinking. Students integrate crucial technology skills and learn how to navigate Google Suite. This class is also an opportunity for students to practice their presentation skills because units often culminate in students sharing their research with the class in meaningful ways.
The Arts program offers a comprehensive education in Visual Arts and Expressive Arts. For students with learning differences, the Arts provide a multisensory approach to integrating academic content and expressing their understanding of it. The Arts contribute to language development because they require students to predict, plan, organize, and translate their actions into the clear, thoughtful languages of various art forms. The Arts are a powerful pathway to increased self-expression and self-esteem for students who struggle with language and learning. Moreover, the Arts foster curiosity and develop stamina.
After-school offerings include drama, fencing, and other seasonal programs. The Arts curriculum at Gateway makes salient connections to the students’ academic classes and builds their problem-solving skills and creativity.
Long a hallmark of the school, The Gateway Social Development Program ameliorates many of the difficulties students encounter in their social interactions in the classroom, throughout the school day, and in other aspects of their lives. It was specifically designed for students with learning differences. From its inception, Gateway recognized that students with language-based learning disabilities, attention deficits, or other learning difficulties can struggle to adequately express themselves, pick up on social cues, or accurately interpret their social environment. And as a result, these students experience repeated breakdowns in their social interactions that manifest as problems joining other children at play, learning the rules of a given game, making friends, resolving conflicts, and generally feeling as if they fit in with their peers.
The purpose of Social Development is to cultivate students’ social problem-solving skills and promote social-emotional wellness. Organized around a series of topics and relying on discussion and experiential learning, our program helps students gain a better understanding of themselves and their needs, experience greater social competency, and learn to appreciate the needs of others. In age-appropriate ways, students are taught concepts and skills related to the following: pragmatic language in different social contexts, self-regulation inside and outside of the classroom, conflict resolution, coping with stress, diversity within the school community and beyond, and more. Growing self-awareness and social competency help our students establish a foundation for the development of self-advocacy skills that are essential for success in school and in life.
Physical Education emphasizes the value of physical fitness, good sportsmanship, and hard work. Students learn the basic skills and rules of a wide variety of sports and games, including baseball, basketball, volleyball, soccer, floor hockey, flag football, tag, and kickball. As they develop specific sports skills, their balance and spatial awareness improve as well as their hand-eye coordination and self-regulation.
In addition, Middle School students use a CrossFit Spot facility located just one block away (at 62nd Street and Amsterdam) for classes focusing on fitness and healthy exercise habits. Those in grades 6-8 who are interested in pursuing a sport further may do so through Gateway’s after-school athletics teams of soccer, basketball, and softball.
For Middle School students, New York City is a tremendous resource rich with museums, places of interest, and cultural events. Most field trips reinforce learning in the classroom, and they can take the form of touring a museum, attending a play, visiting a local park, and much more. In addition, students begin the school year by participating in an outdoor teamwork adventure to develop their sense of personal and group responsibility and their ability to collaborate. Below are a few places that Middle School students have visited recently.
- American Museum of Natural History
- Ashokan Center in Olivebridge, NY
- Club Getaway in Kent, CT
- Frost Valley Camp in Claryville, NY
- Hudson River Pier
- Metropolitan Museum of Art
- Morgan Library and Museum
- Museum of the City of New York
- New-York Historical Society
- Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow, NY
- Studio Museum Harlem
- Whitney Museum
In addition, special guests may visit Gateway to enrich the school experience. Past visitors have included an army veteran, a Holocaust survivor, and inspirational female entrepreneurs and professionals (a former assistant district attorney, news anchor, fashion designer, and more).