Our school is grounded in the fundamental belief that all students can succeed if given the opportunity and support necessary. The program is designed to allow students to experience success, to help them understand the nature of their learning challenges, and to provide them with the skills and strategies for overcoming their academic and social challenges.
Remediation in basic reading, writing and math skills, and the systematic use of school-wide strategies combine to form the basis of our unique program. Thinking Maps® and the EmPower writing strategy are important tools that help our students organize their ideas in a consistent manner. Speech-Language Pathologists teach students testing-taking and memory strategies that can assist them across all content areas. Classes are small, eight students on average, and The Norman Howard School maintains high standards in curriculum content, with instruction delivered to meet individual needs of students.
Students share that they see the school as a safe environment to learn in and grow as individuals, and where they are encouraged to acknowledge and take personal responsibility for their growth. An important goal we set forth is for our students understand themselves as learners, by recognizing their strengths as well as their needs, and acquiring the confidence and skills to self-advocate.
A variety of electives and after-school activities provide students with opportunities for enrichment and broadening the educational experience and help to promote self-assurance and positive interaction.
Unlike most schools, Reading, Writing, and English Language Arts are separate classes allowing students and teachers to focus optimal learning time on building and practicing critical skills. Please explore the Middle School and High School pages for sample courses and topics covered in each subject.
Unique to The Norman Howard School
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Our Renowned Reading Program
Students who enroll at The Norman Howard School receive reading instruction designed to meet their needs. Accepted students come in over the summer for class placement assessments in reading (and math). Students who demonstrate skills markedly below grade level are placed in a remedial reading class that focuses on decoding, fluency, and comprehension.
Wilson Reading & Really Great Reading
The Norman Howard School utilizes the Wilson Reading System and Really Great Reading, which are evidence-based, to teach word analysis, sight word recognition, oral reading accuracy, fluency and comprehension. Students receive remedial instruction daily for 45 minutes. Reading classes are never larger than three students, and sometimes students receive one-to-one reading instruction, depending on their needs. Ongoing charting is used to monitor progress in word recognition and spelling. Curriculum-based assessment, using the Wilson Assessment of Decoding and Encoding, is completed three times per year. Standardized testing is used to measure annual growth.
Read Naturally, another evidence-based reading program, is used in conjunction with the Wilson Program. It focuses on fluency, vocabulary development, and comprehension. Fluency and accuracy are assessed at the beginning and end of each week. Each unit contains a comprehension quiz. Students in remedial programs are provided with at-home access to Lexia, a web-based program that aligns with the decoding skills taught in the decoding and oral accuracy programs. Students who do not need basic skill development are placed in reading comprehension classes. Reading Advantage is the foundational program for reading comprehension. Close reading activities and text-based written responses are used to improve student comprehension. Ongoing curriculum based measures are used to assess progress as well as annual standardized measures.
Foreign Language Class
For students who do not have reading needs and are not exempt from taking a foreign language, a foreign language class would take the place of reading. Foreign language typically does not start until 7th grade, or later. Students can select either Spanish or French.
Compelling Elective Courses
Electives are offered on a quarterly rotation to all students. In our Middle School, students take each one to provide students an opportunities to explore their interests and talents, and discover new ones. Starting in 10th grade, students self-select courses and concentrate on subjects of particular interest.
The photography program offers the “best of both worlds” with the opportunity to learn digital and 35 mm skills in the classroom studio, on location, and in our on-campus darkroom. The program serves a two-fold purpose: it provides a safe place for students to express themselves artistically and a setting in which to develop personal responsibility and leadership skills. This careful balance of artistic freedom and personal responsibility has been the foundation of our program since its inception. Encouraging a love for the art of photography and photo development is the main goal. This allows students to take creative risks and experiment with the artistry of taking photos instead of worrying that their photo is not “perfect”.
Maker Place is a dynamic art and building class that embeds science, math literacy and the arts. Students have an opportunity to create in a supportive and enriching environment. This engaging hands-on experience provides exposure to possible career and vocational interests while also allowing students an opportunity to increase their skill level in areas such as building, sculpting, designing, and printing. Students plan and research project ideas including CAD design,
3-D and laser printing. Each class is tailored to the unique interests and skill level of the student.
The emphasis of the visual arts program is on development of students’ personal expression through art exploration, creation and reflection as well as an understanding of visual literacy- the ability to identify, read and understand images. Students work from close observation, imagination and memory in a choice based, theme oriented curriculum. Students bring their interests to class and explore traditional and non-traditional art media and techniques, both 2-D and 3-D, including printmaking, painting, drawing assemblage, hand built and thrown ceramics and digital art.
Outdoor Education (High School)
Monthly activities are designed to build self-confidence as well as effective listening and leadership skills. Team building is an important part of the program. Students work together to plan annual overnight trips as diverse as white water rafting, canoeing, hiking and sea kayaking. These much looked forward to trips give students the opportunity to practice the skills they have acquired in class and the chance to interact with their peers outside of school.
Forensics (12th grade only)
Students learn and practice skills used in the fields of criminal investigation, criminal justice, forensic anthropology, and other related areas. While the majority of the coursework is focused toward laboratory and hands-on lessons, the forensics class also offers a unique opportunity for students to develop higher level literacy skills. Through the review of modern scientific literature students develop the skills to effectively read and draw information from journal, news, and technical articles in a supported environment.