Middle School

3 students wear the glasses made in Makerspace for the school musical.
Welcome to Middle School at DVFriends.
DVFriends’ Middle School Program combines the highest standards in adolescent education with the best practices in teaching students with learning differences. Our dedicated faculty delivers an educational experience that is developmentally appropriate and responsive, academically challenging, and empowering. We address our students' learning differences by providing multiple learning and teaching opportunities that respond to students' diverse learning backgrounds. Using methods within the Orton-Gillingham approach to reading and language acquisition, students receive direct and explicit instruction in a variety of study skills designed to help bridge the gap between the middle school program and our college preparatory upper school program.
Quaker values are a central aspect of the school's approach at all grade levels. Respect for the individual's unique strengths and talents, as well as an emphasis on community, provide a safe, nurturing and positive atmosphere for young adolescents.
We invite you to learn more about the program below, and please, join us for an Admissions Event where we can meet face-to-face and answer any of your questions.
In Friendship,
Jason Seggern's signature
Jason Seggern
Jason Seggern
Lower & Middle School Director
Two eighty-five-minute classes and one seventy-five minute class provides opportunities for multiple teaching approaches as well as time for students to work collaboratively and one-on-one with a teacher in a single class period. This extended instructional time allows for rich exploration into content and provides the space needed for direct explicit academic skill instruction.
Learn more about our innovative schedule for middle and upper school here
Middle school language arts uses the Orton-Gillingham approach to teach the following key components of language acquisition: decoding, spelling, writing, vocabulary and morphology (word forms and roots), oral reading fluency, and reading comprehension. We have developed our own accredited Orton-Gillingham teacher training program focused on teaching language skills to adolescent learners. All of our language arts teachers receive training and certification in this program.
In middle school, English and language arts are separate classes. Where language arts focuses on developing literacy skills, English class focuses on reading grade-level fiction and developing critical reading and writing skills. Students study texts representing diverse voices and cover a wide variety of genres, time periods and world cultures. Students use readings to improve their analytical, informative and persuasive writing skills. Students are encouraged to use assistive technology for reading and writing when necessary.
In middle school, we use Judith Hochman’s’ approach to teaching basic writing skills across the curriculum. Writing instruction begins at the sentence level. And as students advance, they begin composing pieces of writing with varying purposes and lengths using more sophisticated structures and vocabulary. Additionally, students will practice keyboarding and cursive writing.
The DVFriends middle school math program uses a very specific multisensory approach that emphasizes numeracy and automatic recognition of quantity and quantity relationships. Students learn new skills through a progression that starts at the concrete level using manipulatives to demonstrate concepts. This tactile experience helps students grasp the next level which is representational (illustration-based). Finally, the students are ready to tackle the skill in the abstract (using digits and traditional formulas) because the concept is now grounded in real meaning. We understand that students may vary in their ability to retrieve math facts and that some students will have gaps in conceptual and procedural knowledge. Students are placed in sections based on their skill level and advanced students may be placed in Algebra or Geometry.
At DVFriends, middle school science is taught through a multi-modal approach using various verbal, visual, tactile, kinesthetic activities. The major skills taught include: making observations and inferences, using metric measurements, communicating and interpreting data, comprehension of science text, materials management, and collaboration with peers. Each year, students engage in a STEM-based course of study and project.
These include:
  • Earth and space science with a Mission to Mars STEM project
  • Life science with a STEM project centered on the relationship between plants and animals by looking at caterpillars and Wisconsin fast plants.
  • Physical science with a STEM project building and developing presentations for wind turbine prototypes.
The social studies curriculum integrates concept and skills learning. The focus of the sixth and seventh-grade program is American History. Students travel back in time to study geography, government, civics, growth of industry, Civil War, and Reconstruction. The focus of the eighth-grade program is 20th and 21st-century American history. Areas of study include essential themes such as immigration, the growth of big business, Urbanization, and the Progressive Movement, the first and second world wars, the Civil Rights Movement, the Cold War, the modern crisis in the Middle East and the Post 9/11 World. Areas of expressive and receptive language skill development including finding the main idea and organizing details through note-taking are integrated into all lessons. Ongoing discussions of various topics, current events, analysis of primary documents, map skills, and study and test-taking strategies are integral parts of the program.
Executive functioning skills such as managing time, self-awareness, initiating and following thru with tasks, and, breaking tasks into sequential steps- are often areas of need for our students. Knowing this we train our teachers based on consultation with executive function experts Russel Barkley and Sarah Ward. It is important to note that this instruction does not exist as a pull-out model or a substitution for an elective.
The middle school Advisory program provides the opportunity for each student to have an adult advocate who also serves as their parents' first point of contact when communicating with the school. Advisories have 6-8 students and a teacher. Advisory periods meet at the start and end of each day, as well as a daily 35 minute advisory period the middle of the day. Advisors help students properly prepare for the day - check their email, organize their class materials and assignments to hand in, and plan any time they need to schedule with specific teachers. Advisors provide support to make sure students have a plan and the materials they will need to complete homework assignments. There is an emphasis on materials management and for students to practice and become more independent with self-advocacy skills.
Technology is integrated through the program and is highlighted by the student laptop program. Each student is provided with a laptop computer loaded with all the software they need for each class - as well as any individualized assistive tools specific to their learning needs. Teachers encourage students to explore these tools as a means to enhance their learning strategies. Teachers use technology as a means to uniquely deliver instruction and organize content. Our middle school teachers are constantly exploring new and better ways to support students learning using technology.  
Middle School students enjoy a rotation of fine arts classes that provide an introduction to each discipline. Students experience drawing and painting, ceramics, paper and print-making, and even a little bit of culinary arts. These classes are critical in our students’ development as well-rounded individuals, and therefore given the same amount of time in the schedule as the academic disciplines.
Part of the arts rotation, the middle school MakerSpace class encourages hands-on and creative ways for students to design, experiment, build, and invent. Students hone their design thinking skills on a wide array of physical construction and digital challenges. The project-based learning experiences encourage students to question, collaborate, think critically, problem-solve, communicate and discover new knowledge.
Also part of the arts rotation, middle school music follows an improvisational-based curriculum that covers the three main elements of music, melody, rhythm and harmony. In addition, students begin creating their own songs in Garageband. Music teacher Tim Simmons developed this curriculum based on research that demonstrated the neurological intersection between music and language. The improvisational exercises in music class stimulate the pathways in the brain that also address their language learning needs.
Students learn to use their voices and bodies as they explore acting and movement through improvisational games. Students enjoy the physical aspect of this class and have a lot of fun learning from teacher Khalil Munir, a DVFriends alumnus who is himself an award-winning actor.
Middle school students perform individually and in groups in several of the school’s concerts, including a fall “open mic” coffeehouse, annual holiday concert, and the end of year annual art show. Middle school students also participate in the school’s annual original musical production as writers, musicians, stage crew or cast members.
In Middle School Physical Education classes, students are exposed to many different activities that use eye/hand and eye/foot coordination. Throwing, catching, dodging, aiming, basic movements and game situations are explored. Some games and activities are team-oriented while others are individual. A variety of the activities are designed to promote problem-solving and critical thinking. In all activities, sportsmanship, teamwork and supporting one another are modeled and emphasized. Students are encouraged to be physically active and learn the benefits of lifelong activity. In middle school, students also take part in health class which emphasizes healthy lifestyle choices and includes units on nutrition, healthy relationships, and drug and alcohol abuse.
Middle school students are welcome to participate in student government committees (service, activities, diversity) as well as start new clubs. Middle school students have led the way in starting the school’s Environmental Club, which has initiated a composting program at the school. Middle school participates in school-wide social activities like movie nights and off-campus meet-ups at places like trampoline parks, as well as having their own middle school dances at school.
Middle school participates in larger school-wide service projects such as food and toy drives around the holidays, as well as conducting their own service projects like making plastic mats to donate to animal shelters. Service is an important community value and central to the Stewardship tenet of Quaker practice.
Middle school students can join any of DVFriends’ interscholastic athletic teams. The school offers soccer, cross country, tennis, basketball, lacrosse, golf, and ultimate frisbee. DVFriends teams are no-cut and emphasize skills development and sportsmanship while still being competitive in our league. Middle school athletes make friends across grades and divisions and learn leadership and teamwork through school athletics.
There are two overnight experiential learning experiences for 8th-grade students offered each year. In the Fall, 8th-grade students go to Washington DC for a multi-disciplinary field trip that includes activities related to history, science, multi-culturalism, and the arts. In the Spring, 8th-grade students travel to Wallops Island where they participate in a variety of science and team-building activities. Participation in these trips is covered by tuition.
Middle school is an integral part of DVFriends’ Quaker community, and the students participate in daily all-school Gathering and weekly Meeting for Worship. These are Quaker practices that begin with silence in which members of the community may stand and share what is on their minds if so moved, followed by announcements. Middle school students often announce club meetings, sports results, friends’ birthdays, and introduce visitors during announcements.
Middle school students also participate in all-school community time -- a designated period of about 35 minutes each day for unstructured fellowship and community-building. Students go outside and play on the turf field or Dragon’s Rock play space, attend club or committee meetings, or just spend time hanging out and socializing with friends. This is an important time for non-academic activities, building social skills, and enjoying a brain break between class periods.

The School shall not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, national or ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, age, disability or marital status in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, scholarship and loan programs, athletic and other school-administered programs, or in hiring, use of volunteers or board membership.