New projects bring excitement to GBEMS classrooms
In its first LSIC (Local School Improvement Council) meeting of the 2011-2012 school year, the board of education met Monday night at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School. Principal Melvin Lindsey and several teachers shared information about new projects being implemented at the school.
Science teacher Anne Smith said her sixth grade students will participate in the Trout in the Classroom program this year. Smith was contacted by Peggy Quarles, of Trout Unlimited, who provided funding for the program.
The Trout in the Classroom program provides trout eggs to the school. The students study the eggs as they go through the life cycle to become fish. Once the fish are mature, Smith said she will ask the DNR to help release them into a local stream.
Smith said she is excited about the project, because it gives the students a hands-on opportunity and brings their studies to life.
ﾓThe program has all types of lesson plans, and they have that trout in front of them,ﾔ she said. ﾓThey see what weﾒre talking about when we explain the changes of the life cycle. We have something that they can use to hook that knowledge on. I canﾒt just teach them facts, because theyﾒll just forget it.ﾔ
Smith said she was inspired by the recent visit from the US Forest Serviceﾒs bat cave. She bought lumber to make 14 bat/birdhouse kits for the students to construct. Duane Gibsonﾒs carpentry class at Pocahontas County High School cut the kits and, once they are completed, the houses will be placed around the GBEMS campus.
The eighth grade science students will travel to the Mountain Institute to study watersheds. Smith said she and math teacher Julie Brown will accompany the students, who will implement science and math lessons in the field during the trip.
Brown reported on the Carnegie Learning program she is using with her middle school math students. The program is online based and prepares students for the Westest. Unlike Odyssey, a free program, Carnegie does not allow the student to just choose an answer and move on to the next question. With Carnegie, the student is expected to show their work before the question is completed.
Brown said her students have shown a new appreciation for their work and seem to enjoy using Carnegie Learning.
ﾓUnless the student is willing to engage themselves into it and decide theyﾒre going to learn it, itﾒs not going to teach them a thing,ﾔ she said
Instead of just picking a, b, c or d, the students are engaged in solving the problem.
In other updates:
ﾕ Lindsey said the school is working with reading interventionists Kathy Snyder and Joann Persinger, to assist the students with their comprehension skills. Reading and writing are weighted more on the new Westest, and Lindsey said he believes the interventionists will help the students raise their scores.
GBEMS did not make AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress) this year. Because GBEMS is K-8, the elementary and middle school scores were lumped together. Lindsey said he believes the school would have met AYP if the elementary and middle schools were separated.
ﾕ Guidance counselor Ira Brown reported that the newsletter is a new elective class for middle school students. Language Arts teacher Beth Peterson is working with the students, who write stories to accompany the calendar in the newsletter.
Brown said the Natural Helpers are working very hard to improve the school environment. Students who want to be Natural Helpers must submit an application to him and he selects between 20 and 24 to serve. NH raised money by selling water and juice during school hours. With the money raised, the organization plans to build a gazebo on the soccer field and buy a new microwave for the cafeteria.
ﾕ Fourth grade teacher Cheryl Nelson reported on the annual fourth grade trip to Washington, D.C. She shared an itinerary from last yearﾒs trip, and said the students are looking forward to the trip this school year. Some changes have been made. If they can raise enough money, they will travel by charter buses.
Nelson also thanked the board for hiring Wanda Hrabina as technical support for the computer lab. She explained that it is now easier to work with the students on Acuity because Hrabina can work on technical issues, while Nelson can focus on helping students with sample tests.
ﾕ Second grade teacher June Taylor shared writing samples from her students. Taylor and fellow second grade teacher Karen Murphy are working with the students on writing skills by having a creative writing session each day. Middle school students are also assisting with the project by working with the second grade students.
ﾕ Title I Reading Specialist Aleisa Wayne said she and Brooke Dickenson are working hard with the students on math and reading skills. Wayne said she recently finished the DIBELS (Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills) testing and the students did very well, although she did have an issue with the technology. Wayne uses a netbook to administer the test and it has several glitches that hinder the testing.
Wayne expressed her concern with the reading comprehension of the upper grades. She said the testing revealed that girls in the fifth and sixth grade can read 120-to-140 words a minute, but they cannot retain the information they read. Because they can read the words, they meet the benchmark. The students are scoring high because they can read fast, not because they understand what they are reading.
ﾕ Board president Kenneth Vance asked how the school is addressing drop-out intervention. Lindsey explained that Cheryl Jonese, academic interventionist, is working with at-risk students to council and assist them with any problems they may have at school or at home. Lucy Rittenhouse is also working with middle school students on a one-on-one basis to assist with any problems they face.
ﾕ The board accepted the resignation of board member Margaret Worth and approved Thomas VanReenen as the new board member.