MMS succeeding with focused lessons
At the board of education meeting at Marlinton Middle School Monday night, representatives from the four cores of math, reading/language arts, science and social studies, gave updates on the progress of each class.
Kim Shinaberry reported that all the math teachers are focusing on weak areas in order to improve student’s understanding and Westest scores.
“If fifth grade, we do Mental Math and Mad Minute in the morning at the beginning of class to get them thinking,” Shinaberry said. “It’s usually on the four major areas – adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing.”
In seventh grade, Lesli Mensing does Bell Ringers in the morning and for eighth grade, Nebraska Beverage does a Problem of the Day.
“We’re trying to spend more time on the weaker areas and I think it seems to be working,” Shinaberry added.
In the reading and language arts department, the grade levels are also focusing on specific areas of the subject.
“We are basically doing the same thing,” Stephanie Burns reported. “For fifth grade in reading, they are focusing on details. Sixth grade, main ideas; seventh grade, connections and eighth grade, theme.”
Writing is also broken down into areas per grade: fifth grade, organization; sixth grade, sentence structure; seventh grade, development; and eighth grade, word choice and grammar.
Burns asked student Taylor Tegtmeyer to present examples of projects the students have done.
“First thing we did was a personal newsletter where each of us was editor of our own newspaper and we had five articles,” Tegtmeyer said. “Second thing we did was a Mothman debate. We looked up informative articles and took a position where we either believed in him or not and wrote an essay on that position.”
Tegtmeyer also read a poem he wrote about fall and put it into a PowerPoint presentation.
Jan Jonese said in the eighth grade, the students keep a portfolio of their work and are focusing on improving their use of descriptive words and complex sentences.
Jonese had students Allie Burns and Sydney Rose present examples from their portfolios.
Burns also reported on the success of the reading program where students from the middle school travel to Marlinton Elementary School to read to the students there.
“We have now increased the program to 24 students from sixth, seventh and eighth grade and they are going down and reading to kindergarten, first, second, third and one fourth grade class,” Burns said. “Our students absolutely love it. Their students love it and the teachers are very excited about the program.”
Burns said she has applied for a grant from the Snowshoe Foundation to expand the program to other subject areas. She plans to have different projects each month in social studies, science and art, as well as other areas.
Science teacher Denise Sharp said the science department is following the same curriculum as the reading and math departments. She explained that when she evaluated her CSOs (Contest Standards and Objectives) and the Westest scores in science, she noticed the students are tested in areas that she is not able to cover.
“What I’ve noticed is some of those areas, I don’t teach,” Sharp said. “I don’t have time. I have decided, for myself, that I’m going to continue working at the pace that I work and I’m going to incorporate a couple new CSOs, and hopefully pull up those other CSOs so their Westest scores are better.”
Sharp, who also teaches fifth grade social studies, said she is worried about the state’s new CSOs, Next Generation, because they are implemented in the classroom now, but they do not correlate with the Westest questions.
“We’re having to teach with the Next Generation CSOs, however, the Westest is not even set for that,” she said. “When we get our social studies scores back next year, who knows what will happen with those.”
Sharp also reported that the across-the-curriculum activities, which has students learning how to incorporate all subjects in everything they do. Instead of just studying volcanoes in science, the students are also learning about volcanoes in social studies, writing about them in language arts and finding the circumference and area of a volcano in science.
“We do Newton’s Laws in eighth grade. We incorporated roller coasters into that and I use the math department for that,” Sharp said. “We do volcanoes and they are going to do a research paper in reading/language arts on that.”
Social Studies teacher Kristi Tankersly said it has been difficult to work with the Next Generation CSOs, but it has enabled her to become more creative in class.
“There is a whole new section for social studies in the literary department,” Tankersly said. “That gives [us] a chance to collaborate. One of the other things we’re going to do this year, which I think is going to be a big success, is the social studies and science fairs. We’re going to mandate that students do them.”
Tankersly said a social studies project covers all her CSOs and both the social studies and science fair projects will be across the curriculum projects.
One of Tankersly’s social studies classes just finished a special project which focused on government.
“We did a Congress project where the kids were congressmen,” she said. “They researched their congressmen, then they had to come up with a bill and introduce it to the senate and house. They had to debate it and they really enjoyed it.”
Tankersly, who is also the physical education teacher, reported that she began a new program this year with the help of a grant from the Snowshoe Foundation.
Archery in Schools was a highly successful program, where the sixth and eighth grade students met after school to learn how to shoot with a bow and arrow. The students enjoyed the program so much they asked Tankersly to start a school team.
Tankersly told the board she would love to start a team, but she has to share the equipment with Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, which was part of the grant. She said it would cost approximately $2,500 to match what she bought with the grant.
25-year-old building in need of some upgrades (subhead)
LCIS president Dottie Brock reported that there are several things that need to be fixed in the school according to a report from the state fire marshal. She said there are four classroom doors that do not lock, the band room needs a strobe light because the students cannot hear the fire alarm when they are practicing and the fire door in the cafeteria is not hooked up to the fire alarm system.
Principal Joe Riley informed the board that the school just celebrated its 25th anniversary in its current building and there are a few items the school needs to upgrade or replace.
The water lines, heating and electrical outlets all need to be upgraded and Riley added that the cafeteria is in dire need of new tables. Most of the tables were new when the school opened and the students have literally outgrown them.
Riley and custodian Tim Wade said they got estimates to refurnish the cafeteria and the cost would be approximately $16-18,000.
The board asked Food Service Director Lisa Dennison to work with Riley and Wade to find funding for the tables.
Riley added that MMS has been the pilot school in Pocahontas County for the new evaluation system for teachers. He said the system has been met with some mixed feelings, mainly because it is time consuming for the teachers to evaluate themselves.
The system will be used by all schools in the state next year.
Riley also introduced the new Farm to Schools AmeriCorps worker, Liza Dobson, who replaced Adrienne Cedarleaf.
Cedarleaf spoke briefly to the board and thanked them for letting her create a garden with the students at MMS.
Riley asked the board if it is considering taking the fifth grade out of the middle school and back to the elementary level.
The board assured Riley and the teachers and parents in attendance that the board has not made any decisions on the fifth grade and it was only discussed at Hillsboro Elementary School at the community forum.
Riley said he likes having the fifth grade at MMS and it makes it easier for him to do a schedule. He added that the fifth grade students are hardly ever co-mingled with the seventh and eighth grade students. It is in a wing with the sixth grade, so there is not much interaction going on between lower grades and upper grades.
The board recognized the following students for their achievements on the Westest: Rhiannon Cohernour, Colton Massey, Julie Agee, Brody Buzzard, Abram Leyzorek, Michael McGee, Braeden Hicks, Jordan Nutter, Elijah Robertson, Garret Sharp, Kayla Sharp, Taylor Tegtmeyer, Kayla Williams, Mark Jordan, Laura Leyzorek, Briana Mills, Briar Wilfong, Macalya Beck, Kayla Gibson, Bradley Harper and Autumn Vance. Each student made distinguished in at least one subject area on the test.
The board thanked all those in attendance for the reports.
In financial management, the board approved the following:
• Payment of vendor listing of claims in the amount of $13,310.96.
• Payment of vendor listing of claims in the amount of $134,754.49.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• Revisions of policy GBRHB-A, Professional Leave.
• To participate in a Teacher-In-Residence program through Concord University.
• Travel requests for December 3.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Employment of Thomas E. Plumley as athletic director at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective for the 2012-2013 season, at a supplement of $750.
• Employment of Douglas L. Burns as assistant girls basketball coach at Marlinton Middle School, effective for the 2012-2013 season, at a supplement of $1,000.
• Employment of Sarah Hedrick as custodian II at Pocahontas County High School and Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective December 5 for the remainder of the 2012-2013 fiscal year, at state minimum salary based on degree and experience. Term of employment is 129 days.
• Requested transfer of Tina L. Jackson from custodian II at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School to cook at Pocahontas County High School, effective December 5 for the remainder of the 2012-2013 school year, at state minimum salary based on degree and experience. Term of employment is 124 days.
The next board meeting will be Monday, December 10, at 7 p.m. at Mountain Quest Inn.
Suzanne Stewart may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org