DuBOIS — Planning for a successful implementation of leading fifth-graders into the DuBois Area Middle School for the 2018-19 school year is one of Assistant Superintendent Wendy Benton’s top priorities.
Just a month since the board voted to move the fifth grade into the middle school, Benton said she has been working with a “very dedicated and committed team” on the plan and is very proud of the direction that they are moving.
There were some concerns about starting the first lunch period at 10 a.m.
“To be quite honest with you, we weren’t crazy about that either. We have researched and analyzed bell schedules, lunch schedules specifically, from numerous different school districts,” Benton said. “The reason that lunch would have to be at 10 is because of the 4th lunch period. I couldn’t find another school that had more than three lunch periods. So we are looking at some different options, and we’re really trying to back that up closer to the 11 a.m. mark, as opposed to 10 a.m.”
The district plans to use an eight-period instructional day. Every period would have 44 instructional minutes. There are no plans to eliminate the Extended Learning Opportunities. That program will just be revamped with a new look, she said.
The plan is to run a club schedule on Monday mornings to accommodate the large group ensembles for band and chorus, Benton said.
“The one thing I’m very excited about is the availability for four music instructors to facilitate instruction with those students,” Benton said. “So although the groups will be large, we will be able to divide and conquer and really provide some great opportunities for the students that choose to participate in band and chorus.”
For those students who choose not to participate, those students remaining on team will benefit from small group instruction and collaboration, intervention and additional enrichment opportunities with their teachers, she said.
“They’re going to be working on goal and progress monitoring with their teachers as well, and the teachers can give them a preview of the weekly expectations, some things that they can really get excited about and look forward to during the week,” Benton said.
Benton said there is a strong likelihood that Title 1 services will be available, and the district already has designated space ready to go if that should be the case.
After a discussion with fifth grade teachers, Benton said one concern was that they wanted to see more time for Eureka Math. She said the district is planning to have two math teachers on every fifth grade team. One math teacher will focus on that large group core instruction. The second math teacher will focus on the small group instruction, or they’ll have the workshops and the centers.
“Hopefully by having 88 minutes, that will be able to provide an opportunity for students to do that independent practice, which means they’ll have less to do at home,” Benton said. “In addition, it’ll provide more time in enrichment to focus on other subject areas because they’ll have that 88 minutes of math every day.”
Science and Social Studies
To be able to do that and work within the team, there will be a science and social studies block.
“I want to be very clear that that in no way means that we are reducing the amount of instruction for science or social studies,” Benton said. Curriculum Director Anne Young has worked very well with the team in recommending curricular changes in which some of the physics standards in science will be incorporated into pre-engineering courses and some of the careers work standards that is currently in social studies will be incorporated to the leadership seminar course for fifth-graders.
“So, despite combining science and social studies, students will actually receive even more instructional time in both subjects even though we’re combining the two,” Benton said. “We’re very very proud of how this plan is progressing.”