Sunday, May 7, 2017

Proposed New Schedules for St. Mary's Academy Middle School

Proposed Schedule and Assessment Changes in the MS - 2017-18

During late-starts professional development time, MS faculty meetings, and in small groups during planning periods, the MS faculty has been considering ways to enhance the learning environment at St. Mary's Academy. 

Our guiding questions include the following:
     How can we deepen learning and joy of learning at school?
     How can we slow the hectic pace of a typical school day?
     How can we structure learning at school to focus homework on reading and math?
     How can we more intentionally use one-to-one technology at school? 
     How can we better guide students in the ethical and social use of technology?
     How can we better prepare students to be smart and creative problem-solvers?
     How can we build character traits such as resiliency, perseverance, courtesy,....
     How can we make learning more relevant?

This coming school year, we will test a new schedule. Five smaller sections of ~15-17 students are scheduled for 55-minute core academic periods that rotate over five days. Each teacher and student meet four of five sections each day. Grade-level CAT time will occur on core days and the traditional MS CAT will meet on Wednesday, for community service, and for CAT games. Religion classes will meet on core class days. Religion, electives, sports, and physical education are 40-45-minutes.

Sixth sports and PE are scheduled together. No electives or fine arts for sixth grade occurs during fourth period. This allows the day to end with religion or electives rather than with core academic classes, something that is not possible with the current schedule.

This year, to provide more regular professional development and in line with RJ and Kent, SMA’s Middle School will have a late start every Wednesday. As in the past, a monitored study hall will be available beginning at 7:30 a.m. on the late-start Wednesdays. In addition, the HS NHS will offer a math lab for those students who arrive at the regular time on Wednesday. This will also be an ideal time for contracted tutors to meet their clients. We hope to develop more options for early arrivals. We also encourage those students who are able, sleep a little later.

On late-start Wednesday, students will engage in exploratory classes and teachers will team up to plan and lead those classes. Products could be a video or writing piece, a presentation of learning, cooperative research work, or problem-solving explorations. On these days, contracted remediation specialists will be able to schedule time with individual students.

In addition, we are reformatting the report card to include learning traits such as engagement, persistence, self-control, respect, collaboration, organization in addition to noting academic progress. After a bit more editing and conferencing, we will provide a link. 

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