Archive for October, 2012

Teacher Feature – Stephanie Luckett

October 23, 2012

Stephanie Luckett, a math teacher at MHS, believes students need a chance to move around the classroom and collaborate with each other. “I feel like if I can’t sit still for 100 minutes, then how do I expect my students to?” Luckett attempts to involve some form of group work into each day’s lesson plans because she believes the interaction between the students is important to keep them focused and engaged.

One strategy she incorporates in her geometry class allows students time to work together and also leads into her discussion about the Triangle Inequality Theorem. She has students use “angle legs”, plastic pieces of different lengths. Students connect pieces together, record their lengths, and identify whether the three lengths form a triangle. Students must collaborate to speculate on why some made triangles and others did not.

“Around the Room” is another strategy Luckett uses in her classroom to get students out of their seats. Laminated math problems are posted around the room. As the students complete each problem, they can place a star next to any which are difficult. Once all students have finished, Luckett reviews any starred problems to make sure they master the concept being taught. She feels this is an innovative alternative to having students complete a worksheet at their desks.

Luckett also uses problems posted around the room as a pretest strategy. Students complete five problems at the beginning of class. After the lesson, they do the same problems again which helps Luckett gauge their growth in understanding.

In Algebra II, Luckett recently did a group activity using a turn board. The board had 4 jobs numbered 1-4. #1 was assigned to a lower level student and # 4 to a higher level student. For a lesson on adding rational expressions, #1 picks a rational expression. # 2 picks a rational expression and whether to add or subtract. #3 has to find the common denominators and change the rational expression to contain this common denominator. #4 has to add/subtract and then simplify the problem. This is differentiated by the students’ understanding and is done 4 times. Each time the students switch roles, so the lower student sees the problems done several times before they have to complete #4.

Videos are also used creatively by Luckett to increase student interest. She frequently shows videos or posts them on her website for her students to watch. This has encouraged her students, and one even made a rap about the hierarchic of numbers.

Luckett’s innovative instructional strategies capture her students’ attention and increase their motivation in school. She states, “I try to incorporate something into my lesson every day where the students are interacting with each other no matter how small of an activity it is.” These activities may be small but they have big results, and the students of MCPS are benefitting from her efforts.

MCPS Students Support Ronald McDonald House Charities

October 8, 2012

The students of MCPS are collecting tabs from aluminum cans to help the Ronald McDonald House Charities. These charities help families stay near and support a hospitalized child, stay together in another city while a child is undergoing treatment, or even get basic medical and dental care.

According to the Ronald McDonald House Charities website, the program’s mission is to create, find and support programs that directly improve the health and well-being of children. Guiding them in their mission are their core values:

  • Focusing on the critical needs of children.
  • Celebrating the diversity of the programs offered and the staff, volunteers and donors who make them possible.
  • Staying true to the heritage of 38 years of responsible stewardship.
  • Operating with accountability and transparency.

Can tabs are collected instead of entire aluminum cans because it’s more hygienic to store tabs than cans, and collection and storage is easier. After the tabs are collected, the local RMHC Chapter takes the tabs to local recycling centers, where they are weighed to determine their value. The program is an easy way for people of all ages to support RMHC and know they are making a difference for families and children.

Shown with jugs of can tabs they have donated are Matthew Wilson, II, Savannah Carmell, and Joe Hall.

Although the tabs are being kept at St. Clare Walker, students from Middlesex Elementary School and Middlesex High School have also contributed to the project. Collection will continue throughout the year.

Please support the efforts of MCPS students by contributing can tabs to this project. For more information, please contact Linden Barrick at 758-2561.

MCPS adopts MAP Assessments

October 3, 2012

MCPS has adopted a new assessment program for the 2012-2013 school year. Assistant Superintendent Mr. Michael Cromartie explains the benefits of MAP test by stating, “The greatest strength of the Measures of Academic Progress is that it includes adaptive assessments that adjust to the proficiencies of each student who takes them. This ultimately gives us a data set specifically tailored to a single student as opposed to data that only compares that student’s performance to others in a cohort. Student yields from MAP tests give us an outstanding shot to identify individual student growth.”

Many students have already begun the process by taking the fall assessment in math, reading, and language arts. As they test, the assessment adjusts, or adapts, to how the student answers each question. If a student answers correctly, the program automatically raises the rigor of the next question. If a question is answered incorrectly, the rigor will then be decreased. This allows the test to accurately target a student’s learning level.

The purpose of adaptive tests is to give an accurate measure of a student’s current standing on a RIT scale, which is an equal interval scale. Equal interval means that the difference between scores is the same regardless of whether a student is at the top, bottom, or middle of the RIT scale, and it has the same meaning regardless of grade level. The test will be given three times per year to track student progress along the RIT scale.

The MAP assessment data also offers teachers invaluable reports that break down a student’s strengths and weaknesses, so additional instruction or remediation can immediately address areas of need. Instead of being placed in a remediation group solely based on SOL scores from the previous year, students may only need remediation in one or two strands of knowledge, and the MAP test will pinpoint these strands so the remediation groups may be smaller and therefore more effective.

Amy Stamm, principal of MES, explains, “The results from this adaptive assessment gives us the ability to be very prescriptive to each individuals instructional level which ensures that we have the information necessary to help each student achieve.”

Instead of adding additional assessments for our students, the MAP tests will replace some of the tests given in the past. Some grade levels may use this assessment in place of STAR reading tests, ARDT, CogAT, Iowa Test of Basic Skills, and mid-year benchmarks, thereby lessening the number of assessments students are required to take during the year with no loss of data.

Overall, the addition of the MAP assessments will greatly benefit the students of MCPS. Superintendent Dr. James Lane explains, “The MAP testing initiative will fundamentally change how we assess and track student growth throughout the year.”

If you have questions about the MAP assessments, please do not hesitate to contact your student’s teachers or school administration.

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