Is the BOE as smart as a 5th grader?

By Dean Shipley

March 21, 2014

The students became teachers during the Madison-Plains Board of Education (BOE) meeting Tuesday evening, March 18 at the school. Fifth grade math students from the Intermediate School brought their math tools and knowledge to illustrate what’s going on in math.

“The days of the worksheets are gone,” said Lori Carnevale, principal of the Madison-Plains Intermediate School.

In their place is a team-learning practice. Students divided into pairs and set up their tools on the tables as administrators and BOE members moved to the stations. BOE member Ken Morlock was engaged by Michael Walker and Josh Champer in a lesson on equivalent fractions. They had a ruler-like piece of plastic with the number one printed thereon. A die, on which fractions were printed on the face, was cast by the student. The fraction one-half came up and a tile, exactly one-half of the “one piece,” was placed on top. Other rolls of the die yielded one-sixteenth, twice.

Two sixteenths is the equivalent of one-eighth. So the two one-sixteenth tiles were removed and were replaced with a tile reading one-eighth. The object is to fill the one piece with enough fractions to add up to one.

BOE president Kelly Cooley noted the excitement for math learning which was taking place throughout the room. It was infectious she said.

Carnevale’s report on reading levels is cause for concern and presents challenges for the staff. She was the first to admit the low levels of comprehension, based on testing already completed are “not good.” Students are reading at levels below their grade levels.

To bring them up to their own grade levels, Carnevale said the school has hired Liz Pronai as an reading intervention specialist in an effort to bring up reading comprehension in all grades.

“We’re analyzing the data to a new level,” Carnevale said.

In his report, Geoffrey Beane, principal of the kindergarten through third grade school said reading is also a focus in those classrooms. Students are placed in learning zones, that is students tested as accelerated are grouped together, those who are struggling are put together.

He said the schedule has been modified to provide more time for reading, up to 150 minutes of English/Language arts, which he said is well above the 90 minutes required by the state.

Beane said the school has communicated to the parents and their participation in raising reading levels is key to the process.

Students will have four opportunities to pass the state’s OAA test.

So the staff is putting in place measures to ensure all will pass.

“We are making a difference,” he said. “Kids are growing.”

Dean Shipley can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 17 or via Twitter @DeanAShipley.