Q&A Notes from May 22, 2019
Q: What problems/concerns/issues did you see when you looked internally to guide the process? What did the data show you?
All students were surveyed and one of the big takeaways was what they said regarding what they were going through emotionally - stress, overloaded with other activities or home duties, unhappiness, students going through very trying situations- and we did not have a time during the school day to help address these concerns. The staff determined that the number one hope was to help address these concerns with a seminar type setting (small group).
Q: What are the changes/concerns with students losing choice going from 8 hours to 6 hours per day? Will they lose choices?
We looked at other middle schools around Kansas with respect to schedules and decided to cut the LA/Eng block from the day as well add the seminar. To keep class lengths at least at 45 minutes, it was necessary to make some changes to how electives, PE and health are offered.
6th graders- effectively do not lose any electives (as their former RAMP class becomes Seminar), only change is going from two 45 minute LA classes to one 55 minute LA class
7th and 8th graders - will lose ½ year elective choice over the course of 2 years (but will spend more time in the electives they choose due to class times being longer) and will have one semester of health/PE per year instead of alternating A/B days.
Q: How was the schedule determined?
The staff wrote goals mid-year for the “most needed” items in our schedule (based on data we looked at, other school visits, personal reflection, and experience):
Seminar, Longer Class Times, Smaller Class Sizes, Team Time
Basic Schedule notes:
5 minute passing periods will be implemented
Classes will be 55 minutes, classes will start on the hour and students will have 7 transitions per day vs. 8
There will be 3 lunch periods - about 200 kids per lunch period
Central Time (seminar) will be 30 minutes
Teachers will have common plan time allowing the opportunity to collaborate and plan.
Q: Will class sizes be reduced?
Math will go up, others will go down. (In general, this is always dependent on enrollment choices made by students and the hours of the day that classes are offered).
Q: What will MTSS/SPED structure look like?
There will be 2 math and 2 reading SPED teachers next year. Students who are functioning 2-3 or more grade levels below grade level may be placed in an intervention math or reading class and work on their specific goals during that time. Students would be working with other students at performing at the same ability level, not necessarily by grade level. This will mean students who in the past had math support or reading intervention and missed an elective course in the past will now be able to enroll in an elective class. These teachers will also have classrooms next to each other allowing for more flexibility in terms of students moving between those classes to meet their needs.
Q: How will teachers be able use that extra 10 minutes of class time?
In math specifically, the time will better align with the recommended time from NCTM and our textbook publishers and allow teachers to spend a little more time with each lesson.
In science, teachers will be able to allow a little more time for labs and hopefully have time to process those labs with students.
Q: How do we structure lunch so that no kids are eating alone? (This year we have assigned seats so no one eats alone)
Flex seating will allow more options. Central time will also help to build more connections/bonds between students and they will also look for those lone students.
Q: Can there be/will there be options for kids who want a quiet lunch zone? Counseling conference room, office conference room can be options for students who want a few minutes to recollect their thoughts. Some teachers give up duty free lunches to offer time in their classrooms.
Q: How will social/emotional skills be measured?
We have been using a system that comes from KSDE/KU measuring 18 areas (assertiveness, self-regulation, sustained attention, etc). This will continue to be used.
The district has purchased another tool (Zellow) that will also be used- in 6th grade it is more learning style focused and by 8th grade it starts to focus more on developing a plan of study that will follow them to high school so they can more more informed decisions regarding
As a school we can also measure attendance and behaviour as well as use teacher observation.
Q: Are teachers being asked to do more?
Yes, in some areas there will be more asked of teachers (new classes to teach, new schedule structures, new Central Time curriculum) but there are a few areas that may be less (smaller class sizes, fewer content classes). Core teachers at each grade level (social studies, math, science, and English) will have some collaboration time built into the schedule which will provide them time to build collaborative projects. Approximately ⅓ of our staff are attending Project Based Learning Training this summer with the intent of building grade level interdisciplinary projects for future years.
Q: Will there be more parent meetings regarding redesign and/or how can parents keep on top of new information and future changes?
This is a multi-year process and there will very likely be more factors that we will need to address and we will continue to garner input. We are trying to find the best format to do so (surveys, meetings, or other). Encourage parents to also read all information (Newsletters, etc) that come from the school.
Also available- redesign tab on the ACMS webpage.
Q: What about advanced classes?
Math will stay as it is (there will be 2 sections per grade level, so class sizes will likely go up).
Science will no longer have advanced (this was a district level decision).
Language Arts advanced students will be integrated into other classes (they will have advanced criteria to meet).
Q: What will the combined English and Language Arts class be called on the schedule?
English Language Arts
Q: Are we addressing the gap for students who are struggling with social/behavior concerns? (Is there something similar to the MTSS/Intervention academic structure for behavior?)
Staff will be receiving trauma informed training. We will also be piloting a mentoring program. Another goal is that Central Time can also help to address these issues (build bonds with students, help them to self-regulate and develop other soft skills.)
Additionally, other discipline strategies (such as a cool down room) are being investigated and may be looked at over the next few years.