Norwood kids

A team of six teachers is taking the mystery out of math for third-graders at Norwood Elementary in West Jefferson with a program rotating students throughout classrooms and learning groups.

Children are tested on ability and achievement prior to the start of each new mathematical chapter and then assigned to an appropriate group and instructor. The program is modeled after one used by the Westerville City School District.

“We’ve been talking about this for years,” said teacher Shannon Miller. “We went to a workshop and said, ‘This is something other schools are doing. Why aren’t we?’ We’re testing kids on what they already know, trying to hit all groups, and every student out there.”

Prior to the start of the program last fall, all third-grade students were evaluated to determine their ability level and where they needed additional help. Instructors also rotate prior to the start of each new chapter depending on the needs of the children. Parents are sent a letter introducing the teacher and outlining goals for the session.

According to the teaching team, who presented a report to the Jefferson Local Board of Education on April 14, the new system affords instructors the opportunity to plan together. Every student is taught the same skill, albeit with different instructional styles and at different levels; class sizes are smaller with 14 to 20 stu-dents; and third-graders have shown individual growth.

“Definitely, we feel like we’re more effective teachers,” continued Miller.

 Students say they enjoy the variety of teaching styles, and teachers enjoy getting to know every third-grader. They also have the ability to take students who have mastered skills and enrich their learning experience with more challenging activities. The instructors also report that parents provide positive verbal feedback.

Drawbacks are few. Teachers cited the need for a resource room for students on Individual Education Plans who struggle with grade-level curriculum, said the process is time-consuming, and stated they must create supplemental materials for different ability levels on the same concept.

Board member Megan Hiss, who has a third-grade daughter involved in the math differentiated learning program, said, “I’ve seen a lot of growth in her ability.”

Prior to the Norwood presentation, the board lauded the accomplishments of a long-time basketball coach and high school cheerleaders.

Girls’ basketball Coach Tim Converse received a Certificate of Recognition for his 300th career victory. Converse joined the Jefferson Local district in 1984 and remarked it has been an honor to represent the school and community throughout the years.

Superintendent William Mullett said the cheerleaders had an outstanding year under the guidance of Coach Christa Lee and did well at both regional and state competition. Out of nine squads who competed, two advanced to the state level with one named the Division III Mounting State Cheerleading Squad.

“I come from a stunting background and wanted to implement a stunting program here,” said Lee, who is in her first year of coaching at West Jefferson. “The girls made it further than I could have imagined.”

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