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Development, changes for R-1 schools

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Changes and development in programs at the Monett R-1 School District were described at the September meeting of the Monett R-1 Board of Education.

Mike Dawson, assistant superintendent, and Annette Cozort, Central Park Elementary principal, described progress in using the Rosetta Stone foreign language program for grades three and four. The program began over a year ago and provided instruction in Spanish for any interested students. Gifted students in the Seaquest program could also study Mandarin Chinese.

The availability of Spanish offers English language learners the opportunity to practice their native language. Concentrating on language skills will help students with their secondary language reading skills, the presenters said.

The Rosetta Stone program had the greatest use at the beginning of the year, leveling off for the September to April period. In all, students used the program to study Spanish for 4,444 hours, and used it for 177 hours to study English. Only 43 hours were used studying Chinese.

For the 2012-13 school year, Spanish has been made available to fifth grade students and may be extended to sixth graders next year. In the future, foreign language offerings at the secondary level will include independent study.

Because of a struggle to get gifted students to engage in the program, parents will be given the choice of which language to have their children study. Mandarin Chinese is being put on hold as an option.

Cozort introduced four students who shared what they liked the most about the Rosetta Stone program.

Dawson gave a presentation on the Build Your Own Curriculum on-line tool for aligning subject matter instruction with state tests. Examples were provided to show what teachers were doing with math and communication arts.

Dawson showed a video provided by Melody Paige and Lauralee Powell in the technology department that showed how new technology was aiding the instruction of art at every building. A quarterly video will be prepared to update the board on how the laptop computers in the hands of every high school student and iPods at lower grades are contributing to learning.

Proposition B backing

Superintendent Brad Hanson briefed the board on Proposition B, the proposed tax on tobacco products going before voters on Nov. 6. The proposal is backed by Show Me a Brighter Future, a coalition of organizations led by the American Cancer Society, the society's Cancer Action Network and other health organizations.

According to the Missouri School Boards Association, the proposal includes a 73-cent tax increase on cigarettes. Missouri currently has the lowest cigarette tax in the nation at 17 cents. Half of the anticipated annual revenue of $283 million would go toward elementary and secondary schools. The money would be placed into a special fund, distributed based on average daily attendance.

Thirty percent of the revenue would go to Missouri colleges and universities. Twenty percent would fund prevention and smoking cessation programs.

The Missouri Association of School Administrators voted to support the proposal. Hanson offered details for board members in case patrons asked questions as voting day approached.

Hanson also briefed the board on plans for the Missouri School Boards Association regional meeting in Joplin on Oct. 23. Those attending will have a chance to tour the temporary Joplin High School at North Park Mall. Hanson said the open spaces and different arrangements for classrooms foreshadow what 21st century schools will be like.

The official student count for the end of September, the one used for calculating state funding, tallied 2,310 students. Hanson noted the number was up 46 from a year ago.

Administrative reports

At the Scott Regional Technical Center, director Russ Moreland reported Crowder College had increased the number of dual credit opportunities available for students. Teachers working on professional development were concentrating on team teaching, exploring online resources and creating writing examples for students.

High school principal David Steward said schools in DeSoto, Washington and Lockwood inquired about the laptop computer strategy for all students.

Principal Dr. Jay Apostol reported that at Monett Middle School, use of laptop computers was more frequent than in any previous year. More students could be seen working on projects with laptop computers.

The transition of new teachers at the middle school prompted a re-focus on developing professional learning communities, including a collaborative effort with the Southwest Regional Professional Development Center at Missouri State University.

Teams planned to work in collaborative groups to break down standards, develop lesson plans and establish norms and goals for their groups. Apostol said teachers focused on core subjects would continue discussing essential outcomes, curriculum mapping, common assessments and common grading.

Principal Peg Bryan said Monett Intermediate School had started the Later Gators after-school tutoring program. Classes include the Cub Club for fitness and mentoring, math competition preparation, homework assistance, and help in reading and math.

Teachers Kari Cox and Amber Bledsoe secured grant funding to help develop lessons focused on the Civil War. They will develop Web Quests and Internet-based lessons as well as visit several Civil War battle sites through the year.

Fifth grade students who completed their summer reading logs and math review packets were rewarded with water game parties, Bryan said.

Teachers at Central Park Elementary worked to analyze student skills as a baseline for progress seen through the year, reported Cozort. Teachers reviewed data from state tests last spring to set goals for making improvements. The Positive Behavior Support program, now in its second year, will continue as part of professional development. Faculty planned to review the school safety survey.

The Park Rangers tutoring program is underway and meetings on Tuesdays and Thursdays through April, Cozort added.

At Monett Elementary School, principal Susie Gasser reported 36 hours of intensive training had been completed on the new research-based pre-kindergarten curriculum. Teachers used the Vokis computer software to further their understanding and use of technology in the classroom. A major emphasis continues on the frameworks for collaborative learning.

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