Teachers and specialists from Warwick district schools reviewed what students are working on this year at a recent school board meeting, before discussing budget numbers.
Fifth and sixth grade math teacher Robert Kirschke spoke about the multi-age classroom and how it encompasses elements of the popular PIE program that has students, teachers and parents working together.
Amanda Wright, ELA teacher, told of the reading and writing workshops that her students took part in: kids created journal entries, focused on current events or “topics of the heart,” and came together in groups to do their work, then broke apart for independent work. Wright said that her classroom has a “cozy space” for individual work as well as for students working in pairs.
Michael Justiana, who teaches French at the middle school, asked parents at the meeting to reminisce about their language learning experiences when they were younger, noting that it undoubtedly involved much rote-memorization involving headphones in a language lab.
Pointing out that, as a “bottom-up approach,” this is not the most effective way to learn a language: his students are given a book to read and “act out” with proper intonation, as a way to “create meaning,” which gives studentcontext for the material.
“We test the kids on what they know, not what they can do,” he said. The class looks at culture, because that affects what they create as a society.
Mr. Radon, the engineering teacher at the middle school, covered the “hands-on, real-world learning” his students get as part of Project Lead the Way. He added that students can select from architecture, robotics and computer science classes, and that they “have been able to create unbelievable projects,” including designing shipping containers, assistive devices for people with Cerebral Palsy, food dispensers, light displays and others.
These programs, Radon added, give kids a “head start to be leaders in the future: when they leave the middle school.
Chelsea Fox, family and consumer sciences teacher, said that her students are learning budgeting, cooking, and sewing. Kids in her seventh grade class have made cookies, muffins, pizza, and rice, which, she said, teaches them teamwork and builds confidence building.
Music teacher Christy Brown talked about her students’ upcoming concert in June, and said that over 90 kids are involved in various ensembles.
Brown added that the kids work in a music lab where they do movie music and record their own foley sounds (the background sounds, like footsteps, that are part of a movie’s soundscape).
Among Brown’s students, 32 fifth and sixth graders participate in all-county programs, 93 kids in Drama Club, and 36 in Symphony.
The band and orchestra perform together and “inspire each other,” Brown said.
Meanwhile, physical education teacher Taylor Mann said that her students recently wrapped up a tennis unit and were now working on badminton. Her seventh and eighth graders were starting a volleyball unit. Tennis and badminton are doubles which, she said, teach students to work with a partner; volleyball helps them learn teamwork.