Launched at the start of the school year, an Extended Learning Opportunities program has yielded excellent results for sixth grade students at Gilbert H. Hood Middle School, according to school officials.
The program includes extended learning time in the areas of math, reading, science and social studies, said math teacher Russ Manchester, who gave a presentation on ELOs at the School Board’s May 23 meeting.
“It seems to have worked out very well for us this year; students are participating, things are going great, students seem to love it,” said Manchester, a leader in the ELO program.
He added, “It’s kind of a relaxed atmosphere for teachers and students, everybody gets to work together. It’s different, but there’s a lot of learning taking place”
Principal Austin Garofalo, who introduced Manchester before the presentation began, said Manchester is a dedicated math teacher, with 15 years of teaching experience in the school district. In addition, Manchester is also adviser to the National Junior Honor Society.
During the presentation, Manchester said students receive effort and conduct scores on their report cards, but no traditional grades are given for the extended learning opportunities.
In the program, teachers use data to match the students’ needs with the appropriate learning opportunities.
“We reteach and reteach the content skills,” he said, adding that students are given ample exposure to content and project-based STEM learning. “It goes beyond what we dealt with in the traditional classroom meeting time.”
Every student was placed in either a language arts or math ELO at some point this year, either in an enrichment class or a skills type class, Manchester said.
In addition, every student had either a science or social studies ELO and almost every student had both of them a one point during the year, he said.
Only three students didn’t have a science ELO and only five didn’t receive a social studies ELO for various reasons.
During the program, students participated in various exercises including workshops, informational reading, debate clubs, book clubs, read aloud events, he said.
The math work focused primarily on the sixth grade common core standards and included work on fractional and decimal operations. There was also some enrichment with some early integer and equation work to prepare students for seventh grade math.
The social studies work included such projects as CNN for Kids. In this project, students discussed current events, which included some writing and some discussion about what’ s going on in the world.
And with science, students were given assignments that they needed to collaborate on, along with plan, create, test and improve their projects.
Students who were at the meeting then discussed how the program helped them improve their skills in the various subjects, while also improving their grades.
At the end of the presentation, some slides were shown on the program including a science project on a balloon car and various art projects. And a short video was shown on some of the various projects.