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Extra class time

July 23, 2011

During the coming school year, a number of the Washington County Public School system's middle schools will make time in the school day for an extra class period. Following is information about what middle schools are doing with that time.

Boonsboro Middle

Will start the school year with an advisory period once a week, during which students will be mentored and learn about bullying prevention, study skills and book study.

There could be some remediation, assistance for students struggling in certain areas, but mostly it will be an advisory period.

School officials are considering adding a ninth period to the class day for a portion of the year to provide more remediation, enrichment and advisory time for students.

Clear Spring Middle

Will start by having students focus on basic math, for 40 minutes every Tuesday.

As they progress, the students who master the math skills will move onto transdisciplinary science, technology, engineering and math lessons involving the core subjects.

Other students will meet, in small groups with teachers, to receive help in areas in which they are struggling.

E. Russell Hicks Middle

Will shave a few minutes off each class to create a 30- to 40-minute period during which small groups of students meet daily to work on areas in which they are struggling or to get additional enrichment in areas in which they excel.

Details are still being worked out, but the size of a student group could vary from day to day, depending on students' needs.

For example, Principal Duane McNairn expects to help a group of students with math concepts, either adopting a group of students for the year or focusing on a specific math concept and rotating groups of students every few weeks.

Hancock Middle

Does not have a plan in place for an additional period this school year, but school officials will consider the idea for future school years.

Northern Middle

Will take 10 minutes from each of its' four instruction blocks to create a 40-minute period before lunch.

In recent years the school has provided a similar schedule on Fridays, alternating between providing lessons to prevent bullying and offering club time. That will continue this school year.

Monday through Thursday, students will spend two of the extra periods each week in two of a variety of programs.

One is AVID — Advancement Via Individual Determination — in which students will learn the Cornell note-taking system and how to work collaboratively to get ready for college and careers.

Some students will spend time in remediation classes getting help catching up with basic math and reading.

Students who have fallen behind in a specific content area will be in mastery seminars taught by their regular teacher for that subject.

Another program is cross-curricular activities that involve math, reading, social studies and science.

Smithsburg Middle

Will create a 30-minute period by shaving 3 minutes off each class and 5 minutes off each lunch shift.

On Fridays, students will spend the time in mentoring groups of seven to 12 students. They will learn bullying prevention and study habits, and be given moral support.

Monday through Thursdays, the time will be used for clubs or intervention in a particular subject. Students will be scheduled for club time unless a teacher thinks a student needs extra support for a subject.

On Mondays, students may be pulled from club if they need extra help in art, music or physical education.

On Tuesdays, students may be pulled for math help, Wednesdays for English Language Arts assistance, and Thursdays for help with social studies or science.

Springfield Middle School

Will create a 40-minute daily period by shaving 5 to 10 minutes off other classes.

Magnet students will do advanced work. For example, eighth-grade magnet students will take a high school introduction to engineering design course.

Students struggling with math or reading will get help.

A group of seventh-graders and a group of eighth-graders with good attendance and the potential to be in more rigorous classes will be in AVID — Advancement Via Individual Determination.  

Some students will participate in a reading program in which teachers will select reading material and students can join the group they want based on which books draw their interest. Work would include reading comprehension exercises.

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