December 8, 2014
Just after lunch, Class 5-301 sits in math class. They do a practice problem with Mrs. Lopez, in which they add 1/10 and 2/5. Mrs. Lopez pauses, and says, “now give me the other names for numerator and denominator.”
Immediately the students raise their hands. Diana R. offers “x and y,” and Christian Z. states “input and output.” After looking through his notes, Maddox C. volunteers “rise and run.”
“Now when are you going to use all of these terms?” asks Mrs. Lopez. “6th grade!” some venture. “Go higher,” she says. “7th grade!” “Higher.” “8th grade, high school and beyond!” they cry out in unison. “Exactly,” she replies.
For the past five years Mrs. Lopez taught math for grades 7 and 8 at ICS, but this year she came down to teach grades 5 and 6, as part of a move in which we departmentalized math and science classes for the lower grades. Students not only get to feel out the middle school experience, but also benefit from having experts in the subject teach them. Mrs. Lopez’s background helps the 5th and 6th graders, since she knows what they will be expected to know when they transition into the 7th grade. In science, 5th and 6th students benefit from the expertise of Mr. S, who already has been teaching the 6th grade at ICS.
Staff and students enjoy the new changes at ICS. As Mrs. Lopez explained, “Having one person teach the subject in 5th and 6th grade means that the 7th and 8th grade math teacher understands the language and methods the students learned over the past two years.” Mr. S thinks the students now reap more benefits from science: “It helps that it’s my main focus,” he said, “so we can go in depth with our experiments and I can really challenge them.” The transition has worked for the students as well. “I like having different teachers for subjects,” said Hailey D., grade 6. “I feel older and more mature.” We are excited to see the students progress throughout the rest of the school year, and are grateful to have such dedicated and knowledgeable educators!