By Crystal Hayduk
Beach Middle School (BMS) Principal Nick Angel and a small team of teachers presented a math department update to the Chelsea School District (CSD) Board of Education at its meeting on Dec. 9, which was held in the media center at BMS.
Angel said Chelsea’s middle school math students are doing well overall, but the district wanted to “make something good even better.” To achieve that outcome, the faculty has been exploring approaches to improve the math program using current best practices.
This is the fifth year that students at the middle school are using CPM (College Preparatory Mathematics). Students using CPM work cooperatively with peers as they learn concepts and practice solving real-life problems. Homework serves to review what has been learned, as well as preview what will be learned in the near future.
“It was a leap of faith when we took [CPM] on,” said Angel. “It’s definitely not your parents’ math.”
Parents won’t find their students sitting in rows, intently listening to teacher lectures, and practicing rote math skills. Students work in small groups, discovering concepts facilitated by teachers, then using math to solve problems just like it would be used in the work world.
“We feel that this is best practice for kids, and will prepare them for the future,” he said.
Chelsea’s seventh and eighth graders show higher growth proficiency than other districts in the county, based on MSTEP scores. Sixth graders show a more moderate growth compared to other districts. “We aren’t sure why that is yet, but we’re focusing more energy and creativity on our sixth graders to improve those outcomes,” said Angel.
One of this year’s new approaches to math education is co-teaching in sixth grade. Teachers pair up to teach math during second and third hours for the full school year. Teacher Amy Doma said the teachers began a book study over the summer that has ideas for 22 different co-teaching strategies, which they are still experimenting with.
Two new courses are being piloted this year. Math Exploration (gives students extra support) and Math Extension (gives students an extra challenge) are each running for one quarter. Zac Snively is teaching both courses to eighth graders the first half of the school year; Nick Schumann will teach them to seventh graders during the second half of the year.
In other board news:
The Washtenaw Intermediate School District (WISD) awarded Chelsea High School a Youth Mental Health Anti-Stigma Grant for $3,000 with funds made possible through the Washtenaw County Mental Health Public Safety Preservation Millage. The money will be used to design, develop, and implement a student-led mental health anti-stigma campaign to change the school’s climate around mental health.
The board approved the updated district-wide emergency operations plan.
The board thanked Angel and his staff for hosting the meeting at Beach Middle School.
There is no school Dec. 23 through Jan. 3 for winter break.
The next regular school board meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 13 at the Washington Street Education Center.