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Curriculum changes at middle school
by Chuck Friedbauer
Feb 27, 2012 | 1262 views | 0 0 comments | 1 1 recommendations | email to a friend | print
District 112 officials are planning more changes to the middle school curriculum.

For example, beginning next school year, students will be able to take include accelerated science classes and enroll in both band and choir at the same time.

“As a district, we are committed to being adaptable, creative and providing the best instruction for our students,” said Cathy Gal-lagher, District 112 K-12 curriculum coordinator. “In our world today, it is critical to be open to changes in best practices and allow yourself to change and grow.”

Chaska Middle School East principal Jim Bach said the district has had to focus energy and resources into building construction and transitions in the recent past. “Now we’re able to look within our classrooms to continually improve the programming for our students,” he said.

SCIENCE X

Some aspects of current middle school programs will be new, while others will be removed or modified.

New additions to middle school programs will arrive in the science department. Accelerated science classes for all grades will be added next year, with an entire new science curriculum to follow the year after.

“The accelerated science classes will offer more complexity, depth and topics for students ready to take that step,” said Thul. “It will be similar to the Language Arts X classes and placement into the classes will be based on standardized test results.” In addi-tion, there will be more courses based on Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) and technology integration.

District officials are also beginning to look into programs for highly gifted students.

“We hope to complete our research by September and have a plan to meet the needs of students capable of performing two or more years beyond their grade level,” said Thul.

The modifications will mostly be to existing electives. Beginning in sixth-grade, students will have the option of taking two mu-sic classes, such as band, choir or orchestra, instead of personal wellness.

“We’ve received feedback that a small number of families would prefer the multiple music choices to personal wellness,” said Nancy Thul, District 112 secondary curriculum coordinator. And gone will be the “hexters,” courses which last only six weeks, or half of a trimester.

“Based on input from students, parents and staff, we felt it was appropriate to do away with that format,” said Bach.

The district’s secondary program redesign, which impacted grades 6 to 12, was implemented three years ago. Middle schools un-derwent revised electives, new Language Arts coursework and classes, Algebra 1 for eighth-grade, and full-year high school-equivalent language offerings.

Thul said the upcoming changes are a continued part of the redesign. “We want to be more adaptive to change to make sure we can make adjustments when they appear necessary,” she said.
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