Thursday, April 14, 2011

April 14, 2011

There are several curriculum changes being planned for next year that have me very excited. I think it goes without saying how important it is that as a school we continue to evaluate our curriculum and programs on an annual basis. This process includes being guided by mandates from accreditation agencies (SACS, SAIS, and MAIS), assessments from colleges and universities, along with insights of parents and alumni, as to the preparedness of our graduates, as well as making sure that MHS stays at the forefront on any educational or technological advances.
As an example, this past year our sixth-grade math program was replaced with the new Prentice-Hall math curriculum. Because of its rigor and content, with more algebra and geometry, as well as more critical thinking skills, we are now looking at moving it to grades four and five next year. This will help bridge any gap that might exist between elementary math and pre-algebra in the seventh grade.
At the secondary level next year we will begin requiring our tenth-grade students to take a personal finance class. Called Principles of Personal Finance, this will be a blended class with much of the work done online. There will be some class time each week devoted to face-to-face contact with the teacher, as well as guest speakers from the area of personal finance from time to time. Mr. Barry Coleman will teach the class and will focus on making sure our students have an understanding of budgets, spending, saving, planning for retirement, as well as many other principles that seem to be lost on the upcoming generation. The online component will help prepare our students for online courses in college. Many colleges are now moving some of their freshman-level courses to an online educational delivery system.
In technology we are moving keyboarding from ninth grade to the fifth and sixth grades. Presently, by the time our current ninth graders take keyboarding, many of them have already acquired poor typing habits that are difficult to break. By moving keyboarding skills into the elementary grades, not only will we help prevent the development of bad habits, but we will also provide additional computer time to teach our students project-based learning as well.
We are hopeful that in the not-too-distant future that we will have a cart of laptop computers for grades 5-8 and a cart of i-pads for pre-kindergarten and lower elementary that can be used in those areas. Have you ever watched a kindergarten student on an i-pad, i-phone or i-touch? It is unbelievable how skilled they are and the things they can make them do!
As I said earlier, at the secondary level, keyboarding will be dropped and one credit of computer will be added. The first class, taken in the ninth grade, will be Computer Applications I. This class will center on the application of popular word processing, spreadsheet, and PowerPoint presentation programs. A new class, Computer Applications II, will then be required in the tenth grade. It will be a project-based learning class where students will create projects utilizing technology. There will be individual project assignments as well as group projects. Students will not only be graded on the technology content, but also on communications skills, both written and oral, presentation, and teamwork. This is consistent with what many college classes are requiring of students enrolled in their courses.
In the seventh grade, block will be replaced by a semester of Intro to Foreign Language. Students will study Spanish and other languages to prepare them for the languages they will be taking in grades 9-12.
Much research has been done on what kind of mind will be required in the workforces of the future – a workforce that will compete in a global economy, a workforce that must be prepared to speak a language other than English, a workforce that must be able to work in teams, a workforce that must be on the cutting edge using technology, a workforce that is creative, and, finally, a workforce that includes being good stewards of the resources that God gives us.
It is our intention to continue to augment our basic “reading, writing, and arithmetic,” with knowledge and skills that will put MHS students in a position to succeed. Alan Williams, of Teammates Matter, told our students a few weeks back that “success is preparation meeting opportunity.” It is our mission to prepare our students for the opportunities they will indeed face in the world of tomorrow.