Ypsilanti Citizen Education Lincoln Schools

Ypsilanti Schools accept transportation consolidation
By Adrienne Ziegler
Jun. 8, 2010   ·   3:07 p.m.

Connie Shelton, an East Middle School Teacher, speaks against the WISD transportation consolidation plan at Monday's special meeting of the Ypsilanti Board of Education. The board approved the motion to join the consolidation by a vote of 5 to 2.

"Shame on you" echoed through the audience Monday night after the Ypsilanti Public Schools Board of Education approved a plan to join a countywide consolidated...read more

Willow Run appoints new board member
By Adrienne Ziegler
Jun. 5, 2010   ·   8:16 a.m.

The Willow Run School Board looks on as Kristine Thomas, a district parent and previous board member, is sworn in as trustee on Thursday night. Thomas will take the position of Joi Jenson who resigned in early May.

The Willow Run School Board appointed a new, yet familiar trustee to the board of education during their regular meeting Thursday night.

Kristine Thomas, a Willow...read more

Willow Run approves county-wide transportation plan
By Adrienne Ziegler
May. 27, 2010   ·   2:09 p.m.

The Willow Run School District signed on to a countywide consolidated transportation plan at their regular board meeting last week.

The plan aims to save transportation...read more

Lincoln offers summer courses to area high-schoolers
By Mark Tower
May. 26, 2010   ·   7:49 p.m.

Students from Lincoln and other nearby districts are being invited to participate in Lincoln High School's Summer Academy this year, registration for which opened...read more

Willow Run terminates student services administrator
By Adrienne Ziegler
May. 26, 2010   ·   12:26 a.m.

Willow Run School Board President Sheri Washington said she didn't know if the district was going to press charges against former Student Services Administrator Laconda Hicks after the board fired Hicks during a special meeting Tuesday night.

The Willow Run Board of Education unanimously voted to terminate its contract with former Student Services Administrator Laconda Hicks Tuesday night during a special...read more

Brick Elementary launches model to engage students, families

Brick Elementary fourth-grader Patrick Coury, center, shows trustees Yoline Williams, left, and Jennifer La Bombarbe how he has been using Moodle software to practice putting together electrical circuits, during Lincoln's board meeting Monday night. Photo by Mark Tower

Brick Elementary fourth-grader Patrick Coury, center, shows trustees Yoline Williams, left, and Jennifer La Bombarbe how he has been using Moodle software to practice putting together electrical circuits, during Lincoln's board meeting Monday night.
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Building prepares to welcome Lincoln's multi-age program next year

By Mark Tower
May. 11, 2010    ·    3:44 p.m.

Brick Elementary School on Lincoln Consolidated School's campus is preparing to welcome the district's multi-age program.

The program was formerly housed at Bessie Hoffman school and the staff at Brick is taking the opportunity to re-design it's school and classroom model to offer students hands-on, thematic instruction and to create a better sense of school community.

Tanya Mitchell, a resource room teacher at Brick, presented a plan to the board of education at its meeting Monday, outlining the idea formed by Principal Don Goven and a group of teachers to focus on research-supported brain-based education for the students at the elementary.

Research into how the human brain works, Mitchell said, informs this new approach to education, where students are given more choices and more experiential learning opportunities.

Creating a better sense of community at the school, she said, can also help get students, parents and school staff more involved in the learning process and can result in helping to grow responsible citizens.

Some of the ideas in the plan that the elementary wants to begin instituting at the start of the next school year include more parent-teacher conferences with one in September and one in January, the addition of a “meet the school” community night before school starts and adding optional club activities for students during recess, something already in place in Lincoln's multi-age program.

“It's a work in progress,” Mitchell said. A more complete brain-based education model will begin being instituted in September and elements of the proposal will continually be added as the school year goes on.

“If we develop some of these core ideas across all grade levels that will be an improvement,” Goven said.

Another idea in the plan is to use Title I funds to provide before and after school learning opportunities, Mitchell said, though no specific programs have yet been announced. The addition of service learning opportunities, more curriculum activity nights like “math night,” “family engineering night” and additional “celebrations of learning” like the school's science fair would also help accomplish the school's goal to create a more tight-knit community, she said.

The “celebrations of learning” could be tied to independent learning projects proposed by students, the group suggests. One fourth grade student has already suggested such a project, and allowing students to come up with that kind of learning opportunity on their own terms is part of the school's brain-based learning plan.

“That gives students the opportunity to see that learning is something for them, not just something for school,” Mitchell said of independent learning projects.

A more thematic approach to learning across disciplines is also proposed in the plan, which would take concepts and explore them from a number of learning perspectives like science, math, reading, writing, listening and speaking and social studies.

With the example of “water, water everywhere” as a theme, students could learn about measuring volume for math, states of matter for science, read about coral reefs, write “the life of a water molecule,” share these stories with younger students and learn about maritime explorers to fulfill all the subject areas. The addition of hands-on community activities, like a field trip to Paint Creek, can instill what the students learn in the theme unit through real study of a water-based ecosystem.

“Themes can help some kids understand things they had trouble understanding before,” Mitchell said.

Third, fourth and fifth grade students from Brick Elementary gave board members a special treat Monday night, sitting at the table with them and showing them how they use Moodle software on their school-owned laptops to reinforce ideas learned in the classroom.

Teacher Lisa Hendricks demonstrated how the program can use icons to symbolize electrical circuits or rabbit images to help students visualize how population changes in an ecosystem are affected by outside factors. One lesson let students tighten or loosen a guitar string and listen to the difference in pitch.

All these Moodle lessons, Hendricks said, are first taught in the classroom and students learn the concepts interactively by actually stretching a string and plucking it. The computer program, she said, serves to reinforce those lessons and allows students to get at much practice with a concept as they want.

Since the programs are also accessible through the school website, Hendricks said the students can use them in class, during recess or even at home.

Multi-age program celebrates 13 years, prepares to move to Brick
Lincoln's 13-year-old multi-age program, the inspiration for many of the ideas the elementary hopes to implement, will be moving into Brick Elementary's building next fall, and Bessie Hoffman Principal Carol McCoy spoke Monday about the unique program's progress.

Enrollment at the school, which groups children in three houses to gear learning to each child's developmental stage instead of age alone, has steadily risen from 248 students in 2007-2008 to 264 in 08-09 and 297 in 09-10.

The school allows students time to work on their own independently-generated learning projects, pick their own activity or club at recess and uses open environments and work at tables in small groups instead of using the traditional setup with lines of desks.

Special child-sponsored activities each year help foster a sense of community and parental involvement, McCoy said, which becomes obvious at parent-teacher conference time. The school, she said, enjoys a consistent 98 percent participation rate at conferences.

The attitudes of its students and initiative they show in taking on projects prove the program is successful, she said. The multi-age program has also reported very high MEAP scores in grades 3-5, all averaging above 80 percent in 2009-2010.

Related article:
Lincoln Schools consider pilot tech program for juniors, seniors

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