Pike tries new teaching approach

       Pike Elementary has become an “intermediate learning academy” this year. The term, according to Principal Manuel Ramsey, refers to a deployment of the three teachers in grades 3-5 that allows them to focus at least part of each day on specialized subject areas. What this means for students is that in each of three core subjects - writing, math and social studies - there is just one teacher for all the grades.
       This improves education in several ways, Ramsey explained. Typically grade- school classroom teachers have numerous subjects to prepare for, which makes it difficult to be extremely strong in all areas. Now these teachers only have two lesson plans to prepare: reading for their own class, plus their core speciality.
       Another advantage is consistency: In those three subject areas, the same message is coming across to all students in grades 3-5, Ramsey said.
       Overall, he said, the academy plan “brings greater structure and allows for more academic focus.”
       Core subjects were assigned based on teachers' own education and experience. Third-grade teacher Maureen Breckenridge specializes in writing, fourth-grade teacher Kevin Murdock in math and fifth-grade teacher Julie Schloss (teaming with librarian/ technology educator Hillary Pohlmann) in science/social studies/technology.
       “I love it,” commented Breckenridge. “I think it's great for the kids and the teachers.” Another thing she's noticed is that different teachers coming into the classroom during the day adds a healthy variety for the students. “The energy comes back up,” she said.
       Although Pike was just one of 11 District 11 schools whose Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP) scores showed “significant improvement based on 2004-05 testing, Ramsey said he is “always looking at schools that are doing better than us.” One of these is Bates Elementary, which has had success with a similar system. “We wanted to try something a little different to improve our level of instruction,” Ramsey said.
       He and staff are monitoring the effort as it moves forward. Throughout the semester, the teachers and principal will be meeting every two weeks to discuss any issues, look at data and monitor students' progress.
       The idea had been explained to parents before putting it into effect. Those who came to a meeting before school started this year were “very excited,” he said, adding his delight that one parent who had been “shopping schools” decided to stay at Pike because of the new strategy.

Westside Pioneer article