Core courses enhanced with Spanish, art, music, technology, physical education, library, guidance. Full-time learning support available. Updated middle school science lab. Accelerated reader and Step Up to Writing programs.
ENHANCING THE CLASSROOM
Discovery Project, NUMATS, Battle of the Books, Catholic Schools Investigates Science Challenge, STEM Day, Community Awareness, Global Read Aloud.
Discovery Project courses combine online instruction and face-to-face workshops for Archdiocesan students in grades 7 and 8 who are academically gifted. Students will be exposed to a range of challenging activities to develop critical thinking and 21st century literacies.
Courses run for nine weeks and are designed to replace or enrich one quarter of the curriculum for the student’s home school. Students who select to replace their current course will work independently in a library or resource room setting with Internet access to complete daily tasks-responding to assignments and classmates comments online, completing research, writing papers and reading. Students will also experience three half-day workshops hosted at the cooperating Archdiocesan high school. Students who select the course as an enrichment would complete online requirements in addition to their regular course load.
If you ask someone about CSI, their response most likely would be, “Yeah, I love that show.” But if you ask a parent or student of Holy Family School, you probably will get a completely different answer.
Each year the Middle School science classes present CSI, which stands for Catholic School Investigates. CSI consists of presentations made by groups of middle school students and is led by science teacher Mary Jo Scoville, who has been at Holy Family School for 10 years. Her first two year at HFPS, she held the traditional Science Fair, which required doing an experiment with results displayed on a 3-sided board. “Because we have a lab based program, my students needed to go beyond this type of project to showcase the skills they have acquired in class.” explained Scoville.
So, the following summer she came up with a new innovative idea and the CSI program was born. She spent the whole summer writing the CSI program, which is copyrighted. The old Science Fair was buried and the CSI program came to life and has been done every year since.
“Although many of the components remain the same, CSI emphasizes gathering evidence and compiling data to find the answer to a specific problem. Our Middle School students have a proficient understanding of experimentation using the Scientific Method, so this project helps them dig deeper into the investigation process and get in touch with the professionals in the community at the same time. Other skills CSI focuses on are public speaking, teamwork, creative thinking, use of technology, networking, and investigative reporting with a time limitation.”
Each year, CSI has a different theme. Past themes have been: “Who’s in Danger?”, “Our Microscopic World”, and “Food and Food Chains”. This year’s theme is “Past, Present, Future”. The classes are divided into teams. Each team receives a simple question written by Scoville, which is then followed by thinking clues. An example is, “Lake Levels- How has the water level of Lake Michigan changed over the years? Did water reach the bluff base at one time? What has happened to all the water? Are we over-using it?” Each team also has a list of project requirements. They include interviewing experts, making site visits, using a logbook, completing surveys, writing a conclusion, and forming an outline of actions for the future. The students then present their projects in front of an audience.
“CSI is really fun. It is an extensive assignment, but every year students exceed my expectations,” says Scoville. “It provides a broader learning experience and develops excellent life skills for students of every level. They can take these skills and use them in years to come.”
Through all of this, what it comes down to is that the students are really learning about real life situations that could turn into problems or are current problems in today’s world. “It is really important for students to realize they are part of a community. They need to get out, learn how to solve problems, and understand that it’s everyone’s responsibility to make this world a better place,” says Scoville. Scoville tells her students, “you are our future.’”
Middle School 1:1 device program, Google Apps for education, classroom SMARTboards, tablets and laptops.
“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s we rob them of tomorrow.” -John Dewey
Why a 1:1 device?
- A powerful tool for progressive, student-centered learning
- Differentiation for all types of learners
- Offers a wealth of educational apps
- iPads and Chromebooks are robust and well supported
- No boot time issues
- Long battery life
- 1:1 program extends and expands learning
Changing Expectations for Today’s Classroom
- Developing 21st Century Skills- Collaboration, Creativity, Critical thinking, and Communication
- Common Core Standards
- The changing role of teaching and learning in the 21st Century Classroom
- Student-centered, teacher as the facilitator of learning
- Relevant and interdisciplinary curriculum
- Multiple sources of information
- Moving beyond memorization of facts into higher level thinking skills
- Facilitates effective instructional strategies, inquiry-based, and project-based learning (PBL)
- Controlled and monitored accounts through Google Apps for Education
- Students may not modify- DO NOT sync with home computer or personal itunes accounts
- iPad and Chromebook use is a privilege, not a right
- Creating a partnership between home and school to help our students become ethical and knowledgeable digital citizens in the 21st century
- “We are not fixated on technology, we are fixated on student learning.”
- Enhancing our learning environment and opportunities
- Continual learning process
- Implementing change to better prepare our students
The Accelerated Reader program is a computerized program that tests reading comprehension. Students select books on their reading level, read independently, and take an independent comprehension test on the computer.
“The Accelerated Reader program is a computerized program that tests reading comprehension. Students select books on their reading level, read independently, and take an independent comprehension test on the computer.”
As to what Holy Family offers to our students, our library time is an actual class. It is composed of three sections. Mrs. Steinmetz, the school librarian, reads to the students in K4 through Fifth Grade. Then they do an activity and choose books to take home. Holy Family has Accelerated Reader, Follett Destiny Library Software and Badge Link. There are 14,000 volumes in our Library and we have the Technology Resources of the Computer Lab at our fingertips.
Here is a list of topics around which our classes are planned.
-Identifying the parts of a book
-Understanding the difference between fiction/non-fiction
-How to read map
-Using a tables of contents
-Using a glossary
-Using a title page
-The Dewey Decimal System
-What is a Bibliography
-Using internet sites to create a bibliography
-Using the Computer Catalog
-Using the Milwaukee County Cat System
-Using the Library of Congress website
-What is a Fact?
-Finding facts in research material
-Cultural differences presented in literature
-History presented in literature
“The most important part of my job is to promote a genuine love of reading and good literature to all of our students. To this end I read to our students K-4 through 5th Grade each week. Through this they are introduced to many types of quality literature and are exposed to the joy of reading.” -Mrs. Steinmetz
If you are a past parent or alumni of Holy Family, you may remember the standardized testing called “the Iowa’s”. Holy Family School has changed to a new standardized test called the Renaissance Star Reading and Math. Star is a standards based, computer adaptive assessment that measure students’ reading and math comprehension, monitors achievement and growth, and tracks understating of focus skills aligned to your specific learning standards. Each grade takes the Star testing, and testing is done several times during the school year to track growth and compare with the school’s benchmarks.
STANDARD BASED GRADING
Holy Family has implemented Standards Based Grading (SBG) into the kindergarten through grade 8. Why are we changing to standard based grading? Traditional grading scales, which are based on points and percentages, only serve to rank and order students. This system of grading emphasizes the outcome (grades/GPA) rather than the learning experience. SBG does not rank students but rather focuses on growth. Students are assessed on clearly defines learning goals that are aligned with state standards. There are a number of advantages to using proficiency based grading rather than letter grades. The criteria behind earning a particular letter grade can vary greatly among districts, schools, and even teachers with a school, leaving students and parents confused. In SBG, the performance indicators clearly communicate the level of learning students have demonstrated on the standards during the grading period.