Bradshaw Mountain Middle School will increase its honors classes, add project-based learning, and turn itself into a school of increased rigor and relevance for student success.
BMMS Principal Jessica Bennett told governing board members at the March 4 meeting that the school already offers English language arts and math honors classes, including high school algebra and geometry. She wants to add honors social studies and science classes.
About 60 students in two sections currently are enrolled in the AVID classes (Advancement Via Individual Determination). Bennett said this would increase to four sections serving about 100 students next year. The school, however, already has implemented AVID strategies for all students, including interactive notebooks, binders, Cornell notetaking skills, collaboration strategies and Close reading skills.
Project-based learning puts students in active, problem-solving roles as investigators, documentarians and decision makers.
"They are projects, not just activities," Bennett said. "As students work on each project, they will be working on the 21st Century/workplace skills of collaboration, creativity and innovation, critical thinking, and communication."
She added that students need to feel their activities and studies are relevant in order to understand new material, and project-based learning accomplishes that. Students sign up for one class per semester in one of four CASH academies: Civics, Arts, STEM, or Health and Fitness.
Bennett is requesting for her staff pre-AP training; project-based learning handbooks and toolkits; training during the summer for planning, curricular writing and project development; and substitutes for a half-day each quarter to allow time for team collaboration and planning. In addition are costs for two Lego Robotics kits, field trips and registration for Odyssey of the Mind tournaments and materials.
"It's a huge risk for staff. They are agreeable to being uncomfortable for a year or two," Bennett said. "It's a messy process and we'll have to give our teachers a chance to fail a little bit."
The board unanimously approved the Leadership and Honors Academy program at BMMS. Estimated cost for the first year is $34,580, and $22,000 for year two and on. Technology costs congruent with the district technology plan are about $35,000 the first year and $70,000 the second year; and maintenance and licenses costs thereafter.