Back to school: New schedule for middle schoolers

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Westbrook Middle School will implement new block scheduling for the 2017-2018 school year.

WESTBROOK — Middle school students will experience a new class structure when they go back to school at the end of the month.

Westbrook Middle School will implement block scheduling for the 2017-18 school year. There will also be new offerings at the school, including the addition of a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) room.

Students in grades 1-9 will be going back to school on Wednesday, Aug. 30. The following day is the first day for students in grades 10-12 and for Westbrook Regional Vocational Center students. There will be no school Friday, Sept. 1, or Monday, Sept. 4, which is Labor Day. The first day of kindergarten will be Tuesday, Sept. 5.

In previous years, the WMS schedule consisted of seven 45-minute classes each day. This year classes will range from 52-90 minutes depending on the day.

According to a letter to parents from WMS Principal Laurie Wood, the previous schedule didn’t provide “adequate time for teaching our core subjects.” The new schedule intends to give teachers the opportunity to “delve deeper” into concepts.

Fifth graders will now have 90 minutes of math, 90 minutes of language arts, and 62 minutes of social studies or science on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. Wednesdays will continue to be early release days, when fifth graders will have 75 minutes of math and language arts and 52 minutes social studies or science.

There will be a 12-minute snack time for fifth graders between the two 90-minute classes.

Sixth-, seventh- and eighth graders will have 62 minutes of math, language arts, social studies and science on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday. On Wednesday, classes will be 52 minutes long.

All four grades will also have a 30-minute intervention period each day to focus on academic or non-academic support. During this period students can get help with certain subjects, attend occupational, speech, or social work therapy, or participate in an enrichment activity, such as chorus.

For unified arts, fifth grade students need to take classes in art, physical education, health, media studies, and French or Spanish, each for one-fifth of the school year. Sixth graders need to take art, physical education and health over the course of one year, and seventh and eighth graders need to take those courses at least once over a two-year period.

According to Wood’s letter, the goals of switching to the new schedule include increasing student achievement and better preparing students for the transition from elementary school to middle school and from middle school to high school.

In addition to the new schedule structure, WMS will also have a new STEAM program, which will be an updated version of the former industrial technology classes. To start, there will be one STEAM classroom. After the expansion of the school is completed next year, there will be more STEAM classrooms.

According to the Westbrook Middle School website, the STEAM classroom is being set up this summer and volunteers are needed to help. Those who are interested in helping can email seventh grade math and science teacher Stephen Moulen at moulens@westbrookschools.org.

The STEAM program will include curriculum centered on engineering, design, problem solving and technology. Students will learn how to code while working on “small tech projects.” Wood said the administration is “very excited” about the new program.

Kate Gardner can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 125 or kgardner@theforecaster.net. Follow her on Twitter: @katevgardner.

Westbrook Middle School will implement new block scheduling for the 2017-2018 school year.

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