Accelerated classrooms will be tried for second and third grades

Shawn Hardy news@echo-pilot.com

Accelerated classrooms for advanced learners will be piloted in second and third grades in the Greencastle-Antrim School District beginning this fall.

An overview was given to the school board last week by Angie Singer, primary principal, and Chad Stover, elementary principal.

The vision is that "students will be empowered to strive for excellence through an enriched program that will accelerate the curriculum and integrate technology."

Classrooms made up of students of all abilities make it hard for teachers to meet everyone's needs, Singer said.

Teachers often have to focus on the students who need help and "data shows were are not supporting the growth of our more advanced students," Stover said.

The secondary schools provide opportunities for advanced learners, while the elementary and primary schools should to a better job, Singer said.

Students for two second-grade and two third-grade classes will be selected based on math and reading scores.

"This program will develop critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and communication skills by utilizing technology and providing students with more opportunity to be immersed in an accelerated learning environment," said information the principals gave to the board.

The classes will include increased use of technology, more project-based learning and collaboration and delving deeper into various topics, culminating with a learning expo at the end of the year. There also will be collaboration between teachers at the two grade levels.

Moving students to the accelerated classrooms also will change the makeup of the other classes, allowing middle-of-the-road students to become high achievers in their rooms and giving teachers more time to work with students who need help.

The principals also hope the accelerated classrooms are a precursor to an STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) program and want to expand to fourth and fifth grades in the 2020-21 school year.