The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

May 8, 2012

A time to shore up on tougher subjects: Cardinal students spend extra time on trouble spots

ELDON — “Thinking Thursdays” weren’t designed to be fun. They were designed to give intensive math lessons. Turns out they’re fun anyhow.

Every Thursday, second- and third-grade students at Cardinal Elementary School line up to find out what room they’ll go to, who their teacher will be and who their new classmates are that day.

“The teachers are assigned a group to work with once a week for an hour,” said Deb Swope, normally the Title One reading teacher. “Instruction is based on what that particular group may need.” 

The principal, Cindy Shepherd, said a normal second-grade class may have 22 students. By bringing in every available teacher, special education teachers and the Talented and Gifted teacher, the school is able to have classes as small as four or five children.

“This was suggested by our Area Education Agency school psychologist,” said Shepherd.

Cardinal Superintendent Joel Pedersen said he likes the idea because the students get to hear an intensely focused lesson on the designated, very specific, skill.

The most recent assessment shows that 100 percent of third-graders have improved their math skills compared to fall.

“If you’re not good at math, they help you get better and better at it,” said Matthew Streeby, a Cardinal second-grader.

“If you don’t know what the times [on clocks] are, they’ll help you with that,” agreed classmate Blaine Bryant.

Yet all groups, said teacher Stefany Rachford, are working on the same general category. Besides clocks, explained teacher Priscilla Giltner, a recent unit on money had some children adding and subtracting dollar amounts. But some little ones weren’t sure of the difference between a penny and a dime — or at least why the supposedly more valuable dime was “so little” compared to the penny.

That’s why, in the money unit, some students were in a class adding all sorts of coins: quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies. Another, smaller group was adding up just three types of coins: pennies, nickels and dimes. A third group was learning how to tell which one is a nickel and which is a quarter ... and how many cents each is worth.

Teacher Stephenie Welch said it’s OK if the classes overlap a bit. In fact, said Pedersen, classes should overlap when it comes to vocabulary used by teachers. It’s more helpful for every teacher to use the word “subtract” for new learners instead of some teachers saying “subtract” while others tell the kids to “take away.”

“The students are fully engaged while learning at their level,” said Giltner, the third-grade teacher. 

“The feedback we get from the kids is they like going to different rooms, and being with different kids,” said Shepherd. “We’ve tried to mix it up so they see every teacher.”

The original concept, she said, was that struggling students get more individual attention focused on their biggest challenge each week. Getting kids excited about learning has been a pleasant surprise.

“The students love being with different groups and different teachers,” said Rachford. “They all get excited for Thursday to come.”

The three second-graders the Courier spoke to said math can even be fun.

“When we’re done with our work,” said second-grade student Sophie Langford, “we get to play math games!”

School administrators say they are contemplating expanding the program.

1
Text Only
Local News
  • 0424 OTT Lottery addiction graphic -T -L -M Hoping for riche$ — Part 3

    OTTUMWA — At first, George bought a lottery ticket once or twice a week. Nothing big. Spent $1 or $2 at a time. As the big jackpots rolled around, he’d purchase a few more tickets. No big deal, he thought. Soon, playing the lottery became his obsessi

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo 2 Stories

  • 0424 OTT Pennsylvania construction color photo -M -T Penn Ave. construction begins Thursday

    OTTUMWA — Motorists are advised that Pennsylvania Avenue will be closing for Stage 1 of the Pennsylvania Avenue Reconstruction and Widening Project on Thursday. Pennsylvania Avenue will be closed from just downhill from the intersection with Jefferso

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0425 OTT eagle stock photo Mahaska Co. man accused of killing bald eagle NEW SHARON — A Mahaska County man faces federal charges after allegedly beating a bald eagle to death and decapitating it. Jason John Thomas was arrested in New Sharon after being indicted by a federal grand jury. He is accused of killing the eagle i

    April 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pedersen: Spec. Ed. students should count ELDON — If you're going to publish graduation rates, stop excluding some children who are doing well. "In some ways, I think it's a little upsetting to the parents of a child who has a physical handicap or is otherwise [in special education], that th

    April 23, 2014

  • Youth playing with guns panic Fairfield residents FAIRFIELD — The Fairfield Police Department received two calls Tuesday from concerned citizens reporting kids with guns in the vicinity of both elementary schools. In both incidents, the guns were actually pellet guns but looked real. According to a

    April 23, 2014

  • Interpreter bill approved in kidnapping case OTTUMWA — A filing in an Ottumwa case illustrates one of the basic tenets of the American legal system and its costs. Adem Anota is charged with one count of kidnapping. The charge is a Class A felony, among the most serious and one of only a few cri

    April 23, 2014

  • Van Buren OKs teacher pay hike KEOSAUQUA — The Van Buren Community School Board ratified a master contract with its certified staff members recently. Superintendent Dr. Pam Ewell, the Van Buren Education Association and the district reached a settlement which calls for increasing

    April 23, 2014

  • 'Ride With the Clowns' bike event full of fun OTTUMWA — This bike ride is a joke. No, seriously. The 10th annual "Ride With the Clowns" spring tune-up is set for Saturday, May 3, and this fun ride is sponsored by the Ottumwa Shrine Club Clown Unit. "It draws a regular crowd," said Mark Merringer

    April 23, 2014

  • The most fun you ever had

    OTTUMWA — Not every child's idea will be possible — but every idea was recorded. "Kaboom" project manager Brenna Hull of the nonprofit group's San Francisco office was in Ottumwa Tuesday. She asked students at the Ottumwa school district what they'd like to see in a playground.

    April 22, 2014

  • 0423 OTT Recycle center color photo 2 -T -M Where every day is Earth Day

    OTTUMWA — Putting cans in the correct bin, saving electricity and adjusting the thermostat are not new concepts to the Ottumwa/Wapello Recycling Center staff. "We try to practice what we preach," said Janice Bain,

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

Photo reprints


Obituaries

Facebook
E-edition