Auten Road Gears Up for Milestone Year

In addition to the regular school activities, the intermediate school celebrates ten years of housing the district's fifth and sixth graders.

It’s a big year for Auten Road Intermediate School, as school celebrates 10 years as a grade five and grade six school.

The school will celebrate 10 years as an intermediate level school this year, having made the switch from being an elementary school in 2002, according to Principal Chris Carey. It’s one of the first schools in the state to switch to housing its fifth and sixth grade in a separate school.

“As part of the first day back, I’ll welcome the kids,” he said. “This is something I can share with them. “

He and the school’s Home and School Association are already working on ways to commemorate the ten-year anniversary, including creating a t-shirt acknowledging the anniversary.

The goal for the year is similar to the school’s goal every year—preparing students for the future.

“This is a unique age group and this is a crucial time period,” Carey said. “We want to turn them on to learning and we want to prepare them for the middle school and the high school and beyond.”

Like all district schools, Auten Road Intermediate School saw interactive projectors installed in its classrooms this summer. Teachers at the school are already planning how to use the devices in the coming year.

“There are so many cool things we can do with it,” Ann Cartmell, a fifth-grade Social Studies teacher, said. “There is a microphone and a sound systems so you don’t have to shout. I’m a shouter, so that was cool for me.”

Jennifer Tuller, who teaches science in the same team as Cartmell, said the system’s second microphone will enhance student presentations. Since teachers can switch between their microphone  and the students’ everyone in the room will be able to hear the presentations—and questions teachers might ask during them.

The ability to pull in workbook pages, videos from the Internet and other features make the classes more dynamic for students, Tuller and Cartmell added. In addition, the ability to write on the screens using a special pen for the boards will allow teachers to correct, manipulate or take notes on anything from homework to maps to videos used in science classes.

“We have a revised math program that is coming in,” Cartmell said. “Instead of making overhead (projector screens), we can use the board for workbook pages and to connect their homework in.”

Several of the initiatives for the 2011-2012 school year don’t rely on technology as greatly, though. Cartmell’s planned and hosted a team colonial day for students, and hopes to extend it to the whole school this spring.

“What happens is that it’s not done in all classes and the kids are missing out,” she said. “It’s all to immerse themselves in colonial life.”

Though the day is still being planned, Cartmell hopes to incorporate colonial trades, like candle making, tasks, like cross-stitch and churning butter, and games into it. It’s something that involves extensive planning, since the fifth grade has around 600 students and 22 teachers—and about half of the teachers don’t teach Social Studies, Cartmell said.

The school’s sixth grade teachers are preparing for the new year and using the new technology as well, though they’re still considering how to incorporate it into lessons.

“It takes PowerPoints lots further,” MaryBeth Hughes, who teaches science and social studies, said. “We didn’t know it was coming, so it was a surprise to hear about it. We are all talking about all the different ways we can use it.”

The teachers can now use the class white boards with the projectors—the traditional ones produced too much glare—allows them to pause videos, circle or draw on the areas the teachers want to highlight.

In addition to the technology, Hughes is looking forward to the professional learning communities teachers will participate in this year. The communities offer a chance to work with colleagues and connect lessons and learning strategies, she said.

“Now we are looking at collaborating and making the learning of everyone a priority,” she said.

While the year will undoubtedly bring some challenges, neither the fifth or sixth grade teachers worried about working with their students.

“I can’t imagine doing anything but sixth grade,” Hughes said. “They have great senses of humor.”

“They come in as fourth graders and we are kind of here to change them into sixth graders,” Tuller said.



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