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Pontotoc County students review math, science during ‘boot camp’
Thomas Wells | Buy at photos.djournal.com
Chris Galabiz, front, and Katie Coffey, right, try to draw shapes by only using instructions given to them by their teammates, Cameron Abbott, back left, and Julia Gray during Wednesday’s math and science boot camp at North Pontotoc Elementary School.
By Emma Crawford Kent
PONTOTOC – After several days of a math and science “boot camp,” Pontotoc County School District teachers are hopeful students have mastered the skills they’ve learned this year and had some fun along the way.
The boot camp consists of six sessions over two days in which students do two 15-minute lessons in each classroom they visit. They rotate through four different classrooms over the course of their math or science period, spending about 30 minutes in each room.
Fourth-and-seventh grade students did a math “boot camp,” and fifth- and eighth-grade students did science at North and South Pontotoc elementary and middle schools.
The school district received a grant from the Toyota Wellspring Fund, administered by the CREATE Foundation, to purchase materials and hire math and science curriculum consultants to work with teachers to design effective lessons and related activities for the boot camp.
Loretta Hartfield, curriculum coordinator for Pontotoc County Schools, wrote the grant because she wanted to do something different to help students solidify their math and science skills before they take state tests in May.
Hartfield used the grant money to bring in Sherrye Dotson, math consultant, and Carol Carter, science consultant, to work with teachers to develop the boot camp activities. The grant money also funded the purchase of some materials and substitutes for teachers who participated in professional development with Dotson and Carter during the school day.
According to Dotson, research shows that when teachers change students’ routines and get them engaged in the learning process through different activities, it helps them remember the material better.
“It breaks that routine of sitting in math class for two hours,” Dotson said. “It’s kind of a push right at the end to review what they’ve done all year long in a different format.”
On May 15, students who participated in the boot camp will also get to attend a college-and-career tailgate featuring related careers from area businesses, also funded by the grant.
“We’re fortunate to have gotten the grant,” Hartfield said.
In one classroom on Wednesday morning, students worked in groups on geometry activities. They identified attributes of various colorful cut-out shapes, looking at angles and lines of symmetry.
Other fourth-grade math classes worked on word problems, measuring data and fractions, among other skills.
Fourth-grader Jonah Uithoven said he thought the boot camp was a good review of the math skills he’s learned this year. He said he also enjoyed visiting different teachers’ classrooms throughout the day.
“I think it’s a really neat thing,” Uithoven said. “It’s helping us learn for our state test, and it’s just a fun way to learn.”
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