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Liberty, Discovery to revamp scheduling, add electives for 2014-2015

Discovery Principal Melanie Barkley explains the scheduling and elective changes at a Madison Board of Education meeting. Liberty Principal Nelson Brown and coordinator of middle school instruction Sally Bruer also answered questions. (CONTRIBUTED)
Discovery Principal Melanie Barkley explains the scheduling and elective changes at a Madison Board of Education meeting. Liberty Principal Nelson Brown and coordinator of middle school instruction Sally Bruer also answered questions. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Liberty and Discovery middle schools will see dramatic changes to scheduling and curriculum for the 2014-2015 school year.

“This is a game changer and something new in the state of Alabama,” Madison Board of Education member Ranae Bartlett said. In April, the school board approved the plan to alter the middle schools’ instructional day from four to five blocks.

Few Alabama school districts offer this innovative scheduling.

The change will increase the choice of electives. Staff members also have developed a 33-page course catalog.

“Our middle schools are a crucial time in the education of our children as they make the transition from elementary school to high school,” superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler said. “We must be innovative to keep their interest and provide well-rounded instruction.”

“Flexible scheduling with more electives will help us better prepare them,” Fowler said.

School leaders believe weekly rotations of the block sequence will benefit students and teachers who perform differently at different times of the day. Administrators are using research that shows flexible scheduling, compared to traditional fixed-time schedules, is a hallmark of high achieving schools.

Third block, which is lunchtime, will not rotate.

Liberty Principal Nelson Brown and Discovery Principal Melanie Barkley and counselors visited sixth-grade classes that feed their respective schools and informed students about electives and the registration process.

In addition, both middle schools held meetings for parents with students who will enter seven and eighth grade.

Students will have more course options in nine-week and semester offerings. Core courses will have smaller class sizes.

Nine-week electives include personal finance, public speaking and fine arts options. New semester classes range from creative writing, science electives, computer programming to academic teams.

Physical education will have nine-week rotations for specific electives, such as indoor or outdoor sports, health and wellness, weight training and cardiovascular endurance and a combination of aerobics, dance and yoga.

Also, eighth-graders can enroll in Spanish 1 as a year-long elective for high school credit.

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