The Block Island Times

Honors program starts up for seniors

By Gloria S. Redlich | Oct 20, 2011

Science teacher Susan Gibbons announced the introduction of an honors program into the course offerings for high school students at the Block Island School. The program begins during the 2011-12 academic year.

Students in grades nine through 12 may choose to earn honors credit for specific courses in science, English and social studies. As described in literature distributed to students and parents, “Honors credit is earned through exemplary work and entails intellectual curiosity, academic accomplishment and responsibility above and beyond that which is typically expected in the classroom.”

Students who express interest in the program must seek the approval of their teacher, guidance counselor and parents, all of whom must sign a contract specifying the responsibilities required. The transcripts of students who successfully meet the honors standards will indicate “honors” credit for the course.

To earn honors credit in science and social studies courses, students will be required to do an analytical presentation, which engages students in readings related to the course and of interest to them, and about which they must write “reflective, analytical summaries.” They are also required to engage in school or community projects that relate a topic of academic investigation to an issue relevant to the community.

English teacher Nancy Greenaway said the project component was still in the process of being developed in English classes. She pointed out that seven of her junior and senior students were currently engaged in an email correspondence with college students in Japan. They have been writing to the students of Ann Thomas, who last year shared her moving emails describing life immediately after the tsunami with the island’s school community.

Greenaway felt that the cultural discoveries emerging during the exchange were so rich that they were sure to offer material for a project that would fulfill honors criteria.

Honors credit is not assured. Students must earn it by meeting all the requirements and scoring at a pre-established grade level for their writing, presentations and projects.

5th grade-kindergarten friends

For more than 20 years, says fifth grade teacher Bonnie Swienton, there has been some kind of mentorship program at the local school connecting kindergarteners with fifth graders in an exchange that seems to enrich both groups. Currently, Swienton’s students meet with Deborah Hart’s kindergarten class on Wednesdays, in a program matching older to younger students through math and reading projects.

A lively mix of both classes engaged in a math counting game in the kindergarten classroom this Wednesday. The students were establishing how much candy corn there was in Hart’s “estimating jar.” With a wide range of numbers suggested, the group ended in a count confirming 65 candies in the jar, with Julia Butcher making the winning estimate. To reward themselves, everyone tasted a piece of candy.

Following Swienton’s directions, the class next engaged in a graphing exercise in which they indicated their favorite ice cream flavors. Filling in their choices with crayon on a chart listing chocolate, vanilla, strawberry cookie dough, chocolate chip and ‘other,’ most students were drawn to the latter, commenting they liked peppermint.

Swienton asked fifth graders to “do some mental math.” Totaling all the choices at 17, they observed that nine out of 17 of their friends liked “other” flavors, three out of 17 preferred cookie dough, two students chose chocolate and one out of 17 liked chocolate chip.

In the end, one student suggested that in the future they have an “estimating jar” that would hold ice cream, which all the students would be happy to sample.

Upcoming trips and activities

October 17 First grade class to visit Schartner’s Farm

October 18 Open House 6:30-8 p.m.

October 19-20 Sixth grade Roots and Wings program

October 21 Mark Searles, Channel 10 weather man, to visit third grade classroom

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