Muskego — With classes starting the day after Labor Day, parents and students will notice a variety of changes Muskego-Norway public schools have completed over the summer.
For parents, the differences will be evident as soon as they try to enter any school building.
After weeks of hammering and painting in a $120,000 effort, all Muskego-Norway public schools now have secure entries in time for the start of school.
District officials call the secure entrances "man traps," in which visitors can come out of the rain, but cannot get into the schools' hallways without signing in and speaking with office personnel, who must buzz them in.
The security enhancements were completed over the summer at Tess Corners, Lakeview and Muskego elementary schools and at Bay Lane Middle/Country Meadows Elementary, said Jeremiah Johnson, supervisor of buildings and grounds. Secure entries already exist at Muskego High School, Mill Valley Elementary School and Lake Denoon Middle School, he added.
Other changes that have been made over the summer include new flooring and paint at Muskego Elementary and at Mill Valley Elementary. Also, the parking lot was repaved at Lake Denoon Middle School and roof work was completed at Mill Valley.
Inside the classrooms, the district will start its thrust this fall to put a thin client laptop computers into the hands of middle and high school students, Superintendent Kelly Thompson said.
Fifth-graders and high school freshmen will receive the laptops when school starts, Thompson said. Students entering grades five and seven and their freshman and junior years of high school will receive the laptops in September 2014. The process will be completed in September 2015 when incoming fifth- and ninth-graders will get laptops.
The School Board approved the one-to-one laptop initiative to provide more opportunities.
Those opportunities, Thompson said, include developing technology skills that prepare students for the future; the chance for students to collaborate with staff and other students seamlessly; and the chance to receive more timely and specific feedback from teachers.
By ensuring that all students in those grades have laptops, it levels the playing field education-wise, but school officials see other positives, as well. Those include the opportunity for students to learn how to use electronics, to choose how they learn and how best to present evidence of learning, and to learn independent problem-solving skills.
An ongoing Projecti
Also this fall, a program changes the relationship between students and teachers — with teachers becoming more like coaches in English, science, math and social studies — will continue forward.
Called "Projecti," the program was started in fifth grade but now will be open to high school freshmen, Thompson said. A key part of the program is that teachers will meet with students to help them set goals and monitor progress toward those goals.
They also will suggest presentations and other things students can do for grading purposes and they will assign credit and grades as aligned with standards.
Teachers also will conduct seminars on the subjects themselves and on skills as needed and give advice on research skills.
Projecti is all about projects and inquiry, guided by national and state standards, Thompson said. High school freshmen in Projecti will be expected to take responsibility for their learning and will be expected to collaborate and communicate.
Even students who aren't in Projecti will find more critical thinking and high-level questioning embedded in their studies to better prepare them for the rigor of the new Smarter Balanced statewide testing that is coming.
Also, the schools will deploy its plan for responding to key factors that contribute to speciak education students scoring lower than others on statewide testing.
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