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Making the Grade in Instruction

Instruction team and BOE member, Mr. Ferrar, visit the Discovery Middle School STEM lab with DMS Principal, Mrs. Kim Stewart.

Someone once said, “Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.” That is a guiding principle of the Madison City Schools Instruction Department in setting the framework and support for academic programs for all students grades Pre-K through 12. Educators must continuously embrace new learning concepts themselves in order to prepare students for this ever-changing global environment.

Instruction encompasses academic programs, curriculum development, professional learning opportunities, instructional technology, federal programs, grants, assessments, Advanced Placement, Dual Enrollment, internships, Career and Technical Education, and so many other areas in an effort to provide strong support for all students, teachers, and administrators.

The 2018-2019 school year is an exciting time for us as we are rolling out our instructional goals for the next 3-5 years. These instructional goals embody our academic priorities to include increasing innovative curricular offerings, expanding World Languages, extending STEAM offerings into Pre-K and elementary, providing more collaborative opportunities for teachers, growing professional learning and leadership opportunities, and providing necessary supports to inspire all students to achieve their maximum potential.

Every summer, our instruction team spends countless hours sending teachers to national professional learning opportunities, preparing for professional growth opportunities with administrators, structuring new teacher orientation to welcome new employees to the school system, planning with mentors to support new teachers, and launching our school year to welcome back all employees with Institute Day.

National Board Certification has been a recent focal point of our district’s attempt to support teachers’ professional growth. National Board Certification allows teachers to hone their practice, demonstrate their professional knowledge and reinforce their dedication to their students and their career. Our instruction team has worked hard over the last few years to support teachers pursuing Board Certification. Madison City currently has 44 NBCTs with 19 candidates hoping to finish the NBCT process in May.

Newly Named NBCTs Recognized at a 2017-2018 Board of Education Meeting

Reflecting on our course offerings is crucial to ensure we provide students with curricular offerings that are interesting and challenging. A new addition to elementary instruction is an accelerated math class offered to fifth grade students across the district. The fifth grade accelerated math class includes instruction for all required fifth grade mathematical standards as well as mathematical standards beyond fifth grade. Standards are being introduced with an accelerated pace using a different mathematical resource, Mentoring Mathematical Minds (M3). Mentoring Mathematical Minds (M3) allows students to participate in discussions surrounding conceptual mathematical concepts while requiring the students to apply their mathematical knowledge with a deeper level of understanding. Students in the accelerated math class are being instructed by an Advanced Academic Resource Teacher (AART). Each AART participated in specific trainings over the summer focused on Mentoring Mathematical Minds (M3) and developing lessons using creative and critical thinking strategies. The AART team is collaborating regularly to make this new adventure in mathematics as successful as possible for the participating fifth grade students.

Another addition to elementary instruction is fourth grade Spanish classes. Extending Spanish to the fourth grade provides an opportunity for students attending Madison City Schools to participate in Spanish instruction once weekly for thirty minutes beginning in Kindergarten and moving through fourth grade. Students are learning and using Spanish greetings, colors, numbers and vocabulary as well as responding to simple and more complex questions at increasingly advanced levels from grade level to grade level. Various Spanish-speaking cultures are discussed throughout the years. Students are expected to use the Spanish language during the weekly Spanish class. Through fun, engaging, and meaningful classroom experiences, Madison City Kindergarten through fourth grade students will begin their journey on the path to proficiency in a second language.

Middle and high school course offerings are updated annually to ensure our students have the most innovative curricular offerings available to them. Over the last five years, Madison City has added numerous high-interest course offerings both face-to-face and online.

Courses Recently Added as MCS High School Curricular Offerings

Courses Recently Added as MCS Middle School Curricular Offerings

Partnerships play a key role in the opportunities we are able to provide students. Each year we connect with business and industry partners to not only ensure that our academic programs are preparing students for their future path but also to help students gain a greater understanding of the opportunities that lie ahead for them through post-secondary and career pathways.

Industry credentials have become a key element of public education in recent years with the state focus of students graduating college and career ready. Madison City students have seen a significant increase in the number of industry-recognized credentials earned going from 67 during the 2014-2015 school year to 366 during the 2016-2017 school year. Earning these credentials demonstrates the knowledge, ability level, and skills students have attained that prepare them for their future path.

Industry-Recognized Credentials Earned by MCS Students

While Madison City Schools proudly offers over 200 high school course offerings, we recognize that students have interests that fall outside of the courses we offer or those we have the finances to provide. Therefore, Madison City partners with Calhoun, Drake, and UAH to provide dual enrollment opportunities for students interested in earning college credit, pursuing academics such as mathematics beyond AP Calculus, and refining their skills in areas such as welding, advanced manufacturing, aerospace structures, cyber, CNC machining, and emergency medical services.

Not only does instruction work with schools to add innovative course offerings, but our team also strives to support these programs financially whether that be through local, regional, and national professional development, electronic devices, materials and supplies, classroom furniture, or other resources. Local and federal funds allocated for instruction are used to support these needs; however, our team also secures numerous grants each year to help support these programs.

One of the largest groups supported by grants are military-connected students and their families. Based on the Madison City Schools' high percentage of military-connected households, our district is eligible to compete for the DoDEA funding resulting in $8,007,500 in grant awards to support math, reading, and science instruction initiatives. This funding offers opportunities for the district to expand innovative work and provide additional training and support to increase student achievement.

The DoDEA S.A.I.L grant focuses on science instruction. The grant provides materials, professional development and classroom support. Through this grant, Madison City Schools has the opportunity to provide science coaches who work alongside teachers to provide academic support to students during whole group and small group instruction, assist students with scientific investigations, and support students in developing critical thinking skills through nonfiction text.

The DoDEA S.O.A.R. grant concentrates on improving student achievement in elementary English Language Arts subjects with a focus on reading and using a research-based support program to cultivate positive school culture and positive transition for military-connected students.

The DoDEA C.O.R.D.S. grant focuses on improving student achievement in reading and support programs to cultivate positive school culture for transitioning military-connected students in secondary schools.

Through the assistance provided by these grants, all 11 schools have Student to Student (S2S) programs. The S2S programs consist of civilian and military-connected students who support mobile children as they transition to and from the school.

Federal programs also play a vital part in supporting our students and supplementing multiple instruction initiatives. At-risk students, English learners, homeless students, foster care students, military-connected students, and First Class pre-K children are the key groups that are the focus of the federal programs efforts.

A First Class Pre-K Student Proudly Sharing Her Work With Superintendent Robby Parker

Instructional Technology, also an element supported by the district instruction team, is focused district-wide on expanding our digital portfolio efforts. This year, our goal is to support each school's media specialist and teacher teams into taking ownership of the digital portfolio process. We aim for Madison City graduates to leave us with a digital portfolio that highlights their accomplishments and positions them to be the most sought-after candidates as they enter post-secondary and the workforce.

This is our fourth year to welcome student interns at the district office. Our interns focus on editing district videos, creating graphics, and developing/updating our district app. Having students in the district office not only provides an opportunity for students to showcase their skills, but it also provides a fresh, student perspective on our instructional efforts.


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