Hello Northeast Middle School PTA supporters,
We have 2/3 of our fundraising plan happening right now and this weekend is crucial.
1. Mixed bag orders are due on MONDAY. Remember, you can order directly on-line (we get 40% profit) or using the order form (50% profit). Frankly, it doesn’t matter – just use the method that works for you. Our goal is $1000. If you choose to order online, click on “SHOP” after following the link above, and then ‘SELECT A FUNDRAISER TO SUPPORT’. Enter code 602595, or enter 55418 as the organization zip code.
2. Bake Sale is TUESDAY. We really need some shifts filled. Please take a look at the sign up genius (click the link) and see if you can help. Please also plan to bake. Thank you!
Welcome and Introductions
Telescope Math: Chris Jones
Mr. Jones provided a graphic which did an excellent job of explaining Minneapolis Public School’s mathematics paths. We’re working to get that graphic posted on the NEMS website.
- The reason that the district is using a new method for placing students in math classes is because there was concern that there was not much consistency with the math curriculum. Students who moved from one site/school to another site/school may have a gap in their math instruction. Also many of the math class (accelerated and non-accelerated) were starting to be divided along racial lines. Additionally, accelerated math could mean that students completely skipped a grade of math, never receiving the content at all which in some cases has led to a gap in future math classes as well as lower scores on the standard math tests by advanced math students.
- Sites were doing what they needed to do, but sites were not consistently using the same course codes (codes/descriptions for the classes taught). There might have been 30 course codes for 6th grade math, which isn’t sustainable and it is very difficult to be sure 6th grade math is similar across schools.
- Teachers, test scores, and other factors try to identify which students will be placed in telescope math. There are multiple ramps to get into (and possibly out of) telescope math classes and students can move back and forth across the spectrum. We were encouraged to ALWAYS advocate for our students as parents. It’s important that you discuss your math placement and how it’s challenging your child with your teacher and school counselor. Talk about how your child is making growth and being challenged at an appropriate level.
- Telescope math classes go through 1.5 years’ worth of content in one school year. For example, a 7th grader may take Telescoped Math 7 / Algebra 8 which is all of Math 7 and half of the Algebra 8 curriculum. And in 8th grade they’d take Telescoped Algebra 8 / Intermediate Algebra (the second half of the Algebra 8 curriculum and all of the Intermediate Algebra content9th grade math). If a class is telescoped then it is going faster and deeper into the content.
- Some accelerated students will reach the geometry level at 8th grade, and others at 9th. In order to complete the IB diploma at Edison (which requires completing calculus), a student needs to start geometry by 9th grade. Because so few students reach geometry at 8th grade, NEMS did not offer a course this year. On-line courses were available or taking a course at Edison. These challenges were discussed
- How do you help the kids who slipped through the cracks? High school has a support system so the teachers compensate for that in their instruction and have before or after school help available. Parents need to do their best to advocate for their kids. What can parents to do help fill the gaps? Online programs such as IXL or ALEKS (which they have at Waite) are aligned to the common core and are both options for filling any gaps in a student’s math education.
- One thing to remember is if a teacher teaches Math 7, they are really teaching K-7 math since many students are at different levels of math
- The district has been implementing this program for 3-4 years. They are working on getting course codes and curriculum standardized, as well as other pieces of the program.
- The biggest disparity in students’ skills starts to show in the first few years, mostly by 3rd grade. In our school system, generalists are laying the foundation for kids in math in 3rd grade (as opposed to a middle school teacher who only teaches math). The teacher might have a better relationship with reading than say math (which is the same as a student having a better connection to math than say writing).
- Are students learning math in real world examples? All the teachers try to incorporate real world examples into their lessons. They are trying to communicate how important this is to all the teachers. The district is trying to build these teachers up to be successful.
- The district is trying to make sure students can access telescoped classes even if you are in a smaller neighborhood. Online classes are available. Students who took online classes had test scores that were as good as those taking the same class with an in-person instructor. While on-line courses are an option, and Edison has helped our students, it remains a topic the district needs to consider further, and Mr. Jones said he would be bringing the issue back to his team. In smaller neighborhoods with fewer students, it’s a bigger challenge to match resources with demand.
- There is a standard on the main, grade-level math classes because all of those classes are taught to address the common core. Because each classroom has a different set of students, you can’t say that Item x is taught on the 5th day of class. However, by the end of the year, a standard set of content should be learned. Some gaps were felt when students moved back and forth between standard math and accelerated math (which wasn’t always standardized).
- How do parents know that telescoped math is an option? The message about telescope math is left to each site to communicate. The head office is talking about how they can provide some messaging.
Grant requests: The PTA set aside a total of $750 for classroom grants and received two grant requests this month. One from Kathy Dawson for $500. She would like to purchase balls for kids who spent time in the gym during their free time around lunch. The PTA voted to grant $270 for 12 balls. We can access the rest of the grant after the bake sale.
The other grant request came from Kimberlee Adams for $250 for a 6th grade college tour. Heather is going to get more information and we’ll discuss at the November meeting.
These grant requests brought up some questions about the process. It was proposed that in the future a request that is over $200 gets run past the administration. The feeling was that the administration should be stressing what the school’s priorities are in terms of financial support from the PTA.
It was also suggested that we should add a box to the grant form that asks the requestor if they’ve spoken to the administration about their need. Sometimes a requester doesn’t talk to admin staff about their need and the admin may actually have money for the need. It also lets the administration weigh in on whether one request should be a priority over another. Not that this would happen at NEMS, but it could happen that a teacher gets a ‘no’ from the administration because it isn’t a priority, but then goes to the PTA for funds.
All teachers received the email that the PTA has grant funds available. We discussed putting the grant document on the NEMS website.
Mixed Bag: To raise scholarship money for the 6th grade overnight spring environmental field trip, the PTA is running the Mixed Bag fundraiser. Last year the fundraiser was directed at 6th grade families and raised about $1000. This year, the opportunity will be extended to the whole school. The first $1,000 raised will go to the 6th grade trip. Additional funds raised will support classroom and community building events. Catalogs will be distributed on October 15 and run through November 2. You can turn in the paper catalog (school gets 50%) or order online (school gets 40%).
Election Day Bake Sale: November 7 is the bake sale. Last year we raised about $700. Sign up to bring goodies and to volunteer to sit at the table at Sign-up Genius
November PTA Meeting: Will include a presentation about after school activities.
- How do conferences work? 6th grade parents are used to having assigned times to talk to teachers. NEMS teacher conferences is first come, first serve.
- A 6th grade orientation document would be extremely helpful. Not everyone can make it to the school for orientation. It could address questions like how conferences work, what happens on the first day of school, what is the Parent Portal, how do the electives work (like language), what happens in advisory, when do I contact the advisory teacher and when do I contact school administration with questions?
6th graders will sell product to support overnight field trip
-Form committee of 3
-Make contact with bag company
-Choose sale dates (October)
-Work with school to effectively communicate
PTA will ask for continuation of Parkway sale percentage to benefit PTA budget
-Work with school to effectively communicate
Election Day Bake Sale:
PTA will set up a booth during election day and sell baked goods
-Form a committee of 3
-Get a commitment of at least 20 bakers
PTA will assess need for a specific cause and consider direct donation drive.
-PTA identify specific need with school. For example, after-school offerings.
-Form a committee of 3
-Choose donation date (late winter-early spring)
-Implement donation drive including communication internally and externally.
Join us at the next Northeast Middle School (NEMS) PTA meeting:
Monday, October 9, 6:30-8:00 PM, in the NEMS library.
Please enter through the door near the office, closest to St. Anthony Blvd.
Special Topic: Telescope math
Speaker: Chris Jones, teacher, and district math specialist
Northeast Middle School is taking a new approach to math for all grades called “telescope.” This is designed to give students more confidence in math while better preparing them for high school math. Come listen to Principal Rowe and Mr. Jones discuss telescope math and find out how it relates to your student’s future math class options.
After the telescope math discussion, we will discuss other PTA topics including:
- Fundraising (specifically funding for the 6th grade overnight)
- Committee Updates
- Topics for future meetings
- Communication (NEMS PTA website, Facebook page)
Welcome and Introductions
- 15 school community members attended
PTA Executive Committee:
Co-President: Nicola Alexander-Knight
Co-President: Ronda Dunham
Secretary: Jeanette Woessner
Treasurer: Heather Craig
Principal Rowe’s Welcome and Discussion topics –
- Foremost in his mind is doing what is in the best interest of kids and what is most equitable.
- He does not see the PTA meetings as just a meeting with the principal. He does not want to hinder the work being done by the PTA. He sees the role of the PTA as working to grow an invested school community. One part of that is fundraising.
- The school budget: The budget took a major budget hit this year. Two percent was deducted from every school’s budget. That is a new reality alongside the school’s declining enrollment. Mr. Rowe recruited native American students from Anishinabe Academy. The students on the north side of Minneapolis are encouraged to go to Northeast and the students from the south side are targeted to go to Sanford Middle School. Of the 38 American Indian students who were eligible to attend NEMS, 21 of them enrolled. Originally, 498 students were to be enrolled at NEMS; with the addition of the former students from Anishinabe Academy, this put NEMS enrollment to over 500.
- The core curriculum teachers are organized in team (math, language arts, science, etc.). Ideally, you’d like to have teams for each grade. It would be good if you had 2 teams for each grade, but NEMS is not big enough for that. We have 4 teams (referring to the grades taught primarily by teachers).
- 6th grade team: all teachers in this team teach 6th graders
- 6th / 7th grade team: some core classes for just 6th graders are taught by a 7th grade team teacher.
- 7th / 8th grade team: some core classes for just 7th graders are taught by a 8th grade team teacher.
- 8th grade: all teachers in this team teach only 8th graders.
- NEMS changed from a 7 period day to 6 periods this year. Classes are now 55 minutes. An elective period was lost in the process.
- In the teachers’ contract, if they have 7 periods, two periods must be prep hours. For a 6t period day, teachers get one prep hour. Because of that change, there was some room in the budget to expand some programs.
- Added: swim instructor – all kids can learn how to swim
- Added: consultant to develop a curriculum on ethnic studies
- There is growth in special education and English language (EL) students, which impacts the schools budget. (External clarification: State compensatory aid is for both EL and FRL, so growth in either population should result in more funds per eligible student. Federal Title I refers specifically to those eligible for FRL, of which some EL are a part; Title III funding is targeted specifically at ELs, even though accountability for EL achievement would not only be under Title III.)
- Some reductions were made in the electives (band / choir / Chinese)
- The band/choir teacher left and no one bid on the position. Last year’s teacher had a .6 job at NEMS and .4 job at Henry. The posted position was a .4. Mr. Rowe found out in August that no one had bid on the position.
- He was able to work out with Edison that some students in Band / Choir / Geometry / Chinese could take classes at Edison. He admitted that there were some details about the arrangement that were missing. He appreciated the questions from those parents with children impacted.
- Impacted students will spend their ‘zero’ hour at Edison (i.e., Edison 1st period starts at 8:15am, before NEMS start time of 9am). Parents need to get their students to Edison. They come back in the middle of advisory on a bus paid for by the school ($8500 for the bus). These students get three elective choices and high school credit. He will be trying to build a band program at NEMS.
- This year, 6th graders will sample the available languages for only one semester and pick a language for the whole second semester. Last year, the 6th graders sampled all the electives for the entire year, so they only had a language for 6 weeks.
- Standards-based grading is being implemented to make sure they know what the kids learned (not just know what the teacher taught). They are asking students to demonstrate how they mastered what they learned. Rubrics will be used to measure mastery, and the assessment will align with the standard. Mr. Rowe will be working with parents on how that will actually work.
- Mr. Rowe is aiming for equity and practices that are good for everyone. They will also focus on social and emotional leaning. Teacher will get training on identifying their trigger points and their unconscious bias.
- The Somali- and Spanish-speaking parents have their own meetings with Mr. Rowe.
- Let’s talk about why some families are going from Waite to St. Anthony.
- Focus on growth mentality rather than testing. If the students are growing, then they should move to the next level. NEMS has a new interventionist who will hopefully catch students before they fall through the cracks.
- Can the NE area sustain the schools they have if they were only populated by NE students? NE schools have the biggest percentage of students that come from the North side. About 59% of NEMS students come from the North side. The district isn’t promoting a school to go down to 300 kids. Which is what it might be if it is only NE kids who attend NE schools. If you lose kids then you lose money. Need to have a courageous conversation to figure out why NE kids are going to other schools.
Question: If a parents have questions about their child, should they go directly to Rowe or through advisory? Start with advisory because that teacher sees your kid every day. Mr. Rowe doesn’t see your kid and doesn’t know him/her as well as the advisory teacher would. However, Mr. Rowe is always open for a meeting or phone call.
Discussion – When will be able to meet with Rowe with questions about curriculum, behavior, why are NE families going outside of NEMS? What platform does this happen? It was suggested that the PTA can help facilitate this, but that it should be done outside the PTA meetings.
Introduction of Shelly Hughes –
Shelly is the family liaison. She works with PTA as a partnership, and she is a go-between with the school administration when Mr. Rowe isn’t at the meeting.
Heather give us a treasurer report: See Treasurer’s report sheet
-Parkway Pizza donated $1000 to the PTA for all the First Monday’s last year.
Parent survey results
(survey available at open house before school started)
What would you like to see the PTA doing?
- Make the time spent more valuable, give me a forum to hear about what is going on at the school.
- Meet other parents and people at NE middle school
- Plan events to build community. May dance is a good example.
- Give parents a bigger role to play in the yearbook, t-shirt sales, spirit ware (sales in the office)
- Send out the PTA agenda in advance – field the questions ahead of time.
T-shirt committee: Nicola, Jasmin, Jenny, Shelly
Dance Party (May)
Fundraising – 6th grade overnight / direct donation
Approves a proposed budget – See 2017-2018 proposed budget
Meeting adjourned at 8:00pm