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Increased Engagement is Aim of New Teaching Method for Nome Schools

Nome Elementary School sign

Last night’s Nome Public School board meeting revealed worry about possible upcoming legislation and a look at an implemented teaching technique.

Superintendent Shawn Arnold started off the work session by giving a presentation on the implemented Kagan learning structures. Kagan is a teaching method that focuses on cooperative learning. The teaching style emphasizes student engagement, showing that a whole classroom of students can react and respond to the same question. According to Arnold’s presentation, traditional methods may disproportionately favor students who are inclined to raise their hands in class. “It’s about closing those achievement gaps so everybody is shooting for excellence,” said Arnold.

The second item on last night’s agenda was a discussion about next year’s budget. After talking about possible cuts to be made, Arnold highlighted the possible danger of Senate Bill 96. “It threatens to cause us to condense our schools down to one school,” he said. “They want us to remove another $1.5 million dollars out of the budget next year. Now we’re down to [removing] 3.5 [million], if you’re keeping track.”

The proposed law is still being discussed and will be put up to vote in April.

The PEAK assessment was the next order of business on the agenda. Jamie Burgess, Director of Federal Programs and Instruction at Nome Public Schools, reported that the assessment went smoothly and without much trouble. This is an improvement compared to last year’s testing, when a severed internet line in Kansas halted the ability of many in Alaska to take the standardized Alaska Measures of Progress (AMP) test.

The meeting ended with an explanation of the training staff and students will undergo in relation to the Erin and Bree’s laws. The laws require that all public schools in-state implement a prevention-oriented child sexual abuse program and require students be taught about dating violence and how to spot signs of it.

The board talked about Shawn Arnold’s superintendent assessment. Members of the board handed in their individual assessments last night.

The next school board meeting will be April 11th at 5:30 pm in the Nome Elementary School library.