Onekama teachers using E-Spark program in classroom

ONEKAMA — Onekama Consolidated Schools elementary teachers Jennifer Bromley and Carolyn Bradford told the board of education this week about a new program they feel is sparking an interest in learning for their students.

Onekma Consolidated School kindergarten students show representatives of the Michigan Department of Education how the E-Spark program works on their iPads.

Onekma Consolidated School kindergarten students show representatives of the Michigan Department of Education how the E-Spark program works on their iPads.

The program they are putting in use is E-Spark which is accessed on the students’ iPads.

“We are using E-Spark for our K-2 classes and is individualized program specific to each child’s level of learning based on their NWEA scores in reading and math,” said Bromley. “Each student goes on a learning quest in reading and math after they take a pretest on particular skills they are working on.”

Bromley said the students follow a certain series of steps in the process.

“Then they watch a series of engaging videos on the topic,” said Bromley. “As they move along the quest, apps pop up on their screen for them to use to practice the skills. At the end of their quest, they must take a post-test, and pass with a score of 80 percent or higher. If they don’t score an 80 percent or higher, they have to go back and watch the videos and play the games on the apps again.”

Once they pass the test, the students are called upon to show that they really know the concept they were studying.

“They make a video of themselves explaining what they have learned,” said Bomley. “Teachers can view the videos to check for understanding. Teachers also get emails from E-Spark letting us know what each child is working on, and how they are doing with that subject matter.

Bromley said what she and many teachers like about the program is it gives the students an opportunity to progress without pressure.

“I really like how the program allows each child to work independently at their own pace. Every student has their own individualized plan for learning,” said Bromley. “E-Spark is a great learning tool, and my class is enjoying it.”

Other items to come before the board at Monday’s meeting was a presentation on the Manistee Intermediate School District 2018-19 general fund budget that is required by law. Even though it isn’t required to take action on the budget, the board approved it on a unanimous vote.

Board members also looked at a variety of NEOLA Policies for finances with the district. All of those policies were approved on a unanimous vote.

A building team update was also given, and one of the components of that was a grace period granted by the state to forgive some snow days so construction can begin sooner.

“The reason we applied for a waiver is because with our project this summer (roofs and boilers) we didn’t want to lose a week of construction time,” said superintendent Kevin Hughes. “So our last day of school will be June 8 as originally planned.”

Hughes said the mechanical workers are already onsite at the school disassembling the old boilers.

“So they already have begun work on part of the project,” said Hughes. “We also have a bid opening for the drainage at the football field and track complex.”

Other action the board took was to approve the new school improvement facilitator Mary Ann Behm. She will be filling a similar position for the Kaleva Norman Dickson and Bear Lake school districts. The districts will be splitting the costs based on the amount of service days. Manistee Intermediate School District general education director Kay Salyer formerly held that position.

The board also discussed a work session in June when Michigan Association of School Boards Mary Kirwin will come to work with them on the new MASB superintendent evaluation tool that will be used to rate Hughes.

Another item that Hughes talked to the board about was getting feedback from the community on the school district.

“We are working on some surveys from parents, students, staff and community,” said Hughes. “This is the year we do it for school improvement plan and we also do it in relation to our technology plan.”

The board also went into closed session to discuss negotiations.

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Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

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