Town Of Cape Elizabeth
Cape Elizabeth News

05/15/09

Middle School teaching teams looking to loop

Cape Elizabeth Middle School is looking to loop.

Fifth-grade teaching team of Adam Killip and Elizabeth Johnston are planning to continue on to sixth-grade with their current classes, thus preserving continuity and lessening transition time at the beginning of the year.

Steve Connolly, Middle School principal, told School Board members about the pilot project at their meeting May 12, 2009.

"I personally would like to see that take root, and to have a cycle of people feeling empowered to do that," Connolly told members of the board.

The sixth-grade teaching team of Joe Doane and Claire Ramsbotham will take Killip's and Johnston's place among fifth-grade teachers, and continue with the students they meet next September to sixth-grade in the 2010-11 school year.

The benefits of looping are well documented, Connolly said, and include better knowledge of overall curriculum for teachers moving through the grades along with the students. More learning occurs when teachers and students are already familiar with each other's styles and expectations. "In a two-year time span, you will get two and a quarter years of learning," Connolly said.

Killip, who teaches math and science to fifth-graders this year, said he and his teaching partner Elizabeth Johnston both have experience as sixth-grade teachers, and that he himself has had positive experiences with looping. Normally a teacher will not feel he or she knows students until well into October, he said. With looping, "you don't have to start over when you're with a student, and they don't have to start over with you," he said.

Students, for the most part, are excited to be part of the experiment, Killip said, and only a couple of parents have expressed concern.

Pond Cove School tried looping a few years ago, but the practice was discontinued because it was difficult to support teacher partnering at the elementary level, said Principal Tom Eismeier. However, "the people who did it liked it," he said in a telephone interview.

Connolly said the Middle School will collect data on the looped classes and report back to the board. "Looping has numerous benefits," Connolly said. "Over the next couple of years we'll know more."