Spencer Academy Principal Shawn Jackson said her school come this fall will be one of three public schools in Chicago to debut the New Classrooms initiative – a 90-minute block of math programming for sixth-through-eighth graders. Students in the various grades will be taught in one large classroom that’s equipped with state-of-the-art technology.

Three to four math teachers will teach roughly 75 to 80 students at a time. “What you are seeing with the capital improvements is that they had to create a classroom that can function as this large learning center for math,” Jackson said, noting that the capital improvement funds will create a math wing for Spencer, 214 N. Lavergne. The school will receive upwards of a half million roughly from CPS for building renovations to accommodate their new programs.

During the 90-minute blocks, some students will receive one-on-one instruction time with the teacher while other kids traverse work sections for various assignments. Some students will receive instruction time with tutors via the web-based conference program Skype.

Students will take a daily assessment to determine their math level, with daily lesson plans created as a result of those assessments. The students will work on something new every day, said Jackson, who likes that the program is “adaptable” to cater to individual students’ needs.

To the best of Jackson’s knowledge, so far only Chicago and New York – where a similar program originated – are implementing this type of math-teaching method.

Ellyn Fortino