Jordan-Elbridge: Smaller classes help students learn

Cathie Casler perches herself atop a stool at the front of her third grade classroom at Ramsdell Elementary School. The blackboard behind her is cluttered with math problems. Wednesday's lesson is in subtraction, and after together subtracting 486 from 725 on the board, Casler lets her students work on many more problems at their own pace. Each student writes in marker on a dry erase board about the size of a textbook cover.

"Ashley, you have it," Casler calls out. "Logan, good job."

"Yay," Logan says in excitement.

He wipes away his correct answer with a tissue and begins work on the next one.

The class is divided into four groups of five students who cluster their desks together. Anyone struggling with a problem walks up to Casler for help. The rest wait with their answers held above their heads, waiting for permission to start the next problem.

Casler is able to pay extra attention to individual students without disorder after the Jordan-Elbridge school board officially passed a motion Oct. 4 to open up an extra third grade class at Ramsdell to reduce the large class sizes.

"I knew the board was aware of the problem," said Principal Doreen Bronchetti. "I was very appreciative when they made the decision. They're very focused on the children."

Adding classes

The board initially left the third grade with five classes when some students moved out of the district this summer. When new students entered the district this fall, the board was willing to monitor the challenge of teaching 122 students in those five. When teachers began to struggle to help all of the 24 or 25 students in their classes, they asked the board to consider adding a sixth class.

"I think intuitively, the less kids the more you're able to do," said Brian Herne, one of the third-grade teachers, while his class spent time in the library. "When you have a class of 25, it gets real tricky helping kids who need extra help."

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