A Drive to Departmentalization at Commack Road

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This year at Commack Road, a pilot program of departmentalization was instituted for fifth-grade students. Also known as “platooning instruction,” students have a daily schedule of reading, writing, science, social studies and math that requires them to switch classes each period and receive instruction from a different teacher for each subject.

Fifth-grade teachers and administrative staff created a program wherein the teachers would drop their role as generalists and break from the traditional elementary model of one teacher being responsible for all subjects during the day, and teach instead as experts in one or two content areas. Many benefits became evident: Teachers have become passionate in their fields as they have ripened into specialists in their areas of expertise; teaching staff are provided with the opportunity to get to know all the students in the fifth grade; and students are significantly better prepared for the middle school because they have been exposed to departmentalization for an entire year as well to the instructional style of numerous teachers rather than just one; and the students have been afforded the opportunity to be educated as responsible young adults.

When asked what she liked best about being in the fifth-grade departmentalized program, student Maggie Hayes said, “I like how teachers teach their own subject. Some teachers are better at teaching certain subjects. Also, we have 40 minutes for each subject. When we had one teacher, we sometimes did not get to every subject. Changing classes has prepared me to be confident about going to middle school.”

Based on very positive results, the pilot departmentalization program for fifth-grade students at CRES will continue in the 2016-2017 school year. The traditional model of elementary education will continue in kindergarten through fourth grade.