"Freshman prep" class helps ninth grade students 9.19

Written by David Green.

Any homework today?

“I don’t have any homework; I have a test tomorrow.”

Wrong answer, says Morenci science instructor Kerry Neiman. If you have a test tomorrow, then you have homework.

That answer might be classified as a freshman mistake. It’s one Mrs. Nieman doesn’t want to hear again as Morenci’s ninth grade class members advance onward toward their senior year.

Along with the help of two other teachers, she’s doing her best to improve the study habits of the school’s freshman class—the first to face the stiff graduation requirements set by the state education department.

Math and science teacher Kim Mohr came up with the idea for what’s being called “Freshman Prep,” a high school readiness class. She read about the concept in an education magazine and it made a lot of sense to her.

It sounds simple—taking notes, reviewing notes, following directions, studying, preparing for a test, taking a test—but those skills aren’t specifically taught in the lower grades.

Some kids might come into high school with good study skills, but many don’t. Even if it’s something they’ve been taught in the past, most students could benefit from learning how to better put the skills into practice.

As a practical example, Mrs. Mohr points to the new requirement in mathematics. General math isn’t even offered anymore. To graduate in 2011, students needs to pass algebra II.

“We want to make sure they know how to use their textbook,” Mrs. Mohr said. “Rather than raise their hands and wait for a teacher, they’re going to need to be able to take a more proactive approach.”

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