While Re-1 students wait 2 more weeks, school’s already started for teachers
Some students fear going back to school, but teachers are already there.About 65 Roaring Fork School District Re-1 teachers volunteered to take summer classes to practice teaching skills. It’s an RFSD professional development program in its third year. Teachers also attend outside training programs.One emphasis this year is number sense. It’s an understanding of the relationship between numbers and their actual quantity, going beyond just the symbols and names associated with them.The RFSD has scored low in two Colorado Student Assessment Program test categories called number sense and computation, said Anita Parker, instructional facilitator for curriculum and staff development. “Teaching Number Sense in the Elementary Classroom” was one of a handful of classes offered this summer. It aims to give teachers activities and methods to improve their students’ understanding of the sense of quantitative value behind numbers.”What we’re finding out is kids can count but they don’t know what 17 looks like (at a kindergarten to first-grade level),” Parker said. “We don’t focus enough on the quantitative part of it.”
One of the more basic activities is counting backward. The class suggests teachers play math games. Teachers could stand the students in a circle and have them count forward, backward, and with multiples from different starting numbers.”We want them to know the numbers forward and backward,” Parker said.The Number Sense class was an offshoot of an Add+Vantage Math program to which the RFSD paid to send 40 teachers last year, Parker said. In addition to the activities, designed to exponentially multiply students’ number sense, that program taught how to do one-on-one assessment of student needs. As teachers know, those needs are not consistent throughout one classroom. Plus, one-on-one time is difficult to come by.A series of four classes – with titles like “Help, My Students All Have Different Needs” – sought to help teachers cope with this challenge.With the focus shifting toward standards based education, teachers are not supposed to let anyone fall through the cracks or let anyone get bored. In the past teachers were told to teach to the middle, Parker said.
“It deals with knowing your kids,” Parker said. “Assessment is at the heart of it. Usually, differentiation means you can’t do the same thing with 26 kids in your classroom.”Training includes strategies to manage classrooms with techniques like breaking up kids into smaller groups based on skill levels.Other areas the Summer Teacher Academy aimed to raise the bar on this year included nonfiction reading and writing, and technology. Parker and Paula Marr, instructional facilitator for curriculum and staff development, founded the Summer Teacher Academy program three years ago. The four days of concentrated class work were meant to be an option for teachers who couldn’t or didn’t want to take courses for the entire summer.Another class dealt with “multiple Intelligences.” According to educational research, kids have eight different types of intelligence, Parker said. Things such as music intelligence, kinesthetic intelligence, number intelligence, word intelligence and interpersonal intelligence should all be used to enhance learning, the class suggests.If a student has strong music intelligence, for example, a teacher might be able to utilize that in social studies by having the student do a self-selected historical project about a famous composer, Parker said.
“As human beings, if you give me a project I’m going to use my strengths to do that project,” Parker said. “As a teacher I want to use all the intelligence of my students.”Contact Pete Fowler: 945-8515, ext. 16611 firstname.lastname@example.orgPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO
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