Professional development gives teachers new ideas
Joni Barker (left), Sure Start teacher at Schweinfurt Elementary School, helps Ashley Zapata explain the pictures in her writer's notebook during Monday's session of the early stages of writing.

SCHWEINFURT, Germany -- For teachers of military children overseas, "Education is not a static profession ... educational techniques and methods are evolving every year to meet the needs of the students."

So said Margaret Ballinger, a coordinator for Continuous School Progress professional development held March 16 at the elementary school on U.S. Army Garrison Schweinfurt.

"The general idea is teachers learn new techniques and activities that are already being successfully implemented in the classroom (elsewhere)," she said.

Throughout the day, teachers, administrators and parents particiapted in five mini sessions, each featuring a different topic.

Subjects focused on writing, reading, math, wellness and technology.

Paul Stubbs, director of the Kessler Fitness Center, offered tips on classroom exercise options and general nutrition during a wellness session.

"Kids are going to imitate the parents. If they see you eating high calorie food (they will too)," he said. Stubbs and his assistant director also demonstrated simple exercises that could be done with a classroom chair or against the wall.

Sure Start students shared early stages of writing through their story notebooks in a few of the writing sessions.

"They need to see, hear, and say the words that they will later write," said Joni Barker, Sure Start teacher, while showing off one of the student writer's notebooks.

Some of the reading sessions shared about an interactive computer reading program, http://www.raz-kids.com/, and its benefits of providing developmentally appropriate books, lessons and other resources for educators and students.

"I see a lot of improvements in their reading because (RAZ-kids) is fun and interactive ... they don't have anyone who's watching them, and they don't have to compete with the other kids," said Schweinfurt Elementary School teacher Linda Reisinger.

Guests from Garmisch, Germany, Department of Defense Dependent Schools shared techniques to engage students in math through math labs with manipulatives.

"Since this is so hands-on, they really do remember it," said Shandra Lankhurst, explaining how the manipulatives help to cement concepts into students' heads.

"We don't really have a problem with them staying on task," she added.

Participants in the professional development day engaged in various other sessions as well before breaking for lunch. Following the break, teachers met with the next grade-level teachers to communicate ideas and information about their incoming classes in the fall.

"It was an exciting day of learning filled with a rich variety of information shared from teacher to teacher on ways to improve teaching and motivate students to learn," said Wilma Holt, SES principal.

Page last updated Fri March 20th, 2009 at 07:57