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Cabell teachers get special training

Teachers
Jul. 29, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- More than 200 Cabell County teachers spent four days this week in professional development training at Huntington High School.

The main purpose was to continue training on the common core curriculum, which are standards that focus on fewer concepts but stress deeper learning and understanding. The goal is to provide states with fewer, clearer and higher standards that are to be benchmarked against international standards.

But teachers also could attend a variety of afternoon sessions that were developed based on feedback from teachers about where they felt they could use additional training.

Jeff Smith, the director of Curriculum and Assessment, said those sessions focused heavily on technology training, such as using iPads in the classroom, helping students understand the responsibility of using social media, classroom management, writing and note-takng strategies and the use of gaming as an educational resource.

Karen Dailey, who co-taught Wednesday's session on iPads, said teachers are using them in their classrooms. But many aren't getting the full capabilities of the device and the applications that can be downloaded.

"We're trying to show teachers how they can use (iPads) for more than just skill and drill," Dailey said. "What we're trying to show them is there are lots of apps for students to be creative, for more critical thinking, where they can produce something."

One example she shared with teachers was a kindergarten class last year that used iPads to create e-books to show how they mastered their knowledge of West Virginia symbols. She also mentioned Skype, which is an online video conferencing tool that can connect people from all around the world.

Teachers who took part in the four-day training received a stipend and were able to earn college credit through Marshall University at a discounted rate. For many, it was about being able to better understand the common core and be able to successfully use it in their classrooms.

"The training is very valuable," said Richard Mitchell, who teaches math at the Alternative School. "(Common core) is totally new to teachers and students, definitely for students who weren't used to having to be problem solvers."

Kacie DeCarlo teaches freshman math at Huntington High School, and introduced the common core standards to her students last year. It was a little difficult for the students because they hadn't seen it as eighth-graders. As Cabell County continues the implementation -- it will be rolled out completely for the 2014-2015 school year -- it should be more easily taught and understood by students.

DeCarlo said the training this week was more valuable than words can describe, mainly because she was able to meet with other math teachers from her school and Cabell Midland to discuss ideas and share resources.

That kind of feedback is what Smith points to as evidence that teachers in Cabell County are taking ownership of their classrooms and schools. In fact, many of the sessions during the week were taught by teachers who went through common core training during the past two years.

And, he said parents can be confident the training will translate into a better classroom experience for their children.

"We try to make sure everything we offer is absolutely applicable to what they are doing in their in their content area," Smith said. "And take it back to their classrooms to use."

First day of school year approaching

HUNTINGTON -- The first day of the 2013-2014 school year is fast approaching, as Cabell and Wayne counties start Thursday, Aug. 8.

Children in Lincoln County head back Wednesday, Aug. 14; Monday, Aug. 19, in Mason County; and Thursday, Aug. 22, for students in Putnam County.

Teachers and service personnel on 200-day contracts report for three days of preparation and professional development prior to the first day.

In addition, St. Joseph Central Catholic High School will start Wednesday, Aug. 7, while the grade school will start Monday, Aug. 12.

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