A handful of local educators attended a four-day workshop in Grand Junction recently that focused on new techniques for integrating literacy into the classroom.
Strawberry Park fourth-grade teacher Katie Knezevich, Soda Creek principal John Devincentis and Soda Creek fifth- grade teachers Judy Ross and Allyson Spear attended the "Literacy Learning in the Classroom" workshop that was sponsored by the Literacy Network. The workshop was at Palisade High School and the information discussed at the workshop was based on a New Zealand teaching model, Knezevich said.
Each of the four days focused on different topics that included how to integrate reading and writing into a student's educational experience. The educators also went over the teaching and learning cycle, which includes assessment, evaluation, planning, teaching and learning.
"The four days were quite intense and overwhelming, but when you have time to sit down and reflect, it all makes sense," Spear said. "We need to make sure that we take our time (implementing the information)."
There were more than 200 educators from all different grade levels who attended the workshop. They were divided into 12 groups headed by a trained facilitator. Each of the groups met in a model classroom where a facilitator played the role of the teacher and the educators were the students. The "students" listened, took notes and wrote, frequently sharing their exercises with others, and developed action plans to add to their own teaching programs. Participants from Soda Creek and Strawberry Park were in the same group so they could collaborate on their ideas, Spear said.
"We definitely can use this in our classrooms," Spear said. "Knowing your students and their learning needs and having the resources to teach effectively is really important."
Another category that was discussed was the conditions that should be in place in the classroom for learning to occur, Knezevich said. One of the conditions was called the "gradual release of responsibility," which provides a way for students to become more responsible for their own learning by monitoring themselves while the teacher works with others.
In addition to learning about new teaching techniques, educators discussed the techniques they liked and the ones they thought could be changed. Spear said the discussions challenged what the teachers are used to doing and exposed them to different approaches to learning situations.
"I think it helps you to look at students as individuals and try to take them from where they are to the next level," Knezevich said. "(The workshop) made me reflect on my teachings."