UNION COUNTY — For the students of Union County, Christmas break ended on Monday, but for their teachers it ended the previous Friday when they returned to school as students themselves.
Friday was an in-service staff development day with training sessions on a variety of subjects teachers will be dealing with this semester and beyond. The sessions were held at Buffalo Elementary, Monarch Elementary, Foster Park Elementary, Sims Middle, and Jonesville Elementary/Middle schools and the Union County Career and Technology Center.
The sessions were attended by kindergarten through fifth grade teachers as well as learning specialists, media specialists and guidance counselors who found themselves in the role of students for presentations on subjects such as Common Core Math, Book Study, Childhood Obesity, and “Teaching With Flair.”
At Buffalo Elementary, the sessions were filmed with a camera that can film the entire classroom, giving viewers not only the chance to view the lesson as it is being taught, but how the students are reacting and interacting during the process.
“All teachers will go to a room by grade level and each school will present a lesson,” Tammy Fisher, Buffalo Elementary media specialist, said. “Each lesson will be be taped with a 360 degree camera that will show the presenter as well as the participants in the classroom. The footage will be edited and prepared for future presentations. The camera enables you to see what is being presented our taught and see each group at their table.
“A good classroom use for the camera is to see how students are working and engaged in the lesson,” she said. “We’re trying to do as much as we can to raise student engagement in the classroom.”
One subject that was covered extensively Friday was Common Core Math which was the subject of the training sessions held at Buffalo Elementary.
According to the S.C. Department of Education website (www.ed.sc.gov) the State of South Carolina adopted the Common Core State Standards for English/Language Arts and for math in July 2010. The standards are a national set of academic benchmarks that details the math and reading skills that students will need to learn as they go through each grade. Plans are for the standards to be fully implemented by the 2014-2015 school year.
Fisher said the teachers attending the staff development day classes were learning about the standards and their implementation over the next two years.
The training sessions at Foster Park Elementary included “Teaching With Flair,” which dealt with art instruction strategies and was taught by Dr. Susanne Gunter, coordinator of Graduate Art Education at Converse College.
“One of the problems we have in the fine arts is there’s not a lot of contact with peers,” Gunter said. “There’s usually only one art teacher at a school and they don’t have much opportunity to interact with and learn from their fellow art teachers. This was an opportunity to bring the schools’ fine arts teachers together to talk about instructional strategies and about having an effective fine arts program.
“We also talked about grants and how they can be used to supplement instructional materials and supplies,” she said. “We also talked about what other kinds of staff development will be needed in the future and the role of technology in staff development. Technology is constantly changing and you have to keep up with it if you are going to try to keep up with the kids and their needs.”
Gunter said the goal of “Teaching With Flair” and similar training sessions in the future is to enable the school district to maintain the quality of its fine arts programs.
“Union County has a history of great fine arts programs,” Gunter said. “The fine arts programs in Union County have always been great. We want to keep that level up and I want to do everything I can to help the school community do that.”
Editor Charles Warner can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.