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Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016

Summer is still busy time for local teachers

Friday, June 14, 2002

Southeast Missouri teachers train on how to score the Missouri Assessment Program tests Thursday afternoon.
SIKESTON -- School's out for the summer, but that doesn't mean teachers aren't working. Some are back in school teaching summer classes while others are busy attending workshops and scoring Missouri Assessment Program tests.

For the first time, Sikeston is serving as an in-state site for MAP test scoring. On Monday at the Sikeston Senior High School Career and Technology Center, 22 area teachers began training to grade the third grade science section of the state test. After four or five days of training, they will grade the real tests and finish June 28. Teachers grade the student tests as scanned papers according to the appropriate score guides.

"This is a very good experience for teachers," said Valerie Nelson, science consultant of curriculum services for the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. "They're learning how the students think and learn by grading student responses. There's a lot of positives in the experience."

Over the next two weeks, Nelson estimates these teachers will score thousands of MAP tests. There are eight other in-state sites like Sikeston in Missouri. The rest of Missouri's scoring is done in Sacramento, Calif. Sacramento is where Missouri's test consultant, CTB/McGraw-Hill, is headquartered. Once the scoring process is finished, all of the tests are sent to CTB/McGraw-Hill, Nelson said.

Over at the Sikeston Middle School, approximately 80 area teachers were sharpening their skills at the Teacher Academy workshop, which began Tuesday and ends today.

This week Barrie Bennett presented topics to educators dealing with graphic organizers and concept attainment. To round out the week, he will discuss effective group work versus ineffective group work.

"Group work is good if it's structured effectively," Bennett explained. "Kids can hide in groups or one kid can take over. But what I'm talking about is group work that helps everyone understand. They take tests alone, but the groups are used to help students understand the material."

Effective group work is very important to teach to students since Bennett said it's generally required on the job. Ninety percent of job advertisements seek employees who can work well in teams, Bennett stated.

"Employees aren't placed in straight rows." Bennett continued, "And if they have a problem, they don't raise their hands and wait for the supervisor to come over and help them. It's fine for the students to work in rows, but they need to work in all three environments: individually, in small groups and competitively."

Bennett, a professor at the University of Toronto, is currently involved in seven education research projects in Australia, Canada and Germany. He said this is his fifth year facilitating the Teacher Academy, which is sponsored by the Southeast Regional Professional Development Center in Cape Girardeau.

Sikeston Southeast Elementary third grade teacher Tanya DeKriek said she recommends teachers attend professional development workshops because they are motivational. "You get to see things from another point of view," she said. "We (fellow teachers) network with each other and learn from one another."

Attending workshops also keeps teachers updated with new data, Sheila Bohannon, Sikeston Middle School sixth grade teacher said. "Workshops give you better tools and sharpen the tools you all ready have. A lot of the time, it's things you've already learned, but you've forgotten. It reinforces everything," she said.

Participating school districts are required to send a team of five that includes the principal and four teachers for Teacher Academy. Bennett said this is so the principal learns what the teachers learn and then will be able to better assist the teachers in the future. The teachers will attend two follow-up sessions in the fall, and Bennett requires them to bring sample lesson plans.

DeKriek said she would be bored just sitting at home during the summer. Plus, she added: "After attending workshops, the joy of teaching is brought back to me, and I can't wait to get back into the classroom and try new things."