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Teachers, educators study blended learning

SALISBURY — Schools in the south and southeast parts of Rowan County saw nearly 200 visitors walking their halls Tuesday as part of Rowan-Salisbury Schools’ Blended Learning Symposium.

Geared toward helping educators see good practices in action, the two-day symposium began with visits to area elementary, middle and high schools that have mastered the integration of hands-on-learning and technology.

Blended learning is a teaching strategy that allows teachers to use technology effectively as a tool, without neglecting personalized instruction. In classrooms at Landis Elementary, a teacher worked with a small group of students in guided reading or math, while the rest of the class worked in centers — finishing up course work, reading or completing an assignment using an iPad.

“This is a great opportunity to showcase what we’ve been working on in Rowan-Salisbury for several years,” Principal Brooke Zehmer said. “… This is truly blended learning, so it’s not all digital.”

Guests included teachers and educators from outside the county, as well as teachers from the Rowan-Salisbury system.

“I think it’s cool to see other schools and what they’re doing,” said Kerrie Smith, a kindergarten teacher at Koontz Elementary.

Smith said she gained some tips on how to incorporate complicated topics like coding into her own lessons.

Other educators agreed.

“It’s a good opportunity to see the different ways blended learning has been implemented,” said Candi Craven, a reading design coach at Hanford Dole Elementary. “That way, I can take back to teachers and show them how to broaden their horizons. … I took a lot of ideas away.”

But blended learning does more than just help out the teachers — there’s a lot of benefit for students, as well.

“It’s good to see children understand their own learning,” said Carmella Fair, an instructional resource consultant with the N.C. Department of Public Instruction.

Some educators see blended learning as the future of education. Lisa Keith, a blended learning specialist with Guilford County Schools, said a teacher standing in front of a class and lecturing no longer works.

“Kids don’t learn that way,” she said.

Instead, the combination of independence and technology tools helps them succeed.

“It’s not just a computer and an iPad, it’s using it correctly,” she said.

Keith said she saw plenty that she wanted to take back to Guilford County.

“It’s on a different level,” she said of Rowan County schools. “… Each teacher has their own thing — their own way of doing things.”

Educators also had the opportunity to visit Bostian Elementary, Carson High and Corriher-Lipe Middle schools. During the rest of the symposium, educators heard from speakers like Phil Kirk, a North Carolina education advocate, and participated in breakout and learning sessions.

Contact reporter Rebecca Rider at 704-797-4264. 

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