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Educational Techniques Changing Fast

February 21, 2011
By ART LIMANN

MOUNDSVILLE - A student doubles his or her knowledge every 90 days, Marshall County Schools Superintendent Fred Renzella said. That means teaching techniques have to keep up.

Renzella attended a conference in 2009 in Florida to learn new teaching techniques that he has been sharing with his local staff.

"Education is a priority," he said. "Creating the methods of imparting this knowledge is the challenge of a lifetime."

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Students throughout Ohio County Schools utilize the latest technology in their classrooms, such as the whiteboard being used here.

Renzella said teachers and administrators in West Virginia are offered a number of opportunities to receive continuing education. In Marshall County, an average of 15-20 teachers attend continuing education workshops every month.

"I like to attended seminars that present information that is of interest to me," Renzella said. "To me, failure is not an option. By going to these conferences I'm with people who are successful. I have a line to think, plan and implement an improved teaching process in Marshall County. I can bring back material for people to look at to see where we can improve. I can access new programs and ideas.

"I was in special education dealing with students that had learning or behavioral problems. They were put into a program to ensure success. Now they're taking many of the ideas they used for these students and spreading them across a broader scope to all children."

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What do our local school districts do to keep teachers up-to-date with the latest teaching techniques?

Teachers and administrators go through continuing education courses throughout the year to learn new techniques and strategies. Some administrators believe that the old teaching methods are not going to work in the future and it is important that teachers and administrators keep up through the expanded use of technology in the classrooms - even allowing students to use new technology as part of their daily work.

Renzella said one of the seminars he attended pointed out that education "is a matter of national security."

"We don't have enough engineers. When a company needs an engineer and none are available, the job is outsourced or people are brought in from other countries. At some point, education is going to move to the center of economic development," he said.

"I need to find out what people are doing to address the needs of children that don't learn in a traditional environment. We also need to address career and vocational training for students not going to college. We need to educate people so they can work in the future. ... Technology is going to become more and more important."

He stressed old teaching methods are not going to work in the future and it is important teachers and administrators keep up. Information technology, best practices and strategies are changing daily. For example, he pointed out how cell phones have always been banned from classrooms. Now, he said, they are a tool that students can use to acquire information from anywhere in the world and should be required in classrooms.

"You can't worry about cheating anymore," he said. "You have to know how and where to get the information you need, how to use it, and how to build a reliable network. We need to take the word cheating out of our vocabulary. The information is all out there. Students need to know how to get it."

 
 

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