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Fayetteville teachers share strategies in back-to-school conference

by Brenda Bernet | August 15, 2015 at 12:51 a.m.
Kelli Stull (from left) and Sara Hart, from McNair Middle School, walk through the line of vendors during the annual Fayetteville Education Expo at Fayetteville High School. The event recognizes the contributions of the Fayetteville Public School District employees and is sponsored by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce. For photo galleries, go to

FAYETTEVILLE -- Teachers should never doubt the impact they have on children, Superintendent Paul Hewitt said.

"They learn some new fact or they learn something new," Hewitt said. "Each day changes that child's life."

Fayetteville School District

14 campuses

9,500 students

Source: Staff Report

Hewitt offered encouragement to more than 800 employees of Fayetteville schools who convened Friday at Fayetteville High School for an all-day back-to-school meeting titled, "Leading Together: Conference and Convocation."

Three schools on a continuous learning calendar are back in session. Monday is the first day for schools on a traditional calendar.

The morning session with Hewitt preceded a conference with 110 breakout sessions led by Fayetteville teachers and staff and 10 sessions led by faculty members from the University of Arkansas.

Teachers and staff received goodie bags, services and fliers from about 90 vendors participating in an Education Expo organized by the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce in the Fayetteville High School Arena.

"It's a really nice way for the teachers to get together to say, 'Hi,' and socialize," said Kyla Price, a second-grade teacher from Asbell Elementary, where school has been in session for about two weeks. "We're all in this together. Let's go."

Hewitt said he wants to empower faculty and staff to lead the district. He wants the staff to treat every child as an individual.

"We're not teaching classes," he said. "We're teaching children."

Price attended a Friday session led by Brooke Buckley, a fourth-grade teacher from Asbell, who discussed effective and engaging strategies for morning sessions with students. Price hoped to hear some ideas that she could use with shy students who struggle to open up in class.

"This is a really good way to get to know the children," Price said.

Buckley told her peers she devotes 10 to 15 minutes every morning to meeting with her students. The time begins with a greeting, with eye contact and a handshake. She has two stuffed toy owls she brings out and asks her class to decide together which owl will be used that day.

Teachers could use the greeting time to teach students about greetings from around the world, she said.

The morning meetings in Buckley's classroom set the tone for the school day and helps build trust between the teacher and students and among students.

"They're wanting to be seen," she said. "They're wanting to be heard. They're wanting to be valued."

Michelle Youngkin, who will teach sixth-grade science at McNair Middle School, shared computer and iPad tools she uses to check her students' understanding.

With, teachers can create a quiz as an online game. An example Youngkin showed her peers included nine questions, each with three answer choices. Each question included a countdown clock and allowed her to see when all participants finished answering each question.

All students can participate in classes that have a computer, electronic tablet or smartphone for every student, Youngkin said. Teachers with fewer devices in a classroom could have students work in pairs.

"I think it's really fun," she said. "The kids really like it. It's a fun way for a quick review."

Youngkin also demonstrated the free tool known as Plickers, accessible with an Internet browser or through an app, for classrooms with a limited number of devices. Teachers can print and laminate a classroom set of cards students use to select an answer. The cards have a symbol that a teacher can scan with a camera on an iPad, iPhone or similar device. Plickers compiles the answers.

Andrew Chance, a sixth-grade teacher at Holt Middle School, appreciated having time to learn what his colleagues across the district do in their classrooms, knowing that the strategies they share are working in their classrooms and that they are close by if he has questions.

Chance looks forward to Monday, the first day of school for his campus.

"The students have a big year ahead of them," he said.

NW News on 08/15/2015

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