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Less Chalk, More Talk, Increased Security

August 12, 2013
By DANIEL DORSCH - Staff Writer , The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

WHEELING - Learning at Ohio County Schools is changing with the new academic year as teaching techniques shift toward more career and critical thinking, and chalkboards are replaced with modern educational technology.

Student Services Director MaryLu Hutchins said the school district worked through the summer to adopt the West Virginia Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives, which are designed to focus on fewer concepts while stressing a deeper learning and understanding of material.

"Teachers were working with professional developers all summer long so class activities could be as real-world as possible," Hutchins said.

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West Liberty Elementary School students respond to questions during a school program.

"They focus on critical thinking, shared thinking and using information to create a product."

The program's website said the point of the new learning process is to give students the knowledge and skills needed to gain admission into entry-level college courses or work force programs immediately after high school graduation.

Nearly 100 teachers working with the state board of education revised the state's mathematics and English program standards to develop "fewer, focused and deeper" next generation standards of learning.

"All the subjects are aligned and coordinated ... much more integrated," Hutchins said.

According to Hutchins, there are very few chalkboards left in the school district as they are replaced with Intelliboards, which use computer projection to display lessons and computer drawing boards for note-taking and activities.

She also said the district is updating all computer labs with the virtual desktop system which allows students to avoid clutter in their daily computer exercises and research.

Students in the district may be used to seeing prevention resource officers at school during the day, however, Hutchins said PRO Sgt. Don Miller recently reviewed plans with administrators that consider extending school security measures to extracurricular activities.

"We place a high priority on a safe school environment so they (students) can be focused on the business of learning," Hutchins said.

Ohio County Schools Assistant Superintendent Bernie Dolan said administrator are looking forward to the new school year as the final preparations are being made.

"It's always exciting to start a new year," Dolan said during a telephone interview. "Everything is getting dressed up and ready."

For Ohio County public school students in first through sixth and ninth grades, classes begin on Aug. 15, Dolan said. All students in first through ninth grades will attend classes on Aug. 16, with all students in first through 12th grades attending classes on the Aug. 19. He said kindergarten and pre-k students will join the others and all classes will be in session on Aug. 20.

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