School teachers praised new learning approaches they've used with success
this school year during a presentation Monday to the Duneland School Board.
Yost principal Anne
Stillman said the initiative began with staff meeting with each other,
sharing information, using the learning tools in the classrooms and then
evaluating how they were received by students.
According to Second
Grade teacher Heather Dunkle, applying the Kagan cooperative learning
approach "had made a huge difference. It's tremendous."
Dr. Spencer Kagan
developed his educational Structures to promote class interaction,
cooperation, active engagement, tolerance, self-esteem and increased
Stillman said the
teachers initially concentrated on the areas of technology, cooperative
learning, behavior intervention and guided reading. The latter was for small
groups reading at similar needs and levels with opportunities to be
challenged and practice problem solving.
teacher Lisa Joesten told the School Board that mindfulness --- paying
attention in the present moment non-judgmentally --- is a popular
educational tool with positive benefits. Such exercises teach children to
pause before they respond, and that it's appropriate to stop instead of act
in many situations.
Sue Harmison explained the social thinking program where students are taught
the difference between expected behavior and unexpected behavior that can
make others feel uncomfortable. Superhero characters are used to explore
various situations as teachable moments to develop coping strategies.
enthusiastically explained the Kagan Structure for learning that doesn't
change what is taught but how to get that information to students more
Stillman said a lot
of Yost teachers are trying and asking about Kagan methods and it's been
helpful. Yost hopes to be a resource for other schools that want more
presentation to the School Board came from Chris Lowery, Chesterton High
School director of Forensics, accompanied by several members of the
award-winning CHS Speech and Debate teams as well as team coaches. The
Debate team won the 2013-14 state title, its 23rd overall, with the Speech
team finishing fourth this season.
the School Board with a copy of an Indiana General Assembly House resolution
recognizing the CHS team's achievement. Speech competition continues with 20
students attending the Nationals in June.
Duneland Schools give Speech and Debate a lot of leeway and it is
appreciated. He noted the program doesn't cut students and 140 are on the
roster, one of the largest in the nation.
According to School
Board member Ron Stone, "Speech and Debate is probably the best thing that
can prepare you for a job." Board president Ralph Ayres said the CHS program
has been "outstanding, and for decades literally."
In other business,
the board unanimously approved the recommendation of Duneland director of
Support Services Greg Lindy to accept the $363,241 low bid of Gluth Brothers
Roofing to do the roof at Yost Elementary. The board indicated it will
consider repairs to the Duneland bus barn at its next meeting.
personnel action were the upcoming retirements of Cheryl Marckese following
19 years with Duneland and Judy Yogodnik, who spent all 42 years in the
profession here. Both currently are Fifth Grade teachers at Westchester
superintendent Jim Goetz said the 14 teachers retiring this year represent
369 years of service with Duneland and 424 total years of teaching
The board also
approved purchase of language arts and world languages textbooks; Goetz said
community members participating in a review of the textbooks signed off on
elementary summer school were announced as June 9 through June 26 from 7:45
a.m. to 12:20 p.m. at Bailly Elementary.
Board member John
Marshall read a legislative update on bills of interest to Duneland signed
by the governor following the completed General Assembly session. Ayres, a
former legislator, said six study committees were named to deal with
superintendent Dr. David Pruis invited educators, parents and supporters of
education to view a 65-minute documentary Rise Above the Mark on April 30 at
5:30 p.m. at the CHS auditorium. The movie traces Indiana's struggles with
the realities of public education including the impact of charter schools
and standardized testing, and possible positive changes are explored.