A Day Off For Students Brings Lessons For AW Teachers

While students were out of school on March 19, teachers and staff of Anthony Wayne Local Schools were in the classroom, learning new ways to engage students, help students overcome challenges and utilize new tools and technology. Waterville dean of students Matt Beakas and teacher Abbey Foltz led a Msession on how to utilize 3D printers in the classroom. Joining them above are Waterville Primary kindergarten teacher Dayna Ryan and media center specialist Rhonda Kistner. MIRROR PHOTO BY KAREN GERHARDINGER

BY KAREN GERHARDINGER | MIRROR REPORTER — When Dayna Ryan’s kindergarten students arrived in her Waterville Primary classroom last fall, each received a personalized 3D-printed nameplate to help them learn to spell their names.

Now that an Ohio Department of Education and Workforce grant is paying for additional 3D printers, Ryan is looking for more ways to utilize the tool to enhance her students’ learning experience.

“It will be really neat to include it in the classroom,” she said, noting that she plans to pair up with third-grade teacher Abbey Foltz to have students collaborate on projects.

Foltz and Waterville’s dean of students, Matt Beakas, were leading one of 12 sessions offered for staff during a March 19 professional development day while students had the day off.

While the staff engages in professional development several times a year, the structure for the “Filling Your Knowledge Bucket” themed day was new, said Assistant Superintendent Kevin Herman.

“We created a committee with representatives from every building, who shared what they needed and wanted – then put that into action,” Herman said. “They wanted choice, something they could go back and apply, something motivational, and time to collaborate and work on developing ideas for the classroom.”

Sessions were led by staff and guests and covered a variety of topics, including using artificial intelligence for the power of good; illustrative math; organizing digital life; student engagement with 3D printing; understanding autism; game-based instruction; time-saving strategies; understanding how trauma rewires the brain; and sessions about a variety of online tools to help students and teachers.

“Our criteria (for the sessions) was that it needed to support our strategic plan and incorporate skills from our Portrait of a General competencies,” Herman said, referring to adaptability and flexibility, communication and collaboration, critical thinking, empathy and learner’s mindset.

The 491 staff members gathered in the gym for a kickoff slide show before participating in two sessions of learning and two sessions of collaboration and planning.

Gathered around a table in the junior high STEM classroom, Beakas and Foltz chatted with teachers about ways to incorporate 3D printers to directly relate to content or to use as behavior incentives. Foltz recently used the printers with a lesson about monuments. Students wrote about what their own monument would look like and why they deserved one before designing one using software on Chromebooks.

“The kids use math skills including measurements, calculation, visual and spatial skills and get into CAD design,” Beakas said. The process of designing a piece also takes patience and problem-solving skills, he noted.

In addition to the sessions and collaboration times within each building, the entire staff got together for lunch at the high school.

“This gives our staff an opportunity to get to know and collaborate with staff from other buildings,” Herman said.

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