Wilmington elementary schools attuning lessons to students’ learning differences


By Gary Huffenberger - ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com



These Wilmington Middle School Student Council members are recognized during the school board meeting. From left in the front row are Lee Lynch, Kara Sizemore and Chloe Sutton; and from left in the back row are Emma Bryant, Alex Smith, Dada Nance, Avery Warix and Ethan Henson.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

The three elementary school principals in the WCS district give a combined report to the school board. From left are Holmes Elementary Principal Cortney Karshner-Rethmel, East End Elementary Principal Jen Martin, and Denver Place Elementary Principal Karen Long.


Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

WILMINGTON — A teaching strategy that offers flexible approaches for learning is being used at all three elementary buildings in Wilmington City Schools (WCS).

East End Elementary Principal Jen Martin reported to the WCS school board Monday night about Universal Design for Learning also known as UDL.

The UDL approach emphasizes presenting information and subject content in multiple ways. It also lets students show in different ways what they have learned. And UDL looks for assorted means to motivate students, according to the website Understood.

Martin gave an East End example of a lesson where UDL was used and the topic was themes in what authors write — that is, the point the author wants to get across. She said students could work individually, with a partner, or within a group to determine the theme of a particular writing.

After determining the theme, the students could express it through writing, or by acting the theme out, or by drawing the theme and explaining it.

Martin described UDL as one of the ways in which WCS educators are aiming to improve the academic achievements of all students.

The basic idea of UDL is to bring about flexible learning environments that are more customized to tap into individual students’ own learning strengths.

Holmes Elementary Principal Cortney Karshner-Rethmel spoke about “low-stakes writing.” An example would be a teacher, while in the middle of a classroom lesson, asks the pupils to “stop and jot” or “quick write” what they just heard or read. This provides students with time to process their thinking and put things in their own words.

According to the website Edutopia, low-stakes writing assignments typically don’t carry a lot of weight grade-wise.

Karshner-Rethmel said she hopes there can be further professional development among her staff to learn more about low-stakes writing as a teaching tool.

Denver Place Elementary Principal Karen Long, after detailing the teaching process or regimen going on, said, “It’s just this wheel of instruction, assessment, instruction, assessment.”

This is the first school year for teachers at the three WCS elementary buildings to connect weekly via Google Talk to discuss instruction and assessment across the buildings, rather than only within one’s own building, said Long.

Further, they meet together once a month face-to-face for an hour for the same purpose.

In other board news Monday, the district will apply for a free and extensive assessment of, and recommendations for, the current WCS facilities. The application is needed to place the district on a waiting list for the facilities assessment.

Current backlogs at the Ohio Facilities Construction Commission’s Classroom Facilities Assistance Program indicate the active process likely will not occur until 2020, states the agenda from the Monday board meeting.

In a personnel matter, Wilmington High School math teacher John Gray resigned effective Nov. 16, 2017 from two supplemental positions he had held: faculty manager, and Math Department chairperson.

Gray has returned to the classroom as a teacher after having been on paid leave during the school district’s investigation of an allegation against him. In mid-November Wilmington police were contacted by a student’s father who alleged his son was assaulted at the high school by Gray.

At the board meeting which was held at the middle school, eighth-grade teacher and student council co-advisor Tammy Sexton recognized several of the middle school student council members — those who were able to be present at the session — for a number of student council projects.

Reach Gary Huffenberger at 937-556-5768.

These Wilmington Middle School Student Council members are recognized during the school board meeting. From left in the front row are Lee Lynch, Kara Sizemore and Chloe Sutton; and from left in the back row are Emma Bryant, Alex Smith, Dada Nance, Avery Warix and Ethan Henson.
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/12/web1_DSC_0223.jpgThese Wilmington Middle School Student Council members are recognized during the school board meeting. From left in the front row are Lee Lynch, Kara Sizemore and Chloe Sutton; and from left in the back row are Emma Bryant, Alex Smith, Dada Nance, Avery Warix and Ethan Henson. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

The three elementary school principals in the WCS district give a combined report to the school board. From left are Holmes Elementary Principal Cortney Karshner-Rethmel, East End Elementary Principal Jen Martin, and Denver Place Elementary Principal Karen Long.
http://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2017/12/web1_princ.jpgThe three elementary school principals in the WCS district give a combined report to the school board. From left are Holmes Elementary Principal Cortney Karshner-Rethmel, East End Elementary Principal Jen Martin, and Denver Place Elementary Principal Karen Long. Gary Huffenberger | News Journal

By Gary Huffenberger

ghuffenberger@wnewsj.com