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Madison teachers enjoy ‘Appy Hour’ during professional development

Teachers switch sessions during "Voice and Choice" training at James Clemens High School. (CONTRIBUTED)
Teachers switch sessions during “Voice and Choice” training at James Clemens High School. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – Before school started, teachers in Madison City Schools spent a day in professional development that even included an “Appy Hour.”

That ‘Appy Hour’ actually involved math strategies for ‘apps’ in one of about 200 sessions during the “Voice and Choice” day. James Clemens High School hosted the training on July 30.

Teachers completed surveys for topics of interest, and most presenters were Madison teachers. “We have learned collaboration is key,” coordinator of instructional technology Carmen Buchanan.

“There’s a place for outside presenters, but if you have people in the trenches with proven approaches to teaching, they know what the other people in the trenches need,” Buchanan said. However, students and local professionals also led some discussions.

The sessions, lasting from 25 to 55 minutes, covered topics such as classroom strategies, use of technology in the classroom, survival tips for new teachers and understanding dyslexia and Asperger Syndrome.

Approximately 600 teachers, administrators and instructional specialists selected sessions that had optimum benefit for their work. Educators heard strategies for engaging a reluctant learner, “Smart Lessons with SmartBoards,” collaboration tips, chess and “I’m on Twitter, Now What?”

The teachers also attended discussions about succeeding with challenging students, maintaining a viable curriculum, meeting needs of all learners and ways to motivate gifted students.

Stephanie Nguyen, media specialist at Columbia Elementary School, suggested ways to use iPads in classroom. An employee from Pratt and Whitney discussed robotics courses and competitions.

Capt. John Stringer with Madison Police Department presented “Responding to School Violence” and explained warning signs for conflicts. Clint Woodfin, who teaches social science at James Clemens, discussed ways to assemble classrooms to satisfy students with varying needs and abilities.

Madison City Council of PTAs recruited businesses to provide snacks and door prizes. The district’s instructional leaders and Central Office employees organized the sessions.

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