Boston College hosted a day-long conference on June 8, which drew 129 teachers from 14 different South Shore high schools to share ideas and experiences on effective learning styles in today's changing classroom. "Learning Styles: Impact on Instruction and Assessment," was the South Shore High School Alliance's first major conference.
Boston College, the only institution of higher learning involved in the project, is offering staff development assistance to the schools.
"The purpose of the alliance is to address issues that the teachers identify as important to them," said Prof. George Ladd (SOE). "We are here to meet the needs they identify as pressing."
The issue of learning styles is heavy on teachers' minds, according to Ladd, with the impending implementation of new class scheduling procedures in September 1997.
The keynote speaker, Kathleen Amico-Porcaro, PhD '89, began the conference with her presentation "Learning Styles and Instructional Strategies" in Devlin Hall. Amico-Porcaro told the group that most people teach the way they learn and gave them strategies to work with several different types of students.
Smaller group discussions followed and afternoon sessions focused on school planning.
With the new school legislation requiring high school students to spend a minimum of five and a half hours each day in academic subjects, "teachers will have to fill 90 minute blocks, so they will have to get creative and do more things with the students to keep their attention," said Michael Savage, Executive Director of the South Shore Educational Collaborative. He also noted that schools no longer track students, so teachers are dealing with students at many different academic levels in the same classroom and need to adapt to all their needs.
Teachers were thinking about curriculum, content and new strategies to deal with the new school legislation that is forcing teachers to reschedule the whole high school curriculum, said Maida Williams, Curriculum Administration Special Education collaborative associate in the SOE. "At the same time, it's making them coordinate across disciplines." She added that most of the teachers were excited about the new approach. According to Savage, a follow-up meeting at Boston College is planned for October.
Williams said individual school systems do not have the money to provide proper teacher training, but by networking across communities and with higher education institutions they can pool their resources to work on staff development.
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