In addition to the notoriety of Emporia State’s education program and Teachers College, ESU is home to the Jones Institute for Educational Excellence, a program dedicated to providing workshops for teachers and helping them to learn about changes in the field. This year, the Jones Institute continues its work, providing 13 day-long workshops for current educators.
The first workshops, held last Friday at the Earl Center, opened with a quote from Carol Hailey McLean, reading and language arts resource specialist for Shawnee Mission: “Learning is not a spectator sport.”
McLean said students must be actively involved in a class to learn and that class was too often “all about the teachers.”
The workshop’s focus, using literary circles to teach common core standards, drew 22 educators, representing 15 different districts in Kansas.
McLean has led about 25 workshops for the Jones Institute, including several on common core standards over the past year, and over the past year, but she said this was her first time leading this particular workshop. McLean said during the summer and fall, program coordinators asked for input from attendees, and one of the requests was to cover using reading circles and the common core.
Lucie Eusey, interim director of conference and workshops, said the event was a way for educators to experience professional development opportunities, as well as utilize activities regarding common core standards.
“If they are applied correctly, there is more freedom in the way for teachers to set the approach or curriculum,” Eusey said, “(and) there is more freedom than there is in the current set of standards and No Child Left Behind.”
Attendees were given a list of different activities dealing with common core standards and were then encouraged to discuss the merits of each.
Susan Dringenberg, instructional coach in Parsons, attended the workshop. Dringenberg said she was most excited about the activities that were presented and being led by someone who had a functional background in education. She also said the focus of the activities was to promote student thinking, rather than being directed in rote memorization and test teaching that was popular during NCLB.