Teachers team up to instruct in new ways

Published 10:25 pm Thursday, January 6, 2011

Jodie Linkows, art teacher, helps Early Start student Tyler Hall sprinkle glitter on his colorful shape mosaic.

Musical colors, three dimensional shapes, and flexible numbers were what you could observe at Oakland Elementary School on Thursday, during a special Shapes and Colors Fair for students enrolled in the Early Start program.

The Early Start program is a pre-K program designed to help 4- to 5-year-old students learn the skills they will need to be successful in elementary school.

Wednesday’s Fair was intended to help teach students about the basics of shapes and colors. Students created music with instruments of different shapes, used primary colors to create secondary colors, pasted a variety of foam shapes onto the lids of old coffee cans to create colorful mosaics, separated out snacks of different shapes into categories, and used their bodies and jump ropes to create a variety of shapes and numbers.

Email newsletter signup

“These children are like sponges, and they want to please and they want to learn. The more fun it is the more they will learn,” said Karen Branson, whose class participated in the event. “It’s all about exposure and making it fun.”

The resource teachers at Oakland have created similar resource days to help teach level-appropriate content to students at all grade levels in the school.

Oakland’s resource teachers pride themselves on being the only Suffolk elementary school with monthly events for each grade level. During resource days, they incorporate level-appropriate SOLs into their content areas of music, physical education, art and reading/library science.

“This is another outlet for the SOL material,” said Rena Long, Oakland’s music teacher.

The events allow the resource teachers to present the material students are learning in class in a different way than their regular teachers. The various teaching strategies involve help tap into kids’ different learning styles. These events can “supplement the class curriculum and give them an alternative way to learn,” said Oakland Librarian Michele Waggoner said.

These events began at Oakland Elementary School 11 years ago when resource teachers sought to create fun activities that crossed curriculum boundaries.

Anne McCoy, physical education teacher at Oakland, had helped plan similar activities in Virginia Beach. She told herself when she taught there that if she ever had her own gym, she would plan activities of this type on a regular basis.

The first time she attempted to put together such an event, inspired by the Greeks and the Olympic Games, the music and art teacher decided to plan along with her. The following year the former librarian decided to join in too.

“Together we make a really cool event,” McCoy said, “The four of us together are a team.”

Oakland teachers and staff embraced the idea, and the resource teachers enjoyed organizing the events and working together so much they decided to make resource days regular events.

The events give resource teachers an opportunity to meet the Early Start students, whom they normally wouldn’t get to meet until the children entered kindergarten.

“I love to have a chance to be with the kids,” Long said. “I love seeing the excitement on their faces.”