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Teachers put fun in classroom

By By Lynette Wilson / staff writer
Aug. 8, 2002
Lydia Boutwell has taught school for 22 years 18 of them in Meridian. But, she's had the most fun over the last four years teaching kindergarten at Oakland Heights Elementary School.
The "difference" Boutwell refers to is interaction, choosing teaching methods from a diverse palette and tailoring lessons to meet each student's learning style.
Five years ago, Oakland Heights Elementary received a Goals 2000 grant to implement the Marie Carbo Reading Styles Program, Principal Kim Burton said.
The school is now one of seven nationally recognized model schools applying the Marie Carbo learning styles theory to reading. In July, nine Oakland Heights teachers made presentations at the National Marie Carbo Learning Styles Conference in San Antonio, Texas.
Carbo developed the concept of "reading styles" in the 1970s based on the idea that each learner has strengths and weaknesses and responds to some teaching methods better than others.
What it means is that teachers rely less on workbooks and instead create interactive materials and games to engage students more actively in learning, first-grade teacher Malissa Pryor said.
For example, Pryor puts paper on top of a window screen and lets the children write spelling words on the screen with a gooey substance that bubbles when it hardens.
Another method used by teachers is student-helping-student, or peer tutoring, said fifth-grade teacher Barbara Young.
Each of the 560 pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students at Oakland Heights are taught Marie Carbo Learning Styles.
Part of Brantley's role as reading facilitator is to assess each child's strengths and weaknesses through tests and observation. Based on these assessments, teachers are able to teach to a child's strengths, she said.