February 19, 2004

Charles Harmon Director of University Relations

Valdosta State University To Host 2004 Teaching/Learning Conference

Valdosta State University's Department of Early Childhood & Reading Education is hosting a special teaching/learning conference entitled, "Looking at Student Work." The date is Saturday, February 21, 2004 from 8:30 a.m. till 12:00 p.m. in VSU's Education Center.

The purpose of the conference is to showcase how accomplished teachers manage and monitor student learning in mathematics and language arts. Conference participants will be introduced to "looking at student work" protocols that can be implemented to determine if their instructional practices are having the desired outcomes. Key issues that will be emphasized include the need for collegial review of student work and how even small samples of student work can inform instruction.

"In his book, Inventing Better Schools: An Action Plan for Education Reform, Phillip Schlechty advocates rethinking the assumptions upon which our system of school is based," said Sheryl Dasinger, chairman of the Teaching/Learning Conference Committee. "The teacher's performance should not be the most important thing that occurs in the classroom. The teacher's performance is important, but student performance is more important."

Dasinger said teachers need to have a clearer notion of what they need to encourage students to do rather than just knowing what they as teachers need to do to or for students.

"Learning must be an active process where students use ideas, concepts, problem-solving skills, analytic skills and apply facts to achieve some end," Dasinger said. She added, " The goal of looking at student work is to help teachers provide students with engaging work. Students can not learn from work that is not engaging."

The VSU conference will offer pre-service and in-service teachers an opportunity to examine their teaching practices and document the resultant student learning. Candidates seeking certification by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) will find the conference especially beneficial as careful examination of students' work is required in a portfolio entry.

Speakers at the conference will include Ann J. Hatchell, reading consultant at Oconee RESA, and Ginny Kasper, the Comprehensive School Reform consultant for Oconee RESA. Both Hatchell and Kasper have received special training at Harvard University.

The costs for the conference are $20.00 for adults and $10.00 for students currently enrolled at VSU. The registration fee includes a professional literature selection. For more information about registration, please contact Dr. Lynn Minor at 229-333-5929 or lcminor@valdosta.edu.