By Lenny C. Lepola
The Big Walnut Local School District is ahead of the curve when it comes to individual learning using technology.
During Aug. 14 Big Walnut Local School District Board of Education meeting, Assistant Superintendent Angie Pollock said Big Walnut had three TRECA funded research and design grant projects last year, but has expanded those three projects to seven during the 2014-15 school year.
TRECA Educational Solutions is Tri-Rivers Educational Computer Association. Headquartered in Marion, TRECA represents a consortium of 36 school districts, has education partnerships with over 37 schools and organizations and operates the TRECA Digital Academy, a public online K-12 school serving nearly 3,000 students.
“TRECA R&D is a three-year program we’re involved in,” Pollock said. “How do we analyze the classroom environment? Finding out what kids respond to in this era, and then present them with that.”
Pollock explained that during the 2012-13 school year Big Walnut staff and administrators met with TRECA representatives. Three district teacher’s TRECA R&D Grant requests were approved; the projects were implemented during the 2013-14 school year.
Former Hylen Souders teacher Lindsey Simmons received funding to create a 21st Century classroom for her first grade students at Hylen Souders Elementary; Big Walnut Middle School teacher Ryan Mocarski developed an innovative science curriculum for his eighth grade students; and a collaborative cloud model of education was developed for Big Walnut Elementary School third graders.
“Coaching is really the key,” Pollock said. “TRECA coaches came in to assess our kids needs, what we needed to do to help them and then continued the coaching. The project has been so successful we decided to expand it into every building.”
Pollock said at Hylen Souders Elementary Karlie Zak will continue implementing Simmons’ first grade TRECA project; Kristina Collins will carry some of those same innovations into her second grade classroom.
Big Walnut Elementary fourth grade teacher Milea Serap will expand on Katie Keller’s third grade TRECA funded project. Additional classroom technology innovations will take place at General Rosecrans Elementary in Julie Heitz’s second grade classroom and Trihsa Hilton’s fourth grade room; and similar technology innovations will be implemented at Harrison Street Elementary in Mark Adams fourth grade classroom.
At Big Walnut Intermediate School, sixth grade teachers Megan Everitt and Darin Prince are working on a math Transition to Workshop model; at Big Walnut Middle School Ryan Mocarski’s eighth grade science initiative is being expanded to include Bob Scott’s students, and Laura Wood and Jenny Ainsworth will be implementing 7th grade English Language Arts PEG Writing – an online writing instruction, practice, and assessment system with a focus on Common Core Standards.
At Big Walnut High School Mike Adams and Ashley Dicken will be work with a differentiation cohort for block Algebra.
“TRECA told us we’re way ahead of anyone else they’re working with on this,” Pollock said.
Pollock also described staff innovations. Big Walnut High School teachers Stacey O’Reilly and Angie Stooksbury authored the recently published book Common Core Reading Lessons as a result of a presentation they made at the National Council of Teachers of English; high school teacher Jim Sturtevant published You Gotta Connect and was invited to present at the Resident Educator Conference and at several colleges; and Big Walnut Intermediate School Principal Ryan McLane has presented his Teach Like a Pirate Day experiences at the Innovative Learning Environments Conference.