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Conference draws 350 K-3 teachers

CMSD continued to strengthen the foundation of its reading instruction Friday as 350 K-3 teachers turned out for the District’s Early Learning Conference.

Teachers across the District went back to class for training as students began a long weekend that will include the Presidents’ Day holiday.

Some physical-education teachers learned how to keep kids off the sidelines and in the mix all period, while others got tips for running a pilot bicycle and pedestrian safety program. Arts teachers got hands-on lessons in ceramics and other arts at the NewBridge Cleveland Center for Arts and Technology.

Chief Executive Officer Eric Gordon welcomed teachers to the learning conference at the Beachwood Doubletree before making the rounds at other professional development programs. He praised the teachers for helping at least 85 percent of CMSD students comply with Ohio’s Third Grade Reading Guarantee the first two school years it has been in effect.

“More of our kids are exiting your kindergarten, first-, second- and third-grade classes reading,” he said. “That’s going to make a difference.”

Connecticut-based education consultant Pat Pavelka kicked off the conference with humor-laced look at strategies that can create a positive learning environment. Other speakers, mostly CMSD teachers, led a host of smaller sessions on topics such as using iPads in the classroom, basing instruction on student data, increasing English language learners’ comprehension and making writing enjoyable.

“We’ve been trying to do something strategic,” said Nicole Vitale, the District’s director of early childhood education. “Regardless of your strengths and weaknesses, you can find something that relates to you.”

At CMSD’s East Professional Center, Eric Larson, a national advisor to the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, showed more than 50 physical-education teachers how to replace intense elimination games with moderate activities that promote teamwork and keep an entire class involved at all times. Examples included Frisbee game that relies on passing and “survivor tag” competition that allows students to bring back idled teammates with a high five.

A smaller group of physical-education teachers met at Patrick Henry School and learned how to teach bicycle safety to second-graders. Six schools are piloting a bicycle and pedestrian safety program with a $15,560 grant from the St. Luke’s Foundation. (Find story here.)

About 80 arts teachers visited NewBridge for work in photography, graphic arts, creating or building “beats” by computer and ceramics. NewBridge benefited as well, learning more about the CMSD students who account for the majority of participants in the center’s after-school program.