Commissioner Frank Edelblut visited Berlin and Colebrook as part of his statewide tour on Wednesday, reported the Berlin Daily Sun. The meeting gave North Country educators an opportunity to show him the great work they’re doing with personalized learning. Some of that work includes learning stations, one-on-one mentoring, and using Chromebooks for intervention blocks and to teach introduce students new skills like like graphic design.
Here’s an excerpt of the piece:
The Commissioner plans to begin a dialogue about ongoing declining enrollment and limited financial resources with area superintendents along with Executive Director Steve Norton of the nonprofit N. H. Center for Public Policy.
After visiting the 250-student Brown School, Edelblut spent time with grade 3 to 5 principal Julie Ann King, who described how teachers are now able to use Chromebook computers to differentiate instruction for every Hillside School student. All nine Hillside classrooms spend at least 30 minutes on two WIN — “What I Need” — intervention blocks in reading and math. The School uses “Front Row” software, enabling students to work at the most appropriate and challenging level.
Although a handful of students receive one-on-one mentoring, most work in small groups with material that is streamlined and tailored for them, King explained. Some teachers work in pairs, teaching two blocks of reading or two of math, while others teach a block each of math and reading…
“Yes,” Edelburt said, “the question is how do you meet our students where they are and then help them grow. That’s our job!”
Edelblut consistently encouraged teachers to make it possible for more students to learn algebra in eighth grade, allowing them to tackle and complete a rigorous calculus course in high school. Robotics is another strand that he would like to have as standard fare in school.
“Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could have an Algebra I class for students who’re kinesthetic learners!” Edelblut exclaimed, noting that such students would learn by doing and touching rather then by listening to a lecture.
Art teacher Erin Crosby described teaching graphic design on Chromebooks, pointing out that she emphasizes to her students that there are now many art-related careers available in today’s highly technological world.
“I’ve got your back,” Edelblut said. “Go for it!”
Mayor Paul Grenier, after he’d spent conversing with the commissioner as well as superintendent and other luncheon guests, thanked Edelblut for taking the time to come to Berlin and for sitting down, face-to-face, to hear their perspectives and challenges.
“I’ve been active in Berlin affairs for 24 years, and you’re the first Education Commissioner to come and talk to us,” Grenier said.
He was able to tell Edelblut about his and the City Council’s grave concerns about the annual scheduled 4 percent cutback in school stabilization aid.
Board members also said they are also very concerned about a few youngsters who were being grossly neglected at home by drug-addicted parents. These parents are only pretending to be home schooling them, and yet there is no way for the school system to hold them accountable, they noted.
The commissioner encouraged school board members to telephone him if they had concerns or questions.
“My goal is to have every one of the 172,000 students in primary and secondary schools in New Hampshire have the best possible outcome,” Edelblut explained.