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Warm Springs Intermediate School learning cafe feeds young minds

December 29, 2010|By TRISH RUDDER | trishr@herald-mail.com
  • Warm Springs Intermediate School students work in the learning caf class in Berkeley Springs, W.Va.
Trish Rudder, Staff Writer

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. — A new 21st century learning tool called the learning café is helping kids learn at their own speed in Morgan County.

Warm Springs Intermediate School was one of 18 schools in West Virginia selected last year as one of the Innovation Zone schools in the state.

It was awarded nearly $33,000 in grants to create a learning café that is designed to incorporate 21st century technology tools into learning.

Principal Joyce Ott said a $28,000 grant was awarded to Warm Springs Intermediate School last year and the learning café concept was set up.

Phase I was used to train the teachers and an additional $4,700 from the Benedum Foundation in Charleston, W.Va., was awarded for Phase II to get the program up and running this year, she said.

Instead of creating a space for the learning café at this school, the conceptual idea was implemented within the classrooms instead of a physical space, Ott said.

The learning café utilizes simultaneous methods in a classroom's 90 minutes learning block, she said.

For example, during the class, some students will work at one of the 30 laptops available. Others will work together in a group, and some work individually. Computers, pencil and paper and group learning is going on at the same time, said fourth-grade teacher Debbie Ditto.

Ditto has 28 fourth-graders in her classroom. During the learning café block, about half have laptops and will be assigned a math or language arts activity. Others will work individually with pencil and paper and others work in a group setting where they can interact.

"I've been amazed how well they adapt to this way of learning," Ott said.

Ott said when it's time to switch after about a 15-minute assignment, there are no grumblings from the students. They seem to be eager to change up to another task, she said.

"The mix is what is working," she said.

"The laptop assignments gives us another option to reach the students to help them learn," Ditto said.

Ott said it's too soon to assess if this new way to learn is making a difference in test scores.

"I see if a learning activity is geared to their interest, they seem to put more effort if they are more motivated," Ditto said.

"It makes my job more rewarding to see the students learn and there are more options available for assessing. Computers and technology are the future," Ditto said.

"It's all new and it's always changing and the kids seem to adapt and change with it," Ditto said.

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