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Hall schools may hold classes Feb. 17
Board also learns how system's blended learning is model for Minn. district
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Teachers and students in Hall County might be going to school on Feb. 17 after all.

“The calendar out there now has 17 in yellow (meaning it could be added back to the calendar),” said Eloise Barron, Hall County assistant superintendent for teaching and learning. “What we would like to do is change that to red, meaning students come to school that day.”

Though no decision will be made until the board’s regular October meeting, Superintendent Will Schofield said he wanted to make the recommendation the day be put back on the calendar.

Another topic of discussion at a Monday work session was how Hall County Schools are serving as models for a school district in St. Paul, Minn.

Aaron Turpin, technology director for the school district, said board officials contacted him earlier in the week to discuss Hall County’s blended learning concept. They asked him to send a video of some of the blended learning classrooms to show to their board members at their own meeting Monday night.

Turpin played the video for Hall County board members at their meeting as well.

Blended learning is the district’s name for teaching that includes both an instructor and technology.

“What we’re seeing in more and more of the blended learning classrooms is they’re completely different from how we learned,” Schofield said.

One of the key components to blended learning is student engagement — teaching them Georgia Performance Standards through ways they want to learn.

The video showed students at six Hall County schools doing projects with Xoom tablets, computers, voice-activated technology, Google Earth and Google Sky and online blogs in English and Spanish.

A high school class featured in the video was using online maps and math formulas to find routes to the world’s greatest ice cream shops.

Some of the schools featured will be toured in January, when board members take community leaders, school councils and local business leaders on a 21st century tour, Turpin said.

“We’re going to see some tremendous things in our elementary schools that have nothing to do with computers,” he said.

Board members also discussed applying for an Enterprise Grant, which will provide funding to help with Hall County’s teacher orientation program.

“This would give us funding over a three-year period, up to $270,000 per year for three years, to support planning, implementing and evaluation,” Barron said.

Schofield said one of the things the grant, if received, will help the district with is getting more time for new teachers mentored.

“Mentors and mentees need time to meet and plan,” he said. “Too many teachers, five years after they start, are no longer in the profession. We can do a better job.”

Board members also discussed Friday’s visit to Lanier Charter Career Academy with Georgia first lady Sandra Deal and State School Superintendent John Barge. Board members, Deal and Barge had lunch at the academy’s student-run bistro followed by a tour of the facility.

“One of the remarks that was made, amongst the children who were running those programs, you had students who were special education and those who were taking three or four advanced placement courses, and you couldn’t tell who was who. They do such a tremendous job representing our system,” Schofield said. “Not to mention, the chocolate mousse was pretty good.”

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