Educators find new ways to engage students

Photo courtesy of HUSD
Student Freddy Avila cheeses while he poses with his self-illustrated story.

■ By HUSD / Contributed

Every day teachers within the Hemet Unified School District look for interesting new ways to further support and engage students.
Education has changed drastically over the past 10 years. Schools are not only focused on academia, but providing services and support systems to support behavioral and social-emotional needs. In addition to extra support services, classrooms and the way in which students learn is different as well. Educators are implementing new ways in which they teach curriculum by implementing technology, allowing students collaboration time to learn from each other, and introducing them to new projects and field trips to gain hands on experience.
This year, a third grade class became published authors thanks to their teacher Mr. Jason Whitmore. Mr. Whitmore found a program that allowed him to gather written work from all of his students and have it published into a book. Whitmore said students use the writing skills they learned throughout the year to create their own stories. In addition to their stories, students drew a picture to go along with them. After writing their stories, students had to edit and revise their own work, then they worked with Mr. Whitmore for final revisions before they sent it out to get published.
“Writing is one of the most important skills. If they can organize their thoughts and put them on paper for an audience to read, they have gained a great life-long skill that will allow them to be successful,” said Whitmore.
Whitmore said this project has greatly improved students’ writing abilities. In the beginning of the year, some students were unable to write a paragraph. By the end of the year, they completed a three-paragraph story with an illustration. He said he enjoys seeing his student’s confidence grow as they learn different writing skills.
Mr. Ryan Packham, a fifth grade teacher at Whittier Elementary School, has also found new and exciting ways in which to engage his students in the curriculum. He has implemented flexible seating to ensure students are collaborating, helped facilitate the after-school STEAM classes, and introduced students to new technology such as a 3D printer, rocket launching, and robotics.
Packham also reintroduced the WETV (Whittier Elementary TV) student newscast program to the school. The newscast allows students to write, film, edit and produce their own news broadcast once a week as part of Whittier’s morning announcements. Packham even took students in the WETV program to the ABC-7 news studio in Glendale, Calif. where students were able to see a real studio in action. Students were able to take a tour and meet many of the newscasters and producers. The students even got to see them produce the 11 a.m. news live.
It’s clear educators at Hemet Unified School District have a passion for creating new and exciting experiences for their students. Whether it be a supervision aide having lunch with students, a teacher creating a new club for students to participate in, or the superintendent’s weekly walk inside classrooms to talk with students about their educational journey, Hemet Unified staff is committed to ensuring its students are successful.

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