Teachers swap ideas at ICHIP symposium

The Shenandoah Valley-Herald

WOODSTOCK — The school year may be over, but Shenandoah County teachers prepped for next year’s lesson plans during a yearly symposium in Woodstock this week.

About a dozen teachers presented the results of yearlong classroom projects during the Instructional and Innovation Project Symposium Monday and Tuesday at Peter Muhlenberg Middle School.

Projects included turning a sandbox into an interactive watershed at Signal Knob Middle and introducing virtual reality into classrooms at North Fork Middle.

“Classes would use the Google Glasses and cell phones to go on field trips to other countries or to Monticello,” Assistant Superintendent Ebbie Linaburg said during a break between presentations Tuesday.

Each project was approved by a panel of teachers and administrators and received up to $1,000 in grant funding from the school division in the fall. Linaburg said the symposium lets teachers share ideas with their peers as they prepare for the next school year.

“They present in the mornings and we have talks in the afternoons,” she said. “We talk about ways we could implement these ideas on a small scale.”

Linaburg added that the number of ICHIP grants awarded had decreased from 20 last year to a dozen this year because of a freeze in discretinary spending enacted in September. The freeze stemmed from the unexpected loss of 130 students between March 2015 and the start of last school year.

This year’s symposium marks the program’s third year. Shentel and the Shenandoah Education Foundation provided grant money for 12 projects in 2014, with the division funding the grants afterward.

Linaburg said the symposium emphasizes the need for experimenting with new ideas in education.

“It encourages teachers to try things,” she said. “And if it doesn’t work, that’s OK, too, because then we know.”

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