University of Wisconsin-River Falls

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Oct. 15, 2004

Noted National Trainer Leads Workshop for Area Teachers
By: Charlotte J. Muenzenberger
UW-RF News Bureau

Diane Heacox, a nationally noted consultant and trainer in gifted education and differentiation of instruction, led a hands-on workshop for area teachers Oct. 13 and 15 at UW-River Falls.

Heacox, the author of "Differentiated Instruction in the Classroom—How to Reach and Teach all Learners," addressed 48 elementary teachers on Wednesday and 32 secondary teachers on Friday.

The workshop included hands-on learning experiences for teachers to create differentiated lesson plans, which help design curriculum for diverse students of differing abilities.

Teachers attended from seven area school districts, including public schools in Hudson, New Richmond, Boyceville, Prescott, River Falls, and Somerset as well as St. Anne's Catholic in Somerset.

Heacox, originally from Hastings, Minn., has worked as a gifted and talented teacher and administrator in many school districts including Edina and Hastings. She is an associate professor of education and the director of Antonian Scholars Program at the College of St. Catherine in St. Paul, Minn. In 2001 she was inducted in the Education Hall of Fame by University of St. Thomas.

She has previously given presentations from Los Angeles to New York, and as she says, "most places in between, even the Catholic Archdiocese." She has also authored the books, "Up From Underachievement," "The Reflective Teacher," and "The Constructivist Classroom."

According to Charles Sambs, superintendent and curriculum director of Hudson Public Schools, the workshop was geared to "train the trainers." The workshop used strategies from Heacox's book, which explains practical ways to help students learn in diverse environments. Teachers learned new ways to handle diversity in the classroom and new ideas to take back to their school districts, where they will share with other teachers, said Sambs. School principals attended an earlier conference on the same subject, said Sambs.

As part of the conference, teachers tested out new strategies by working with teachers of the same grade-level to create lesson plans for their own classrooms. The plans consisted of academic standards, instructional activities, the opportunity for students to choose activities, and tiers for different learning levels. The teacher also learned Heacox's tips on how to push students to accomplish goals while learning in a very diverse classroom.


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