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Middle School Counselor Nicole Fletcher explains her second time running the Webster Making a Difference Day is easier than the first as (left to right) Jaxson Blake, Madison Chenel, Ashley Wolf, and Symantha Blake wait patiently to explain how they helped the community.

WEBSTER— The Webster school board meeting on Monday night had two major presentations. The first focused on students giving back to the community and the other dealt with teachers and a personalized learning conference.

Making a Difference Day

Webster middle school counselor Nicole Fletcher explained that this was the school’s fifth annual Making a Difference Day. It was a huge success sending 200 students to 15 sites in the Webster area.

“I went to the Sacred Grove and helped with cleaning up trash,” said fifth grader, Jaxson Blake. “I learned that picking up trash for even 10 minutes can help the environment.”

Seventh grader, Madison Chenel went to the humane society in Siren and helped clean their transportation van.

“It feels good to help others, Chenel said. “It’s important to give back to the community and helping others, even if they’re strangers it’s a good thing to do.”

Sixth grader, Ashley Wolf said that helping a little can be a big help to somebody. She added that sometimes people just need a little bit of help.

“I went to the petting zoo and chaperoned a kindergartener,” said seventh grader, Symantha Blake. “It was a lot harder looking after a kindergartener than I thought.”

“It’s not fair to take all and give none, that is not how communities are supposed to work,” Blake said. “Community is about giving back.”

INACOL Conference

A group of Webster High School teachers attended an INACOL (International Association for K-12 Online Learning) conference specializing in personalized learning in Orlando, Florida.

Max Anderson, science teacher, said he was impressed by the amount of data that teachers and schools are collecting on students in terms of progress and proficiency.

“This amount of data can help, let’s say a fourth grade teacher can see a student is at a second grade level,” Anderson said. “There was a teacher that had binders full of data that allowed him to track students from kindergarten through twelfth grade.”

He said the quantity of data was intense as it helps show progress among individual students and their entire class.

School Board President, Mark Elliot, asked in terms of data collection where is Webster schools compared to others. That is when social studies teacher, Matthew Wood spoke up.

“I was sitting at meetings where they are trying to implement the data for schools of 30,000 students and I said, ‘I’m at a school of 600,” Wood said. “We’re getting closer, we just have to group everything together.”

Other teachers at the conference pointing to how data is not everything and that focusing on individuals should not be overlooked.

There was a story told at the conference about a student who struggled with math and reading which led him to not get good grades in science class, but had a great science mind. When scheduling classes for the next school year, the data put him in the low-level class.

“The teacher noticed immediately and asked the student ‘Why are you in this class? You should be in my advanced class.’” said fifth and sixth grade science teacher, Gina Simon. “The student replied, ‘this is where the data put me.”

That student has become and engineering student at a major university, according to Simon.

Webster Superintendent Jim Erickson ended the conversation admitting that he was shopping around for data systems.

“That is a whole ‘nother hurdle we’ve got to deal with,” Erickson said. “Right now we’ve got to focus on learning, not be overwhelmed with titles. This was a marvelous group of teachers to spend three or four days with.”