Kids at work: Leaders catch glimpses of students engaged with TeacherMate

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Visiting: Seth Weinberger, Innovations’ founder, with a Florida first-grader

Seth Weinberger, the founder and chief executive of Innovations for Learning, paid a visit to a few elementary schools last week in Broward County, Fla.

Thirteen Title I schools in and around Fort Lauderdale have started using Innovations’ programs this year to help first-graders and kindergarten students build strong reading skills.

The schools are using TeacherMate, which lets children work on word-building games or hear a book being read through hand-held devices such as iPods and MP3 players. The schools are gearing up for TutorMate, the Innovations’ program that connects corporate volunteers to classrooms via computers and telephones, to work with students one-on-one.

Seth visited three schools: Sunland Park Academy, North Fork Elementary School and Endeavor Primary Learning Center. He found students were engaged with their work, and teachers and administrators were enthusiastic about the program and its potential to improve students’ reading skills.

Here’s what he says about making school visits:

When I go on a site visit I’m looking at two things simultaneously:

First, how the students and teachers are using the tools, content and methods we have provided.  Are the students engaged; are they focused and on task? Are our tools helping teachers do their job?

Second, I’m studying what’s happening holistically in the classroom. Is there something more that we could be offering teachers to make their teaching more effective?

One of my favorite parts of site visits is meeting with the school principal, assistant principal and reading coach or specialist. If they express excitement about our program, it is almost guaranteed that when I walk into the classrooms, I’m going to see good things happening. The importance of school leadership can’t be overstated.

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Rendolyn Amaker, principal of North Park Elementary, helps student with MP3 player

Rendolyn Amaker, North Park Elementary principal, helps student with MP3 player

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Kim Whitten, Innovations’ executive director of Florida, with students

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Story and photos from North Park Elementary, Fort Lauderdale: Howard Goodman

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