November 21, 2007 Edition

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NEA Educational Co-op offers
distance learning opportunities

The Northeast Arkansas Educational Cooperative in Walnut Ridge began offering distance learning classes to students in Lawrence County this summer.

Mary Moore and Cathy Wilkin teach math and English ACT prep classes for the co-op. Jeanine Wood, distance learning coordinator, said Moore and Wilkin are team teaching, a new approach to learning, which enables them to provide interventions in the classroom.

In the class, the teachers focus not only on content, but also on test taking skills. They stress the importance of getting a full night's sleep, eating a good breakfast and spending only one minute on each question during the test. Taking the ACT prep class allows Lawrence County students to familiarize themselves with the format and study the curriculum.

Moore and Wilkin are teaching students from Hillcrest, Walnut Ridge and Pocahontas right now. Wood said they can reach most of the 14 schools in the co-op area, which is what they are striving for.

"A lot of co-ops are at 100 percent penetration," said Wood. "We're not there yet, but we're close."

The distance learning area of teaching is data driven, according to Wood, looking at what works and what does not. They are focusing on what techniques help students learn and implementing those into the classroom.

The classes are a collaborative effort with the onsite facilitators at each school working closely with the teachers at the co-op on teaching, testing and grading. Each distance learning classroom has VCR and DVD players, as well as a fax machine, copier, telephone and projector. Grants have been made available by the state to fund the technological improvements.

"As far as technology goes, this is head and shoulders above a regular classroom," said Wood. Moore and Wilkin said it is a little less personal, but they try to compensate for that by learning what their students' interests are and talking with them about those things.

Moore lives in Paragould and has five children, Jessica, Sarah, Jonathan, Chrissy and Rebecca. Wilkin lives in Paragould as well. She has two grown children and two grandchildren.

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