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A Time for Change--Ferrum Elementary Considers New Teaching Style

Elementary school teachers come together for PCBE training. (Courtesy Photo)

By Moriah Quesenberry--Eagle Staff Writer

A typical elementary school day has almost always consisted of sitting in class, listening to the teacher, and doing a few handouts all before heading home to complete homework; this cycle goes on from kindergarten until fifth grade. During these years, many students have found themselves struggling to understand their curriculum, as it's presented the same way even though their minds are continuously evolving.

Ferrum Elementary is doing something about this called PCBE.

PCBE is short for Personalized Competency Based Education. This type of learning is intended to allow students to grow at their own pace and enable teachers to find what each student needs.

The principal of Ferrum Elementary, Jennifer Talley, explains the school's reasoning for exploring this type of learning.

“Henry Elementary and Ferrum Elementary were awarded an innovation grant for the years 2020-2021 and 2021-2022,” she stated. “This grant has afforded us the opportunity to explore Competency Based Education (CBE).”

Through their examination of PCBE learning, the Ferrum and Henry elementary schools have learned how to successfully operate a school in this way. They even had the opportunity to visit Westminster Public Schools in Colorado to learn from a school that uses this style of learning. They were able to talk to the staff and students to be able to better their understanding of what PCBE really looks like.

Westminster's form of PCBE is only a slightly different approach to the way a student will learn in Franklin County.

“Say a class is working on two digit plus two digit addition without regrouping,“ Jennifer Saleeba, member of the Ferrum Elementary leadership team described. “All students in the classroom would be working on addition. The difference would be that students who aren't ready for two digit plus two digit would be working on a different additional skill such as two digit plus one digit. Students who have already demonstrated mastery with this competency would move to a higher skill such as two digit plus three digit or two digit plus two digit with regrouping.”

School officials then transitioned from educational examples to real life results PCBE could cause.

“Moving to competency based [instruction] allows for each and every student to truly have their learning needs met,” Saleeba expressed. “With this type of instruction, the emphasis is on student learning and mastery.

Teachers and staff members from both Ferrum and Henry expressed they have learned so much about PCBE and are continuing to work towards using this technique in their classrooms for the betterment of the next generation.

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