Marion County students will have today off to rest their brains while their teachers learn about new ways to challenge them.

Every teacher in the county, including some teacher candidates from Fairmont State University, will participate in workshops on a concept called “differentiated instruction” today. Diane Furman, science and math coordinator for the county schools, said the concept helps teachers reach every student, no matter how they learn best.

Experts in the field believe different people learn differently. While some people learn best by doing, others learn best by watching, while still others get concepts by listening to them, and so on.

“Our theme is ‘Differentiated Instruction: One Size Doesn’t Fit All,’” Furman said. “It’s a philosophy of meeting the needs of students through high-yield instructional strategies.”

Basically, county teachers will learn about different strategies and how they work for different students. Furman said as the day goes on, teachers should get a “mental picture” of each of their students and know which strategies will work best for them.

About 17 teacher candidates from FSU, mostly elementary majors, will be joining their professional counterparts at the county’s invitation, Furman said.

To accomplish these goals, the teachers will be split into groups: elementary teachers, secondary teachers, middle school teachers. Those with prior experience in the philosophy will have advanced instruction at a separate session, Furman said. The county is bringing in four national-caliber speakers to teach the sessions.

Martha Kaufeldt has been teaching for nearly 30 years. Her research into human behavior and brain activity will help secondary teachers learn more about how their students think and learn. Her books, audio CDs, DVD trainings and other brain-compatible classroom resources are available at her online store,

Bruce Campbell will use his experience and nationally acclaimed classroom model to help middle school teachers. He has published numerous articles and co-authored several books.

LeAnn Nickelson is an author and presenter on the national stage, and will use her knowledge to help elementary teachers. She has presented hundreds of workshops for thousands of educators at schools, districts and educational conferences all around the country.

Teachers with prior experience in differentiated instruction will learn from Gayle Gregory, who has extensive experience as a curriculum consultant and staff development coordinator. She now consults internationally with teachers, administrators and staff developers in many areas of instruction and curriculum, including differentiated instruction.

E-mail Katie Wilson at

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