Central Ohio teacher creating adaptable curriculum to change the way students learn

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — It’s National Teacher Appreciation Week and NBC4 is celebrating the service of those making a difference in the classroom.

From virtual learning to hybrid methods, and back to full in-person instruction, it’s been an unprecedented school year for all educators adjusting how they teach on the fly.

But one central Ohio English teacher, as he navigates the final month of the schoolyear, is hoping to change the way students like his learn in the future.

“The time we spend with kids, you know they kind of become like family,” admits Scott Dills, an 8th grade English Language Arts teacher at Olentangy’s Berkshire Middle School.

The time spent together, for Dills, creates a unique bond between teacher and student.

“That’s really important to me. That students feel like they’re a part of the school, they feel like they’re a part of the class,” describes Dills.

But that feeling of inclusion has been more challenging to accomplish during the pandemic.

“I knew it would be challenging for kids to be in an environment they weren’t used to, parents to be in an environment they weren’t used to,” Dills recalls.

Still, this erratic schoolyear is one that Dills says should be celebrated together.

“I think this should be like ‘Parent Appreciation Week’ too, because our parents definitely stood up and did hard work as well,” says Dills.

Dills is in his 7th year at Berkshire Middle School.

He’s now among a group of educators developing a new, innovative way to teach vocabulary.

“Moving away from more programmed work, to vocabulary work that really develops a philosophy of being a word learner,” Dills describes.

The change would create a more adaptable curriculum, that would meet students at their level.

“The student component allows students to pull language from whatever they’re reading. It allows for a teacher to not have every student on the same text,” Dills lays out.

For Dills, the enhanced instruction would also allow students to develop practices that will help them in his classroom and beyond.

“The hope is that we’re growing readers and word learners, not just in the language arts classroom, but in every classroom,” says Dills.

As they continue to work on what the day-to-day instruction would look like, Dill says the revamped curriculum could be implemented throughout the Olentangy school district.

The district says that Dills is also an example of their Portrait of a Learner initiative.

Dills includes characteristics like purpose, resilience, curiosity, and kindness in his daily lessons– bringing those traits into the classroom himself and leading his students by example.

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