Gosnell School Tries New Approach To Teaching

August 24, 2004 -- Posted at 2:44 p.m. CDT

GOSNELL -- School has started for most children in Region 8 and that means classrooms are full of students eager to learn.  But for kids with hearing disabilities, teachers often face additional challenges. One school in Region 8 has come up with a solution that's making kids sit up and listen.

"I was really, really amazed at the difference that it made in my classroom and not just in my kids, but for me also. My voice wasn't sore like it usually is after the first day of school," said Second Grade teacher Angel Whitehead.

Whitehead is talking about the new microphone system that the Gosnell Elementary has started using in classrooms.

"Last year we had a child that had auditory problems and we used this sound system in that classroom. We used a miking system with a pa system and we had a lot of success with it in our classroom," said Superintendent Stan Williams, "So this year we decided to put the sound system and the miking system on the teachers."

And you might be surprised at how hard it is to hear the teacher sometimes.  On any given day, elementary students spend 45-60% of their day learning through listening activities and for students on the back row, sometimes distractions like other conversation and the air conditioner can make it difficult to hear.  But with this new microphone system, children with ear infections, ADHD, ADD or hearing disabilities are able to hear and comprehend information better.

Psychological Examiner Bart Branum said, "Studies have shown that these systems help those kinds of children and children in general. Comprehension has improved, behavioral referrals go down and grades improve."

"It allows me to kind of reach out to the kids who have a hard time paying attention and reach them, because they can hear me better and they can pay attention better," said Whitehead.

And it may be something that's helping behavioral problems in the classroom too.

"I think it also helps on discipline problems, because lots of times kids that aren't attentive or they're not paying attention.  You tell them to do something they don't hear you clearly and then they get punished.... the teacher doesn't intentionally punish them, but maybe they didn't hear correctly," said Whitehead, "This way, I know that they can hear me and everyone in my classroom can hear me."

The Gosnell School District says they hope to have the teacher microphones in every classroom soon when funding becomes available.

But for right now the systems are just available for students in kindergarten through third grade and one seventh grade class.