Sterling College Education Majors Gain Real Experience

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Sterling College education majors Adam Niedens, Kayla Stubby, and Rae Allman have learned an impressive amount about the country of China in the past week of their interterm class. Oddly enough, when these seniors are asked what they have gained from their course, China is not mentioned.
“I’m learning how much planning it takes to get ready for a lesson,” said Niedens.
“I’m learning how much time it takes students to complete tasks,” said Stubby.
“I’m learning what I want to do—and what I don’t want to do—when I get my own classroom,” said Allman.
The elementary education course they’re taking is “Planning and Teaching an Integrated Unit,” and their professor Judith Best, who is also the director of the Sterling Academy, believes in learning by doing. Before Christmas break, she asked the second through sixth grade teachers at the Academy, who are both Sterling College graduates themselves, what they would like her students to teach through an integrated unit. Their pick? China.
So when the SC students entered Professor Best’s class last Tuesday, they had a lot to learn, not only about integrated units, but also about China. They spent two intense days researching and planning and were in the Academy teaching by Thursday. They will continue teaching through this week.
“They’re (the SC students) doing a great job,” said Matt Hendricks ‘95, the advanced-grades teacher at the Academy. “My students are retaining information from earlier in the unit. It’s good for kids to be introduced to new topics by different people—it brings a new perspective.”
“They’ve been very organized,” said Christina Rowland ‘07, teacher of the intermediate grades. “They’re keeping the kids busy and engaged.”
The two classrooms already show signs of the students’ learning. Handmade maps of China are pasted to the walls with the geographical markings filled in. A KWL (Already know/want to know/learned) chart in the form of the Chinese flag hangs near the whiteboard, and posters stacked on a table show the students’ attempts at Chinese calligraphy. Charts depicting the Chinese numerals allow the students to work on math problems—in Chinese.
“My kids look up to the College students,” said Hendricks. “This kind of interaction is a great benefit for them.”
The College students say they are benefiting as well. “This really helps us to get ready for own teaching,” said Allman. “This is real experience.”