Thursday, April 10, 2014

Collaborating with College Students

By Sean Scarpiello

Many of my friends who are education majors at my college are going through the final stages in getting their teaching degree by student teaching at nearby elementary and middle schools. Part of their finishing requirements involve creating interesting, yet informative lesson plans on a variety of different topics. To do this, many of these soon-to-be teachers came up with clever ideas. However, one student teacher was really innovative and decided to come up with a whole new structure to her lesson plans. She decided to invite her friends who were political science and chemistry majors to come in and teach the class about some of the cool things they were learning in their college classes.

For the students in class, this meant that they were going to have some new visitors teach them about the latest material. For the college students, this meant finding a way to present difficult, current data in a way that young students can understand. As a result, this lesson plan was an absolute success. The political science major came to give a lesson on the structure of the US government in which he used visuals to demonstrate where government officials work and how they get elected. The chemistry major led a class discussion on the properties of water and demonstrated some cool experiments with water. These fun and interactive lessons with new faces and fresh perspectives worked out great for students as they were keen on listening to an “expert” on new material.

While the teacher and student teacher could have easily taught the class these lessons, bringing in someone with more experience in each of the different subjects allows the class to be taught in an unfamiliar and interesting way. Further, this gives teachers more time to focus on designing other lesson plans. For the college students, this was a change from the stereotypical class presentation in front of their peers who probably already understand a lot of what is being presented. Instead, college students were able to direct their presentations at students who are young and still looking for their passion in education. Furthermore, a lesson where a someone new comes in to present is great because the lesson plan is open and taught by someone with an extensive background in the field.

One other benefit of this is that it stimulates young students’ minds. By seeing someone who is working a job or learning a lot about a certain topic teach the class, they get to witness the passion and knowledge of  political science or chemistry college students. In this particular case, the students attending the elementary and middle schools where these presentations occurred have a low college attendance rate. In the very least, by having these older students teach the class and share their experiences, it motivates students to work harder in school so that one day they can go to college too.

In all, by having nearby college students or others with backgrounds in different fields come and present to an elementary or middle school class, there are a number of different benefits students can enjoy. Students get a fresh perspective from new faces that have a different teaching style than what they are used to. Teachers and schools get well-designed lesson plans from people with a lot of knowledge in the field, and a class gets taught by a passionate and knowledgeable person at no additional cost. Overall, these types of lesson plans are innovative as they bring a higher quality of education to students, at no cost, through collaboration.

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