When educators return to classrooms as learners, they tend to acquire a better understanding of what to teach and how to teach it to 21st century students.
Recently, Mississippi State provided 16 public school teachers of history, social studies and foreign language with an opportunity to become students once again. Representing districts stretching from Meridian to Mound Bayou to Tishomingo County, they took park during June in the Global Academic Essentials Teaching Institute.
The university's department of instructional systems and workforce development served as host for the sixth-12th-grade classroom leaders as they learned the latest methods for engaging students.
In addition to reviewing state standards, becoming familiar with new technologies and developing modern lesson plans during the month-long program, participants kept blogs about their experiences and developed website portfolios. They include lesson plans, technology-application strategies and presentation-download links. All are accessible at www.gaeti.iswd.msstate.edu.
"The blogs served as a 'modern day journal,' which also got teachers accustomed to using technology and simultaneously encouraged them to be courageous enough to share their professional thoughts publicly," said institute facilitator Pamela Scott-Bracey.
"The goal of the Common Core State Standards is to help our students think critically through analysis and reflection, so we wanted to get our teachers used to participating in the process of reflection," the MSU assistant professor added.
As she explained, the teachers were engaged in the same kinds of activities they'll soon be requiring of their students.
They learned about fossils and archeology at, respectively, the geosciences department's Dunn-Seiler Museum and Cobb Institute of Archaeology, as well as from MSU faculty members skilled in the application of engaged course content through service-learning projects.
Scott-Bracey said much emphasis was placed on developing classroom strategies allowing students to apply the concepts they're learning instead of simply memorizing materials for multiple choice exams.
In addition to Mississippi Department of Education representatives and MSU Extension Service staff, the visiting teachers received their updates from instructional development assistant professors Sang Joon Lee, Kun Huang and Joanne Beriswill, as well as geosciences associate professor Kathy Sherman-Morris.
For more on the department of instructional systems and workforce development, visit www.iswd.msstate.edu.
Complete details about MSU are found at www.msstate.edu.