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GOSHEN -- Typically a school's teachers are credited with educating the students. But this semester at Chandler Elementary, it works both ways.
On Friday, teaching candidates from Goshen College spent an hour with second-graders at Chandler. The GC students helped the Chandler students learn life skills such as counting money and telling time. The Chandler students helped college students learn to teach more effectively.
The juniors and seniors are in the middle of a six-week project with Chandler. Earlier in the semester they selected one elementary grade that they wanted to work with. Teams were put together based on those selections, and each student was assigned to create a lesson plan.
When a team contacted Andrew Kauffman, who teaches second-grade math, he suggested that they focus on activities concerning money and time. Kauffman wanted to see his students begin to develop life skills, and the students will see related questions when they take the ISTEP+ exam as third-graders.
"The more they know about it, the better off they'll be," he said.
ISTEP+ results are particularly important for Chandler. The school must make Adequate Yearly Progress during the next round of testing or face potential restructuring.
Shortly after 8 a.m. Friday about 20 students from Kauffman's class filed into Chandler's art room. Each student was paired with a "math buddy" from GC's math methods class.
With bags full of plastic coins, GC's teachers-in-training showed the younger students how to tell the difference between pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters and the value of each coin. The older students then walked the younger ones through how to count out exact change.
To tell time, Chandler students cut clock faces and hour and minute hands from paper. After the Goshen students explained how each part of the clock worked, the second-graders arranged the clock's hands to different times. It's important, Kauffman said, for his students to be able to read analog clocks.
The Chandler students also got a lesson in estimation, which junior Allison Miller's student took to quickly. Initially he estimated it would take him two minutes to say the alphabet, which he ultimately accomplished in six seconds. He thought it would take one minute to touch his toes 10 times, but he was finished in 10 seconds.
Soon the boy's estimations were closer. He was able to count to 20 within five seconds, originally estimating it would take eight.
"You're Mr. Speedy Gonzales," Miller told him.
Greg Imbur, assistant professor of education at GC, said the candidates spent the first month of the semester studying teaching theories. Working with Chandler's students gives them a chance to put those theories to use.
A big part of the theories involved showing elementary students how math works. Math is supposed to make sense, Imbur said, and it's helpful for kids when they see the process behind solving a problem.
A lot of times, Imbur said, it's tempting for a teacher to tell simply a student whether his answer is right. But it can be more valuable for a child if the teacher explores with the student how he arrived at his conclusion.
"What we're trying to do is build a child's confidence in their ability to solve problems," he said.
GC's students are benefiting from the teaching style as well, Imbur said. By walking students through the thought process, the candidates are learning a style of teaching they may not have been exposed to.