The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Students as Teachers

My class is used to having student teachers in our classroom: college students from either the University of Illinois or Eastern Illinois University who are working through the teacher certification process. We have had an interesting mix of student teachers this year, but today my class got to experience something completely different: students as teachers.

The Title I teacher who works with my students for reading also pulls a small group a few times each week for math enrichment. They have been working on a variety of activities with her, all meant to supplement what we are doing in the classroom. She has also enlisted the help of the Teacher Collaborator from the Center for Education in Small Urban Communities who has worked with my class several times this year. Most recently, he had the students explore line graphs that represent movement and showed them some neat computer software that will generate the graphs using motion sensors. They decided it would be a lot of fun to share this with the entire fourth grade. So after a few weeks of planning and preparing, the students in the math enrichment group were ready to take on the role of teacher for about an hour.

They did a fantastic job! Everyone in the class was engaged and participating. They were having meaningful discussions about how to represent data on a graph and what would the movement look like that accompanies a certain graph. They discussed the idea of speed being represented as a distance over time, which means that it is impossible to attain any speed without also have duration.

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It was a wonderful activity and we’ve already begun making plans for how we can expand this next year: teach the unit to the entire class and have them make graphs on the first day and then compare them to the graphs they make on the last day; integrate the concepts into the Next Generation Science Standards on waves and how waves can be used to represent motion and energy; using the graphs to make line plots of data with fractional increments. There is a lot we can do and I am excited to continue the collaboration next year!

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