MHU Teacher Education Program Embedding Courses at Local Lab School

by Bridget Morton, assistant director, Teaching With Primary Sources

In efforts to build partnerships with local schools, provide resources to local teachers, and promote an authentic learning environment for enrolled students, the University’s Teacher Education Program is working closely with Mars Hill Elementary School. MHES has always served a great resource for field work experience and student teaching, but for the first time ever MHU-TEP embedded an entire course on the MHES campus. ENG 334: Second Language Acquisition and Literacy taught by Dr. Tom Destino met every Tuesday and Thursday on the MHES campus. This meeting space has allowed for immediate application and observation of research that students are learning about in class.

In this semester, students have performed learning walks of the school, learning walks of teacher classrooms, observed guided reading groups, performed teacher interviews, experienced hands-on learning with beginning of the year literacy testing samples, and worked with in-service teachers in Professional Learning Communities. Most recently, MHU students were able to accompany the fourth grade classrooms on a field trip to Oconaluftee Village in Cherokee, NC through funding provided by the Library of Congress’ Teaching with Primary Sources program. They will follow up this field trip with primary source lesson plans that can be integrated into the fourth grade class units on Cherokee studies.

Due to the successful embedding of ENG 334, MHU has plans to continue this structure of TEP classes with ED 326: Science Methods in the Elementary Classroom in the spring semester. Embedding TEP courses at MHES has built a reciprocal relationship with our local elementary school in which MHU students are able to gain a more authentic learning experience, MHES students are able to make connections with the University in their backyard, and MHES teachers are able to receive professional learning opportunities and resources from the Teaching with Primary Sources Program.