GORHAM — Pre-service teachers enrolled in the University of New Hampshire’s Teacher Residence for Rural Education program learn how to be teachers by spending several days/week in area classrooms, benefiting from the mentorship of experienced teachers.
Resident Shannon Wydra is taking this learning-by-doing approach one step farther by devising learn-by-doing activities for second graders.
Kate Moore, Shannon’s teacher mentor in Berlin’s Brown Elementary School, had asked her second graders to write a persuasive letter to the principal about a see-saw on the playground. She suggested that Shannon create a related science lesson. Kate prepared and led a lesson about levers, bringing in a model board and fulcrum and having the children explore by adjusting weights on either end. Small groups then built their own levers which they were able to diagram and describe using the correct scientific terms. Brown Elementary School second graders now know so much about levers, they offered to teach the kindergartners should a see-saw become part of the playground.
In another lesson, second graders learned about how salt lowers the melting point of water. Weeks later, making ice cream, they were able to tell Shannon why we add rock salt to the ice used in the process.
UNH is committed to in-school teacher preparation. “Our residents will start their first teaching job with a year of classroom experience already under their belt,” says Dr. Tom Schram, UNH faculty-in-residence.
The TRRE program is funded in part by a five-year grant from the US Department of Education Teacher Quality Partnership program. Residents earn a graduate degree while working toward teaching certification. They benefit from a $28,000 living stipend and a significant tuition discount; in return, they commit to teaching in a high-need rural school for three years. Next September, when Shannon starts work in her own classroom, her students can expect a teacher who knows how to help them learn through activities and inquiry.
The University of New Hampshire is a flagship research university that inspires innovation and transforms lives in the state, nation, and world. More than 16,000 students from all 50 states and 71 countries engage with an award-winning faculty in top-ranked programs in business, engineering, law, liberal arts and the sciences across more than 200 programs of study.