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Friday, June 22, 2018

WCC Gets Slimed By Enthusiastic Fourth Graders

For two days in late March, students in WCC’s elementary education program commandeered two environmental science classrooms for a little fourth-grade fun.

WCC science instructor Breege Concannon invited 120 students and teachers from Willow Run Community Schools to participate in the experiential learning portion of her Chemistry for Elementary Teachers class.

Noncy Fields and Emily Brown are two of the teachers who accompanied students from the Willow Run Elementary Learning Center. Both looked on as the WCC students engaged their fourth graders in activities that captured their curiosity and imagination. One of those activities included experiments on density. Another was mixing slime—lots and lots of slime.

The Students Became the Teachers

This adventure in chemistry gave the Willow Run teachers a unique opportunity to observe the learning process of their fourth graders instead of guiding it.

“One of my students has a hard time speaking up in class. So I shadowed her to see how she would do,” said Fields. “She was in a small group with a young man who wanted her to count out paperclips. I watched in case I had to step in, but he picked right up on her cue. She placed them and he counted them—it’s exactly what she needed him to do. They were both interacting without my guidance, and I thought that was pretty amazing.”

“It is really hard for us to have one-on-one time with each of our 26 students,” said Chelsea Sharp, a Willow Run student intern from the University of Michigan. “They are eating up this opportunity to interact with adults who are closer to their age.”

Chemistry for Elementary Teachers is one of four science-based classes that WCC offers in its elementary education transfer program. The others include earth science, math, and physics for elementary teachers. Literature and psychology classes also are part of the curriculum.

“It’s really nice to have this kind of hands-on experience so early in my teachers ed program,” said Matthew Furca, who will be transferring on for his bachelor’s degree later this year. “It really helped solidify my idea of what teaching was all about.”

High School and Middle School Students Visit, Too

The Willow Run students were among hundreds of elementary, middle, and high school students who either came to campus or were visited by WCC students in recent months. Future educators in the WCC Functional Math for Elementary Teachers I and II classes put together a carnival for the fourth and fifth graders at Burns Park Elementary School in Ann Arbor.

“My WCC students had a lot of fun, and the elementary kids told us that it was ‘the best math day ever,’” said Nichole Klemmer, who teaches for WCC. Afterward, WCC students received a 45-minute seminar by Burns Park teacher Sandy Kreger with tricks and tips of teaching, which Klemmer felt was very helpful. Another carnival was held April 16.

On March 23 the campus was busy with two exciting programs. Sixty-five eighth graders from Ypsilanti Middle School completed the WCC College is My Future program.

Twelve WCC student volunteers staffed the program. They led the teenagers in exercises that reinforce learning. College is My Future provides an introduction to higher education. It also instills in young people the importance of finishing high school and continuing on to college.

Meanwhile, over on the west side of campus WCC hosted a three-and-a-half-hour competition for high school construction trades students from Lenawee Intermediate School District. Competitors had to construct flower boxes for the disabled and raised bed kits for outdoor gardens, said WCC instructor Cristy Lindemann.

Growing Hope in Ypsilanti provided a lot of the materials used in the competition. It also collaborates with the WCC construction program on other projects during the year. WCC hosts a similar competition each February for students from Ann Arbor Public Schools.

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