Local teachers reverse roles

PAT FRIDGEN
Beth Coleman, left, receives her map from Matt Riegsecker during a live event project. Teachers in a continuing education class created hands-on activities which they can take to their own classrooms. Riegsecker and his team designed a simulation of a land rush during the formative years of the United States. Kristen Ott, right, waited her turn. The three Greencastle residents teach in neighboring school districts.

Teachers became students again for final projects in a continuing education class. Participants in Roz Bingaman's "Discovering the Power of Live-Event Learning" were on the receiving end of hands-on lessons created by teams of educators. They were all earning credits as required by Pensylvania Department of Education Act 48 to maintain their professional certifications or as coursework for master's degrees.

Bingaman, a Greencastle-Antrim Middle School music teacher, taught the fall class on behalf of Wilkes University, where she earned her own master's in Educational Development and Strategies. The class was held at the middle school nights and weekends.

The experiences of the last lesson were designed to be brought back to the classrooms of the area teachers, some of whom live in Greencastle but teach in other districts.

One team taught their peers about particular cultures. They had each person order from local restaurants. Hunan Garden represented China, Mikie's was American, Tony's Pizza was Italian, and Cafe del Sol was for Mexico. Tammi Richards, who teaches in Waynesboro, and three partners also incorporated activities into their presentation to expose their charges to life in various countries.

The Pennsylvania Dutch was the subject for another team. Mandy Stottlemyer, a substitute teacher, Beth Coleman, a teacher in Waynesboro, and the rest of their crew created ways to introduce young students to a portion of Pennsylvania's population through language arts, math, writing and art lessons. That night they taught their adult classmates the card game Dutch Blitz, which Coleman had used with teens in another setting. "It got ugly at youth group," she said about the competitive game.

The team including Kristen Ott and Mark Potter, teachers in Shippensburg and Big Spring respectively, designed a lesson in the kitchen. The class baked apple dumplings. "It's a good fall food," said Ott.

By far the most physical learning experience came from Matt Riegsecker's group. The Tuscarora teacher was one of four who simulated a land rush from the days of the westward expansion of the United States. The class members were assigned roles as fur traders, merchants, cattle ranchers, millers and a pioneer family. They had to explore the entire acreage of G-ASD to find the most appropriate land in which to stake their claim. Sounding ever the teacher, Jen Buckley of Waynesboro explained the rules and told the crowd to put down their folders when they were done reading their character profiles.

"What are we supposed to do?" whispered one of the "students" to the person sitting next to her.

When the group assembled outdoors, Riegsecker gave each person a map of the campus, with instructions not to race off until he gave the signal. They then had 15 minutes to find their correct stake and return to the claims office in the middle school. Little did the people know that some would have to explore as far as Tayamentasachta. The merchant needed to go only as far as the back driveway, because he would logically set up shop on a well-traveled path.

Bingaman enjoyed the creativity of the teachers in the class. As a facilitator for Performance Learning Systems, which pairs with Wilkes, she is authorized to teach eight different classes. The next one will begin in February.

"These courses are so classroom-friendly," she said. "I love making a difference, if the teachers can use these strategies."