MIT Students at WSU Vancouver get creative with digital lesson plans in response in COVID-19
By: Hannah Schneider – College of Education
Recently graduated students in the Master in Teaching (MIT) program at the WSU Vancouver campus didn’t leave before making their mark with some new coronavirus-induced program changes. And they got creative doing it.
The program focuses on connecting MIT students with soon to be high school students in the Camas School District. Their work this year was focused on eco-justice by having fifth-grade students work on collective garden projects. However, when the COVID-19 outbreak occurred things took a digital shift.
The MIT students were determined to adapt their projects. They wanted to create problem-based projects relating to the ongoing crisis. The MIT students work in small groups to develop new one-week lessons for the middle school students.
Their lessons include having their students develop PPE gear (personal protective equipment), design a fitness school, and develop a resource bank of examples of empathy and reflection during the crisis. During the fourth-week capstone lesson, the students go back and research their own work and find examples of where they found hope. The fourth lesson especially builds on a goal of project-based learning as an opportunity to understand and engage in self-directed leaning.
For the MIT students, they originally were to learn and examine “regular” project-based learning in the school with students working hands on with them. However, they now are examining online project-based learning and the importance of learning in that context.
On the last day of the semester, both groups of students shared their learning portfolios together on an online platform. Examining their strengths and weaknesses of their own self-regulated learning strategies the MIT students collectively highlighted their own growth as new teachers.
Finally, Richard Sawyer, the chair of the MIT Program, has been conducting formal research on the overall partnership. He is focusing on the different meanings of project-based learning, and now online project-based learning, to teaching interns.
“These MIT students not only adapted their initial engagement and work in the school, but, remarkably, began to observe and study the change in teaching environment from actual to virtual as a complex, real-world laboratory of practice,” Sawyer said.