Students become teachers

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, April 16, 2014
West Liberty high school students are taking leadership to third graders this spring, a chance to teach science and agriculture to a young, but eager, audience.

The class, entitled Agriculture Leadership, gives the older students a chance to work with two or three third graders at a time. They meet with the students a couple times a week, where they prepare and teach on a decided topic.

"I like working with the kids and I want to go to college to be a teacher," said junior Shannon McMichael. "I love it when we're doing activities and the kids get the answers right."

The class was born from a collaboration between FFA Advisor and ag teacher Zachary Morris and third grade teacher Donita Anderson.

The high school class consists of FFA students or those taking a lot of ag classes. The whole point was to create a mentoring program and teach leadership.

"I see it as a chance for them to take what they've learned in agriculture and pass it on," said Morris. So far they've touched on farm life vs. city life, plants, animals and recycling technology.

During class on Friday the topic of the day was jobs in agriculture. Third grade students were asked what their parents do for a living. Afterwards, they were each given a balloon they had to keep in the air.

If the ballon hit the ground it was popped, revealing a piece of paper with a career opportunity. After a chaotic and loud several minutes, the young students sat down and were taught by the high schoolers.

As the young students were asked challenge questions they blurted out their answers to their mentors. A loud learning environment with a lot of opportunity for teachers in training.

"It's great working with these kids and seeing their faces light up," said senior Kyle Miller. "The hardest part is keeping them in control and maintaining their attention, but once you do that it's a lot of fun."

Their faces do indeed light up. The students were more than excited to see their high school counterparts, rambling and running into the classroom.

"A few kept asking, are the high schoolers coming? Don't forget to come out and get us from recess," said Anderson about her students.

"The biggest thing I like is the interaction between the older kids and the younger kids," she added. "It's just a different way for them to learn, because they have to see me everyday."

This is the first year the class has been offered. They usually meet twice a week. High schoolers are asked to create their own lesson plans and find materials.

But the smiles must make it all worth it, because there sure are a lot of them.
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