With a guitar in hand and wearing cowboy boots, Kansas University student Mallory Bayles leads Quail Run fourth-graders in a rendition of “Home on the Range.”
Then classmate Katie Stearns, who was also in cowboy boots, walked the students through the kicks and the steps that made up the line dance of “Cotton Eyed Joe.”
Singing and dancing was just one of the many ways the fourth-graders and KU student teachers have learned from one another this semester as they studied the southwest and Midwest regions of the country.
Since February, 25 KU elementary education majors have visited Quail Run’s fourth-grade class as part of their intermediate literacy class. The college course, which is taught by Lynn Segebrecht, requires college students to pull together material and activities for small-group lessons and create detailed teaching plans.
One goal of the practicum experience, which was aided by a grant for literacy education through U.S. Bank, was to show student teachers how to interweave such subjects as social studies into lessons that make students better readers and writers.
“We’ve taught this way for a long time,” said Quail Run teacher Alea Lafond. “(Segebrecht) really wanted to show her students how to work with reading by using social studies as a base. And her students have taken it and run with it.”
The KU student teachers had the fourth-graders keep imaginary diaries about being a cowboy or living through the Dust Bowl. They wrote Native American trickster tales and Cinquain poems.
“This was by far the most I’ve ever worked with kids in a college course,” said KU junior Eliot Holmes.
And Holmes and his student teaching partner, Tiffany Chappell, were learning just as much as the students.
“You make lesson plans that would last 40 minutes and (the students) would blaze through them in 20,” Holmes said. “It is good to be over-prepared.”
Segebrecht picked Quail Run for the practicum because her sons had been taught by Lafond and she knew the team of teachers, which includes Terri Durgan and Caitlin Feighny, were already teaching literacy and social studies together.
“It’s been a pretty remarkable experience,” Segebrecht said.