Barry McNamara  |   Published February 28, 2016

Everybody wins

Partnership between Monmouth College and ICS benefits students, teachers
  • Sandra Pinedo, a junior from Monmouth and a student in Monmouth College’s “Math Methods” course, is shown working with students at Immaculate Conception School. The partnership between Monmouth and ICS gives college students the opportunity to sharpen their teaching skills, provides individual attention for the ICS students and exposes ICS teachers to professional development opportunities.
The world of elementary school mathematics has become a little easier – or, in the case of advanced students, a little more challenging – thanks to a partnership between Monmouth College and Monmouth’s Immaculate Conception School (ICS).
  Students in Anna Reinking’s “Math Methods” course are working once a week with grade school students at ICS in what is clearly a “win-win-win” project.   “This provides teacher development skills for my students, and provides the ICS teachers with aides,” said Reinking. “Of course, it benefits the children, too. Each of my students works with five to seven children, and they work with different students each time. The sessions can be for students who need some extra help, and also for students who need a new, advanced challenge.”   “I think that the partnership is great because both sides benefit,” said ICS principal Randy Frakes. “The Monmouth College students benefit from the experience of working with the ICS students as they prepare to enter the education field. Our students benefit from the individual attention, extra math skills practice, and math challenges posed to them. Also, in this partnership, Immaculate Conception teachers are offered professional development on math strategies from Monmouth professors.”   “In looking to form a partnership, we chose ICS primarily for logistical reasons,” said Reinking. “All of the grades are in one building, so our students can work with first- through sixth-graders when I take them to the school each Tuesday.”   “I’m able to try new lessons that I’m thinking of applying to my practicum work or a game that will surely grab the students’ attention and have them engaged and having fun with they’re learning,” said senior Ellen Johnson of Kewanee. “I have different students each week and we trade off grades biweekly. That means I’m dealt a brand new hand of students, so I gain experience teaching all grades at the elementary level.”   “I have really enjoyed teaching at ICS because this experience has allowed me to work with students in each grade level,” added Sandra Pinedo, a junior from Monmouth. “Since I don’t work with the same group of students every week, I don’t know what they’ve already learned or their strengths or weaknesses. Not knowing this helps me as a teacher to learn how to adjust my lesson plans to fit the needs of the students I’m working with that week.”   Near the end of Monmouth’s semester, the “Math Methods” class will host a Family Night at ICS.   “It will be a math and reading night, and we’re hoping it will have a big impact,” said Reinking, who added, “My students are really enjoying this partnership. It requires them to do lesson planning and build relationships. They’re encouraged to teach in a variety of ways, and they’re able to test those methods and see what actually works in the classroom.”   Said Pinedo, “While working with the students, one of our goals is to make math more exciting by having different activities in which they’re still learning, which is also why I think the students like working with us.”   “The amazing thing about this opportunity that ICS offers is not only that we, as learning teachers, are able to gain experience with different grades and performance level students, but also that the students are able to spend a few moments with us where we try to make math accessible and fun,” added Johnson. “Hopefully, in time, we’re able to help students realize that math is not the proverbial ‘big bad wolf,’ but is a tool to help us understand the world around us.”   With a partnership that benefits all parties, Reinking believes she’s hit on a winning formula, and she hopes to expand it.   “Reading and language arts will be the next step,” she said. “Four or five years down the road, I hope we can bring in the sciences and social studies.”
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