LEXINGTON, KY (December 23, 2022) — Students from the University of Kentucky’s College of Education took bundles of educational tools to Breckinridge and Cassidy elementary schools in Fayette County to end their internship semester.
The seniors, in elementary and special education, spent the previous week gaining experience in school district classrooms and taking courses focused on curriculum development.
The last day of class, known as “unit day,” is the final hands-on activity for the practicum semester, demonstrating the skills gained in designing and teaching an interdisciplinary unit of instruction.
“Our interns worked with second graders at Cassidy and Breckinridge, bringing science and social studies to life,” said Pam Seales, teacher in the elementary education program. “The second graders played a headband game while learning about Lexington’s features, created mountains and small volcanoes, and learned to use the cardinal directions in a small group game.”
Topics for the UK students’ planned units were chosen by Fayette County second grade teachers based on the school district’s pacing guide. It defines the curriculum to be taught throughout the school year and provides the time needed to help students develop an understanding of it.
“We work closely with our school partners to ensure that the focus of the unit day aligns with their curriculum plans and helps improve student learning,” said elementary clinical teacher Joni Meade.
Teachers suggested that UK students develop geography and landform units aligned with the Kentucky Academic Standards for literacy, social studies, and science.
Bailey Everee Morris, a senior at UK and from Lexington, was part of a group that taught how mountains are formed, including how tectonic plates move, using food.
“The overall experience was completely interactive, and we got a lot of smart feedback from the second graders,” Morris said. “The unit project not only expanded our lesson planning skills, but also showed us how important it is to engage students in the lesson with a hands-on activity.”
Grace McCrery’s team from the UK chose to create a curriculum around volcanoes.
“We started by asking the students what a volcano is, where they saw it and what’s inside a volcano,” said McCrery, a Louisville elementary student.
After the lesson, the students watched a short video clip about volcanoes.
“We asked the students to think of a new fact they learned about volcanoes, then we shared those facts out loud,” said Kate Manno, a UK senior from Lexington. “Our intern group also found a piece about volcanoes that incorporated music, so we taught the students to help reinforce the unit.”
Second year students rotated between UK practicum student hands-on activity stations to reinforce the content they had learned, which also included bodies of water and continents.
“In our unit, students created an ocean, pond, lake or river,” said Nina Seal, a UK senior from Naperville, Illinois. “We brought fun treats for the kids to use with the bodies of water, such as stickers, gummy worms, fish and shark gummies. We talked to the students using an anchor chart, then the students were able to create their own bodies of water using clay.’
Students on the UK’s teacher education program are immersed in field experiences early in their studies and gradually develop not only their own skill set and understanding of what they are teaching, but also how to teach it. During the last semester of their senior year, education majors complete two student teaching experiences.
“I look forward to student teaching,” McCrery said. “This is a rewarding profession, and I can’t wait to have my classroom.”