Co-teaching provides benefit for elementary school

Student teachers lead first graders in Valentine's Day project

WADSWORTH – Some of Wadsworth’s youngest residents spent part of the afternoon of Feb. 11 working on a project to bring some Valentine’s Day cheer to some of the city’s oldest residents.

Under the supervision of student teachers who have been “co-teaching” at Franklin Elementary School during this school year, first graders made special valentines which were distributed to people who reside in Wadsworth’s four nursing homes.

Student teachers Jessica Lake and Elizabeth Edwards said they wanted to get the students involved in a project that reached out to the community.

“We had been talking in school about community projects and someone mentioned Valentine’s Day,” she said.

Edwards added that these cards were special and included Wadsworth pride because they were decorated with a grizzly bear theme.

First grader Lucy Gale said she was excited to do the project for people in the nursing homes.

First grader MacKenzie Moore agreed.

“I like to do crafts,” she said.

Jerri Saltz, supervisor of student teachers at the University of Akron, said that the student teachers are working at Franklin this year as part of a pilot program. She said there were nine student teachers co-teaching with regular classroom teachers during the fall semester and this semester there are eight student teachers.

“It’s definitely a lot different than traditional student teaching,” Saltz said. “With this program, teachers spend the day possibly teaching or working with a small group or working with students one-on-one.”

“I can’t imagine doing this any other way,” said Lake, who added that this type of student teaching has been very helpful.

“Everyone here has been very supportive,” Edwards said.

Saltz said that the program can be a benefit to students and to the regular classroom teachers as well.

“Basically there are two teachers in the classroom, so students are getting more individual attention,” she said. “It changes the student teacher ratio from say one to 30 to more like one to 15.”

First-grade teacher Debbie Pegrim said she thinks the program has been a benefit to Franklin.

“It is nice to have an extra set of hands in the classroom and I think having smaller groups has made a huge difference when it comes to learning,” she said. “I think it has really increased reading levels for some of the students.”

Saltz said she is hopeful that the program will continue at Franklin again next year.