This week the LI team had the pleasure of interviewing Meaghan Wilson for her “extraordinary” work in providing PE classes for the Nursery students’ at Mountainside.
Her work with the Nursery involves TWO main components.
First, she creates lessons teachers can run on their own and models for the teachers how they can do this at the beginning of the year. However, Meaghan strictly becomes a facilitator and helps identify physical development and motor skills for teachers as the year moves on.
Second, she builds community by incorporating her 7th and 8th grade Life Skills students, who pick a topic or concept they are learning and then demonstrate their mastery by taking it down to a level where a 3-4-year-old understands.
Oh yeah, Meaghan does all of this on her prep, when she is not teaching her own classes.
The results have been noticeable. Pawel, says there is a definite difference since Meagahn has started providing these services. The students are ready to go and ready to learn when they enter Kindergarten, whereas in the past they were not.
For example, Ritu’s son went home and told his parents what the 7th and 8th-grade students taught them about the harmful effect of eating Nutella. This prompted them to make some changes in their diet.
This just highlights how well the 7th and 8th-grade students taught the lesson!
But, on to her responses.
1. What did you want your students to know or understand?
The focus was for ECC students to be more aware of their mental, emotional, and physical states.
The ECC teachers are amazing at helping them create habits already, and I just wanted to come in to help them learn more about how to take care of their bodies.
We work as a team to develop the whole child from a young age.
For my 7th and 8th grade students, it is about cultivating empathy, as they get to see how difficult it is to be a teacher and learn more about themselves in the process.
2. What skills did you want your students to gain?
For the ECC students, I wanted them to improve their listening and collaborative skills. Additionally, how to better behave and respect their older buddies.
For the MS students, I wanted them to learn how to improve their confidence. Especially the ELL students who are scared to talk in front of their peers, but talk so much in front of ECC kids.
Lastly, I wanted both groups of students to understand how to change their habits bit by bit. Often times students are told you are too young and have time in the future to form quality habits, but I want them to realize they can create these habits now!
3. How did you teach this lesson in the past?
In the past, I would just give a lecture to my MS students and then show them a video. Then, I would have them write a paper for one unit, and then create a presentation for another.
Pretty amazing to see where we are now.
4. How did you problem-solve and be creative to come up with this new method for this lesson?
A lot of it came from research for my doctorate.
I immersed myself in material dealing with Project Based Learning (PBL) and reached out to others who were using the model to improve student learning.
Additionally, I started experimenting with my own lessons and built in a feedback loop so I could gather information from the students’ on how to improve the lessons.
You know, what worked, what didn’t.
This helped ensure the learning for both me and my students and helped us make the necessary changes to get the program where it is today.
I am so glad I was able to start incorporating the PBL model in my life skills class.
It started as a project, but now it is a regular set activity every 8 days, where kids from both ECC and MS love it!
It reminded me of the importance of providing learning experience to help our students become a better version of themselves, whatever age level they are at!
Ria and Ritu have vast knowledge about PBLs. They presented at EARCOS about it.
Any class at SIS…all you have to do is step into any class and it is an opportunity to learn. There are so many great teachers and learning happening daily!