The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

October 23, 2013

Camanche teachers participate in 'studio classroom'

By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer

CAMANCHE — Amy Eikmeier and her seventh grade math class welcomed new visitors Tuesday, as part of a nationwide common core standards initiative training required by the Iowa Department of Education.

Two representatives of the Area Education Agency, Linda Mannhart and Heather Cousins, were present Tuesday as corespondents for Eikmeier and the five other area district math teachers who participated in a "studio classroom," which applied months of training the teachers have taken part in, to a real-life setting.

"Through a lot of the training, we have seen examples of how the common core teaching will be implemented," Eikmeier said. "This allows us the opportunity to see what it looks like in real life."

Eikmeier's classroom acted as a model for the five other teachers to observe the lesson plan, the student's logic breakdown and problem-solving during the common core exercises.

Tuesday began with a consultation between Eikmeier, Mannhart and Cousins to discuss the lesson plan, student expectations, as well as teacher expectations before entering into the classroom. Following the session, the teachers and consultants joined together to discuss what they saw from the students and how they worked through the problems presented during the lesson.

"After the sit-in we go through, student discourse where we talk afterward about what the students are doing in their work; what are you seeing, what are you going to do next," Eikmeier said. "It's all helping to transition us to meeting the common core standards, which are all about content but also the way we teach kids."

According to Eikmeier, the main goal of the common core initiative is to teach students standard educational subjects in relevant and real-life ways to be used in college and future careers.

The studio classrooms were created to offer teachers the tools they would need to make sure their students are receiving an education that will propel them to successful futures.

"It's just providing that learning experience and professional development of us as math teachers, setting up these new standards," Eikmeier said. "It's certainly overwhelming to look at it as a whole, so this is kind of providing a practical way, small steps for us to get started with the new standards."

Following Tuesday's session, the group will meet three more times for studio classroom sessions at Camanche Middle School, over the course of the school year.

Eikmeier is glad to be part of the studio session program because it offers her an opportunity to continue learning about the common core standards and an opportunity to receive feedback from her peers.

"It's a learning experience for everyone, including me. It's a real life, live experience," Eikmeier said. "You can talk about and set up these great ideas but sometimes it is hard to make those transfers. This is how to make it practical."