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SLC students learn importance of community resources

Posted On September 18, 2014


Silver Lake College students in Sister Marcolette Madden’s “Social Studies Curriculum and Methods” course learned plenty during a trip to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc on Sept. 17.

In addition to experiencing what life was like for World War II sailors during a tour of the USS Cobia submarine, the future teachers discovered the importance of utilizing community resources like the museum.

“It was a phenomenal experience, just marvelous,” Sister Marcolette said. “The students expressed so much enthusiasm. It was thrilling for them, because in the 2½ hours we were there, they picked up so many good ideas.”

The session was led by Wisconsin Maritime Museum employees Wendy Lutzke, museum educator, and Sandee O’Connell, education assistant. Combined, they have nearly 50 years of teaching experience at elementary schools in Manitowoc.

“The day went really, really well,” Lutzke said. “We had excellent feedback from the students. Each student had to talk about something they learned from the experience and what they could take back and apply to their future teaching. They all had a lot of good things to say.”

Participating SLC students included seniors Callie Berchem, Carly Klopf, Kortney Reissman, Noah Sharlein, Kimberly Voelker and Stephanie Walker, and juniors Jeffrey Miller, Sister Theresa Nguyen and Renee Troullier, an experienced submarine guide who helped lead parts of the Cobia tour.

“I thought the trip to the museum was an excellent idea, and I learned many different things through this trip,” Reissman said. “I learned that, as a teacher, one does not need to be an expert in all the areas they teach, but they need to be able to find people or facilities that are. The museum is one of these experts. The museum gives students a great experience that they will remember.”

Added Walker: “I felt that going to the museum and learning more about their programs really opened my eyes to how museums can be such an enriching experience for students. (Lutzke and O’Connell) work really hard to come up with lessons that connect to the content within the museum, and also to what teachers are teaching. At one point in our tour, they said that many of their lessons can be aligned with the Common Core State Standards, which is really convenient. And this also allows teachers to take their students out, without becoming behind on meeting the standard.

“While going through the lessons, I imagined my future students being very engaged and challenged to think about a different place or time period. I also thought about how I could use this in my classroom, and some of the activities I felt would be more meaningful in a place like the museum.”

Lutzke said it was a pleasure to interact with the students and help them develop their teaching strategies.

“The day was aimed at teaching them the best way to use a resource like a museum to teach their students one day, and I think we did that,” she said. “We tried to show them the importance of making the past come alive and engaging their students.”

Lutzke and O’Connell spent the first 30 minutes meeting with the class and discussing the importance of having out-of-classroom learning experiences. That was followed by a 45-minute tour of the Cobia, showing the students the importance of looking at life through the eyes of the people who lived it.

The final hour was devoted to using an interactive map, role playing, and using artifacts.

“This is something we’d definitely do again,” said Sister Marcolette, who, despite having a twinge of claustrophobia, said with a smile that she’d even go into the submarine again. “Going on the submarine made it so real. Like Wendy was telling us, for the people who served on the submarines, they were either bored to death or scared to death. But it was just a wonderful experience.”

Sister Marcolette added that one of the goals of the social studies course is to guide pre-service teachers in knowing how to plan learning experiences that strengthen not only the cognitive development of the learner, but the social-emotional domain, as well. Effective teaching connects all the domains of learning — cognitive (thinking skills), social-emotional (ability to build rapport, empathy) and psychomotor (physical movement).

“We strive to guide our pre-service teachers in knowing how to design learning experiences that engage the emotions as well as the head,” Sister Marcolette said. “Learning is more powerful when the emotions are engaged. When we were scrunched in around the tables in the submarine, we got a ‘feel’ for the Navy men on the submarine. As it were, we ‘walked in their shoes.’ We were not only learning facts (cognitive domain), but we were developing our sense of empathy (social-emotional) for ordinary men who risked their lives for their country.”

Sister Marcolette said museum personnel did a great job with their presentation.

“They spent a great deal of time to craft these experiences in a thoughtful, cohesive manner,” she said. “We couldn’t have asked for more. It was fantastic.”