During the 3-Week semester at Hiram College, students focus on one class for three weeks, after taking a full course load for the first part of the semester. Hiram College News will profile some of the unique opportunities students have to stretch their brains and imaginations during the Fall 2013 3-Week session.
Get out your carpet squares and have a seat on the floor; it’s story time. And it’s not for a class of kindergarteners – it’s part of the curriculum for one Hiram College 3-Week course.
In “Reading, Writing and Response with Children’s Literature,” each class begins with Jennifer McCreight, assistant professor of education, reading a picture book that relates to the day’s lesson. She asks her students to analyze the book as if they were their five-year-old selves, and then to think about it on a scholarly level.
“This class is unique because we have the opportunity to think back to our childhood, which we don’t get a lot of time to do,” McCreight said, “but at the same time that we are reminiscing, we are still evaluating literature in completely new ways.”
The purpose of the class is to expose students to a variety of literature, strategies and methods that they can use in their future. Since the class has a mixture of education and non-education majors, McCreight teaches it so that all of her students can use what they learn with the children in their lives.
The course is sometimes taught in the 12-Week, but McCreight says that she likes having it in the 3-Week for several reasons. For one, it allows her students to fully immerse themselves in children’s literature. A second reason is because the structure of the 3-Week allows her to provide her students with an experiential learning opportunity.
“It is one thing to sit here and evaluate children’s books, but I felt like to do that without children is a bit unauthentic,” McCreight said. “We needed children around us to see how they interact with books.”
With that in mind, McCreight has taken them twice to Mantua Center Story Time, which is led by Hiram alumna Christin (Swiger) Delaney ’02.
During their first day there, the Hiram students were asked to simply observe the environment, the way that the children interact and the way the storytellers read. Even though the students were only there to observe, some couldn’t resist singing along during opening songs!
On their second trip, it became the Hiram students’ turn to take the lead. Students were split into two groups. Each group chose a book, “Llama Llama Holiday Drama” and “If You Take a Mouse to the Movies,” and then created a craft/activity to go along with it.
After creating detailed outlines, preparing the crafts and practicing their storytelling skills, the students led their first story time. The children —s ome shy and quiet, some exploding with energy — gave the students insight into what a real classroom environment is like.
Now, with only one week left in class, McCreight’s students are shifting their focus to creating their own literature by making a class alphabet book and an informational text in the form of an iBook.
McCreight said that the iBook project reflects the push for technology in literature and for the increased use of informational texts.
“We want to prepare our students for the environments that they will be teaching in, not just interviewing in, and we know that the kids our students will be teaching will have, in many cases, a lot of experience with technology,” McCreight said. “So if that’s how they are growing up, our students need to meet those children where they are as learners.”