Marquette students teach math at Atwater

Marquette University recently began a partnership with Atwater in order to train Marquette students how to teach math while providing a tutoring service to Atwater students.

“Our goal in the end is to increase student learning,” said Cathy Daniels, Atwater math interventionist.

According to Daniels, this program will help reach more students by providing academic assistance for those that need it and providing opportunities to be challenged for more advanced students.

“Marquette students are coming during teachers’ guided study times once a week, and they’re working with students on tier one [interventions for math], which means giving them academic help, whether it’s someone who needs help improving if they have lower skill, or it could be someone who’s really bright that needs a little extra,” Daniels said.

An estimated 50-75 Atwater students from a variety of grade levels are being helped each week during their 45 minute guided study time. Single Marquette students will work with no more than three Atwater students at a time.

“We’re doing this twice a year … [The Marquette students] started at the end of September … and they’re going through their semester which is December. Next semester, they’ll do the same thing … February through May,” Daniels said.

While Atwater students benefit from this program, this also trains Marquette students to teach math at the elementary level.

“[The Marquette students] are preservice,” Daniels said. “They’re training to be teachers so this gives them some experience.”

“The benefit to my students is that … they learn about students’ mathematical thinking,” said Leigh A. van den Kieboom, Ph.D., Marquette professor.

Through this “Teaching Elementary Mathematics,” van den Keiboom helps her university students to one day become teachers.

“I really try to emphasize for my students that it’s not just how a student solves a problem, but it’s their thinking about the problem,” van den Keiboom said.

Each week van den Keiboom’s students write reflections about the tasks in which they helped Atwater students. They practice asking the Atwater students questions to understand how the children think, as well as to provoke the children to explain their thoughts. Van den Keiboom said this is hard for the Marquette students, but that they are improving.

This program also helps Atwater teachers. With Marquette students reaching every classroom in the school by the end of each week, Marquette students provide another way for Atwater students to get help.

“I think it’s good [for the students at Atwater], and I think it’s good for the teachers, too,” said sixth grade Atwater student. “It means they’re going to have more helpers, and we’ll probably get through work time faster since [the Atwater teacher] won’t have to sit with [every] kid to help them. The Marquette students are there to help them.”

Daniels and van den Keiboom agree that this program benefits everyone involved, and is great support for Atwater teachers.

Van den Keiboom said Marquette students even wanted to teach at Atwater after they graduate.

“I’m getting a lot of feedback from my students. They love Atwater,” van den Keiboom said. “They think that the students are really smart … They’ve said a lot of positive things.”

The program was introduced and approved over the summer and is of no cost to the district since it is a part of van den Keiboom’s university class. Though similar programs have run in the past, this is first year Marquette students are helping with interventions.

“The school district is trying to encourage these partnerships with different schools,” Daniels said. “You want to use the resources that are around, and these universities have resources … I think Shorewood is trying to reach out … and bring some of those community resources into the classroom.”

by Lorlei Boyd

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