Teaching Tactics

Lauren Puglia

Lauren Puglia remembers teaching her stuffed animals as a first-grader in her basement using a toy easel. Today, she’s living that childhood fantasy as a multiple disabilities teacher while taking classes for her master’s degree in education at the University of Mary Washington. … [Read more...]

Educating Innovators

Professor Teresa Coffman uses new technologies to teach her education graduate students.

Don’t walk into Teresa Coffman’s classroom and expect to see a typical lecture. “I flip my classroom,” said Coffman. “I want my students to read and explain and think about the information. I like to hear what they have to say and how we can make it better.” An associate professor at the University of Mary Washington’s College of Education, Coffman pioneers innovative education in the classroom to inspire future teachers. “Technology is a tool that can create an environment that really gets students thinking effectively,” said Coffman. “It provides a vast amount of new sources and possibilities.” Coffman’s graduate courses focus on critical and creative thinking for real-world applications. “I want my students to think about ways that they can engage their students in new ways of thinking,” said Coffman. “You can’t just sit in front of a computer and expect learning to occur.” She requires blogs in all her classes, where students reflect and post assignments to … [Read more...]

Flipping the Classroom

Mustache-Mathematics-Jon-Meister

At first glance, Jon Meister ’13 looks like a teacher from another time with his handlebar mustache, black satin vest, and thick-framed glasses, but his teaching style – honed at the University of Mary Washington – is anything but old fashioned. For his final research project, Meister explored one of the latest trends in education, a flipped classroom. At its most basic level, a flipped classroom is where students learn a lesson at home via video and then come to class to work on homework. It’s a move away from the traditional classroom where a teacher gives a lecture and then students work on homework problems on their own time. In his final semester at UMW, Meister was a student teacher at his alma mater, Norview High School in Norfolk, Va. He worked with 18 seventh-grade students to flip the way that they learn algebra and geometry. Meister recorded YouTube math lessons that the students watched outside of class time, and then the students worked in the classroom on … [Read more...]

Homework Helpers

Education student

Math homework stumped one local Fredericksburg second-grader. She was puzzled by the number sequence problem in the evening assignment, and the more she tried to work the problem, the more exasperated she became. UMW senior Ciara Norquist sensed her frustration and convinced her to take a break from her studies. They built charts and focused on finding patterns. Within minutes, the student returned to her homework and completed it with ease “For the kids, it’s like having a second teacher. The one-on-one time is important,” said Norquist, who is among 31 UMW tutors who have volunteered with the Hazel Hill Homework Club. The club, which started fall semester, began as a way to help UMW students fulfill their service-learning requirement in an “Elementary Social Studies Methods” class, taught by John Broome, assistant professor in the College of Education. Students in Broome’s class are required to complete 10 hours of service and many opt to volunteer as tutors for the … [Read more...]

Growing a New Generation of Educators

Laurie Abeel

Grades aren’t foremost on the mind of Laurie Abeel. The College of Education associate professor focuses more on the journey for her graduate-level students. “My approach in every single class deals with growth, not grades,” said Abeel, who teaches gifted education courses. “I’m more concerned with ‘do they understand what I’m trying to teach’ and ‘have they shown growth by the end of the course?’” Some of her students have gone on to use her strategies and methods in their own classrooms. Abeel credits much of her classroom philosophy to her involvement with Destination Imagination, known as DI, an international program focused on the creative process, critical thinking, leadership and team work. For almost the past decade, she has served as Virginia affiliate director of DI, volunteering to coordinate Virginia’s programs and the state tournament. “It influences almost everything I do. All the skills we try to teach the kids [in DI], I use in my classes,” she said, … [Read more...]

Fun and Learning Foremost at UMW Play Lab

Play Lab 4

When Laura Johnson '12 registered for classes for her last undergraduate semester at the University of Mary Washington, she added one that wasn’t required—the Play Lab, an education course that gives students hands-on experience working with disabled students. Johnson, who majored in historic preservation and elementary education with a focus in museum studies, thought the class would be beneficial to her as a teacher. “You can’t control who comes into your classroom,” she said.  “As a teacher, you’re responsible for giving every student the best education that you can, so I thought it was part of my responsibility as a teacher.” The Play Lab, in its third semester at UMW, is a parent resource and clinic for children with developmental delays, such as autism and intellectual disabilities. Bolstered through community donations and grant awards, the course has been cited as a model program by Virginia Commonwealth’s Center for Autism Excellence. UMW students spend seven … [Read more...]