A&M-Texarkana faculty and education alumni publish in teaching journal

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Dr. Corrine Hinton, Assistant Professor of English at Texas
A&M University – Texarkana, and three university alumni and current educators,
Stephanie Chickadel, Kristen Childress, and Amanda Nix recently published an
article in Currents in Teaching and Learning, an online education journal published
by Worcester State University. Their article, “Extending Experiential Learning
Opportunities in Teacher Education: Connecting Preservice Teachers and their
Communities through Project-Based Collaborations” appears in the journal’s
October 2018 special issue on project-based learning.

While enrolled in an education methods class together, Chickadel, Childress, and
Nix collaborated with Discovery Place, an interactive museum for children located
in downtown Texarkana, as a service learning project to help the museum
improve its attractiveness to area educators. As the article explains, the women,
then preservice teachers, helped to map the concepts from several exhibits to
education standards in Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana.

Chickadel, now a high school science teacher at Queen City High School,
explained, “Our project began as a way to help a local museum’s exhibits become
more accessible to teachers in the area. During this process, I developed a deeper
understanding of state standards and the importance of engaging students in
hands-on learning activities. I hope readers are inspired to take on similar projects
in their areas.”

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When asked why collaborating with the museum was important for her, Childress,
a teacher at Queen City Middle School, responded, “My goal for our project is for
our students to get a hands-on learning experience. I want students to see that
learning can be anywhere other than inside a classroom. I also wanted students to
grow as individuals while gaining a sense of community and involvement during
the process.”

With Dr. Hinton’s assistance, Chickadel, Childress, and Nix worked to revise their
project into an article proposal. After their proposal was accepted, they worked
for another year on expanding and polishing the piece. “I had Stephanie, Amanda,
and Kristen in an advanced writing course a couple of years ago, so I knew they
were capable and dedicated writers,” said Hinton. “Over the last year, the work
we’ve done together to bring a two-page project report to this published piece is
tremendous, and I think it will really help educators and teacher educators re-
think community collaborations as valuable opportunities for teaching and
learning.”

Amanda Nix, who recently moved from Texarkana to Alabama where she is
teaching English to English Language Learners, shared her hopes: “This project
demonstrates the value and opportunities our community holds for our teachers
to expand their lessons and for students to become more engaged in their
learning. I hope readers obtain a deeper understanding and appreciation for
allowing students the chance to make text-to-real-world connections and how
community resources can become part of a teacher’s classroom.”

Experiential learning is the focus of Texas A&M University – Texarkana’s Quality
Enhancement Plan, a five-year initiative that focuses on expanding and improving
a specific facet of student learning. The museum project described in their article
was both experiential learning for the three alumni during their education
program while paving the way for experiential learning opportunities for young
visitors of the museum.

Their article, “Extending Experiential Learning Opportunities in Teacher
Education: Connecting Preservice Teachers and their Communities through
Project-Based Collaborations” can be viewed online through the Currents in
Teaching and Learning website at www.worcester.edu/Currents.

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