CEDAR FALLS, Iowa â€“ University of Northern Iowa faculty member Sarah Montgomery and UNI literacy education majors are exploring a new partnership with Lincoln Elementary School as part of the UNI Professional Development School (PDS) network with the Cedar Falls School District. The impetus behind the partnership is to create opportunities to improve the preparation of new teachers while impacting professional development for current teachers and student achievement.
During the spring semester, Montgomery, who is assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, experimented with a professor-in-residence model at Lincoln. She taught two teaching methods courses for UNI students at Lincoln and worked with the three sixth-grade teachers to align student field experiences to reinforce literacy strategies at the school. While at Lincoln, UNI students worked with students in small groups and one-on-one to promote reading comprehension strategies and vocabulary development. Together, they created digital graphic novels on historical themes and image-enhanced podcasts on current events, among other projects.
"This new model has definitely been a win-win for all stakeholders," said Becky Hawbaker, instructor, Malcolm Price Laboratory School. "Our students were able to make immediate theory-practice connections and had more intensive and extensive field experiences with some amazing teachers, and they were doing things that were beneficial for the teachers and students as well."
The professor-in-residence model is an example of the kinds of partnerships that have grown from the UNI PDS. In 2007, the PDS model was piloted at Cedar Falls High and Hanson Elementary Schools in Cedar Falls, and Edison Elementary and Central Middle Schools in Waterloo. Since that time, the model has expanded to nearly every school in the Cedar Falls and Waterloo School Districts.