State ed official goes to school

L’ANSE – Michigan Department of Education Deputy Superintendent Susan Broman visited a pair of classes at far ends of the K-12 spectrum at L’Anse Area Schools during last Friday’s U.P. tour.

First, she stopped by a high school AP biology class, where students were using electrically charged reagents to test their own blood types as part of a criminal forensics lab scenario. Then she hung with some second-graders, who were finishing up their class with an addition game played online with personal computer tablets and tracked by their teacher, Emily Maxon.

“They do this every day at the end of class,” Maxon told an impressed Broman, who agreed the game was a cool way to keep kids interested.

“Seeing tech integrated into regular lessons and seeing how it facilitates learning is what we like to see,” Broman said later. “It’s the future.”

L’Anse’s focus on applied learning, exemplified in the blood testing (and blood drawing), also showed evidence of a school headed in the right direction.

“Hands-on learning is something that’s incredibly valuable,” Broman said. “Students learn more when they’re doing more and experiencing more.”

Hands-on also means new challenges for teachers, she said, and colleges and universities need to prepare future teachers for them. Experienced teachers will need training in the new techniques, too, she added, and supportive policies to help them get that training.

“They need time for professional development, to hone their craft and learn to do new things,” she said.