CASSTOWN — All she’s ever wanted to do was teach children — and she now has an even bigger classroom.
Amber Johnson of Casstown, a fourth-grade teacher at Graham Elementary for the past six years, has been chosen by the Ohio Department of Education to be a network regional leader for a new social studies model the state will begin to implement.
This summer, Graham attended an Inquiry Design Model (IDM) Summer Institute in Lexington, Ky., learning to teach with the C3 — College, Career and Civic Life — Teachers model. Johnson said 143 teacher from 23 states and Saudi Arabia were in attendance at the conference.
“It goes away from the traditional textbook, teacher way of teaching,” Johnson said. “You give students a compelling question that doesn’t have a yes or no answer and provide them with supporting information for them to form their own opinion,” said Johnson, who also has worked part-time in the secretary’s office for the Miami County Fair Board each summer for eight years.
Johnson said one example that was used at the summer conference was whether or not words can start a war. She said instructors cited Harriet Beecher Stowe’s “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” and asked, “Did that book start a war?” She said with the C3 model of teaching, children get to decide was it that book, those written words, or was the book just one catalyst that went along with what was going on in that time period, that caused a war to break out.
“It teaches kids to learn outside the box,” Johnson said.
Johnson said she, along with her principals, are excited to get the model, which is under way in a few states, implemented locally. Johnson and another Graham teacher who attended the conference will work together this school year to begin implementing the teaching style into their classrooms. They also will teach others in the elementary the model.
When Johnson was contacted by the ODE to help roll out the new standards in Ohio, she said she was surprised, but excited. She said since it is the beginning of the process and she has only attended her first meeting, a time frame for statewide implementation of the new standards has not been set. She said more meetings and conferences are upcoming in her new role.
“We’re going to be looking at the standards now and the standards we will be moving on to,” she said “We will be providing professional development for the C3IDM model in my new role, that is what I’m most excited about.”
Johnson said Graham already is a Literacy Collaborative School, and the C3 model complements the program.
“This model really fits into that framework really well,” said Johnson, a graduate of Urbana University. “The whole component of that is meeting people where they are and then pushing them, meeting their needs more individually.”
Johnson also attended a program at The Ohio State University last year that taught inquiry-based teaching in all other subjects except social studies.
“It completely changed the way I taught, except the way I taught social studies, so this program taught me that. Now, I will teach inquiry teaching all day,” Johnson said.
Johnson said she will embrace her new role to help students throughout the state receive an even better education.
“I love to see the kids learn. I love to see that progression. It is something you can see, you can see that ‘big idea moment’ where they grasp a concept,” Johnson said. “A light bulb moment, where their face lights up and their eyes twinkle. I love that moment.”
Reach Melody Vallieu at (937) 552-2131.