Adjunct Professor Tricia Paarlberg has learned from her experiences—from living in Asia for several years to traveling to India on a group Fulbright as a student at Columbia College. She knows the importance of learning through experience and gives her Trinity students the same opportunity.
Paarlberg may engage geography students by taking them to Chicago to enjoy Indian cuisine or by involving them in a service project at the Chicago Food Depository. Recently her education students benefited from an entirely different project. Twenty-five Trinity education students were partnered with 25 students in grades 6-8 from Southwest Christian School in Oak Lawn, Illinois, for an experiential learning opportunity.
With the goal of developing Individualized Self Instruction Modules, or SIMS, the Trinity students met on different occasions with their junior high counterparts before creating lesson plans designed to meet the specific interests and learning needs of their assigned students.
“This was a practice experience for the education students that they were able to see played out,” said Paarlberg.
The lesson plans, which included topics such as Egyptology and physical education, were recorded on CDs and administered by Southwest. Trinity’s future teachers then visited with their students to follow up and gather feedback on each child’s individual experience.
Junior Vanessa Noonan of Oak Lawn, Illinois, worked with a sixth grader interested in history, so Noonan decided to base her SIM on Native American history. In it she included activities about fossils and the first Thanksgiving, and explained the differences between Disney’s Pocahontas and the actual historical figure.
“When I met with my student and saw how well she did on the SIM, I was floored,” said Noonan. “She put so much work into the project. What I learned most about students through this assignment is that as teachers, we cannot underestimate the great potential that each student has.”
Senior Kathy Hossink of Byron Center, Michigan, said, “This project was beneficial for me because it equipped me with another tool to use as a teacher, and then gave me practice implementing it. I can see myself using a SIM for some of my general education students and especially for my special education students.”
Paarlberg received her master’s degree in multicultural education from Columbia College in Chicago and her bachelor’s degree in history and business from Hope College in Holland, Michigan. Paarlberg completed her student teaching through Trinity at Timothy Christian School.