I was asked to complete yet another online survey this week. No one ever told me in college just how many surveys I would be asked to respond to as a teacher, especially at the end of the school year! There should be a class about it – Survey Completion 101: How to Respond to Vague and/or Wordy Questions in 10 Minutes of Less. Sure, it would be boring but very practical! (Smirk.) Well, one survey I completed was about the eMINTS training I had received. One question in particular really got my attention, however. It asked me how long ago I had received my training in eMINTS and when I started to count back to that year…well, I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun. Because that’s what I’ve been having since becoming an eMINTS teacher. Not that there haven’t also been challenges and frustrations, too. We teach in the real world, after all, but using the eMINTS model has been both effective and enjoyable.
What is eMINTS?
eMINTS is an instructional model for engaging students in authentic learning experiences. Here’s an excerpt from their website that gives a quick overview to the approach:
“eMINTS professional development uses interactive group sessions and in-classroom coaching/mentoring to help teachers integrate technology into their teaching using an instructional model that
- promotes inquiry-based learning
- supports high-quality lesson design
- builds community among students and teachers
- creates technology-rich learning environments
eMINTS began in Missouri – its name an acronym for the project enhancing Missouri’s Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies. Today eMINTS can be found in classrooms across the United States and in New South Wales, Australia.”
Using eMINTS in 4th Grade
Recently, my 4th graders completed a lesson on famous Missourians as part of our Social Studies curriculum. The eMINTS philosophy was incorporated in the lesson in a variety of ways.
- Essential Questions – The lesson is anchored around 1-3 tightly focused essential questions. We refer to these questions throughout the lesson as we explore the content and attempt to extend our thinking. If 90% or more of my students can articulate the answer to the essential question(s), then I feel confident that we have used our time wisely.
- Lesson Design – I am an absolute NUT about writing lessons! I LOVE doing it! It is one of the most rewarding parts of my job as a teacher, so naturally I took to this part of my eMINTS training with great enthusiasm. Everything in a lesson must drive instruction forward and assist every student in being able to answer the essential questions. Being in a co-teaching classroom, I also work hard to ensure that I am accessing as many of the multiple intelligences as possible.
- Cooperative Learning – Students work in a variety of groups (pairs, trios, teams) to complete projects. Students not only learn to collaborate with others, they also build social skills. I’m not sure you can get any more authentic and practical than that combo!
- Technology – This component of eMINTS is often the first thing teachers think about, but it’s actually one of the last things I consider. You can still incorporate much of the instructional design of eMINTS without a “tricked out” classroom of high-tech equipment. Is it nice to have? Sure…if it’s updated and in good working order! The reality is, our students live in the 21st Century and using technology is now a basic life skill. eMINTS helps students not only acquire those skills, but use them in (you guessed it!) authentic ways.
I’m so glad I was asked to be a part of the eMINTS training. Hard to believe that it’s been 9 years ago. Honestly, the ideas and strategies I learned through eMINTS are still relevant today. How many professional development opportunities can boast that kind of longevity?