Learning how to teach floods - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Learning how to teach floods


Floods leave an unanswered question for many teachers.

How do they incorporate what students experienced into their curriculum?

Several Iowa teachers spent the weekend learning how to make that happen.

Mike Loots was one of them.  He's in his second year as a language arts and drama teacher at Northwest Junior High School in Coralville.

His students are old enough to remember the 2008 floods but it's not something they talk about in school.

"I don't know that the flood has been a big part of our curriculum," said Loots.

Loots wants to change that.

He'd like for students to be able to take their own experiences and learn from them.

"In terms of thinking about a river and a problem in our community...solving some problems that really, really do affect their lives," said Loots.

That's why he was one of 35 teachers from across the state who spent the weekend at the University of Iowa.  Professors put on an institute for teachers, to talk about ways to integrate the floods of 2008 and 2011 into their day to day classes.

"When you learn about your own environment, and your effect on that environment as well as your reaction to that environment it's empowering for students," said Trudy Kimble, who teaches Language Arts in Council Bluff.

Teachers discussed the science and history of floods and how to teach the topics to students.

They also learned the importance of storytelling and how to use the students' own experiences from the floods as a part of classroom discussions.

"Our experiences are our education," said Greg Hamot, UI Professor of Social Studies Education. "They experienced this and their parents experienced this and their communities experienced this."

Loots is excited to hear his students' memories.

"When we're able to go back to our schools and pull those stories from our students, I think that we're going to have some, some really pretty poignancies, pretty moving sort of experiences," said Loots.

He hopes to create a small pilot project at his school, which will allow students to learn the science, math, history and language arts of their own experiences.

The institute was part of the University of Iowa's Living with Floods 2013 project which will remember the floods, celebrate progress, and raise awareness of how to prevent the devastation from happening again.

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