Schools within the Context of Community

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The Schools Within the Context of Community Program is an immersive, 18-credit semester, which emphasizes that knowledge about the communities in which children are growing and learning is an essential ingredient to being a good teacher. As part of the semester, candidates complete a practicum assignment at a high need elementary school. When they are not in the school, the local community center is their classroom, where they develop relationships with children, families, members of the community, and community mentors through which they examine funds of knowledge within the community. With an emphasis on understanding the context in which children are growing and learning as a critical component to effective teaching, the project offers our candidates the opportunity to experience children's lives both in and outside formal schooling, and to examine the challenges and strengths inherent in the community. Through such relationships, students are charged with working with community partners to develop and implement strategies to support children and families. Service learning in cooperation with members of the community is thus integrated into the semester, as our candidates work to further strategies which address community identified need. The program broadens the definition of "teacher educator" to include members of the community, whose cultural knowledge is a critical cognizance for our future teachers.

Schools within the Context of Community: Program Overview

Program Images

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Community Study Digital Stories

Candidates are learning about the Whitely community in a variety of ways throughout the semester. Their understanding on how the community context impacts the lives of children and their own development as teacher education candidates is captured in the construction of a digital story. Digital storytelling provides the medium for candidates to uniquely express their understanding of the community and the connections they have made throughout the semester. Candidates share their digital stories with community mentors at the end of the semester and are frequently asked to present them to the Whitely Community Council so that others can hear about the community's impact on candidates development as teachers.

Conceptual Frameworks for Learning

Candidates in the Schools within the Context of Community program develop individual Conceptual Frameworks for Learning throughout the semester. These frameworks are mental maps of the candidates development, and serve as a reflective tool for their conceptual growth. They use their frameworks to identify their existing conceptions about teaching & learning, race & class, schools & communities and how these conceptions are challenged, reinforced, and changed through their engagement with program content and the Whitely community. These frameworks provide candidates with a reflective tool to make connections between their experiences, content being covered, their development as teachers.
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Additional Project Examples

Shaffer Museum Project: Celebrating the rich Civil Rights and Cultural history within Muncie Indiana and the Whitely Community. Muncie community members shared their lived experiences with BSU students, and working together, opened the Shaffer Chapel Historical Museum in 2014. In 2015, candidates again worked with community members to construct Augmented Reality (AR) elements for the museum. These AR elements include voices, images, and video of community residents to enhance the experience and to emphasize the continuing story of civil rights and community engagement within Muncie Indiana.

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Book Like Me: Development of a culturally responsive children's literature collection. Candidates worked with community members to identify a numbers of diverse books for children. The following year, candidates developed curriculum materials for grades K3 focused on the books. They also designed, developed, and constructed the Books Like Me website providing others with book information and curriculum materials.