The Academies of Nashville provide students with meaningful, hands-on learning in context. Inquiry-based teaching and project-based learning are important for the Academies’ goal of teaching students how to think critically and creatively to solve problems in the classroom and real world. To bring these ideas to MNPS classrooms, academy partners in Nashville have joined forces with the Academies of Nashville to educate teachers about the realities of working life in different careers. The result of this collaboration is the Teacher Team Externship Program. The program is an opportunity for teachers to have a real-world professional experience at a host organization to develop a project-based curriculum that gives students industry exposure and applied learning. A teacher team works together to create interdisciplinary projects that reinforce the theme of their academy across subject areas.
Teachers from Antioch High School’s Academy of Teaching and Service participated in a teacher team externship in 2011 with The Hermitage, the historical home of President Andrew Jackson. After visiting The Hermitage and working with the curators and staff at the historic mansion and grounds, the teacher team implemented a curriculum that prepared students to teach history and social studies using real-world examples. Students in the Teaching as a Profession I class developed lesson plans and activities structured around Jacksonian American history, reviewed past and present agricultural methods used on The Hermitage’s grounds, reviewed teaching strategies and integration of technology, and reviewed presentation techniques.
In order to make this teaching exercise into a real-world learning opportunity, the Academy of Teaching and Service partnered with Lakeview Elementary Design Center in conjunction with The Hermitage’s Junior Docent Program. Antioch students worked with a fourth-grade class from Lakeview to assess their knowledge of the Jacksonian era. Next, the high school students travelled to Lakeview to teach lessons and create bulletins boards for the class. In the culminating event of the program, Antioch and Lakeview students travelled together to The Hermitage. The high schoolers tutored the fourth graders about the history and agricultural production of The Hermitage. Students from both schools enjoyed the experience and learned a lot through this in-depth, hands-on interaction.