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HJC takes U.S. teaching techniques to Poland

June 01, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

English professor Jean Wilson is proud of former student Martha Ross Jones, who published a book she wrote several years ago as a class project in Wilson's children's literature class.

But that isn't why Wilson is using the children's book, "Willow Finds a Friend," as the centerpiece of her presentation to her Polish peers this summer.

It's the perfect way to illustrate the American approach to higher education, said Wilson, one of two Hagerstown Junior College professors traveling to Poland this summer to share "active learning" techniques with Polish educators.

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The two are part of a group of 14 instructors - all full-time faculty members at the Maryland two-year college - participating in the exchange initiative, funded by a Department of Education grant, Wilson said.

The group, scheduled to leave today, will spend most of June studying about Poland and seeing the country.

On June 18, the American instructors will present a workshop on active learning teaching methods to Polish instructors, who have been using a straight lecture approach with students, she said.

Each instructor will get 20 minutes to make a presentation, Wilson said.

Wilson said she'll talk about the techniques she uses in her children's literature class and show Jones' project and the resulting book.

The book was translated into Polish by Katherine Lukaszewicz, a student she had this spring semester, she said.

Jones, a Hagerstown resident, said she was "very surprised and very pleased" that Wilson chose to use her book in her presentation

The project was a good teaching tool, Jones said.

"Hands-on is definitely better than having someone just tell you," she said.

HJC economics professor Ray Johns, Ph.D., said he'll share the Productions Economics Game - which he uses to illustrate basic economic principals - with his Polish counterparts.

The game revolves around assembling a four-page booklet, Johns said.

First, students are told to assemble the booklets themselves using paper clips. Then they're instructed to work together in an assembly line. Then they're told to substitute a stapler for paper clips.

By counting how many booklets they can make by each method within three minutes, students see corresponding rises in productivity and the relationship with product cost.

The simple exercise shows students how the assembly line and machinery drove the Industrial Revolution, he said.

Frederick Community College in Frederick, Chesapeake College in Wye Mills, Prince George's Community College in Largo, Dundalk Community College in Baltimore, Anne Arundel Community College in Arnold, and Carroll Community College in Westminster will also be represented in the exchange.

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