March 3, 2015
Mutt-i-gree is new teaching tool…
Education students at Ashland Community and Technical College are learning to teach social and emotional skills that can help reduce bullying behavior.
The ACTC students use a puppy puppet that interacts with children as they explore feelings such as anger, sadness and happiness and how to deal with those feelings. The puppet is a teaching tool in the Mutt-i-gree program launched by the Yale University School of the 21st Century to help children learn social and emotional skills.
“Mutt-i-gree is an exciting way to get the attention of the young children,” said Carrie Barker, Assistant Teacher for Northeast Head Start in Sandy Hook. “Their imaginations really work overtime when the puppy is involved in the lesson. The children see the puppy puppet as a real puppy/friend.”
Barker is a student in ACTC’s Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education (IECE) Program and is learning to use the Mutt-i-gree program as a “fun somewhat animated way of teaching children at such a critical developmental stage.”
ACTC faculty members Warren Howard and Robin Johns learned about the Mutt-i-gree program from Norma Meek, an area educational consultant, and they added it to their curriculum last fall.
By working the program into introductory classes and the required observation hours, ACTC students learn this program at the beginning of their educational career. They get to see the program in action by teaching it to children in area classrooms. The children benefit by learning appropriate ways to express their feelings, and the preschool and elementary teachers can observe a new way to promote social and emotional learning.
Warren Howard, Associate Professor of Education, teaches education classes to students who plan to transfer into university education programs and become K-12 teachers. His students taught at Poage Elementary last semester.
According to Howard, the social-emotional domain is extremely important in the early grades and preschool. “We need to teach kids to care about others and deal better with situations that involve or can lead to bullying behaviors.”
“It’s important that we help children learn to manage their emotions and develop empathy and compassion for others,” Howard said. “These behaviors are vital in enabling children to grow up to be calm, confident, and caring individuals who are able to work with others.”
“This experience was critically valuable to me because it made me decide that I wanted to be an elementary teacher,” said Rachel Carrico, an education student who plans to transfer to Morehead State University after earning an ACTC associate degree.
“I had known that I wanted to be a teacher, but I was not sure what age group I wanted to teach,” said Carrico, a 2011 Fairview High School graduate. “As I was teaching the first Mutt-i-gree lesson to the first graders at Poage, I realized that I was definitely in the right field.”
“Children at that age are fun to work with and have an eagerness to learn. You can see how much effort they put into their assignments,” Carrico. “They loved the dog puppet, and wanted to pet it. They treated it as a friend and paid attention to what we were saying really well.”
Although Mutt-i-grees started in elementary schools, it has been so successful that it is being expanded to junior high and high schools. At ACTC, it has also been expanded to pre-school.
Robin Johns, Coordinator of the Interdisciplinary Early Childhood Education Program (IECE), teaches students who plan to work in childcare centers. Her students taught preschool classes last semester at Elliott County Head Start, Russell Independent Schools, Louisa United Methodist Church, Summit Church of the Nazarene and ACTC’s Kindercollege.
“Using mutt-i-gees in preschool makes sense because those very young children are learning basic social skills that will stay with them for life,” said Johns. “It is our job as teachers to embrace the whole child, and it is critical that empathy and self-acceptance be developed in early childhood because these are the formative years.”
“We also need to meet a student’s basic need for safety/security, including the absence of worry about being picked on, before learning can begin,” Johns said.
Research on Mutt-i-grees and similar programs has shown improved social, emotional, and problem-solving skills and fewer incidents of violent behavior for student participants.
“I have learned so much from the Early Childhood program that has helped me better understand children,” said Sabrina Laney, a bus monitor at Northeast Head Start who is attending ACTC to get her CDA (Child Development Associate) Credential. “I am in the classroom all the time as a substitute, learning new ways to teach children, and the puppy puppet is a great way to interact with the students.”
‘What would puppy do?’ is asked many times in the classroom after a Mutt-i-grees lesson has been presented. Children can easily identify with an animal, and it’s easy for them to transition from how an animal feels if happy, sad or ill-treated to how the child sitting near them feels.
“I’ve seen how well our three and four-year old children respond to the puppy puppet and the lessons,” said Jewell Malik, Director of Boyd County Child Care/Kinder College.
“The Mutt-i-grees program adds an extra special aspect of learning to a child’s overall education. It uses children’s fondness for dogs to help them with social and emotional learning.”
“Using real-life situations and dog-related activities, the curriculum’s goal is to help children be compassionate, caring calm and confident,” Malik said. “These are all skills that will help children at school, with friends, at home, and later in life.”
Fostering positive social–emotional development in young children is as important as developing academic skills, and ACTC education students learn to do both.
For more information on education classes for university transfer, email firstname.lastname@example.org. For information on early childhood education degree, diploma and certificate options, email email@example.com.
ACTC Seeks Faculty Award Nominations
Ashland Community and Technical College is seeking nominations for the 2015 recipient of the Gussler Math & Science Endowed Chair Award.
Established in 2007 through a gift to the college Foundation, the award recognizes outstanding full-time math and science faculty who have made a difference in the lives of their students.
Faculty eligible for this year’s award include Dr. Alan Alley, Richard R. Conley, Nicole Griffith-Green, Frances Martin, Jame McCumbee, Dr. Aschalew Mengistu, Hossein Mohebbian, Mark S. Riggs, Dr. James C. Schmidt, Cynthia Shelton and Mark R. Swetnam.
Nominations may be submitted by current or former students or any member of the ACTC community. Nominations should include the name of the faculty member, how the nominator is familiar with the nominee, and how that faculty member has helped his or her students.
Nominations can be mailed to: Mr. Robert J. Maher, Community & Technical College Foundation of Ashland, Inc., 1400 College Drive, Ashland, KY 41101. Nominations must be postmarked by March 31.
Nominations will be reviewed by a committee comprised of college and donor representatives, and the recipient will be announced at ACTC’s 2015 Commencement Ceremony. For more information, contact Willie McCullough, Director of Resource Development & Community Affairs, 606.326.2068 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Realtor Fair Continuing Education
An Ashland Area Board of Realtors Realtor Fair will be held Thursday March 12, form 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at ACTC’s Technology Drive Campus. The fair includes courses on “Six Ways to Ruin Your Life” and “Creative Financing,” and each course is for three continuing education hours. Instructor Art Reed has nearly 40 years of experience in real estate sales, management and training.
The $60 fee includes lunch and refreshments. Registration is on a first come, first serve basis. For online payment and registration, go to: ws.kctcs.edu/ashland under Professional Licensure and Certification.