Classroom Spotlight- Social Studies Teachers
(Mrs. Weaver, Mrs. Franson, Ms. Monn, Mr. Adams)
- What is the most interesting aspect of teaching academics in a vocational school?
“I try to think about the vocational programs when I teach history and highlight things that might overlap with their studies. In studying World War 2 we look at propaganda posters, which is of interest to design students and discuss production of vehicles like the Jeep, which is of interest to our transportation students. Students also enjoy looking at the construction of the interstate highway system, which includes masonry, logistics and diesel student interest. Historical fashion, makeup and hairstyles have created academic interest in cosmetology students. We also always have criminal justice issues that come into play, especially when covering the civil rights movement in the 1960s.”- Mrs. Weaver
“I think teaching the only academic course at a technical high school challenges me to make the content more relevant and pertinent to the students. They’re here for a specific program, and so any way that I can connect American History or World cultures to that program or their interests benefits the students (& me)! In the past, I’ve done projects where each student had to research from the viewpoint of someone in their specific field (i.e. the 1950’s in U.S. history – the Highway Act – auto tech, auto collision, & diesel all researched)”- Mrs. Franson
“The freedom in implementing curriculum.”- Ms. Monn
“It’s always great to have students who come from such a wide variety of schools, backgrounds and shops come together to share ideas in class.” - Mr. Adams
- How many students do you teach each year? (How many per class/how many classes per day).
“I teach 7 classes of students. This year I have about 140 students.”- Weaver
“My social studies courses each have anywhere from 18-30 students, depending on the period. I teach 5 class periods of World Studies this year, in the past I have taught both subjects – American History & World Studies.”- Franson
“I also teach Senior Seminar and that can be a wide range, depending on the programs that attend each day. We group the programs together & they attend one day per week for 18 weeks – so every Monday, Criminal Justice, Advertising Art & Design, and Auto Collision attend.”- Franson
“7 classes, 19-25 students per class.”-Monn
“I will usually teach 7 classes per day. Classes will average roughly 20 students.”-Adams
- What is the most significant new or different aspect to your class this year?
“This year I am only teaching American Studies, which has allowed me to focus on that course. I also came into the year late due to maternity leave, so had an interesting start to the year.”- Weaver
“Senior seminar is still fairly new to me. This is only the second year we’ve taught it at our school, and so I’m constantly tweaking and making it work better than last year, but still trying to make it new and relevant to students who are soon to be graduates. Our goal is to prepare our graduates for the real world by educating them on getting a job and then being a successful adult out in the world.”- Franson
“With the addition of a new social studies teacher, our class sizes have shrunk considerably.”-Adams
- What unit/topic do students struggle with the most in your class?
“I don’t see a particular topic that is a struggle. Students sometimes have difficulty trying to form an argument to back up their opinions.”- Weaver
“I think students struggle more with how we go about learning, versus an actual unit or topic. For example, if asked to research and write a paper about a certain topic – most students struggle with that. I’m always attempting to combat that with offering a different variety of methods that might cater to different learning styles in the classroom. When my students watch a TED talk every week – they then have to convey a lesson they learned from the speaker, and they get to choose from four different ways to show me this: one is creative, one is writing, one is peer-to-peer interviews, one is straight research on the internet. I want students to have ownership in it, but also be able to use critical thinking to show me what they’ve learned.”-Franson
“The introductory unit, we cover a lot of basic geographic and sociologic information, it can seem dull until applied to other cultures.”-Monn
“Students tend to struggle a good bit on the Civil Rights Unit, many people have trouble remembering the differences between all of the different events.”-Adams
- Explain a typical day in your classroom.
“Activities vary from day to day. We watch historical clips, listen to music, and view artwork and maps. I like to incorporate historical documents in different forms. Students use computers at least once a week.”-Weaver
“I’m VERY structured J I always say that my room could run on its own, even if I wasn’t there! We begin with a daily current event – a bit of news that I find each week, students read about it and then write a response to a prompted question – and then we discuss it as a class. Then we move into the topic for the day. This could be notes, class discussion, video clips, using technology to research, etc.”-Franson
“Students come in and start their warm-up, we go over the warm-up and start the day’s activity, after the activity students compete a closing activity.”-Monn
“We always start with a few warm-up questions followed up immediately by a discussion. We will usually take some notes that are formed via either short readings, or class discussions.”-Adams
- What advice would you give students taking your class?
“Organization is the key element for success in my class. It is also important to be present to fully understand course content. Ultimately, understand that history is the story of humanity, and try to take an interest when you can. Start out with a positive attitude and try to find topics you can connect with.”-Weaver
“Do the work. Take pride in the work. Any student can be successful in my class, even if they don’t love the subject or generally do well in Social Studies. If they commit to the class – do the work, follow along, and take pride in what they’re doing – they can succeed. I find that many students realize this, and take special pride in doing well when they have often struggled in this subject area in the past. Once they realize they can “do it” – they really thrive.”-Franson
“Do your best at whatever you try.”-Monn
“Turn in your work on time, and take good notes.”-Adams
- How many years have you been at CPAVTS?
“I have been working at CPAVTS for 11 years.”-Weaver
“This is my 11th year at CPAVTS – ever since we started having Social Studies”-Franson
“It’s my first year!”-Monn
“I have been working here for about 12 years.”-Adams
- What is your experience before coming to CPAVTS?
“I worked in the field of communications before going back to get my teaching certification. I was a building substitute at Susquenita and a day to day substitute at several other districts.”-Weaver
“I was the youth director at an inner-city church in York, PA for two years – that was my first job out of college.”-Franson
“I was a substitute teacher at Conewago Valley and Littlestown for five years.”-Monn
“I did some short-term and long-term substituting for a couple years.”-Adams
- What is your best story or memory from over the years at CPAVTS?
“I’ve really enjoyed having students work on individual research project and excel at putting together presentations and sharing them with their classmates. I’ve learned a lot from my students about historical topics and interesting site around the world from these projects.”-Weaver
“I think just a general feeling of being impressed constantly by our students’ abilities and skills. I am constantly bragging to my community of friends about what our students can and do accomplish – and I think that’s what we have to be the most proud of. “-Franson
“I’m not sure if I can pinpoint just one, but I always enjoy watching my former students graduate and move on. I especially like to talk to them to find out what they are going to do and where they are moving on to.”-Adams
- Do you participate in any extracurricular activities at CPAVTS, if so what are they?
“I currently am the President of the CPTEA (our teacher’s union). In the past I served as an advisor for Skills USA. I have also chaperoned different field trips, when a teacher was needed.”- Franson
“I have not been in charge of any of the student clubs, but I always like to lend a hand to various groups when I get the chance. I particularly enjoyed heckling students from the seat of a dunk tank.”- Adams
- Anything significant about your class we haven’t asked about that you would like to share?
“My goal is to always increase my student’s outside perspectives by hearing from other people and other ideas. We need more critical thinking in this world – and so I hope to challenge my students to be just that!”- Franson