Illinois State University history-social sciences teacher education major Jessica McKenzie recently shared this dispatch from England, where she is student teaching during the spring 2016 semester:

We’ve arrived!

Hello everyone! It’s been a month since me and the two other history student teachers arrived in England. We are living off the southern coast of England in a town called Eastbourne. We have been warmly welcomed into our host family’s house and had the pleasure of living with a French student learning English for a few weeks.

The school we are placed at is called Cavendish, which has students from ages 11 to 16. Cavendish has been amazing so far! The teachers have all been helpful and the classes we are taking over truly are ours to teach. While we usually co-teach students from years 11–14, we each have one class we teach individually. I have found that while the content in the classes has been a little different from the U.S., it still has a strong skill set to get the students thinking in a critical way.

It is amazing to see how the school has differentiated their instructions by providing a gentle, medium, and challenge task for every class activity they do. They have also provided “magic words” around the room to help the students lean on when they are struggling to format their responses.

The history department has been pushing students to analyze different sources this year. In one lesson the students were introduced to the COPE technique, or Content, Origin, Purpose, and Evaluate. The student can easily read through a source and write down something for each of these subjects. This helps the students break down how to take in a source bit by bit without getting overwhelmed.

I will definitely bring these techniques back with me to my own classroom.