In the past three months, 20 ninth-graders hit 28 elementary classrooms to spread the word to younger students about issues they will be facing.
The ninth-graders taught younger students as part of their class called People Enhancing Education on Puppets and Skits, a health elective course. In the program, the students conducted skits with puppets for kindergartners through fourth-graders to teach them about issues on decision-making, conflict resolution and self-esteem.
Anne Niklaus, a health teacher at Franklin Junior High, started the 18-week program this semester. She wanted to create a program that would have more impact with the students.
Research shows that when children teach other children the students retain the information better, Niklaus said.
Kelli Jensen agreed that having her ninth-grade class teach children in kindergarten through fourth-grade was an advantage. She said when she was in elementary she had to listen to lectures from teachers year after year and said kids respond better to students than teachers.
Classmate Mark Ahlberg said many kids think teachers are required to say certain things to students, so if a student tells them something they are more apt to listen.
Being involved in PEEPS, Ahlberg said he learned what interested the different age groups and was surprised with what they enjoyed.
"I thought the older students would like the puppets, but they didn't," he said. "The younger kids liked them."
Ahlberg also learned more about organization as well as to keep trying and to never give up.
Jensen and classmate Ally McCluney both said they have more patience than they did before the 18-week course. They also work better with their classmates.
"Instead of getting mad at each other we now have better communication," said McCluney.
"I have more understanding now and I see other points of view," said Jensen.
Ninth-grader Josie Kampa has more people skills, she improved her communication and works better with the older and the younger students.
The ninth-grade class conducted skits on self-esteem for kindergartners and the first- and second-graders. McCluney said self-esteem is important to this age group because the children are just beginning to express their feelings and finding out who they are.
Fourth- through sixth-graders hear the skits on conflict resolution and decision-making. Some of the conflicts discussed are fighting or pushing other students off the swing.
Niklaus said her students reported that usually they learn something and then forget the information, but in this program the students don't think they will ever forget the information. She also found that when students are actively participating they tend to enjoy what they are doing.
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