Friday, June 5, 2015

An enriching and enjoyable professional experience

Hello friends! 
Today has been a very academic yet fun filled day. We met with people from the Cork Institute of Technology. This Institute has a variety of degrees you can receive, some that are specifically related to education would be degrees in Montessori education, early childhood, and even what we would call at the University of Louisville, a degree in health and human performance. The Montessori education model is not something I have had a lot of experience with but I was able to see the methods and two schools in Ireland that use this model. It's a very hands on, student discovery approach and originally was created to help special education students, which was very interesting for me. In the U.S. we take the approach for teaching special education students, or instructionally naive students, by being very explicit while using direct instruction methods as I learned from Dr. Hirn in her teaching reading in special education course this past semester. Ireland and the methods I have learned in this area are very different in his aspect. Below is a picture of how students divide numbers using the Montessori method 
I would suggest looking this up on YouTube if you are interested in seeing the thought process behind it. 
Today I also gave a presentation along with one of my colleagues, Kelsey Thomas, to members of the Department of Education in Ireland, and representatives of the National Council of Special Education. The presentation went extremely well because we were all able to discuss differences and similarities that we have in special education practices. Something that I found very interesting was there reevaluation system for students receiving services. In the U.S. we review each IEP annually, and also a full reevaluation every three years unless it needs to be done prior to the three years. Whereas in Ireland they could do a full evaluation on a student at 4 ( which was the example they gave us) and they don't reevaluate them until they leave the "special school" at age 18. They gave us a recent example about a student who was evaluated at the age of 4 and was told he had a disability, was placed in a special school and when he got reevaluated at age 18 before he left they found no disability in the child. The child could have possibly left the special school and been a part of mainstream school had he been reevaluated within a few years of initially being told he had a disability. The members from the department of education found the system we used for this fascinating. This is what was so great about this presentation and discussion that happened after because we were all able to learn from this and we were both able to see where our education systems could improve. I look forward to learning more on the trip as we head to Limerick tomorrow and head to Mary Immaculate College. 
To end our day we went to Curran's restaurant where we had a German waiter and watched Danielle do the moonwalk to a Michael Jackson song. They played a lot of his music like Thriller, Smooth Criminal, Billy Jean, and Beat it. It kept us entertained. 
After dinner Dr. Estes, Dr. Aliaga, and I took our last walk back through Cork to the accommodations. The city of Cork at night is very lively, yet peaceful environment. I will be very sad when we have to leave Cork tomorrow morning. It just means the trip is getting closer to an end, but I think I'll skip the plane and stay here; I'll fit right in. Hopefully Dr. Aliaga doesn't realize I'm not on the plane :)
Goodbye for now! 
Slán leat (goodbye in Irish Gaelic)
          May the road rise to meet you, 
          May the wind be always at your back. 
          -The Irish Blessing

--Bridget Donoghue

Using the Montessori method-Cork Institute of Technology

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