Newspaper Article for August--Timm Ringhofer : LUSENET : M.Ed./International Falls : One Thread

Our Journey Continues

The International Falls Masters Education Cohort through the University of Minnesota-Duluth has been in place for the past year. This program has allowed area educators the opportunity to achieve their master's degree with the convenience of taking a majority of the classes here in International Falls.

As part of the program, individuals may submit a newspaper article to the Daily Journal on a selected topic. These articles have appeared monthly in this section of the paper over the past ten months. Now is a good time to review where we have been and to get a preview of where we are going in the near future.

It all started about twenty-two months ago when a few area teachers were looking for a better way to get their master's degree without having to travel to night class during the school year. The hope was to get a college or university interested in sending faculty here to International Falls for the night or weekend classes or to have the classes presented through interactive television (ITV).

Many colleges and universities were considered during the process with the University of Minnesota-Duluth eventually being selected by a large portion of the current members of the cohort.

On Saturday, September 26, 1998, administrators and faculty from UMD and the cohort members held an all day meeting to decide what specific areas of teaching we would cover during our Wednesday night classes for the 1998-99 school year. Those topics include learning styles, fetal alcohol syndrome and effect, and gifted students to name just a few.

The credits earned from the Wednesday night classes are only a little more than half of the process of receiving ones masters degree. An area of concentration must be selected.

Within our cohort, twelve of the nineteen members selected to obtain their concentration in the area of educational computing and technology. These classes met on various weekends and school vacations from Christmas through June. The knowledge we will now be able to pass on to our students through the use of computers is remarkable. The other cohort members have chosen other areas of concentration that will be truly helpful to their students as well.

This leads us to the final part of the master's degree, the thesis paper. Although this is only six of the nearly fifty credits needed, I think I speak for the rest of the cohort when I say this is the most intimidating aspect of the entire degree. To select a topic, research that topic thoroughly by reading what has been already written, conduct their own research, and finally write a paper to summarize the entire process is a huge process that will eventually take over a year to complete.

Proposals for the type of research to be conducted were given to UMD in April. Many of us had our topics approved in late May or early June, and have spent the summer doing additional readings of the topic and beginning the task of doing our own research. The hope is that the papers will be completed by February 2000. This would allow enough time for the papers to graded in time for graduation in early May.

Completion of the paper will not be the only part of the master's program over the next 9 months. The Wednesday night classes will continue with new topics to be covered. Also, those who have not completed their areas of concentration will be working on those credits. The journey continues for the nineteen members of the International Falls Cohort with the hope of soon becoming master teachers.

-- Anonymous, July 09, 1999

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