Niles art class giving students opportunity to learn from each other

Published 12:54 pm Thursday, October 14, 2021

NILES — A local school teacher is letting students use their talents to teach the class.

Scott Morgan, an art teacher at Eastside Connections School, has been providing his students with the opportunity to teach their fellow students art lessons.

“Students teaching students helps to maintain a high level of interest so that students stay engaged,” Morgan said. “It helps the students improve socially. Students build their confidence and improve their self-image not only from learning from their peers but also from teaching others.”

Morgan, who also teaches art at Ring Lardner Middle School and has a rotating schedule, teaches grades sixth through eighth every six weeks.

At the start of each six-week rotation, Morgan has the students fill out a worksheet on the first day of class. He asked the students what they wanted to learn during the six weeks and also asked if they wanted to teach a lesson for a day.

To his delight, some students volunteered to teach the class.

Sixth-grader Aiden Loftus was one of those students and chose to teach a lesson on abstract art. He used a Google Slide show he created himself to lead his presentation.

Aiden liked teaching his classmates, who he said enjoyed his presentation.

“Everyone was following directions,” he said. “When I came in the next day, everyone asked if I could teach again. I thought I did a good job. I enjoyed that most of the people liked my presentation. It was really good and heartwarming. I’m hoping I can teach again.”

“Aiden blew me away,” Morgan said. I was expecting a five-minute presentation but it was 50 minutes. He taught the class and he loved it. The students pay attention and are really into it.”

Aiden, who enjoys sports, did not have an interest in art prior to taking Mr. Morgan’s class.

“I don’t usually like art,” he said. “When I saw all the cool art designs at this school, I was amazed at the cool things we do in class. It was really fun. Instead of having to do the same things over and over, we do new things every single day.”

At the end of the day, Morgan called Aiden’s mother, Michelle Loftus, to tell her about her son’s successful art lesson. According to Loftus, Aiden did not tell her about his presentation.

“I was completely shocked,” she said. “I couldn’t picture that. It went so well that the teacher called to say he was proud. It was a sweet moment for me as a mom just to see him blossom.”

Eastside Connections School offers K through eighth-grade students a Problem Based Learning platform aimed at increasing student engagement, collaboration, presentation skills and overall depth and application of knowledge.

Loftus, whose family is new to the district after relocating from the South Bend area, was elated to hear that her son was thriving in a positive environment.

“[Eastside] tweaks the traditional system,” Loftus said. “For kids like Aiden, it allows them to respond to things differently and have those responses be well-received. I think this has been an opportunity to start fresh. He loves being in sixth grade and likes the schedule change. It works well for him. We’re new to the city. It’s a whole new school system for us. It has been really sweet for me and to know that he is excelling and being accepted.”