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University of Iowa News Release


Sept. 16, 2009

Japanese teachers-in-training exchange knowledge, best practices in schools

Nine Japanese teachers-in-training will arrive on the University of Iowa campus Sunday, Sept. 20, to share lessons with local elementary and secondary school students on everything from sumo wrestling and kimono culture to traditional Japanese toys and stories, thanks to a partnership with the UI College of Education (COE).

Every two years, a group of Japanese students from Joetsu University of Education spends more than a week visiting local attractions and offering an exchange of cultures at local elementary and secondary schools in eastern Iowa. The group also takes part in events on the UI campus, including attending the UI COE Foundations of Education class. The 10-day Joetsu Exchange is facilitated by UI International Programs.

The exchange is part of a global collaboration between the UI and the Japanese teaching university, a relationship that spans more than 20 years and was initiated by Robert Yager, UI professor emeritus of science education, and the late John McClure, UI associate professor emeritus of curriculum and supervision.

"As has been the tradition for many years, the Joetsu students will participate in lectures and discussions with our students and faculty at the UI College of Education, focusing on the American educational system and teaching English as a Second Language," said Gregory Hamot, a professor in the COE Department of Teaching and Learning who also coordinates the college's international students and programs.

The group will visit with Leslie Schrier, UI associate professor of foreign language and ESL education in the Department of Teaching and Learning, from 2 to 3 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 23 in Room 1111B University Capitol Centre. They will also meet with Teaching and Learning Department Chair Peter Hlebowitsh from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 24, in Room 293 Lindquist Center North to discuss comparisons between the American and Japanese educational systems.

The visitors will also participate in a wide array of learning and teaching activities at Lucas and Weber Elementary Schools in Iowa City and at Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids. The educational experience provides a short immersion into international education and engages American students in Japanese language and culture through presentations and classroom observations by the teachers-in-training, according to Nicholas O'Brien, a graduate research assistant with UI International Programs who organizing the visit.

"The students from Japan take the responsibility of serving as cultural ambassadors very seriously, "O'Brien said, who is pursuing a master's degree in teaching high school Japanese through the UI COE Department of Teaching and Learning. "They prepare their lessons on everything from traditional stories and kimono culture to traditional Japanese toys and sumo wrestling for months."

The Joetsu students will visit Weber Elementary School in Iowa City on Monday, Sept. 21 for a day of observation and on Tuesday, Sept. 22 for a day of sharing Japanese culture and language through presentations and interactive activities such as Japanese calligraphy lessons and traditional Japanese games

They will visit Lucas Elementary School in Iowa City on Thursday, Sept. 24 for a day of classroom observation and on Friday, Sept. 25 for a day of more interactive presentations and activities. Their trip will culminate with a visit to Kennedy High School in Cedar Rapids on Monday, Sept. 28, where they will observe several morning Japanese classes and have lunch with the Kennedy students.

"The world has gotten a lot smaller, and we have a lot more connections with our global neighbors and so it's more important now than ever that teachers are able to teach across borders," O'Brien said. "It's also great for the K-12 students to learn about Japanese culture directly from Japanese educators, providing a rare glimpse into Japanese culture and customs."

This connection is one of an estimated 100 formal partnerships between the UI and international institutions.

For more information or a complete schedule of the group's itinerary, contact O'Brien at 319-335-3512 or Carly Andrews, IP Outreach Coordinator, at 319-335-0345.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Reporters or photographers who wish to cover any of the school visits should check in at the main offices of Weber Elementary School, 3850 Rohret Road, Iowa City; Lucas Elementary, 830 Southlawn Dr., Iowa City; or Kennedy High School, 4545 Wenig Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 371, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Nicholas O'Brien, UI International Programs, 319-325-9778,; Joan Kjaer, UI International Programs; 319-335-2026; or Lois J. Gray, 319-384-0077,