College of Education > News and Publications > 2016: 01-03 news > Summer is a time for learning, enjoying Happy Valley

Summer is a time for learning, enjoying Happy Valley

Summer sessions may just be the best-kept secret at Penn State. There’s a lot going on in Happy Valley over the summer, both in and out of the classroom.
Summer is a time for learning, enjoying Happy Valley

Lauren White climbed Mount Nittany while attending summer classes in the College of Education on the University Park campus.

Lauren White
Lauren White climbed Mount Nittany while attending summer classes in the College of Education on the University Park campus.
Summer sessions may just be the best-kept secret at Penn State. There’s a lot going on in Happy Valley over the summer, both in and out of the classroom.

In the College of Education, students can take a number of courses to get back on track, get ahead, explore possible minors or take hard-to-schedule classes. One of the most popular summer courses for students in the teaching majors is the Philadelphia Urban Seminar.

“I could go on and on about Urban Seminar,” said Olivia McMechen, a pre-K to 4 major. “Enrolling and participating in the Philadelphia Urban Seminar was one of the best decisions of my college career. I took this course to fulfill my C I 295 requirement and finish my observation hours. What I ended up gaining was so much more. We spent two weeks in Philadelphia during Maymester touring the city, doing community service, and observing/teaching in classrooms.”

McMechen was placed in a fourth-grade classroom full of diverse learners. She said going into the experience she thought she would like to teach in the inner-city, and the experience solidified that for her.

“One of my favorite memories from my time in the classroom was one of the little girls coming up to me on a day that I French-braided my hair and saying I ‘did it wrong.’ She touched her own perfectly cornrowed hair and said to come to her house after school and her mom could ‘fix’ my hair.”

While the Philadelphia Urban Seminar is held in Philadelphia, the College has many courses available during the summer at University Park.

The Department of Curriculum and Instruction offers the entire Elementary and Early Childhood Education Literacy block – LL ED 400, LL ED 401, LL ED 402 and two companion courses – over the summer.

“Our majors focused on elementary and early childhood education can complete an entire semester of coursework this summer, and be ready to enter their own classrooms sooner than planned,” said Department Head Rose Mary Zbiek. “Summer at University Park is a wonderful time for our future teachers to think deeply about how to connect their students with literature and to do so within unique opportunities that involve the Penn State facilities such as the Arboretum.”

Christopher Fuller took courses last summer as part of his Undergraduate-Graduate (IUG) program in curriculum and instruction, and special education.

“I took LL ED 595A and LL ED 550 which were both courses focused on working with elementary and middle school students about literacy and the various components associated with it. Rather than being set up like a traditional classroom, it was set up more as an interactive and centered these students as scientists as they learned about weather. The class really helped me to work with elementary and middle school students more effectively and feel more confident as a teacher,” he said.

The Department of Educational Psychology, Counseling and Special Education offers several summer courses in counselor education, educational psychology, school psychology, special education, and rehabilitation and human services.

“I took EDPSY 502, Data Analysis, last May and I plan on taking another May class,” said special education doctoral student Andy Markelz. “I liked the continuity of having class everyday. It is easier to review and build on content from the previous day.”

Markelz also likes being in town over the summer. “The thing I enjoy most about being in State College over the summer is the chill vibe. Campus is a lot more open and quiet with most students on break. Classes seem to be more relaxed and collegial as well,” he said.

Recent graduate Lauren White took summer classes almost every year. “Summer classes felt more laid back to me and all of my classes were 25 people or less. I personally like taking smaller classes because I feel like I get more out of it,” she said.

White also found taking summer classes took some of the pressure off during the regular academic year. “I would say that taking summer classes definitely helped me with scheduling because I had some room to play around with,’’ she said. The pressure of scheduling right at midnight on my assigned night wasn't really an issue.”

White participated in LEAP (the Learning Edge Academic Program) during the summer leading into her freshman year. “I got to experience a lot of summer activities with new friends.  As a group we watched the fireworks, we tie-dyed t-shirts, we hung out in each other's dorms and we could lay outside and tan while studying. Other summers, I would take my studying materials and lay pool side with friends,’’ White said.

Students interested in Education Policy Studies have a variety of options both in person and online, including Education in American Society (EDTHP 115), Sociology of Education (EDTHP 416), College Teaching (HI ED 546), internships and field experiences.

In the Department of Learning and Performance Systems, students can take a number of courses over the summer, including LDT 100 World Technologies and Learning. This is a double-count GenEd course that also will fulfill geography and economics in a teacher preparation program. The course explores e-learning in international contexts and the impact of these new learning options on cultures world wide, and will be offered this summer over the MayMester (face-to-face) as well as during the Summer 1 session (online).

The College of Education offers numerous other courses over the summer. For information, visit http://ed.psu.edu/current-students/summer and to register visit http://schedule.psu.edu/ online.

(February 2016)