The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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February 1, 2006

Model students: Area teacher sold on team-learning process

Ray Trybus, a science teacher at Portage Area High School, is partial to Peer-Led Team Learning.

“In the Peer-Led Team Learning (model) there are some students who will get things quicker and they will help direct the other students,” he said.

Peer-Led Team Learning (PLTL) is an approach that provides an active learning environment, creates leadership opportunities and engages the instructor in a new way of teaching, Trybus said.

In his teaching model, Trybus introduces a lesson topic at the beginning of a class. Then, his students are expected to follow directions and engage in hands-on activities to learn that lesson.

For the past five years, he has used this model to introduce his lessons. The teaching model is widely used in high schools and colleges around the country.

“The reason I like it is because I think it’s more engaging to the students and it gets them actively involved in learning the materials,” he said.

“Instead of just sitting back and going through lecture discussions, they are interacting with the concepts and learning from that interaction.”

Trybus said the idea behind the model is to have students retain knowledge instead of memorizing the material.

“Sometimes they do not even realize that they are retaining the material,” he said.

“With the PLTL approach, it locks it in better for them, and it becomes a part of them.”

Sheridee Wills, 16, said Trybus takes a different approach to teaching than most of her instructors.

Wills, a junior at Portage Area, said many classes are lecture-based and require a lot of note taking.

“This class, you absorb it,” she said. “With this, you have it right in front of you and you’re absorbing (the information) by reading it.

“Hands-on work helps you absorb the material and reinforce it.”

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