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By: Margo Ensz on February 3rd, 2015

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Supporting Future Educators with VariQuest Visual Learning Tools

Grade Level: Post-secondary (12+) | VariQuest Tools: Cutout Maker 1800 | Featured Topics: Professional Development

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"The Cutout Maker has been one of the best resources to use as a teacher-to-be."

Freed-Hardeman University, a private liberal arts university in Henderson, Tennessee, supports its students pursuing education degrees in a unique way by providing them hands-on teaching and learning tools. Because of the school's committment to future educators, it was selected as this month's VariQuest Super School! We spoke with Sarah Ridinger, a Librarian at Freed-Hardeman’s Learning Resource Library. This library itself is a unique collaboration between the university’s library and the School of Education, and part of its mission is to "ensure Education students and faculty have library resources to successfully learn and teach.”

There are a variety of teaching and learning tools available for use in the library, including the VariQuest Cutout Maker. Of the tool Ridinger says, “The Variquest Cutout Maker is an incredibly useful tool for making creative displays and teaching tools. Faculty, staff, and students regularly use the Cutout Maker for bulletin boards, signage, cutting out shapes for crafts, and even finding designs for birthday card invitations and scrapbooking projects.”  

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Several undergraduate students also shared how the availability of the Cutout Maker has impacted their education:

“My experiences with the Cutout Maker have been excellent. I have used the Cutout Maker for many different projects. I have used the Cutout Maker to decorate our Lions locker room before our seasons for two years now and the baseball players love the baseball theme cutouts. They leave them up all season! I also used the Cutout Maker as a teacher to use them as manipulative and to decorate my bulletin boards. I am so glad that we have had the Cutout Maker so we are able to provide the best for our students and to do our projects.”

-Gretchen, an undergraduate student currently student teaching

"The Cutout maker has been one of the best resources to use as a teacher-to-be. It has helped me make so many bulletin boards, and so much easier with extra creativity that I could not gain with a simple die-cut. I even used it to make cards to send out to friends and family. This machine is a great resource for teachers, but it is also great for everyone! The possibilities are endless with a machine that makes thousands of images!"

-Magen, an undergraduate student currently student teaching

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The Cutout Maker supplements education courses in a few different ways, maybe a few you wouldn't think of! "While bulletin board making may seem like a basic skill, some people have never made them and they are required in most K-12 classrooms, so it's an assignment in  1 or 2 courses that they put up a bulletin board. Some boards have to teach something or review a concept, while others just have to demonstrate what a bulletin board can look like."

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The Learning Resource Library also plans and hosts a weekly Story Time for groups of up to 30 children ages 1 month to 8 years old. During the school year, students are required to plan and implement the story time, choosing a book and accompanying activity, often using shapes and manipulatives from their Cutout Maker like the examples above. Of the impact of the Cutout Maker on these weekly events, Ridinger said, “I'm glad to have the Cutout Maker in our department because it has been a great time saving tool (much less cutting for craft projects for 30 children) and a supplement to an aged die cut machine. It offers more shapes and larger sizes than what the die cuts offer AND we don't have the manual work.” In the planning and implementation of weekly Story Time, students learn valuable experience interacting with children, and the children in turn are exposed to lessons and hands-on activities made possible with the Cutout Maker. 

Congratulations to the Learning Resource Library at Freed-Hardeman University for your continued success in educating tomorrow's teachers! To learn more about the University and the LRL, check out the links below.