Monday, April 27, 2015

The Journey Begins

Post written by: Abi Nixon
Year: Senior
Major(s): Middle Childhood-Early Adolescent Education
Minor(s): General Science

Hi! My name is Abi Nixon, and I am a senior here at UW-La Crosse.  When I was touring colleges, my parents made me go on at least thirteen different college visits.  We traveled to Iowa, Minnesota, Indiana and Wisconsin searching for the perfect school.  On my last college visit to UW-L, I instantly fell in love.  UW-L was everything I had been searching for and then some.  Now as a student, I get to wake up and see the bluffs outside my window, and I am able to scenic downtown La Crosse with just a quick walk down the street.  The thing that really won me over about UW-L was the outstanding reputation of their education department.  I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a teacher but was still questioning what kind of teacher I wanted to be.  At first, I declared biology and secondary education as my program of choice; however, during my first semester at UW-L, I took EDS 309: Education in a Global Society and became enthralled with learning about education, curriculum creation, laws, and pedagogy.  I wanted to take more education classes than I would be required to take as a STEP major, so I switched my major to Middle Childhood-Early Adolescent Education with a General Science minor.  As I have progressed through the education classes offered here at UW-L, my knowledge of the field of education and the art of teaching has grown exponentially.

This summer, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to share my story about my summer teaching fellowship in the inner city of St. Paul with you!  I applied to Breakthrough Collaborative in December and got the call that I had been selected to interview for a teaching position this summer in January.  I was so nervous for my interview because I had heard that it was a very rigorous and selective process.  I had to create a science lesson to teach in front of the Breakthrough board and other teaching candidates at the four-hour group interview night.  One thing that makes Breakthrough unique is their link to Teach for America.  When people ask me what Breakthrough is, I usually say it is a mini Teach for America teaching fellowship.  Breakthrough accepts applications from college students with all sorts of majors, not just education majors.  At my interview, there were people who had majors in music, communication, math, and education.  It was very interesting to see people who did not have any teacher preparation training prepare and teach a lesson.  After the group interview, I told my dad that even if I did not get the teaching fellowship, the interview process in itself was a great learning opportunity.  Later the next week, I got an email saying that I had been selected to be a teaching fellow in St. Paul this summer.

Throughout my time at UW-L, my heart has become set on helping students in high need areas achieve academically and meet their personal life goals.  Teachers have an amazing opportunity to change the lives of their students, and I believe that my calling is to help students who would normally be overlooked achieve their highest potential.  I look forward to sharing my summer experience with you!

"Only 33% of highly motivated, under-resourced students enroll in college and of that 33%, only 14% actually graduate.  This stands in stark contrast to the 70% of high-income students who matriculate and 60% of those who earn a college degree." -Breakthrough Twin Cities

Here is a video featured on PBS that was taken at the school I will be teaching at this summer! Also, I provided a link to the Breakthrough Collaborative website for you to explore!

First Lesson at My Second Placement

Post written by: Drew Preusse
Year: Senior
Major(s): Physical Education
Minor(s): Adapted Physical Education

Today I taught my first lesson at my new placement, Westby High School. I am taking over my cooperating teacher’s “Individual Sports” class which is a PE elective for upper high school students. We are in our tennis unit and my first lesson was starting a doubles tournament outside. I put students into teams and planned out the first five rounds of match-ups.

On my way to school it started snowing lightly. I thought, that’s okay, we can set up the pickleball courts inside and use pickleball rackets with tennis balls for today’s class. Unfortunately when I got to school I was informed we did not have our gym space because of a music concert going on in there. I also found out that half of the class was a part of this concert and would not be coming to class.

We ended up going outside to play tennis in the snow; I remade teams and match-ups as we walked down to the tennis courts. This is a perfect example of how a great lesson plan can be tossed out the window in a matter of minutes and you still have students coming to your class expecting the best from you. It turned out to be a great first lesson -

Monday, April 13, 2015

One of Those "WOW" Moments

Post written by: Erin O'Connor
Year: Senior
Major(s): English
Minor(s): STEP

I taught one of my very own lesson plans today on a poem by Robert Frost called “Mending Wall.” Its a poem about two neighbors who come together once a year only to reinforce the wall that separates their property. They come together only to solidify their separateness. Its a very ironic poem and that was the point of the lesson: to help students understand and identify irony.

In an effort to relate this same kind of irony to students’ lives I showed a music video called “Can We Autocorrect Humanity?” by a rapper named Prince Ea. Its a music video about smartphones/technology as a means of bringing people together, but also as a means of pushing people further apart. Technology both connects us and disconnects us. It connects us to endless possibilities in the virtual world, but disconnects us from our present reality. We had a class discussion on relating the music video to the poem, and the students were all so engaged! One student related facebook to the wall in the poem because its a place where “friends” come together, but in a very fake way. They were identifying irony and connecting the poem to their everyday lives, so impressive!

I am so proud of my lesson and the discussion it prompted, but the point of this blog post is in something else. After class one of my students came up to me and said, “Thank you for the message today.” She said that sometimes she feels like she is the only person who feels disconnected from others and it was reassuring to hear her fellow classmates share the same feeling. She gave me this genuine smile, said, “You’re going to be a great teacher,” and walked out of the room.

I will never forget that moment.

Human Hungry Hippos

Post written by: Drew Preusse
Year: Senior
Major(s): Physical Education
Minor(s): Adapted Physical Education

I recently saw the YouTube video below on my Facebook news feed and thought we should try it in our gym. I showed it to my cooperating teacher and she had seen it on Facebook too. Our version was a little bit different but our students loved it!