Valentine’s Day, Field Trips, and Dr. Seuss! Oh My!

MattCabinMatthew Wolfert is an Elementary Education major (PreK- 8th grade) with minors in English as a Second Language (ESL) and Music major.  Matt is teaching in Milwaukee, WI at the end of January with the UW System’s Institute of Urban Education (IUE) 

Time has flown by since I began student teaching, and I have been enjoying teaching 4th grade at Gwen T. Jackson Early Childhood and Elementary School very much. As of this upcoming week, I will be teaching reading, math, science, and social studies. I enjoy “digging deeper” in content with my students and pushing them to think more about the “whys”, “hows”, and “what ifs” in all of the content areas.

On February 14th, I felt admired by all 15 of my students, as I had received the most Valentine’s Day gifts than I had in a while! We had a little fun on Valentine’s Day doing crossword puzzles, eating cupcakes, and discovering if we had any secret admirers or not. Along with our mini-Valentine’s Day Party, we have been having fun learning about animal adaptations at the Milwaukee County Zoo, the Great Lakes at Discovery World, and we are soon to experience a performance at Lincoln Center of the Arts.

Along with going on field trips throughout the city of Milwaukee, we also had a visitor in our classroom this past week. His name was Sheldon and he was a Wisconsin box turtle, visiting from the zoo. We expanded our knowledge of animal adaptations and learned that because Wisconin’s prairies are shrinking, Sheldon, and the remaining box turtles, have become an endangered species of turtles. Learning about animal endangerment due to unhealthy animal habitats led into my introduction of teaching ecology. The students have been doing a great job learning how to better treat the earth in order to help protect the Great Lakes, Wisconsin’s prairies, forests, and other habitats.

Lastly, to tie in what students have been learning about regarding ecology and celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday, I will be introducing Dr. Seuss’s, The Lorax to students when I teach reading. We will talk about The Lorax’s main idea(s) and how details and examples supported the main idea (preserving the earth’s natural resources).

I have been enjoying creating and teaching my creative lessons, along with challenging myself to think “out of the box” to meet all of my students’ learning styles. Student teaching has been teaching me a lot of things. It is very different from learning about how to teach in the college classrooms; however, I find myself using every skill and technique I learned about at UWO to be successful at teaching my fourth grade students.

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The best feeling in the world

Becky MonroeBecky Monroe is a non-traditional student and senior Human Services Leadership major graduating this spring. She is a married mom of three children; juggling four classes, family life, and a twenty-hour-per-week internship in higher education promotion and encouragement. 

I cannot believe how quickly time is flying by. The semester is almost half over. Between my internship, classes, and my family life, it seems like I have no time left for anything else. I don’t recall every being so busy and enjoying it so much.

I have been interning at TRiO at UW-Fox Valley for more than a month. The staff has really gone out of their way to answer my questions and make me feel like part of the team. The staff consists of four people- Tammie, the director; Carol, the program assistant; and Linda and Amy, the program coordinators. Amy has only been working there for two months. It’s nice to have someone else who is new to the team. I never feel awkward asking her questions that may be seem kind of stupid.

I intern Monday through Friday. On Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays I’m at UW-Fox; Wednesdays I’m at Kaukauna High School with Amy; Thursdays I’m at Menasha High School with Linda.

When I’m in the schools with the coordinators we do workshops with the TRiO students, a different grade each week. We also spend time one-on-one with the kids, touching base with them, answering questions and helping to fill out college applications and FAFSA forms. It’s amazing to see how dedicated the coordinators are and how giving of their time.

When I’m at UW-Fox on Mondays and Fridays I’m working independently on several different projects. I’m compiling an updated contact list of all the colleges in Wisconsin that have Student Support Services (SSS) programs. I’m also putting together a list of all precollege summer programs offered in Wisconsin that meet certain criteria. They have to offer some kind of financial aid or accept DPI scholarships and are either residential programs or close enough to the area that would make them easy to commute to/from. I never knew that Wisconsin had so many programs to offer. We will hold a precollege program night at Menasha and at Kaukauna to give the list to the TRiO students and parents, and I need to have it ready and brochures about the specific programs to hand out. I’m excited to give this information to the kids so they can have the opportunity to live on a college campus for a few days and have an amazing learning experience.

Another program I’m working on is weekly listening calls with different presenters through the Department of Education’s College Affinity Access program. I listen to the presenters and follow along with their PowerPoint presentations. They are about an hour long and cover a wide variety of educational topics. I then take that information and present it to the staff at our Tuesday meetings. After my last presentation, Tammie asked me to make a three ring binder and put a summary of each topic along with a copy of the PowerPoint in it so they can have access to the information for future reference. It made me glad to know they found the information I gave them worthwhile.

I’ve also been on a couple field trips, with several more coming up — but those are stories for another day. I have been so busy trying to balance my internship with school and my family. Sometimes it feels like I barely have time to eat or sleep. But honestly, I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.

At the end of the day, I feel like I have done something worthwhile- like I’ve accomplished something and made a difference — and that is the best feeling in the world.

Meet Jessica Brown

 

Ms. Brown

Hometown: Bartlett, TN is where I resided until I was 23 years-old. It was a great place to grow up and I will always consider it home.  In 2007, I moved to Hortonville, Wis., which I’ve come to embrace as a second home.

Major: Elementary Education (Middle Childhood Early Adolescence)
Minor: Mathematics Education
Student Teaching Placement: Hortonville Elementary School, 4th grade, 9 weeks and Greenville Middle School, 7th grade math, 9 weeks.

Why education?  Teachers have a unique opportunity to really make a difference in the lives of children.

I have come to believe that a great teacher is a great artist and that there are as few as there are any other great artists. Teaching might even be the greatest of the arts since the medium is the human mind and spirit. -John Steinbeck

Teaching is both an art and a science. I believe that too often we ask teachers to focus too heavily on one aspect while completely ignoring the other. Also, math is not what most of us have done in math classes in school. It is so much more than following the prescribed steps to solve an equation. I recently read an article by Paul  Lockhart titled “The Mathematician’s Lament.” In the article, an art teacher and a music teacher have nightmares where there subjects have been reduced to memorization of language, terms, and notation. The student’s don’t actually create or partake in art or music until high school. And even then it’s a lesser form like paint by numbers or music for dummies. Somehow the students are expected to be challenged, engaged, and persevere until college when they get the big payoff in their chosen discipline. In the article Lockhart writes, “Sadly, our present system of mathematics education is precisely this kind of nightmare. In fact, if I had to design a mechanism for the express purpose of destroying a child’s natural curiosity and love of pattern making, I couldn’t possibly do as good a job as is currently being done I simply wouldn’t have the imagination to come up with that type of senseless, soul crushing ideas that constitute on temporary mathematics education… The only people who understand what is going on are the ones most often blamed and least often heard: the students. ‘They say math class is stupid and boring’ and they are right.”

Before I incite a riot, please allow me to explain. When students memorize facts simply because we tell them to or to get a good grade on the test this results in wasted time and energy on behalf of the teacher and the student. The fact is, there are few real world applications where it is beneficial to be able to regurgitate large amounts of memorized information. When a student asks, “Why does multiplying two negative numbers together result in a positive product?” and the teacher responds, “that is just the rule.” This is unacceptable! There is actually a legitimate mathematical explanation. Even if the teacher doesn’t know that answer, he/she should think about it and get back to the student. One of the big goals of education is to create critical consumers. Critical consumers think and ask questions. Also, when we teach math in the step-by-step prescribed method we lock students into one way of thinking and sever deep and meaningful mathematical connections.

I want to teach children that math makes sense and should be fun and that reading is an adventure and time well spent. Being an effective teacher requires a certain element of figuring out what students know, what misconceptions they have, and how to best help them learn what you want them to know. I enjoy this challenge and that it’s different every day with every child. I was blessed with some great teachers throughout my childhood and they made lasting impacts on my life. These are a few of the reasons that I chose education. Thoughts and feelings: I am feeling excited and ready for this experience to start. I have three key things I’m concentrating on throughout this experience.

  1. Step up, step out, and shine! I grew up with a brother who lived, breathed, ate and slept baseball, so stepping up is a baseball analogy. This is my time to step up to the plate. Without an at bat, you cannot hit a home run. I am going to continue stepping out of my comfort zone and trying new things last year I studied abroad in China, this year I’m headed to Wyoming in March to spend a week on an Indian Reservation. This is my time to put the final touches into my teaching and really shine as a teacher candidate.
  2. Equal is not fair. This is something that I didn’t understand prior to pursuing a degree in education. Every child does not have the same needs, so every child doesn’t need the same instruction. I have come to believe this with all my heart.
  3. Is it good enough for my child? If it’s not good enough for my child, it’s not good enough for the students in my class either!

I believe that if I keep these three things in mind, my students will have fun and learn a lot. I also believe this will make me a successful teacher candidate and a great representative of the University of Wisconsin College of Education and Human Services.

Meet Becky Monroe

Becky MonroeHi, I am Becky Monroe, a non-traditional student and senior Human Services Leadership major graduating this spring. I am a married mom of three children; juggling four classes, family life, and a twenty-hour-per-week internship in higher education promotion and encouragement.

I started my 280-hour Advanced Internship at TRiO UW-Fox Valley on Thursday. I’m nervous and excited all at the same time. I pretty much begged the agency director to let me do my internship here, and I when my internship is over, I want her to feel like she made the right choice in agreeing.

TRiO Educational Talent Search is based at the UW-Fox Valley campus and serves the Menasha and Kaukauna school districts. It is a pre-college program designed to encourage students in grades 6-12 to complete high school and pursue a college education. They provide academic counseling, information about college admission requirements, scholarship and financial aid information, as well as take participants on college tours and field trips to explore career paths. This program receives federal funding from the Department of Education through Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965. Two-thirds of program participants must be low income or be potential first generation college students. One-third of the participants have no income or guideline restrictions but must show a need for the program.

I am very excited I’ve been granted the opportunity to do my internship at TRiO ETS. I have twin daughters that are in their second semester at UW-Madison. Helping them decide which college to attend was tough. There are so many different colleges in Wisconsin alone, it was almost overwhelming. One day, as I sat in one of my Human Services Leadership classes, I realized that there are kids out there who don’t have a parent to help them out with college decisions. And sometimes kids have parents that never attended college so they are unsure of how to help their child. Even more sadly, sometimes kids are brought up never thinking college is an option for them. That idea bothered me on such a deep level that I knew I wanted to be involved with a program designed to change that.

This past year, helping my daughters complete the financial aid and registration process was a nightmare. I was on the phone with UW-Madison a lot. Paperwork had been filed incorrectly, verification items went missing, it was horrible. The whole time I was working with my daughters to get everything squared away, I knew that if I hadn’t been on their side, actively advocating for them, they would have given up. That experience only deepened my desire to work with a program that could give kids an honest shot at a college education.

I’m nervous about beginning my internship. I’m afraid I will be in the way and be more of a hindrance than a help. I’m worried that I won’t be able to juggle the internship along with my studies and still have time for my family. But I’m also so excited. I get the opportunity to help change lives. I’m being given the chance, even if it’s only for a couple months, to help kids attend college.

Meet Matt Wolfert

MattCabinGreetings!  My name is Matthew Wolfert, and I am an Elementary Education major (PreK- 8th grade) with minors in English as a Second Language (ESL) and Music. Although I grew up surrounded by fields of corn and soybeans in the city of Sheboygan Falls, Wisconsin, I have decided to leave the country roads behind me and student teach in an urban setting. I will begin student teaching in Milwaukee, WI at the end of January with the UW System’s Institute of Urban Education (IUE)!

Besides being a lifelong learner, I am drawn to education because I am drawn to empowering youth. I believe that there is at least one thing everyone is good and passionate at doing- whether it’s making music, writing stories, performing dance, cooking, and so on. As an educator, I want to help my students discover their passions, and use that to support their growth. I want to build solid relationships with students, co-teachers, and people in my community as an educator and use my networks and connections to open possibilities for my students and school, in general. While researching the Institute for Urban Education, Milwaukee Public Schools, and reading about the city of Milwaukee’s demographics online, I really felt a connection. I feel like I can benefit many students’ and their families’ lives while teaching in MPS and vice versa.

Since my teaching licensure will involve all students ages birth through 8th grade, as well as ESL, I will have two placements while I student teach. I am so thankful for Sandy Ivers, who has worked hard to find me two placements that meet all my licensure requirements. Both of my placements are in the MPS school district. My first placement is in a 4th grade classroom at Gwen T. Jackson Early Childhood and Elementary School. The school is located on the north side and has a mission of “providing the necessary skills for students to become thinking, productive, and responsible citizens.” Prior to student teaching, I observed and volunteered at a school near Gwen T. Jackson. The students and staff were very energetic and welcoming, and I was able to make great connections with everyone. This is one reason why I have applied to teach in Milwaukee, and I am excited to gain more experiences like the ones I have already had in an area I am familiar.

My second placement is at Escuela Vieau School. At Vieau, I will be teaching middle school ESL. Vieau is on the south side of Milwaukee and is a bilingual Spanish/English school. On Vieau’s website, I read “41% of the students are learning English as a second language.” I have not had experiences teaching in a bilingual school before, and I am very excited to see the impact I will make on students as an ESL teacher at Vieau. I have found out that the school is very rich in Mexican and Puerto Rican cultures and has great recognition for family and community involvement.

I am so excited to begin my student teaching experiences. I am thrilled to share my experiences with you, as well!

Lots of laughter,

Matthew Wolfert

Meet Traci Wiess

 

traci

  • Hometown: Waterford, Wisconsin
  • Major:  Elementary Education – Early Childhood through Middle Childhood
  • Minor: Spanish (non licensable)
  • Student Teaching Placement: Oaklawn Elementary, 4th grade
  • Length:18 weeks

 

Why I decided to become a teacher: 

I’ve always loved working with children and learning as a whole.  However, I didn’t decide to become a teacher until about half way through my freshman year of college.  At the time, I was planning on pursuing a degree in political science – until I had the realization that I just would not be happy at a desk job.  I love to be moving, talking, creating, and learning – so teaching was the obvious choice.

Thoughts and feelings about student teaching:

At first I was super nervous about student teaching, but now I’m just excited!  It’s going to be a challenge, one that is going to prepare me to find a job and pursue this career for the rest of my life.  The classroom that I’m teaching in is a 4th/5th grade multi-age classroom that is team taught, and I’ve never been in that type of classroom.  I cannot wait to see how the teachers collaborate and meet the needs of the students in a multi-age classroom.  What is even more daunting than teaching in a style of classroom that I’ve never seen before is the fact that each class has 28 students – that’s a grand total of 56 students!  I definitely have a lot of learning ahead of me – and I’m okay with that.  After all, I am teacher!

Constantly learning, finding purpose

Stacy Schreiber is a non-traditional student from Oshkosh who returned to school last year, after eight years off. The Human Services Leadership major is taking classes while also working more than 30 hours a week as an ER Tech in Appleton.  With huge supporters in her husband, parents and in-laws, she returned to school with a desire to do more to help people beyond health care and to show her child that school was important, no matter what your age, and it is important to do something for yourself.

I’ve been interning at FTP for about 8 weeks now, and I am still feeling very fortunate to be able to work with this awesome program and group of people.  There isn’t a time I don’t feel like I’m learning something-whether it be about the families we’re working with, about certain real-life situations, or about myself.  I have used my knowledge to really think about things, and to put things into perspective.  I’ve learned that people will not change if they don’t want to, and that even if I don’t have all the answers, that’s okay, I don’t have to.

I think my communication skills have improved, because I’ve learned I don’t necessarily have to say a lot, but really listen to somebody, and reflect on that.  My process skills have improved as well, in the ways I ask people questions or just present myself. I have had the chance to meet and directly work with two families so far, and have found that every family, no matter their circumstance or story, is incredibly unique and has their own story to tell.

I have only been in this role for 8 weeks, but I truly feel like I am doing what I am supposed to be, after being undecided for so long, I think I found what I should be doing.  I am so lucky to be spending the next 9 months with FTP (as I’m combining my internships, and working through next summer), I can only hope to be part of a team like this one day.

Learning about other people’s real-life issues and problems

Stacy Schreiber is a non-traditional student from Oshkosh who returned to school last year, after eight years off. The Human Services Leadership major is taking classes while also working more than 30 hours a week as an ER Tech in Appleton.  With huge supporters in her husband, parents and in-laws, she returned to school with a desire to do more to help people beyond health care and to show her child that school was important, no matter what your age, and it is important to do something for yourself.

I’ve been interning for about three weeks now, and things have been great.  Just getting this experience is an amazing opportunity.  I currently am working with two families, and we will probably be getting another one soon.  Learning about other people’s real-life issues and problems is probably preparing me the most for my future.  No amount of books or teaching can prepare you for seeing real people, in their element, their own homes, behaving how they do.  I’m learning that communication is so important in family and there has to be mutual respect between children and adults for success.

I know with time, I will develop more skills to feel more like part of the team, as right now I’m doing a lot of observing.  I am free to say anything in our meetings, ask any questions I want and participate how I feel comfortable.  In the future, I will be expected to do more, but it’s okay for now to observe more.  The challenges I see so far are just lack of knowledge in this type of setting.  Again, I know it will get easier, but I sometimes feel I don’t know the right things to say.  I am working with very supportive people who are completely kind, helpful and great resources!

To see them for who they are…

Stacy Schreiber is a non-traditional student from Oshkosh who returned to school last year, after eight years off. The Human Services Leadership major is taking classes while also working more than 30 hours a week as an ER Tech in Appleton.  With huge supporters in her husband, parents and in-laws, she returned to school with a desire to do more to help people beyond health care and to show her child that school was important, no matter what your age, and it is important to do something for yourself.

I am interning at Family Training Program (FTP) in Neenah.  From what I have learned so far, this program sees families who are in need of support in Winnebago County.

The employees pair up and go into people’s homes, and help them with any kind of resources they need, like help with school (returning/continuing), employment, child care services…basically any needs they have.  I am really excited to learn more, because I don’t quite know everything they help with yet.

I am very fortunate that professor Larie was the one to seek me out for this internship and, at the request of FTP, I am combining my two internships, and will be interning there straight through next summer.  I’ll be done with classes in May and done with my internship in the summer.

I am looking  to better myself in a way where I can look at the big picture for people I am helping.  To see them for who they are as people, not what they have, to do my best to help them in any way I can, in part by making a relationship with a family.

To help people become what they strive for, and to help families become closer in any way I can.  I strive myself to be professional at all times, knowing that families I will see may be similar to me/mine, and some may be complete opposite, but to treat everyone equally.

I want to help people, and I feel this is the perfect opportunity for me to make a difference, even if it’s for one person.

Able to help others in more ways than she had imagined

Cassandra JohnsonCassandra Johnson is a junior Human Services Leadership (HSL) major, with a Psychology minor,  from Fond du Lac, Wis.,  who is enrolled through the Human Services Collaborative Degree Program (though she is taking her electives on the UW Oshkosh campus). She choose HSL because she has always wanted to help others, and with the degree she will be able to help others in more ways than she had imagined.

I am interning at Solutions Center Shelter and Support Services, a non-profit organization. They provide the only homeless and domestic violence shelters in Fond du Lac County. They have the Men’s Shelter, Women’s Shelter and most recently the Family Shelter. They also have their office where there is a therapist, child/teen advocate, and the housing advocate. The housing advocate helps those who have a pending eviction notice or a electric disconnection notice. There are guidelines and stipulations on who and when they can assist though.

I will be interning with Michelle, the Child & Teen Advocate. She meets with the children in shelter at least on a weekly basis, goes to various schools in the Fond du Lac School District and has groups on having healthy relationships. She also serves as one of the legal advocates on staff.

I want to work in the behavioral health field, primarily with children. I hope to learn various coping techniques from Michelle and different ways to approach a difficult topic with children. I am also hoping to learn how to help children and their parents have better communication and an overall better relationship.

I have volunteered over the summer at Solutions Center and worked with Michelle multiple times, so I feel that has helped prepare me on what environment I will enter, though the clients change often. It isn’t known whether or not I am able to work at the schools with Michelle, but we are hoping to hear soon on whether or not the district will allow it.

I am very excited about this opportunity I have been given and ready for this experience to begin.

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