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Institute for Learning Partnership

Children Meet Nature at the Outdoor Academy for Kids (OAK) School

4k students looking at a snake.

Ponds, hiking trails, and wildlife exhibits are the classroom spaces, and animals that wander into the area, including rabbits, snakes, toads and worms, are the classroom tools for forty 4K students in Green Bay.

The Outdoor Academy for Kids (OAK) School located at the Bay Beach Wildlife Sanctuary is a new concept for Green Bay. It is the first nature-based four-year-old kindergarten program connected to a public school district in Wisconsin. The program is a partnership between UW-Green Bay, the Green Bay Area Public School District, and the City of Green Bay.

Admission is open to all, although families in the Green Bay Area Public School District have first choice for enrollment. The popular program is currently full with a waiting list.

Lessons are co-taught by a licensed teacher and a certified naturalist. Pre-service teachers from UW-Green Bay are gaining valuable hands-on experiences in environmental education and early childhood. 

The four-year-olds use the outdoors for their classroom, except for bathroom breaks, snack time, and when extreme weather conditions exist. For example, twenty students recently worked together to construct an eagle’s nest. This project involved engineering principles, math concepts, and collaboration. The overall program is based on four different domains — academic, physical, social and emotional.

Mike Reed is the director of the Wildlife Sanctuary. UW-Green Bay professors Scott Ashmann and Jennifer Lanter and Provost Julia Wallace are members of the OAK School Advisory Committee.

Healthy Living Soul Sisters Grant Project

Manitowoc (Wis.) educators got an opportunity to explore closing the  achievement gap through a wellness project, “Healthy Living Soul Sisters” at McKinley Academy in Manitowoc. The Institute funded the grant.

The program supports 28 at-risk teen girls, equipping them with the knowledge, skills and benefits of healthy lifestyles and relationships.

Gina Wagner, project director, received nearly $7,000 from the Institute to implement the program that is building trust and improving self-esteem among teen girls, important factors that impact student learning and achievement.

Team-building activity.

The grant provides funds for field trips and team-building activities. Other activities include picking vegetables to support healthy eating habits at home and also exploring healthy food alternatives.

The students created a Facebook page for the Healthy Living class. It provides a safe place to discuss issues students are dealing with, get advice and support, read inspiring quotes, view positive pictures and share memories.

According to Wagner, the program’s positive impact is noticeable in the students’ personal lives and the school climate.

“There has been a noticeable change in the school climate,” she said. “There is virtually no drama among our girls. In addition, the students are often observed mingling with others outside of their usual social circles,” she said. “We have been able to foster a safe atmosphere for students to discuss and ask questions in regards to healthy relationships, the care of their bodies, and many other intimate topics.”

Here are a few comments from the students about how the ILP grant is helping their school.

  • “The grant helped our school by bringing all the girls together, encouraging us to be drama free and taking us on trips to make us come together.”
  • “The changes are huge, more laughter and opportunities to work together as a team. It is bringing us closer together.”

iPads and Chromebooks Improving Student Engagement

Robinson Elementary School students in the Laona (Wis.) School District are benefitting from two separate $7,500 Institute for Learning Partnership grants.

The grants funded iPads for the kindergarten through second grades to improve math and reading skills and Chromebooks for sixth graders to improve writing skills. Both devices continue to improve students’ technology skills while also increasing math, reading, writing skills and student engagement.

Laona elementary students use iPads to improve math and reading skills.

“When students are using the iPads, they are so engaged they don’t even think of it as work,” said Kathy Krawze. “The learning through this interactive way really keeps them engaged.”

“The IPads have also made it possible to meet the individual needs of students,” said Ms. Stacy Flannery, sixth-grade teacher and the grant’s principal investigator. 

“It is a great tool because you can get a lot more information than just using a textbook,” said Liam, a Laona sixth-grader.

FIRED UP About Reading

Abrams Elementary students using iPads.

An Institute for Learning Partnership (ILP) grant awarded to Abrams (Wis.) Elementary School is supporting students’ love for reading and strengthening an internal motivation that will last a lifetime.

Elementary school teachers Danielle Baade and Shana Pociask received a $2,485 ILP grant for their “FIRED Up About Reading” project to address “summer reading slide off” among fourth-grade readers at Abrams. The slide off refers to students’ slow decline in reading skills over the summer months.

The grant provided Kindle Fires loaded with appropriate-leveled books and applications that were used during the school year and the summer to help maintain and improve reading skills. The program fostered parent participation during a Camp Fire Night that kicked off the summer reading with Kindle Fires.

Teachers confirm that the “FIRED Up About Reading” program was a great success in avoiding the summer slide.

“Every one of the participants maintained their reading level and many improved,” Baade said.

“As professionals we also gained new insights into action research and technology implementation and we grew professionally; but the biggest winners were the students,” Pociask said.

Student Isabelle Dequaine commented in support of the program.

“I really liked how the books were on here (the Kindle) and that I could just carry this instead of a book. I liked how it showed where I was in the book. I also liked the learning games,” she said.

Great Lake grant will boost Phuture Phoenix programs

 

 

GREEN BAY — The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s Phuture Phoenix program has been awarded a one-year, $177,579 grant to expand and focus efforts to prepare disadvantaged middle and high school students in Northeastern Wisconsin for higher education.

Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation (Great Lakes) announced the award Monday, Feb 20. Through community investments, Great Lakes funds programs that foster workforce development and improve economic competitiveness by increasing the number of disadvantaged students who start and complete a postsecondary degree or certificate.

“This award not only demonstrates support for the mission of Phuture Phoenix, but more importantly it will allow us to increase and improve our efforts on behalf of young people in Northeastern Wisconsin,” said Phuture Phoenix Director Kim Desotell.

The grant will provide funds for a grant coordinator and 10 Phuture Phoenix Phellows, pre-service education majors who oversee more than 275 pre-service education students who tutor and mentor in 10 middle and high schools in the Green Bay area. It includes a significant research component to collect data and measure the program’s effectiveness.
The grant also provides for three ambitious pilot programs:

— Parent Training will provide programing to help parents prepare their child for college. It will focus upon the parents of minority, first-generation and other disadvantaged populations. Research shows that parent support is critical to student success in attaining post-secondary education.

— After School Academic Tutoring will be offered at Green Bay West High School for struggling students to help them maintain passing grades. The desired effect will be to provide “just in time” assistance so students don’t fall behind and into a pattern of hopelessness.

— ACT Preparation for disadvantaged students at Green Bay West High School will include mentoring and academic support to help guide students through test preparation activities. Students who are effectively prepared for college entrance exams perform better on these critical tests and enjoy more opportunity for postsecondary education.

“The Phuture Phoenix program’s focus on academic enrichment plays a crucial role in helping disadvantaged students prepare for — and succeed in — postsecondary education,” said Amy Kerwin, Great Lakes’ Chief Educational Opportunities Officer. “We are pleased to provide funding to support both the expansion of their services and the evaluation of the program’s impact on the students served.”

The Phuture Phoenix program began in 2002, originating from a conversation between Ginny Riopelle, a leader in the Green Bay community, and Cyndie Shepard, the wife of former UW-Green Bay Chancellor Bruce Shepard. Both were struck by the fact that many children from low-income families don’t believe higher education can be in their future. Shepard and Riopelle decided to bring fifth-graders to the campus to offer a first glimpse of college life.

From that beginning the Phuture Phoenix program has evolved steadily. Last year Phuture Phoenix welcomed its 10,000th fifth-grade visitor. A related Education course has been added to the UW-Green Bay curriculum and each student is required to perform 35 hours of tutoring/mentoring in the field. Also, Phuture Phoenix now has been replicated at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and Silver Lake College in Manitowoc. Thanks to community generosity, there are now students attending UW-Green Bay on Phuture Phoenix scholarships.

While the Phuture Phoenix program has grown, so has the need. When Phuture Phoenix was initiated, about 30 percent of Green Bay students were receiving free-or reduced-price lunches. That number has almost doubled in the past decade. At West High School, where the three pilot programs will be implemented, 66 percent of the student body receives free-or reduced-price lunches.

“The success of Phuture Phoenix isn’t determined solely by how many students attend UW-Green Bay, but whether we can help young people growing up in challenging circumstances pursue their own post-secondary options,” Desotell said. “This grant will support our efforts to help students develop the tools and confidence to help themselves and pursue their dreams.”

Phuture Phoenix is a program within the Institute for Learning Partnership at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. For more information about Phuture Phoenix or the Institute for Learning Partnership, contact us at (920) 465-5555 or Learnpart@uwgb.edu.

Knowing that education has the power to change lives for the better, Great Lakes Higher Education Corporation and Affiliates helps millions of students pay for college and manage their student loans. Through Community Investments, Great Lakes funds programs that foster workforce development and improve economic competitiveness by increasing the number of disadvantaged students who start and complete a postsecondary degree or certificate. For additional information, visit mygreatlakes.org.

 

Phuture Phoenix participate in FAFSA event

Phuture Phoenix was among representatives who visited Green Bay West High School to help students complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Here’s an article from the Green Bay Press-Gazette about the event

Four PDC graduates among Teachers of Distinction

Congratulations to all those selected as Teachers of Distinction, but especially to PDC graduates Jessica Dresser (Webster Elementary), Nancie Brennan (Edison Middle), Lawrence DeCleene (Doty Elementary), and JoAnna Kloster, Baird Elementary. Here’s a video from Channel 11 about the award, which is the first step towards the Golden Apple Awards.

First Nations Studies is earning well-deserved attention

 

Tribal Elder Shirley Barber talks with students

 UW-Green Bay is helping current and future educators learn more about the history, culture, sovereignty and contemporary issues of American Indians, helping them learn so they can also teach.

Recently, the First Nations Studies program has earned the UW-System’s top award for diversity education, and some well-deserved attention from local media. Here are links to a recent story and video about First Nations Studies by the Green Bay Press-Gazette. And here’s something more from University Communications.

Some background: A Wisconsin law,  “Act 31” requires that K-12 students learn about federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands in Wisconsin. To help schools meet these requirements, the Center for First Nations Studies, under the direction of the Education program, was created. Additionally, UW-Green Bay offers students the opportunity to major or minor in First Nations Studies.

Its commitment to First Nations Studies was one of the reasons cited in naming UW-Green Bay’s Education program the top undergraduate program in the state by the UW System Board of Regents.

“We’re the only school in the UW System that requires pre-service teachers to complete a three-credit course in First Nations Studies,” said Prof. Lisa Poupart, who chairs the First Nations program, and co-chairs the First Nations Center with Prof. Tim Kaufman, Education program chair.

Poupart said this may be the only program in the nation that has four tribal Elders, from different regional tribes, who are part of the teaching staff. Each Elder is a scholar with considerable experience, and teaches in the tradition of First Nations oral teaching and learning. Students and practicing teachers gain a deeper knowledge of American Indian history and culture, and in turn are better prepared to teach students.

“It’s integral to the way we prepare successful educators,” said Kaufman. “It gives our pre-service teachers an advantage in more fully understanding this culture and the impact it has on teaching and learning.”

The First Nations Studies program is of interest to both American Indian and non-Indian students who wish to learn more about the traditional cultures and knowledge of indigenous people as well as the changes experienced by American Indian nations as a result of Euro-American contact.

The program offers a major and a minor. The minor strengthens numerous degrees including those in business, history, social work, etc.,  The degrees prepare students to live and work in an increasingly diverse community and also equip students with skills to work cooperatively and effectively with tribal governments and businesses.

Through the Center for First Nations Studies, UW-Green Bay Education students and faculty offer consultation and services to teachers and school districts regarding curriculum, materials and instructional methodology in American Indian studies.

For example, a recent day found Poupart in Madison, participating in an in-service program for middle school teachers. A few days’ earlier students from UW-Manitowoc visited UW-Green Bay to learn from Elder Shirley Barber.

The Center for First Nations Studies not only serves as an Act 31 resource center for professional and pre-service educators, it also has the mission of helping UW-Green Bay retain American Indian students, said Poupart.

While tribes and bands have their own history and traditions, there is a core set of values that extend across each —  respect, reciprocity, responsibility and relationships.

“It seems to me that more people are starting to appreciate the unique approach in using Elders and teaching,” Kaufman said. “The bottom line is these Elders are the highest authority and teachers in regards to knowledge about Native American culture. It’s encouraging that we’re seeing a buy-in to the (First Nations) programs from students to staff to faculty.”

Spending an afternoon with an Elder introduces students to forms of teaching different from a typical lecture hall that may hold 200 students. In fact, non-Indian students are sometimes uneasy in their first encounter with a tribal Elder, Poupart said. They worry they may inadvertently say something politically incorrect. But soon the apprehension evaporates and they can engage in honest education about Wisconsin’s First Nations.

Neither Poupart nor Kaufman is satisfied with the number of  University students with American Indian heritage (120), trailing UW-Madison (178) and UW-Milwaukee (141).  “We should have a number that reflects the proximity to the American Indian population. Sixty percent of Wisconsin’s American Indian population lies within 100 miles of Green Bay,” Poupart says. Kaufman sees an opportunity for growth.

“I think the work we’re doing through the center will have an impact on increasing the enrollment of Native American students in the University and Education program,” he said.

For more information call 920-465-2185 or visit www.uwgb.edu/fns/.

First Nations Studies wins Regents Diversity Award

Congratulations to our colleagues in First Nations Studies for winning the Regents Diversity Award. Click here to read a story about the Regents Award.

Sharing the good news of 2011

When our friends at University Communications began assessing the top 10 “good news” stories of 2011, they took notice of what’s happening in our neighborhood: Phuture Phoenix welcomes its 10,000th visitor, and UW-Green Bay’s Education program was named the best in the UW System. All it all, despite some rough patches, it was a good year. And we’ve got more “good news” on the horizon. Read more here.