Center for Academic Service - Learning
University of Wisconsin-Superior
Swenson Hall 2047
Belknap and Catlin
P.O. Box 2000
Superior, WI 54880
Monday - Friday
8:00am - 4:00pm
Center for Academic Service - Learning
News and Events Details
For the past two years, Dr. Sue Masterson's students have supported an elementary classroom for 30 hours during the fall semester at Northern Lights Elementary.
Introduction to Education is a required course for all elementary and secondary education majors at UW-Superior. Masterson, director of teacher education, uses Academic Service-Learning (AS-L) as a teaching and learning strategy in this course for her students to acquaint themselves with the "day-to-day realities of what teachers do and how students respond."
The rewards of helping elementary students progress
As a future secondary education science teacher, Graham Garfield, from Ashland, WI, was able to appreciate the AS-L opportunity. He saw firsthand the developmental strides of several young students. Some students struggled in the beginning with reading and spellings, but Garfield was able to observe several students' progress. He worked hard to establish behavioral strategies to keep the attention and focus of the students as they worked through reading and writing assignments.
Emily Johnson, a math education major from Wausau, WI, served by assisting students who needed additional support with reading and spelling tests in the classroom. It was rewarding for Johnson to see the children be excited to see her every week.
Through her AS-L experience, Dana Jacobson, a broad field social studies major from Rochester, MN, was able to view firsthand the daily activities of a teacher. She acknowledged that as a teacher you have to be ready for whatever children might say or do. The ability to address ever-changing situations and challenges in a positive and level-headed manner is important. This patience is very applicable to her future secondary education classroom. "It felt good to help her kids," said Jacobson.
Capturing academic course concepts in real-life applications
Masterson said the experiential learning at Northern Lights Elementary is brought back to the classroom at UW-Superior through e-portfolio entries each college student writes. These entries detail how the university students witnessed specific examples of teaching concepts that were discussed by Masterson. Additionally, the entries allow the students to reflect on their time in the classroom, and then produce a formal artifact through capturing different concepts and principles of learning.
Students get to examine firsthand, and in applied settings, the concepts being introduced in the course. They witness how a teacher creates and executes a lesson plan. Serving at Northern Lights Elementary allows Masterson's students to work directly with kids by recognizing and accommodating different learning needs of children. This enhances the learning opportunities for each elementary classroom as UW-Superior students serve as additional support for the children.
Personally experiencing academic course work in the community
Garfield affirmed that his academic course work did prepare him for his AS-L experience. He drew off the strategies and ideas presented in the Introduction to Education course. Garfield said that looking back, he can readily reflect on why certain events occurred in the classroom.
Johnson said her academic course work allowed her to visually see different aspects that were applied to the classroom setting. Going out into a real classroom really helped said Johnson. Instead of just observing a classroom, she was able to personally engage herself with what works and what doesn't in classrooms; it gave her a more realistic image of a classroom.
Jacobson loved serving in a kindergarten classroom. She described that now in her future she will not be as shell shocked because she was able to interact and become familiar with how another teacher handled situations.
On-going reality check solidifies career aspirations
Working in an elementary classroom reinforced Garfield's aspirations of having a career in secondary education. The lessons he learned in the elementary school classroom can be directly applied to all ages. Understanding the educational system that students encounter as they grow up is important, Garfield described, because as a future high school teacher, he will need to acknowledge that each pupil will have had different educational backgrounds.
AS-L solidified Jacobson's desire to be a secondary education history teacher; "I love the feeling I get from helping students learn." She said she is excited to be able to teach what she is passionate about.
Academic Service-Learning allows Masterson to have an "on-going reality check about expectations for future teachers in classroom settings."
Social responsibility and citizenship
Johnson said she felt like she gained more responsibility and insight into her future; she feels like the Twin Ports area could one day be home.
Jacobson's sense of social responsibility and citizenship changed since she started working with the kids. She described that she is now more aware of educational policy; she is more apt to notice it in the news. She can now see the direct implications for the classroom with which she served as the government continues to cut education funding.
Returning to the 'love of teaching'
"I want to be a teacher because I love making a difference and I love working with kids…I want to make a difference in students' education and help them succeed as much as possible," said Johnson.
"My high school history teacher was good, but tough so a lot of my peers came to me for help studying and understanding concepts. I loved it, it felt natural, and realized I wanted to help other students have a passion for history as well. So I decided to be a teacher," said Jacobson.
Academic Service-Learning is an innovative teaching and learning strategy that provides students with opportunities to deepen their knowledge and learn new skills by matching academic goals to the needs of community organizations. Students apply concepts and skills they learn in the classroom and give that knowledge back to the community. In return, they gain practical experience while serving others.
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