Inside USD

A Partnership in 21st Century Learning

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Madison Elementary in El Cajon teamed up with University of San Diego’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences (SOLES) this month and brought approximately 60 5th graders to campus for a special three-hour day of education. A blend of inquiry-based conversation and education technology drove the lesson and provided both USD and the students the opportunity to interact and learn from one another.

The College Day program was designed to give elementary students a chance to ask their questions and get a better idea of not only what a college looks like, but also what it takes to get there and what life is like once they arrive. Madison Elementary is a Title I school, as classified by the United States Board of Education, and serves a diverse student body of underprivileged youths. This program attempts to serve their needs directly. Joi Spencer, program host and associate professor in the Department of Learning and Teaching at SOLES, said about the Madison students, “They need a vision before they come, even at a young age, of what college is.”

USD and Madison Elementary have developed a partnership for 21st century learning that emphasizes use of technology in the classroom. Technology is being rapidly integrated into education in ways never before imagined. The students were all given iPod touch machines to take notes on and record pictures and videos of their experience. In addition, they were asked to tweet about their experience as the day went on. The students wrote down their tweets on note cards and two assistants on hand were tweeting the experience live so the students could not only interact with their classes, but across groups and with the Twitterverse.

After their 45-minute campus tour, the students were treated to a science lesson where they learned from SOLES professor Bobbi Hansen’s graduate students. The Madison students spent time in the beautiful USD facilities learning about how sedimentary rocks form while the graduate students learned from the interactions. The elementary students were encouraged to ask questions to provide learning opportunities for the teacher education students and thus exemplify the partnership between schools that has been developed.

From the science lesson they transitioned into the iPod touch student interviews with questions they had prepared throughout the day. Their questions kept the college students on their toes with everything from “How do you graduate college?” to “Are there fraternities here?” and “Do you go to class?” This was their chance to really speak one on one with college students that could provide the benefits of their experience. The Madison Elementary students did not hesitate to put their USD teacher education students on the spot and on camera, as the interviews were all recorded in their candid entirety.

The day wrapped up with closing remarks by Spencer and a review of the day’s tweets and Twitpics in the SOLES auditorium. I was fortunate enough to be a product of Madison Elementary’s neighbor from the Cajon Valley School District, Lexington Elementary, and they asked that I speak to the students in the auditorium about what it takes to make it from our hometown. They had warm questions for me and welcomed the challenge I presented them with: “Stay focused, and make it to college. It is the only way for us to see the world.”

– Kevin Wright ‘13

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