Like many people, Mindy Courter has gazed at her smartphone and wondered to herself, “Why isn’t there an app for that?”
But unlike most of us, the University of Alaska Fairbanks graduate student did something about it.
Courter, who studies counseling at the UAF School of Education, was previously a youth advocate for Fairbanks Counseling and Adoption’s Street Outreach and Advocacy Program. While working with homeless teens, she often thought there had to be more ways to make them aware of vital services like food, clothing and safe shelter.
Mindy Courter, a graduate counseling student at the UAF School of Education, is working with a computer science class to develop a smartphone app for homeless youths in Alaska.
“Being that it’s the 21st century, I thought there would have been an app for that by now — essentially a directory of all the services you can utilize in your area,” she said.
Thanks to Courter and a team of UAF computer-science students, there soon will be. They’ve spent the semester working together to develop a new smartphone app to steer vulnerable youths toward nearby organizations that can help.
The University of Alaska Fairbanks School of Education has adopted an initiative that will put Apple devices in the hands of its faculty and students. Naturally 1:1 supports the university’s efforts to embrace the tools of today to enhance teaching and learning.
Beginning fall 2015, UAF School of Education students will purchase an Apple laptop and iPad at significant savings. Students are able to opt out if they already own devices that meet the required specifications.
School districts around the state use Apple products in the classroom every day. The Naturally 1:1 program will ensure UAF School of Education graduates will be on the cutting edge of incorporating that technology, from the perspective of a student as well as an educator.
“Education is the foundation of our future,” said Allan Morotti, dean of School of Education. “UAF is committed to graduating highly skilled teachers and counselors who are effective, culturally responsive educators wherever they choose to practice.”
Seven UAF School of Education faculty members have already completed hands-on workshops introducing the possibilities of integrating technology in the classroom. The remaining education faculty will receive their devices and participate in a similar workshop in February, allowing ample time to explore the advantages of this technology before students begin using the devices in classes next fall.
“It’s important for new teachers to shift their pedagogy to a more collaborative approach based on continuous improvement of learning with 21st-century mobile devices,” said Joanne Healy, assistant professor of special education and a current fellow in the Chancellor’s Innovation in Technology and Elearning program.
Closely coordinated efforts and weekly communication are ongoing among the UAF School of Education, the UAF Kuskokwim Campus (KuC) and the LKSD District Office. Personnel directly involved include administrators, faculty and academic advisors from all three groups. This collaborative effort has led to the following: 1) tightly coordinated academic advising at both the individual and the cohort level; 2) distance delivery of coursework scheduled at times most appropriate for students who are working full-time as associate teachers; 3) offering of summer “intensive” face-to-face required courses; and 4) increased use of technology for academic advising and coursework delivery.
Based on positive feedback from students and from colleagues at KuC and LKSD, this successful partnership effort could be used as a model for school district and UAF rural campus collaborations in other regions of Alaska.
Lindsay Saunders, Secondary Social Studies Intern, receives national attention for zombie-themed lesson
View NCSS's SmartBrief featuring Lindsay: http://www2.smartbrief.com/servlet/encodeServlet?issueid=CE4950BC-2E92-4C9A-8F71-64E21E927B66&sid=9fda08e4-7168-42b5-af8f-36cad1716187
Lindsay Saunders, one of our secondary social studies interns, used a zombie theme to teach 7th graders the 5 themes of geography!View the News-Miner article here: http://www.newsminer.com/features/youth/eielson-students-use-geography-to-survive-zombie-outbreak/article_3c1d7da0-63f8-11e4-8587-0017a43b2370.html
Drs. Ute Kaden and Philip Patterson present at the World Federation of Associations of Teacher Education Conference in Beijing, China
Dr. Ute Kaden, UAF Assistant Professor of Secondary Education, and Dr. Philip Patterson, UAF Associate Professor of Special Education, presented at the World Federation of Associations of Teacher Education Conference (WFATE) in Beijing, China in October. They shared findings from their National Science Foundation-supported study on factors related to teacher attrition in Arctic Alaska (https://sites.google.com/a/alaska.edu/nsf-research/home). Although a seemingly unlikely location to share results about the Arctic, China is experiencing many of the same educational challenges as Alaska: maintaining a consistent workforce in rural locations, effective teaching for culturally rich and diverse student populations, the educational impact of rural migration to urban locations, and the provision of a quality, well-rounded curriculum.
Drs. Kaden (PI), Adams, Healy, Leonard, and Patterson received a National Science Foundation grant # 1203132 in 2012 to explore factors that influence the attrition of teachers in Arctic schools. Preliminary findings from the study, which is in its final year, indicate that multiple factors influence teachers’ decisions to stay or leave Arctic schools and that “Stayers” and “Leavers” are not an uniform group. Factors frequently cited by surveyed and interviewed teachers are living conditions, teachers’ integration into local communities, access to instructional materials, overall school climate, and administrative support.
Mr. Wong will design a two-credit, online-based, professional development course for educators and pre-service teachers: “Space and Climatic science through the eyes of birds for Teachers.” The course will include 5 lesson plans that are ready to teach. This module will be added to the existing online course “Astronomy and Space Science Course for Educators ” (developed as a space grant project for rural educators by UAF secondary graduate student Jennifer MacDougall/ Mentor Dr. U.Kaden) and will help increase teachers’ knowledge on the topics of bird biology, astronomy, space, and climate science through engaging and relevant instructions for rural Alaska educators. Special focus will be given to the following:
- Ornithological survey and local species identification
- History and scientific applications of bird migrations
- Our Solar System and GPS navigation
- Orientation of bird species based on the stars and the moon
- Observation of how astrological features influence local fauna
- Other local species that use astrological phenomenon to support their life histories
- Climate change
- Climate change and its impact on bird migrations
Mr. Wong will travel with Dr. Kaden to teach sample interactive science lessons from this project to rural students in Allakaket, Minto, and Anderson, Alaska. The course will be designed and delivered through the free platform Course Sites, from Blackboard (https://www.coursesites.com/webapps/Bb-sites-course-creation- BBLEARN/pages/index.html). The course ED 593 will be implemented in the spring as part of the YKSD –UAF- DEED Title II science and literacy professional development collaboration aSLP https://sites.google.com/a/alaska.edu/aslp/home. The course will provide Alaska-specific, place-relevant connections, teaching materials, and teaching ideas related to bird migration, space science, astronomy, and climate change through an exciting and engaging course. The course will equip teachers with materials to inspire Alaskan students for future careers in STEM.
The course will be available to all Alaska teachers for professional development credit (ED 593 and 3 credits) as a four week self-paced online class starting in summer 2015.
For more information on the course: firstname.lastname@example.org