Hey Katy Perry!

We are really excited about your new partnership with Staples which will support teacher projects for the upcoming school year. Since you will be in Oklahoma in October for your Prismatic World Tour we would love for you to visit us at the University of Oklahoma’s Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education to speak to our teacher education students. You are a beloved entertainer and we know that you would motivate and inspire those preparing to enter the teaching profession, plus bring positive attention to education in Oklahoma.

So will we see you in October?

The Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education and the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Oklahoma have been recognized as Apple Distinguished Programs for the 2013 – 2015 academic years.

The Apple Distinguished Program designation is reserved for programs that meet criteria for innovation, leadership and educational excellence and demonstrate Apple’s vision of exemplary learning environments.

The selection of the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education and the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication highlights their successes as innovative and compelling learning environments that engage students and provide tangible evidence of academic accomplishment.

“The incorporation of technology in the classroom changed how students learn and has taught them a new way to engage their own with students when they enter the teaching profession,” said Dean Gregg Garn. “It’s also influenced the way faculty interact with students. Faculty members have integrated iPads into their teaching and lesson plans, allowing for more time in the classroom and laboratory for discussion, student engagement and hands-on experiences.”

Below are examples of how iPads are integrated into the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education curriculum.
• The Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education embarked on a one-to-one iPad initiative where students who were enrolled in the undergraduate teacher education program each received an iPad at the beginning of their first semester in the college.
• Upon successful completion of the degree program, the students keep the device and the digital content they created to use in their teaching careers.
• Faculty also received iPads and learned to incorporate the device into their teaching and lesson plans to further enhance what they are already doing.
• The students will use the devices to enhance productivity, create lesson plans and more. The devices already are beginning to play an active role in K-12 education.
• In addition, faculty are also conducting two research projects over the next few semesters, gauging the impact of the device on students not only as learners but as future educators.

The Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education is home to more than 623 undergraduate students and over 717 graduate students, studying in fields as diverse as teacher education, educational and community psychology, adult and higher education and educational policy studies among others. Students in the college maintain one of the highest collective grade point averages on campus. By the time they graduate from the teacher education program, students will have up to 800 hours of actual classroom time before finishing the program, allowing for a solid grounding in the day-to-day exercise of leading a real-world classroom.

The selection of Gaylord College highlights its successes in enhancing and extending teaching and learning with thoughtful and innovative implementations of technology, which empower students and faculty to become master storytellers. Gaylord College was in the inaugural group of university programs to be awarded this designation in 2010. This is the third time for Gaylord College to receive this designation.

“We are honored to be named an Apple Distinguished Program for the third year in a row,” said Dean Joe Foote. “Our partnership with Apple has given us access to some of their most innovative thinkers and has inspired us to even more creative uses of technology.”

Below are just a few of the ways Apple technologies are integrated into every program in the Gaylord College.
• Mac computers and software are available for all students to use in two open labs and classrooms featuring more than 400 Macintosh computers equipped with current versions of iLife, iWork, Final Cut Pro, as well as the complete Adobe Creative Suite and MS Office. Labs are refreshed frequently, ensuring top of the line workstations are always available.
• Students use Mac computers equipped with Apple’s Final Cut Pro video editing software freeing them for the creative process necessary to garner more than a dozen professional Telly awards as well as dozens of student awards for news and video production. Faculty and students used Final Cut Pro and tapped into the processing power of a new 128 terabyte RAID server installed last year to collaborate on video productions both on campus and with remote team members at another university.
• Gaylord College is a leader on the OU campus in developing and publishing learning resources in iTunes U. In 2013, faculty members published four custom iBooks for use in the classroom in the Mass Communication Law, Advertising Copy and Layout, Advanced Copy and Layout and British Media Study Abroad courses. A Centennial history of the journalism college was also published to the iBooks bookstore.
• The college maintains a series of software training videos called PaceSetter.
• The college conducts an annual five-week grant workshop teaching new media practices to students from Southeast Asia. The curriculum teaches the students the mechanics of newsgathering, reporting and producing multimedia presentations while incorporating social media skills, all on a suite of iPads.

The Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication is an emerging leader in journalism and mass communication education with more than 1,200 students offering bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in the fields of journalism, professional writing, strategic communication, video production and broadcasting. The college celebrated 100 years of journalism education in 2013.

Teachers have the amazing ability to broaden our worldview, open our eyes, and shape our lives. However, we live in an economy where teachers are forced to do more with less. In fact, after graduation, few teachers have the luxury of returning to a learning environment. With fewer resources and larger classrooms, being a teacher can be a daunting task.

Fortunately, there is an organization right here in Norman, Oklahoma, that is changing the face of education, and positively affecting the way teachers teach. The K20 Center, in collaboration with the University of Oklahoma and the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, promotes innovative learning through school, university, and community collaboration. The K20 Center teaches leaders, educators, parents, and students how to succeed through shared learning, leadership development, and technology integration. The overarching goal is to transform kindergarten through graduate education into inclusive, technology-enriched learning communities that encourage and support student learning.

The K20 Center teaches leaders, educators, parents, and students how to succeed
through shared learning, leadership development, and technology integration.

How do they do this? The K20 Center’s philosophy is a “whole school” approach.  It starts at the top with professional development of superintendents, principals and other school district leaders and then filters down to teachers, parents and students. Leadership development begins with a traditional two-day seminar that incorporates technology training and a focus on practices of high-achieving schools.  After the seminar, professionals engage in smaller follow-up sessions throughout the year to develop action plans and technology implementation plans in their schools. The belief is that by helping school leaders identify opportunities for growth within their schools, they will be able to create true and meaningful change.

Although the solution may begin with school leadership, it doesn’t end there.  Classroom teachers may use the K20ALT website for help with creative lesson plans that may help their students better retain concepts. For example, a classroom teacher in rural Oklahoma may need an engaging, hands on lesson for a math concept. The website http://k20alt.ou.edu contains copious concept-based lesson plans available atno charge. Better still, the rural teacher can contact the creator of the lesson plan (sometimes an expert from the K20 Center staff, sometimes a fellow teacher), read other teachers’ additions and comments on the plan, or even co-author his own lesson plan with teachers from across the globe. The online forum allows teachers interested in innovative education tools to connect with each other for support and tips on engaging students in a fun, memorable experience. Although the majority of teachers using the online forum are from Oklahoma, teachers may collaborate with other teachers in all 50 states and the 70 countries represented among the 1600 registered users. The K20 Center is designed to stimulate and engage all students, regardless of school level, size, context, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, the strategies vary in appearance. In addition to providing teacher tools and educator training, the K20 Center also works diligently to develop, implement, and test
innovative learning strategies for today’s technologically savvy students. Designed to
stimulate and engage all students, regardless of school level, size, context, ethnicity or socioeconomic status, the strategies vary in appearance. One such approach includes the development of a Massive Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG). The education-charged video game teaches students to solve complex problems while developing and applying basic skills and knowledge in math, reading, science and social studies. The final mandate of the K20 Center is to create connections and collaborations that support learning beyond high school.

The K20 Scholars program supports students in their post-secondary experience through graduation. By connecting students back to their Oklahoma schools and communities with service learning projects, both the student and their home school benefit. Through these projects, students serve as role models for younger students and develop critical thinking and leadership skills as they help solve a local problem. Ultimately, the K20 Scholars program seeks to increase the number of college graduates ready to pursue science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) related careers and encourages them to remain in Oklahoma. The K20 Center has emerged as a dynamic leader of innovative education. K20 partner schools report significant increases in high-achieving school practices, show a 70% greater than average increase over the
state average increase in the Oklahoma Academic Performance Index, while the K20 Scholars program creates career-ready students. By addressing student needs through innovative collaboration, the K20 Center is re-shaping the face of education in Oklahoma and across the globe.

For more information on how your school can become a K20 partner school, or to arrange
a tour of the K20 Center, contact AutumnMcMahon at (405) 325-1266 or amcmahon@
ou.edu or visit www.K20Center.ou.edu.

Since its inception in 2000, the Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment has made a tremendous impact on the lives of students and adults with disabilities in Oklahoma and throughout the United States through its research, personnel preparation activities, and community outreach. Dedicated by OU President David L. Boren in May 2001 and made possible by generous gifts from the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation and the Maxine and Jack Zarrow Family Foundation, the Zarrow Center was founded to facilitate student-directed educational and employment outcomes for individuals with disabilities and to prepare OU students to assume leadership roles in schools, universities and support organizations.

To fulfill the Zarrow Center mission, James Martin, Zarrow Family Professor of Special Education and Director of the center said, “In the fall of 2000 when the Zarrow Center opened its doors there were few transition education activities occurring in secondary programs across the state — very, very few. Transition education practices are essential to increase the number of students with disabilities going from high school to further education and employment. We also needed actual transition education examples for our OU students to experience. It’s one thing to talk about transitional education practices in a class; but for students to understand the impact of quality transition education they need secondary practicum experiences where teachers implement transition education practices, so that OU students can see what they are learning about in their classes. These experiences make a big difference in what undergraduate students will do as future special education teachers.” So, much of what the Zarrow Center has done the past decade has been to implement multiple strategies to improve secondary transition education practices across the state as a foundation for future efforts. This past fall semester, for instance, our undergraduate students had practicum sites where they experienced transition education practices firsthand. In the last decade, we have gone from having no transition education practices being implemented at practicum sites, to transition education becoming a common practice that our pre-service students experience.”

With support from the Oklahoma Department of Education, Martin, along with Amber McConnell, a graduate of the OU Special Education doctoral program and a research associate at the Zarrow Center, wrote a handbook for educators on how to implement secondary transitional education practices. The handbook explains what special educators in Oklahoma need to do to implement secondary transition education practices. According to Martin, “This handbook operationalizes Oklahoma State Department of Education beliefs and practices about secondary transitional education.” The Handbook has been disseminated to educators across the state and is available for download at the Oklahoma Department of Education website.

The Zarrow Center has received almost $6 million in federal and state grant dollars for different projects, with a few offering targeted training to increase the quality of special education personnel. “For example, we recently completed a doctoral leadership grant that enabled us to recruit special education teachers who are African American and Native American from across the country into the OU Special Education Doctoral Program to become transition education specialists, and to receive the preparation needed to become higher education professors and educational leaders,” said Martin. “A new five-year project provides fellowships to master level students to become transition specialists that will further improve transition education practices in high schools around the state.” Martin continued, “The reception of this has just been incredible, we have had many more applicants last spring than we could accept.” Kendra Williams-Diehm, an associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, and Martin co-direct the Transition Scholar project.  Another cohort of Transition Scholars will be selected this spring semester. This grant also enabled the OU Special Education Program to create a new Transition Education Emphasis area as a part of the master’s degree in special education.

An example of the type of projects that the Zarrow Center completes is one that was funded by the Oklahoma Department of Rehabilitation Services and completed in collaboration with staff from the Oklahoma ABLE Tech at Oklahoma State University. They examined ways to teach high school students with disabilities how to attain their transition goals, and how assistive technology could assist with this process. For most people setting a goal increases the likelihood that that goal will be obtained, but for most students with disabilities they also must be taught how to attain the goals they set. Jodie Martin, a Zarrow Center research assistant who is unrelated to James Martin, coordinated this two-year project, which was implemented at three Oklahoma high schools. Students learned the goal attainment knowledge and when they implemented most of what they were taught, short-term transition goals were attained. Assistive technology increased students’ use of what they were taught and resulted in a greater number of attained goals. The first study will soon be published in a major transition education journal, and the second study will soon be submitted for publication.

The Zarrow Center web page has become a repository for transition education materials that provide educators access to lesson packages, assessments and other helpful information. Zarrow Center personnel have developed and field-tested different lesson materials teachers may access at no cost on Zarrow Center website. The most popular of these is called ME! – a lesson package for teaching self-awareness and self-advocacy for secondary-age students with disabilities that teachers around the world are downloading. Another lesson package, titled Student Directed Transition Planning, is popular among high school special education teachers as a tool to teach students to become actively involved in discussions associated with planning their lives after graduating from high school.

The center continues to develop new transition education materials. Zarrow Center researchers are developing a new transition assessment funded by a $2.1 million grant from the National Center for Special Education Research that Martin and Maeghan Hennessey from the Department of Educational Psychology obtained. Martin, Hennessey, and their colleagues, including Robert Terry from the OU Psychology department, gathered all of the known research on non-academic behaviors and experiences associated with post-school employment and further education success of former high school students with disabilities. These include skills such as students with disabilities understanding how their disability impacts their performance, knowing their strengths, attaining goals, participating in their education planning meetings, to holding a paid job while in high school. According to Amber McConnell, research coordinator for the project, “We gathered all of the research, developed constructs, then developed assessment items which have been revised numerous times.” McConnell continued, “We want to create a transition assessment that educators, students and family members can use that will generate annual transition goals based upon students’ needs that, when attained, will increase students’ likelihood of postsecondary education and employment.”

According to McConnell, “This year we have about 180 educators involved in the assessment research project, along with approximately 1,800 high school students with disabilities and their families. Our goal is to have a sample of 2,000 students, and I really think we will do it.” The students are from all across the United States, including some in Alaska and even from the island of Samoa. Zarrow Center staff will follow along students through their last two years of high school and into their adult lives to determine their employment and further education outcomes. “We will go back and identify the relationship between their initial high school assessment profile and what they are doing after high school to see what items on the assessment predicted the outcome,” said Martin. Most of the educators who have participated in the project in the past continue to participate. The teachers have told the Zarrow Center researchers that their students really enjoy participating in the project because it makes them feel important. The best part of the project is that educators are finding the information the assessment is generating useful.  “There’s no other assessment like it and in fall 2013 we’ll have the assessment up on the website for educators worldwide to access to help identify annual transition goals among their students, which when attained, will increase the students likelihood of post-school employment and education success,” Martin added.

McConnell believes there is a big emphasis right now on Common Core Standards, but the academic skills these represent are only part of what students with disabilities need for posthigh school employment and education. “They (the common core standards) only focus on the academic part of the picture, and we know there’s more to success after high school than learning academic skills. We are advocating that schools also begin to focus on teaching non-academic behaviors associated with post-school success.”   She continued, “There’s not one person who can’t think of someone they went to high school with who made the grades but did not succeed in life; there are other factors involved. It takes more than reading, writing and math to succeed. To make students, especially those with disabilities, college and career ready, it’s going to take more than the academic standards alone. This is where are new assessment can play a useful role.”

The Zarrow Center also has been working with the Oklahoma Transition Council, a statewide group of agency representatives, parents, special education directors and teachers, career technology staff, and higher education representatives who are interested in secondary transition education and what can be done to improve it. Every fall the Council puts on the Oklahoma Transition Institute, where Oklahoma educators come together in teams organized geographically. The participants receive best practice information, and then the teams incorporate the new information into plans to improve transition education in their own area. “It’s a great process to receive the information educators can take back to their schools and use. We’ve had several teachers tour the transition education programs of other schools to see what they are doing and how it can be implement in their own school. These examples are all a direct result of the Institute.” said McConnell. Martin added, “It’s a collaboration of many people from across the state.” With support from the Oklahoma State Department of Education, Martin, McConnell, and other Zarrow Center staff have conducted over the past few years dozens of
transition education professional development workshops for OTI teams across the state.

One project the Zarrow Center wants to work on in the future is the development of a model post-secondary education for young adul t s with intellectual disabilities. “We’re exploring the possibilities of getting such a program started at OU.” Martin noted.  Jennifer Burnes, a Zarrow Center research assistant, is leading the effort to develop this “Think College” type program, with the support of parents of youth with disabilities, high school educators, agency staff, and higher education representatives. They hope this new postsecondary option will be open in the next year or so and will become an educational and living experience for older high school students with disabilities that will lead to community employment. This college experience program will enable students with intellectual and other disabilities that typically would not be admitted to college to audit classes, experience jobs across campus, and interact with college students. “Ideally, we would like to establish this program as a model that other universities around the state can replicate,” said Martin, “but we are just starting that endeavor, so stay tuned as much remains to be done to get this ‘Think College’ type program running.”

For more information on the Zarrow Center for Learning Enrichment, visit their website at http://zarrowcenter.ou.edu/

The atmosphere was electric as students began to arrive at Meacham Auditorium in Oklahoma Memorial Union. In the background you could hear the squeals of delight and comments like “I can’t believe this is happening” and “this is so exciting!”. What could cause this much excitement among education students?  On Dec. 4 and 5, undergraduate students attended an orientation for the College of Education iPad initiative, where they received an iPad to use not only in class, but to take with them upon graduation from the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education.

The initiative is a part of the One University digital initiative (bit.ly/OneUniversity).  The University of Oklahoma launched the digital initiative as a way to embrace digital technology in an effort to make an even more dynamic classroom experience for students.  This initiative allows students to individualize and enhance their education through technology.  OU is implementing technology across campus through videos and interactive online course materials formatted specifically for the iPad that are available on iTunes U.  The University also is developing a new iPad app to offer additional services to students.

Four hundred students enrolled in the undergraduate teacher education program for spring 2013 received the new fourth-generation iPad with Retina display at the beginning of December.  The Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education was selected to be the first college on the campus to receive the iPads, which were entirely funded by a private donor. The students will use the devices to enhance productivity, create lesson plans and more. According to University of Oklahoma President David L. Boren, “We are excited to have the opportunity to create greater access to learning for our students. By providing iPads as supplemental education resources, our students will learn how to develop more powerful learning models, which they can then utilize in their own classrooms after graduating.”

The devices already are beginning to play an active role in K-12 education. “Since many K-12 schools have adopted iPad initiatives, it is imperative that future teachers learn and teach with the same tools,” said Dean Gregg Garn. “OU will supply iPads at no cost to the students and upon successful completion of the degree program they will get to keep the device and the digital content they created to use in their teaching careers.” The JRCoE undergraduate teacher education faculty received iPads during the fall 2012 semester and began training to learn how to incorporate them into their spring teaching and lesson plans. According to associate professor Theresa Cullen, “If you really want a one-to-one technology initiative to be successful, you first have to empower the faculty to feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the technology that they are learning how to use.” Cullen continued, “The goal is to have the faculty use the technology as a tool to incorporate the activities that they are already doing, such as lesson planning, and to extend to such activities as reviewing apps that would further enhance the content they are teaching.” The college has selected nine students to be a part of the “technology student team” that will assist faculty members in designing activities for their classes. “This is an innovative model, based on 21st-century skills that includes collaboration between the faculty and student,” said Cullen. “We are trying to design this collaboration to get the students engaged with the faculty so that they are learning together as future and current educators.”

The JRCoE faculty plan to conduct two research projects over the next few semesters, according to Teresa DeBacker, associate dean for Professional Education and professor of Educational Psychology. “Recently there have been quite a few iPad initiatives in higher education as well as K-12 schools, but there often is not a lot of research. We are going to do research to gauge the impact of having this device on our students, both as learners and as future educators.” The faculty plans to survey every student who received an iPad, asking them a set of questions at the beginning of the semester and then again at the end of the semester to assess their attitudes about the usefulness of the iPad for studying, completing course projects, productivity and organization and for entertainment. “We want to look at to what extent they integrate the iPad into their lives as students as well as into their lives in general,” said DeBacker. Some faculty who participated in the iPad professional development activities in the fall are planning activities that will allow them to look closely at the impact of the iPad on learning. “In my class, I’ve got a couple of activities where students demonstrate their understanding of course material through a concept mapping activity,” said DeBacker. “In the past, students have done their concept maps in groups on paper with pens, so if they decide in the course of their discussion that they want to change a bubble or link they have to start over or cross out in ink, so it becomes kind of a mess. I’m looking at doing the same activity but using a concept mapping app on the iPad so as the discussion moves forward and the ideas are firmed up it will be easier to revise the concept map.” DeBacker believes the iPads will improve learning on that activity because “instead of spending time starting the map over from scratch because of all the messy revisions they will be able to think about the concepts and relationships, and hopefully once they become comfortable with the app the technology will disappear into the background and the concentration really will be on the intellectual content.”

DeBacker continued, “We’ll be collecting data all through the spring then we’ll spend the summer analyzing the data and looking at the uses that look really productive. Then we’ll disseminate those ideas and review how to improve instructional uses and work on getting all that information out to faculty so they can take that into account when planning their fall classes. Ultimately, we want to get better use of the iPads in really instructionally solid ways in our classrooms.” Since the distribution, students are frequently seen working in groups in the study lounges and running around the college on class assigned iPad QR code scavenger hunts. “The iPads have brought a new aspect of group collaboration for the students, which is really exciting to see.”

Ruth Gilliland Hardman’s passion was helping children learn to read. As a parent of a child with severe reading problems, she truly understood the frustration and the challenges of teaching a child to read. Drawing on her experiences with her own child, Hardman established the Ruth G. Hardman Literacy Service at the Tulsa City/County Library to assist parents, teachers and schools to help those children having difficulty learning to read. A short time later, she wanted to expand that program, so in 2002 she made a generous $1 million gift to establish the Center for Children with Learning Differences within the University of Oklahoma’s College of Education to support parents, teachers and children learning to read.

Today, the Hardman Center divides its work between applied research and dissemination of information. On the research side, the center has been working with the Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education to discover how to provide better, more effective professional development in literacy for teachers – particularly in the areas of reading comprehension, vocabulary and writing. According to Hardman Center chair and center director Priscilla Griffith, “We have done a lot of research on what makes high-quality professional development and we have pulled that research together into a framework to actually deliver effective professional development to teachers in the schools.” Through various grants and working with a number of schools, — “we were able to structure a framework for high quality literacy professional development within the center,” Griffith said, noting that “the first grants looked at the professional development model and the impact on teachers. The Hardman Center’s study found that in terms of content knowledge, instructional skills and efficacy, those teachers receiving professional development had an increase in each of those three measures and that knowledge had sustainability over time. In the most recent grant, which focused on writing across the curriculum, the center was able to test children in writing with pre and post on demand writing samples. We found that this framework for professional development was not only successful in increasing teacher knowledge, skills and efficacy but increasing child outcomes, which is the goal, the big goal,” Griffith said.  Each year, an intensive Summer Institute is offered that includes follow-up meetings with the teachers who attended during the school year. The Summer Institute incorporates follow-up literacy coaching, where a coach will visit the teacher in their classroom for three hours at a time three times during the school year.  When discussing the center’s work, Griffith contrasts mastery and growth skills. The Hardman Center framework was built on successful work done in collaboration with the Center for Early Childhood Professional Development in the College of Continuing Education.  “From that work, we published data showing that children’s learning could be accelerated in areas such as phonological awareness, letter knowledge and concepts about print—those skills that are important precursors to learning to read because they form a foundation for learning to read,” Griffith said. “We found that having an impact on mastery skills could occur by improving teachers’ content knowledge and classroom teaching skills. In the Hardman Center we wanted to expand that work to growth skills. It can be more difficult to show an impact on broader domains of knowledge such as reading comprehension, vocabulary knowledge and writing, those areas where development continues across a lifetime.“

The other area in which the Hardman Center is very active in the dissemination of information.  Between 2008 and 2011, center staff provided over 5,900 professional development contact hours to 95 teachers in Seminole, Pottawatomie, Comanche and Garvin counties. The most extensive project to date is called “Every Student Succeeds across the Curriculum with Writing,” which adds teachers from Cleveland, Creek, Grady, Lincoln, Muskogee, Noble, Oklahoma, Pawnee, and Tulsa counties to the list of those served.  According to Griffith, “What is important is the dissemination of services to so many counties in the state of Oklahoma.” The Hardman Center also serves as a tutoring “broker” with a database of tutors which includes the age range of children they prefer to work with, their area of expertise and approximately how much they charge per hour. “So, a parent can call requesting a tutor and the center can give them names of several people who fit their needs,” Griffith said.  “We recommend they interview the tutor with their child to figure out who will be the best fit.”  Another dissemination activity is the Parent Lecture Series at Adams Elementary School in Norman. The monthly lecture series will last through the entire 2012-2013 school year.  JRCoE’s Instructional Leadership and Academic Curriculum department is providing speakers and topics for the series that include: How to Prepare Your Child to Do Well in School, English Language Learners, and other topics covering math, science, middle school children and how to prevent the “summer slump”. At each lecture, attendees leave with a bookmark or something that summarizes the topic for that evening. So far, the lectures have been well-attended and well received by the community.  Through research and dissemination, the Hardman Center continues Ruth Hardman’s passion to help children learn to read. To learn more about the Hardman Center, visit www.ou.edu/content/education/centers-and-partnerships/hardman-center.html

The Edmond Sun

March 1, 2013

OKC Police prepare teachers to prevent gang association

The Edmond Sun

EDMOND — The newest cohort of Urban Teacher Preparation Academy students from the University of Central Oklahoma and University of Oklahoma learned education can be a powerful weapon in keeping children out of gangs from those who have seen first-hand how gang violence impacts Oklahoma City youth.

The students attended a workshop with members of the Oklahoma City Police Department recently at it’s Northeast Family Awareness and Community Teamwork center to increase their awareness of how mentorship can play a positive role in their students’ lives, especially those at risk for joining a gang.

The workshop is a part of the intensive, targeted training students in the UTPA receive to prepare them to excel in urban classrooms. The only program of its type in the state, the UTPA is an innovative program that works in close partnership with Oklahoma City Public Schools to place upper-level education majors in schools throughout the district for three years of mentored clinical teaching experience.

OKCPD Sgt. Freddy Hernandez and Sgt. T.G. Childs shared their personal stories of gang interventions in the area, and emphasized how a positive force in childrens’ lives can be the difference maker in preventing gang involvement.

“Moral compasses need to be shaped by a positive influence,” OKCPD Lt. Paco Balderrama said. “Education from somewhere positive is key.”

UTPA students learned what makes a gang, how to identify gang members, what a gang offers and why some students choose to join. Understanding these factors is important for the UTPA student teachers, as gangs are a current reality in many Oklahoma City public schools. Ultimately, teachers can serve as a guide to lead those at-risk students to the OKCPD’s FACT program, which provides community facilities, activities and education for at-risk youth as an alternative to progression into criminal behavior.

“Having knowledge will allow these future teachers to interact more safely and effectively with students or family members who have gang affiliations,” said Teresa DeBacker, UTPA coordinator for OU’s Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education.

“More importantly, they learned about the OKCPD FACTS program. Seeing the community center, and knowing about the reach and effectiveness of the FACTS program prepares these future teachers to be important partners in efforts to provide an alternative vision of the future of young people who are at risk for gang involvement.”

The UTPA immerses students in the challenges of teaching in an urban setting with real-world experience in OKCPS elementary, middle and high schools. Students in the program have a yearlong clinical teaching experience, followed by a two-year induction and mentoring process. The program includes professional development for the OKCPS teachers and administrators serving as mentors for UTPA students.

Students selected for the academy go through a competitive application process and exhibit the passion, knowledge and determination that are vital to being a highly effective teacher in an urban setting.

Since the first cohort started in the program at UCO in 2010, 34 students have participated, with 17 of those now employed as full-time teachers in the OKCPS district and 13 currently student teaching. An additional two graduates are teaching full time in other urban districts in the state.

FOR MORE information on the UTPA at UCO, visit www.uco.edu/ceps/utpa or call 405-974-5144, and at OU call 405-325-1275.

By Caitlin Schudalla

The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — As post-Sandy Hook discourse on school violence and appropriate legislative response remains heated, the proposal to arm teachers has risen to national prominence as a controversial, polarizing conversation for professional educators facing an uncertain future.

State Rep. Mark McCullough, R-Sapulpa, brought the debate to the Oklahoma legislature with his December announcement of a bill he planned to bring to the House of Representatives authorizing teachers to carry firearms in schools.

Response from prominent Norman educators and community members has been mixed, but most agree that the arms debate highlights a need for addressing bigger societal problems that pre-existed the Sandy Hook massacre.

Ginger Tinney, executive director of Professional Oklahoma Educators, said her members’ response to the arms debate has been varied.

“From our membership, I’ve heard responses all across the board, and voices on both sides are very passionate,” Tinney said. “At a recent meeting, suggestions about a school security bond, using retired police or veterans as security personnel, mental illness and re-emphasizing ethics and compassion in schools were all raised. With everything coming from the state, our teachers are very stressed.”

Tinney said POE is currently conducting a poll of its membership to gauge the majority opinion on the question of arming teachers, and links to articles supporting and opposing the idea have been distributed on the group’s website.

“We want our members to read and ingest all sides of this issue,” Tinney said.

Oklahoma Education Association President Linda Hampton expressed her support for taking the gun issue out of the school safety equation, cautioning against hasty reactions.

“We need to change the focus to safety for our children, which is a much larger topic than what we’re focusing on, and the answer has to be much bigger than looking at the gun issue,” Hampton said. “We can’t oversimplify what happened at Sandy Hook and there’s no quick fix, which is the problem after tragedies.”

For Gregg Garn, dean of the University of Oklahoma’s Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education, the best answer is collaboration and planning.

“Arming teachers would not be my first suggestion, there are a lot of other things districts can do to make schools safe,” Garn said. “I think an initial assessment of security strengths and weaknesses is one of the first things districts can do, and joining the larger conversation on safety with law enforcement entities brings a lot of expertise to bear that schools just don’t have. It’s probably not your best strategy to have teachers try to solve these issues.”

Hampton agreed.

“Teachers came into the profession to be teachers, not law enforcement officers,” she said.

Hampton emphasized that a major piece of the “bigger picture” must be mental health, citing shortcomings in funding as a serious obstacle.

“There need to be background checks and better counseling in schools, so as to identify problems before they happen. Counselors in schools now have very little time for one-on-one counseling with troubled students,” Hampton said. “It’s easy to identify a child with a problem. It’s another to address that problem, and mental health solutions will be very costly for our government to address,”

Cost is also a problem for potential integration of firearms, as McCullough’s suggestion for teachers receiving Council on Law Enforcement and Education Training (CLEET) to receive arms authorization would come with a huge price tag.

“Some of our members have come forward to me, saying they already have concealed carry licenses and expressing a desire to be able to carry their firearms at school, but CLEET training costs $10,000 per person,” Tinney said. “Our teachers are very committed to children, and those who talk about CCL are acting on a desire to nurture and protect.”

As an education administrator and Norman Public Schools parent, Garn said his greatest confidence is in school drills.

“Building drills into overall preparation and practicing what to do in these tragic situations that we’ve seen is very appropriate,” Garn said. “If you consider reacting to a situation for the first time with no preparation versus reacting to a situation you’ve practiced or prepared for, the outcomes will be very different.

“I have three kids in Norman Public Schools and I feel very safe because I know they’re doing that kind of preparation.”

In meantime, Garn said teachers’ maintaining a positive and communicative rapport is the best way to achieve the unanimous objective: making students feel safe.

“Students’ feeling safe and positive about school is absolutely from a good relationship with their teacher, based on clear understanding of each student’s interests, hopes, etc. I think the idea of feeling safe in schools is something teachers have been committed to, since there’s been teachers and students in classrooms,” Garn said.

Whatever the questions raised or legislation produced by the arms debate, all educators share the hope that government officials will spare no expense or resource to ensure an adequate solution.

“I think we owe it to the victims to do this right,” Hampton said. “I’m sure the parents of Sandy Hook would have said it’s worth the money.”

Caitlin Schudalla

366-3541

cschudalla@

normantranscript.com

Urban Teacher Preparation Academy created at UCO expands to OU

Across Oklahoma enrollment numbers in Colleges of Education are showing alarming drops, with fewer students choosing education as a career path.  Even fewer are answering the call to teach in an urban school district, which provides very unique environments and challenges.

However, the University of Central Oklahoma and the University of Oklahoma are partnering together to respond to the urban teacher shortage by expanding the Urban Teacher Preparation Academy (UTPA).The only program of its kind in the state, the UTPA is an innovative program that works in close partnership with Oklahoma City Public Schools to place upper-level education majors in schools throughout the district for three years of mentored clinical teaching experience.

Since the first cohort started in the program at UCO in 2010, 34 students have participated, with 17 of those now employed as full-time teachers in the OKCPS district and 13 currently student teaching. An additional two graduates are teaching full time in other urban districts in the state.

Still, the need for teachers trained through programs like the UTPA continues to grow rapidly.

“Those of us in higher education share a commitment to meeting the specific needs of our community. Together, UCO and OU can make a significant impact in the lives of the thousands of students enrolled in Oklahoma City’s public schools, and we’re thrilled to expand this program,” said Jim Machell, dean of Central’s College of Educations and Professional Studies.

OU’s Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education will take the UTPA model established at Central to start its first cohort of students in the program for the spring 2013 semester.

“We are very excited about starting our first UTPA cohort.  This partnership represents a great opportunity for OU teacher education students who are passionate about serving in urban schools, and for children in OKC public schools.  We look forward to working closely with UCO and Oklahoma City Public Schools through the UTPA,” stated Terri DeBacker, associate dean for Professional Education.

Oklahoma City Public Schools started the 2012-2013 school year with 270 teacher vacancies. Currently the district is 80 teachers short.  This shortage is expected to increase as more teachers retire.  In the next three years, 433 teachers are eligible for retirement and meet retirement standards.  There are another 410 teachers who are retirement ages, but don’t meet the retirement standards.

“We are at a critical time in education and specifically in an urban education setting with a looming teacher shortage on the horizon. It is through creative partnerships like UTPA and the thoughtful leadership at both OU and UCO that will put Oklahoma City Public Schools in a better situation to prepare our students for academic achievement,” Karl Springer, Oklahoma City Public Schools superintendent.

Machell added that the UTPA may expand to more state universities in the future, ultimately creating a consortium throughout Oklahoma.

The UTPA immerses students in the challenges of teaching in an urban setting with real-world experience in OKCPS elementary, middle and high schools. Students in the program have a yearlong clinical teaching experience, followed by a two-year induction and mentoring process. The program includes professional development for the OKCPS teachers and administrators serving as mentors for UTPA students.

Students selected for the academy go through a competitive application process and exhibit the passion, knowledge and determination that are vital to being a highly effective teacher in an urban setting.

For more information on the UTPA at OU call 405-325-1275.

NORMAN – Aspiring teachers in The University of Oklahoma Jeannine Rainbolt College of Education soon will have a new tool that is expected to help revolutionize the way they learn today and teach in the future.

Beginning next month, OU will issue a new fourth-generation iPad with Retina display to 575 students enrolled in the college’s undergraduate teacher education program in spring 2013. Students will use the devices to enhance productivity, create lesson plans, demonstrate work and more as faculty integrate the devices into their classes.

The pilot project is part of OU’s One University digital initiative, which integrates technology and creates digital content to enhance the learning experience.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to create greater access to learning for our students,” said OU President David L. Boren.  “By providing iPads as supplemental education resources, our students will learn how to develop more powerful learning models, which they can then utilize in their own classrooms after graduating.”

“Since many K-12 schools have adopted iPad initiatives, it is imperative that future teachers learn and teach with the same tools,” said Gregg Garn, dean of the college. “OU will supply iPads at no cost to the student and, upon completion of the program, students will get to keep the device and the digital content they have created to use in their teaching careers.”

OU undergraduate teaching education faculty received iPads earlier this fall and are incorporating them into their spring teaching and lesson plans, focusing on how the devices are being used in K-12 education.

“If you really want a one-to-one technology initiative to be successful, you first have to empower the faculty to feel comfortable and knowledgeable about the technology that they are learning how to use,” said associate professor Teresa Cullen. “The goal is to have the faculty use the technology as a tool to incorporate the activities that they are already doing, such as lesson planning, and to extend to such activities as reviewing apps that would further enhance what they are teaching.”

The college also has selected 10 students to be a part of the “technology student team” that will assist faculty members in designing activities for their classes.

“This is an innovative model, based on 21st century skills that include collaboration between the faculty and the student,” said Cullen. “We are trying to design this collaboration to get the students engaged with the faculty so that they are learning together as future and current educators.”

Through the One University digital initiative, OU is broadly implementing technology through videos and dynamic online course materials formatted specifically for the iPad that are continuously being made available on iTunes U. The university also is developing a new iPad app to offer additional services to students.

For more information about One University, visit bit.ly/oneuniversity.

###

Next Page →