It was a field trip third-grade students from Almena Elementary won’t soon forget.
They spent the day recently at University of Wisconsin-Stout and learned how to screen-print their own T-shirts, had their photo taken with the chancellor, toured campus, had lunch and even taught college students a thing or two.
“They were very excited to come to Stout. We wanted them to be excited about being on a college campus,” said Melody Brennan, an assistant professor in the School of Education who organized the event.
Exposing young children to a college atmosphere, with big buildings and busy walkways, was one of the reasons the Almena youth came to UW-Stout. Almena is part of the Barron school district about 50 miles north of Menomonie.
The other reason was so that college students could learn from the third-graders and their teacher, UW-Stout alumna Carisa Schlosser, a 2008 graduate from the early childhood education program.
Schlosser’s students have been excelling in math and reading, so it was a good opportunity to bring them along to help show classroom strategies to teachers in training.
During the morning of the visit, Schlosser and her students went to an early childhood education class in Heritage Hall, home of the UW-Stout School of Education.
Schlosser talked about using new technology and hands-on activities to engage students. For example, she uses interactive whiteboards and iPads instead of posters and chalkboards.
She had students demonstrate some of the Give Me Five — five-minute — “brain breaks” she uses to transition between subjects on a typical day in class. The college students helped too, organizing Morning Meeting activities, such as having Almena students come up with a list of things that are yellow or having them form a word after randomly being given a set of letters.
During the things-that-are-yellow exercise, the unabashed Almena students surrounded groups of UW-Stout students, quickly coming up with banana, pineapple, lemon and the sun at one table to start their list.
When her students took a snack break outside in the hallway, Schlosser gave the UW-Stout students tips on teaching, telling them to “be creative” with their approach to teaching and to expand beyond worksheets as a way to evaluate students.
Schlosser also explained one of her secret teaching weapons: Photography. She incorporates photography into almost every subject, and the second- and third-graders even have their own club. They were wearing T-shirts that said “Almena Elementary 2nd and 3rd Grade Photo Club.”
“Photography motivates them to produce quality work,” Schlosser said.
After lunch at the Memorial Student Center, Almena students met with students at UW-Stout who were taking photography classes and visited the screen-printing lab in the Communication Technologies Building. Carisa Schlosser’s father, Assistant Professor Pete Schlosser, showed students the art of screen-printing, helped them print their own shirts and organized other graphic production and photography activities.
Brennan said early childhood education majors are required to observe students in primary classroom settings for 12 hours for ECE 305 Primary Education, the course Almena students attended on campus.
“We want our UW-Stout students to see developmentally appropriate teaching practices in primary classrooms and how third-graders learn and how they interact,” Brennan said.
Two UW-Stout students said they benefited from the visit by Carisa Schlosser and her students.
“She gave us strategies for classroom management and ideas of what we could do in our own classrooms,” said Ashley Whipple, of Wausau.
Shelley Zank, of Neillsville, liked Carisa Schlosser’s strategy of using photography to engage students. “It helps show how their skills progress throughout the year, and the students can have fun. We’re finding that a lot of hands-on activities are best for a class,” Zank said.
Carisa Schlosser even gave UW-Stout students advice on how to handle interviews when they begin applying for their first teaching position.
Apparently she’s a good teacher to emulate. When the third-graders met with Chancellor Charles W. Sorensen and had their picture taken with him in his office, he asked them what the best part of their year had been so far.
One boy raised his hand and said, “Our teacher.”