Tag: UCOCEPS

Math for Social Justice

Education Students at the Teacher StoreWhen most people think back on their college statistics class, they likely think of a semester full of charts, numbers, and confusing formulas that take hours to understand. A new course at UCO, Math for Social Justice, is aiming to take a new approach at teaching this math concept while providing students with real-world experiences to better prepare them for their future career in teaching.

In the elementary and early childhood education programs, all students are required by the Oklahoma State Department of Education to take twelve hours of math course credits as part of the 4×12 general education requirement. In the past, these students have opted to take a statistics class in a traditional math course format, with little information provided in regards to how statistics will apply in a future classroom setting. Professors in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction saw this as an opportunity to create a new statistics course, specifically for education majors.

“When we received permission to create this course, I thought ‘there are a lot of issues in schools that deal with social injustices,’ and we realized that math and social justice pair well together. I also wanted to combine a service learning project with this element,” said Darlinda Cassel, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

“This class allowed our students to collect data for statistics and also complete a service project for a nonprofit.”

Math for Social Justice pairs statistics with facts and realities about injustices in the world, specifically centered on education and resources teachers often need. To help study this, the class has partnered with the nonprofit organization Feed the Children which operates a Teacher Store warehouse in Oklahoma City. Businesses across the country donate items to the store where teachers from title I schools across the state are then able to visit and select free materials for their classrooms. Items in the store range from books and writing materials to snack foods and classroom furniture.

Education Students Touring the Teacher Warehouse
The goal of the project is for students to conduct research on if teachers’ needs are being met by the materials they receive at the store and how the process could be more effective. All students are responsible for a portion of the project that has included visiting the Teacher Store to interview teachers and observe the processes involved. They will then compile their research and present it to administration at Feed the Children at the end of the course.

The process has been eye opening for many students in the class as they have been exposed to the need often faced by teachers in low-income districts when trying to provide materials for their classrooms.

“I talked to a wide range of people at the teacher store that included teachers and school administrators, and all of their needs seemed to be the same,” said Dillon Wise, a senior elementary education major.

“They are just trying to help support their students however they can.”

Karen Inselman, a senior elementary education major, explained, “One teacher at the store that I talked to said she was sometimes spending around $100 per week to just help feed her students, so the teacher store has been a good resource for her.”

Overall, the students agree they have gained so much more than just statistics knowledge throughout the course, and it has reaffirmed their passion for their future profession.

“I took this course, because I felt like it would give me an opportunity to experience more than just a traditional classroom setting,” said Taylor Gutierrez, a junior elementary education major.

“I feel like I actually know this material and can apply it to my future school setting since I have had a chance to use it for real-world experiences in this class.”

Students will complete this course in May 2020, and the course is expected to be offered again in a similar format for the upcoming fall.

CALL @ UCO: Transforming Students and the Community, One Class at a Time

Student Leading CALL Class
UCO student Marlee Hearn knew from a young age she had a desire to someday spend her career working with older adults. Her passion for health and wellness led her to pursue a degree in kinesiology-exercise/fitness management where she became connected with the Center for Active Living and Learning (CALL).

“Throughout my time in the kinesiology program my professors would always encourage me to get involved with CALL because of my passion to work with older adults, but I didn’t know if my schedule would allow for it,” said Hearn.

“I love CALL so much now. I can’t imagine not being a part of it.”

The goal of CALL is simple: to promote healthy living and lifelong learning throughout the lifespan with particular emphasis on UCO students and older adults. The program also offers targeted, transformative learning experiences for students which recently earned the center and its two co-directors, Melissa Powers and Jacilyn Olson, the Masonic Endowment for Transformative Learning Award at UCO’s 2019 Fall Forum. The health and wellness benefits of the various classes are supported throughout years of research and offer a great way for students to apply what they have learned in the classroom in a professional environment.

Hearn currently holds one of the paid student positions for the program as the CALL student project coordinator. Her main roles are to handle the scheduling of classes and management of class instructors, many of whom are her peers. This role has taught her how to communicate in a professional environment, the importance of being organized, and just how rewarding it is to work with members of the community.

She explained that not only do CALL classes provide for health and wellness opportunities, but also for valuable, intergenerational social interactions.

“I really get to know my participants and about their lives, and they always ask about what I’m doing in college.”

CALL initially began through a grant-funded program under the direction of Kinesiology and Health Studies Professor, Melissa Powers, in 2008 that allowed kinesiology students to visit community centers and hold classes for older adults. In 2016, CALL officially transformed into a year-round program held on Central’s campus which has now grown to host eleven classes per week.

CALL also provides 24 different classes per week in communities across central Oklahoma at no cost to participants through partnerships with the Areawide Aging Agency and various residential communities.

Larissa Boyd, assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies, credits CALL for sparking her interest in community-based research. She was part of the initial grant-funded research program which allowed kinesiology students to lead fitness classes in the community back in 2009.

“I seriously doubt I would’ve ended up as a faculty member here had I not had the opportunity to learn more about community based research through this program,” said Boyd.

“It changed my perspective on how education research can impact the community and students.”

All students in the kinesiology-exercise/fitness management program are now able to gain valuable experiences through CALL with a required involvements in several courses such as introduction to kinesiology and physical activity and aging along with the opportunity to become paid CALL student project coordinators and class instructors.

The future for the program looks bright as new funding opportunities have allowed CALL to continue to expand not only on UCO’s campus but also in the metro community with a new class recently being added at the Okarche Center of Family Love.

Hearn explained she hopes to see CALL continue to transform the lives of students just as it did for her.

“I hope to see CALL keep growing because it provides great experiences for students and a benefit for older adults who might not have this low-cost opportunity anywhere else.”

For more information about CALL at UCO and in the community, visit uco.edu/call or contact the program coordinators at call@uco.edu or 405-974-5309.