College Students Teach Teens to Tutor Elementary Pupils
LaVonne Kirkpatrick, second from right, University of Arkansas assistant professor of elementary education, works with a childhood education intern and Rogers teens while they prepare lessons for the "Bilingual Teens as Teachers and Tutors" program held during the recently completed school year.
University of Arkansas students helped "light the way" this past school year, building leadership skills of bilingual teens and improving literacy of elementary students.
The "Bilingual Teens as Teachers and Tutors" program was also dubbed "Light the Way" by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association. It was made possible through a partnership grant with the Rogers Public Schools, the Rogers Public Library and the College of Education and Health Professions at the University of Arkansas.
Through increasing the literacy development of elementary students, according to the grant proposal, the program aimed to increase the leadership, interpersonal, social skills and self-concept of the bilingual teens.
"The teens did not necessarily have to be interested in going into education as a career," explained Tina Howlett, the secondary-level ESOL/Migrant Specialist for Rogers Public Schools. "The focus was on them taking a leadership role, serving as teachers and tutors to the younger students. They needed to be committed to staying in the program for the year."
Howlett earned a doctoral degree in curriculum and instruction from the College of Education and Health Professions in 2005. Felicia Lincoln, associate professor of curriculum and instruction, served on Howlett's dissertation committee then, and the two teamed up to work on the bilingual teens program.
Lincoln said the partnership was initiated by the Rogers Public Library and the Rogers School District.
"The university was invited to include our teaching interns to work with the tutors in lesson planning," Lincoln said. "By providing assistance to the tutors, the interns gained additional valuable classroom experience."
LaVonne Kirkpatrick, assistant professor of elementary education, also worked on the project and supervised the participating interns. The Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, provided funding for the program.
Lincoln, a language-minority expert, collected data from the program and interviewed the teens. That data analysis, which is not yet complete, will examine the bilingual tutoring program's effect on language-minority students' self-concept and goals for the future.
The 40 teens from the two Rogers high schools were recruited early in the school year, and six childhood education majors from the university taught them how to write lesson plans and read aloud. The university students were doing their student teaching at Mathias Elementary School in Rogers. They oversaw the teens, who spoke Spanish as well as English, as they worked with the elementary students enrolled in Kids World, an after-school program operated by the school district at Mathias.
"The interns at Mathias already knew the young children, so they were able to help bridge understanding for the teens with the elementary students," Howlett said.
The teens and university students worked together on their planning sessions at the Rogers Heritage High School Library. Some units were thematic such as the election season lesson done in November. There was also a get-to-know-you activity, and the teens designed hands-on activities along with providing opportunities for children to draw pictures of their families. The high school students read books to the children, too.
"Thirteen of the 40 students were interested in becoming educators," Howlett said. "All of them said they wanted to help kids or that they liked working with children."
Midway through the program, the teens visited the Rogers Public Library on a Saturday and chose books to purchase with the grant money to expand the young adult library collection. The teens also selected and bought books for the elementary students and themselves to increase their personal libraries. The grant also paid for transportation.
One of the program's goals was to familiarize students and their families with the city's public library.
"It was a very fulfilling experience for everyone involved," Howlett said.
Lincoln and Kirkpatrick arranged a campus tour for the high school students. Although many will be the first in their family to graduate from high school, Howlett said, more than half had already visited the campus before.
They toured Mullins Library, the Learning Enhancement Center and the Arkansas Union. Michael Daugherty, head of the department of curriculum and instruction, provided lunch and greeted the students in the Graduate Education Building. Officials from the university offices of admissions and financial aid also gave them information.
"Going to college is a dream for these students," Howlett said. "They want to be role models for others. One place we visited was the Multicultural Center, and several of them signed up for a three-day program this summer. That's something they would never have had access to otherwise. It's good for them to be more acclimated to the campus environment. It helps them feel more comfortable about coming here. The second or third time they go, they really understand this is something they can do."
Heidi Stambuck, director of communications
College of Education and Health Professions