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Monday, February 18 , 2019, 11:52 pm | Fair 49º


Harding School’s Partnership with UCSB Pays Off for Students, Teachers on Both Campuses

Gevirtz Graduate School of Education puts theory into practice for math, writing and technology

Noozhawk’s note: Noozhawk and givezooks! are proud to participate in a project to replace Harding School’s hawk weathervane, which was stolen earlier this summer. Read on to learn how you can help.

Through an exciting experimental partnership between UCSB’s Gevirtz Graduate School of Education and Harding School, a new hybrid educational program was created: the Harding University Partnership School.

“As a new teacher, it all seems very dynamic,” said Dee Carter Brown, a sixth-grade teacher and partnership council member. “Through this university partnership, I can be the teacher I’ve always wanted to be. There is a strong culture of urgency and excellence here.”

The teachers are not the only ones inspired by the new university partnership.

In January, the entire school took a field trip to UCSB for a welcoming ceremony. “Afterward, all the kids said ‘I want to go to college!’” said Brown. “Some may be the first kid in their family to step foot on a university campus.”

Fourth-grade teacher Jennifer Lindsay, also a partnership council member, recalled the excitement.

“Everything was so new to them,” said Lindsay, who has been at Harding for 13 years. Eager elementary students asked her, “Do I get to go to UCSB?”

It has been only months since the inauguration of the program, and this summer is already packed with math, writing and technology workshops that benefit both sides of the partnership.

Over the past few weeks, Lindsay — along with teachers Dru Frick, Kimberly Lynch and Vanessa Scarlett — has been refining her mathematical teaching methods in the special summer program led by UCSB math professor Bill Jacob.

Twelve UCSB credential students and veteran teachers stand in the back of the classroom each morning and observe Harding students as they explore math concepts.

“The kids were quiet on the first day, but now they barely look at them,” she said. “I told them that the adults have their own homework.”

For each math lesson, Harding teachers learn new methods and review how effective they were in the classroom. “We have instant feedback from Bill,” Lindsay said. “Then, we try it in the classroom the very next day, not at the end of summer school or in the fall when we meet again. It’s instantaneous.”

Children are learning multiple ways to reach the same answer. Instead of simply calling out the correct answer, Lindsay asks the kids, “How did you get your answer?”

“The mathematics the children study is inquiry-based and focuses on number sense and the use of algebraic strategies for computation,” Jacob explained. “This is especially important because when children learn only procedural skills they often fail to develop the mathematical understandings they need for success in algebra and beyond.”

“They already seem more confident on the tests,” Lindsay said. “There’s much more writing on their scratch paper.”

Fourth-graders learn to work out multiplication problems horizontally (similar to the way algebra problems are written out), rather than vertically. “You think more about what you’re doing that way,” Lindsay said. “Even I got better at math.”

“I think that a key innovation and the primary benefit of the project is that the needs of all these groups — Harding elementary students and teachers, UCSB credential students, and other teachers in the community — are met through a program that enables each group to learn from the others,” Jacob said.

A grant to the UCSB Mathematics Department from the Educational Advancement Foundation in Austin, Texas, supports this program for grades two through six. The EAF supports projects in inquiry-based learning in mathematics. “The program would not have happened without their generous support,” Jacob said.

The summer writing program is based on the South Coast Writing Project, which helps children develop their voice and enjoyment of writing. Harding teachers can also attend a technology class for free, taught by UCSB professor Willis Copeland, who specializes in applications of technology for educational purposes.

During the school year, pre-professionals from the Gevirtz School tutor children and assist teachers in the classroom at the school on Santa Barbara’s Westside.

“It gives a really hands-on approach for UCSB students to test what they learn at UCSB,” said Brown. “Also, the teacher can sit back and observe her classroom from a different perspective. I can watch for particular kids and see how on task they are. It helps inform my teaching methods.”

The partnership council is also discussing the possibility of Harding teachers earning advanced degrees through their work with UCSB.

“At lunch, teachers are talking about instruction books,” said Brown. “It’s professionally invigorating to be here. I think I’m already a better teacher than a year ago when I came.”

Click here to make a tax-deductible online donation to the Harding Hawk Project through givezooks!

Click here to join the Facebook group, Bring Our Hawk Home.

Related stories

» Drive Takes Wing to Replace Harding School’s Stolen Hawk

» Leading Off: Can a Weathervane Really Make a Difference at a School?

» Harding School Has a Proud History, and a Bright Future

» givezooks! Makes Online Nonprofit Fundraising a Social Event.

» Harding School Cultivating a Climate for Top Scholars.

Tomorrow: Harding University Partnership School growing green, too.

Noozhawk intern Andrea Ellickson, a UCSB graduate, is a journalism student at SBCC. She can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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