Monday, January 3, 2011

What's Going on at Our Site

Winter 2011

A fresh group of UCSD students joined us starting in January. Students eventually found Torrey Pines buddies and together they began working on their projects. Letter writing to the Wizard continued, as did weekly vocabulary games. Participation in the games was very high and everyone seemed to really be enjoying the games.

Many wonderful, creative projects were developed this quarter. Projects worked on this quarter include:

- co-authored music videos
- co-written rap songs
- co-created volcano model and research paper
- co-created craft portfolios
- co-created cheerleading routines
- co-created dioramas
- co-created books
- co-created pop-up books

Students had so much fun working on their projects and were proud to show them off on the last day of the quarter during the "project showcase" time period. Overall, it was a very successful quarter!

Fall 2010

Our site serves elementary students from Kindergarten to Grade 5. Most participants in our program come from homes where the primary language spoken is Spanish. The majority have parents who have never attended college.

A typical afternoon for our students consists of lunch with our buddies, homework time, outdoor activity time, whole class vocabulary games, letters to the Wizard and an additional block of time for technology. This year we have undergone some very exciting changes to our program. Each quarter this year we will have a different focus, that may or may not involve technology. For the first quarter of the academic year, the focus was on creative projects jointly developed and completed with students and their buddies. For the coming quarter, the focus will be on projects and activities centered around science.

Transitioning from a technology based, task-card driven program to one that is project-based has had tremendous benefits. What I have witnessed is an overall deeper connection between students and their buddies. In addition, I have noticed that student are more engaged in the activities in the program, and that in turn has resulted in fewer behavior issues.

A variety of amazing projects were co-created by Torrey Pines students and their UCSD buddies during the quarter and showcased on the last day of the quarter (see pictures below). Students were required to include include a written or oral communication component to their project. Some of the amazing projects completed by students and their buddies included:

- guitar lessons from a UCSD buddy and videotaped musical performance
- co-created model airplanes/cars and research on aviation topics
- co-authored comic books
- co-authored stories and diorama building
- co-created Scratch computer game
- cheerleading lessons and performances

At the beginning of the quarter, all students participated in a fun icebreaker activity. Students drew portraits of their buddies and interviewed each other. Once portraits were completed, students used their pictures to introduce their buddies to the rest of the class.

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