November 3-4 marked the 17th First Day of College: Science and Reading Camp. This annual event, organized by R. J. Wilson, Ph.D., Texas Wesleyan education faculty member, and Diane Kue, FWISD ESL Implementation Specialist, is a collaboration with Texas Wesleyan University’s School of Education and Fort Worth ISD elementary schools that educate second language learners from all over the world.
The kids, ages eight to 10, are enrolled in the Fort Worth ISD’s Second Language Center and are now living in town courtesy of the United Nations. Fort Worth is one of just seven U.N. Refugee Relocation Centers in the U.S. The students, who speak 102 different native languages and come from across the globe, are enrolled in the Second Language Center until their English is proficient enough to join regular classrooms.
The two-day event included hands-on learning about science concepts, reading comprehension and writing activities and a tour of the Texas Wesleyan University campus. Highlights of the tour were meeting members of the basketball team and getting pictures taken with Willie the Ram.
Participating elementary students went home with new books, courtesy of hundreds of book donations provided by Half Price Books. For many students, these were the first books they have ever owned.
Elementary students who participated in their “First Day of College” are not the only ones who learned from this event. Texas Wesleyan students who major in elementary and secondary education participate in the Science and Reading Camp each year. These pre-service teachers get hands-on experience working with students whose first language is not English. They benefit from applying strategies they have learned in coursework that supports scaffolding instruction for students who are transitioning to English, while getting hands-on practice with classroom management.
Faculty participating from the school of education, Dr. Elsa Anderson, Dr. Esther Garza, Dr. Liz Ward, Dr. Patsy Robles-Goodwin, and Dr. Lisa Dryden, planned the science and reading activities, provided a training workshop with university students, and facilitated the management of activities that were primarily led by their education students. These students worked directly with FWISD elementary students, guiding them through the activities, taking them on a campus tour, and socializing with them during lunch. Education students enrolled Dr. Jacqueline Gaffner’s educational technology course took pictures throughout the two days and assembled a slideshow to commemorate the event. Click here for the slideshow of the 2016 Science and Reading Camp.