Brittany Emmert

As an Urban Watershed Igniting Streams of Learning in Science (UWISLS) Stewardship Liaison, I have had the opportunity to partake in many roles during this internship. I had the opportunity to grow as an individual by doing independent tasks, such as setting up blogs; as well as having the opportunity to work and grow as a learning community. As a stewardship liaison, I was a part of many different learning communities, primarily working with my stewardship liaison peers as well as working with a high school teacher and five students as a learning community. In UWISLS, there are three major tiers that this experience is based around: Science, Learning, and Technology, which every individual that takes part in this institute has the opportunity to experience. When working with my fellow stewardship liaisons, we took part in a training for three weeks to develop the skills to be considered near-peer mentors for an 8 day long learning institute. For training, we partnered with individuals from the Cleveland Metroparks, North East Ohio Regional Sewer District (NEORSD), and other professionals from Hiram College, Kent State University and the University of Akron. While teaming up with these professionals, we learned how to assess metrics for different protocols such as the Ohio Rapid Assessment Method (ORAM) and Primary Headwater Habitat (PHWH). We also built a tight-knit community with one another by doing community building activities and working together. Our close learning community translated into the learning communities each liaison had the opportunity to be a part of during the institute. During the weeks of June 11, 2012 and June 18, 2012, I was able to work with five high school students and a high school teacher from James F. Rhodes high school near Cleveland, Ohio. Within this learning community, I developed a personal bond with each of my students and my teacher. My tasks as a near-peer mentor were to guide the students, help with reflection and answer any questions they had. Throughout the eight days I worked with the students, I was able to see growth and development in each individual, not only in my learning community but also with other students from other communities. Post institute the UWISLS Stewardship Liaisons have the opportunity to workwith a professor from our homeschools of Kent, Akron and Hiram, to incorporate a service learning project into one of their classes. This takes our experience from working with 9-12 students to working with students in higher education, which is where engagement and excitement seem to be limited. We are also working at the James A. Barrow Field Station owned by Hiram College to focus on restoring wetlands. We are also restoring some gardens around Hiram.

It is our responsibility as near-peer mentors to also keep in touch with our learning communities and help with their learning object, which is a development to receive credit for their schools from the NEORSD. We will be working with our learning communities throughout the Fall and Spring semester over the next year to make sure their learning objects start and stay in place. As a near-peer mentor, I will be here for any questions my learning community has as well as additional support they need for their projects. We are planning on meeting with our learning communities as a whole at least three times over the next year with one of those times being an overnight in September.

Taking part in UWISLS helped further shape my future ambitions in life. I am very interested in learning and technology. As a Senior at Kent State University, I am double-majoring in Integrated Sciences - Chemistry and Digital Sciences - Cognition and Communication. Due to the three tiers of UWISLS, I have a better understanding of how to integrate all three of these together and keep students involved and engaged. During UWISLS, it is emphasized that students should be engaged through hands-on learning as much as possible and also take advantage of their electronic resources. Integrating both of these things helps with a deeper learning. This experience has opened my eyes to wanting to take my future classroom to the next level when it comes to learning. Skills Developed: Communication: I learned how to better communicate with others by being a Near-Peer Mentor (NPM) of a learning community. I had to be able to communicate with the high schoolers in my learning community, as well as the teacher and professionals we worked with. Communication was primarily imperative for asking and answering questions and comprehension of material. Organization: Due to being a NPM, I was personally responsible for the material my learning community had or needed. I was able to develop organizational skills to make sure the material was handed out and collected as needed. I also collected it and made sure it was graded when necessary. Collaboration: The whole purpose of a learning community is to collaborate. I worked primarily with five high school students, all different backgrounds, personalities and ways of learning. The collaboration brought all of those characteristics into use when it came to critical thinking and problem solving. Technology: As a part of the ISLS Institute, we encourage use of technology. I worked with my learning community on how to use technology effectively and efficiently. We also worked with Google Forms and WordPress to work on blogs.

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