Eastern GEAR UP Education Coordinators present workshop at national conference


WILBURTON, OK (Aug. 1, 2017) – Eastern Oklahoma State College GEAR UP Education Coordinators Dara Self, Rachael Ranallo, and Natalie Kennedy recently took center stage at the 2017 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference as they presented a “Creative Curriculum for Student Engagement” workshop to a room filled to capacity of GEAR UP professionals.

Educators learned techniques and activities to engage students during monthly meetings. Participants left with tools for helping students achieve comprehension with various learning styles.

The presentation began with a discussion of various services and opportunities provided to Eastern’s GEAR UP students including Chad Cargill ACT Test Prep, summer camps, exciting tours to visit colleges/universities, and guest speakers.

The fun began as they began playing games with attendees—games that they could use in their curriculum to reach and teach their GEAR UP students. The first game—Fear in a Hat—is designed to get students to open up about what fears they have in the coming year. It promotes unity and group cohesion. Participants began by anonymously writing their personal fears on sheets of paper. The sheets are collected in a hat and read aloud. It’s a great team-building exercise to use at the beginning of the semester.

Next, participants played “My Artist Portrait.” This game introduced public speaking and teamwork. Students do not have to be perfect artists, but they must have fun! Each person found a partner and decided who would be the artist and who would be the model. The “artist” then looked deep into the eyes of their partner and studied all of their features. They had five minutes to draw a portrait of the “model.” Upon completion, the artist signed the portrait. They turned the artwork face down and asked the model three questions. Then they shared their answers with the group. This activity proves to be a great icebreaker for introductions and starting communication for new groups or to encourage public speaking techniques.

“How Knowledgeable Are You?” proved to be a fun way to review information learned. Ten volunteers were divided into two teams and lined up at the front of the room. One person from each group was chosen to provide clues while the others were given headbands with posters to place on their heads. Each poster contained a “key word” that the clue giver was trying to get them to say. There was a list of words on each poster that could not be said. The team who completed the task first without saying words on the posters won.

The final game involved creating a “College Interview T–shirt.” They were asked to imagine that they were going to interview at their top college choice. Their task was to create an interview T-shirt that announces the one or two things that they want the interviewer to know about them. They could add relevant or symbolic images. Participants had T-shirts and magic markers for the hands-on activity. Upon completion of the activity, the t-shirts were modeled as the emcee talked about the contents of each shirt.

“The ladies did a great job,” said GEAR UP Project Director Linda Morgan. “The room was packed with GEAR UP specialists who were seeking new ideas for student engagement. There was laughter, networking and lots of fun going on! When the workshop ended, no one really wanted to leave. They wanted more. I am so proud of these ladies. They shared what they do every day—make learning fun and meaningful for our students.”

Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) is a federal initiative to increase the number of low-income students who enter and successfully transition into postsecondary education. Eastern is in its final year of a seven-year grant and will serve current seniors and first-year college students during the 2017–18 academic year.

Eastern Oklahoma GEAR UP Education Coordinators Dara Self, Rachael Ranallo & Natalie Kennedy presenting the Creative Curriculum for Student Engagement workshop at the 2017 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference.

Workshop participants create their best portrait while getting to know each other during the Creative Curriculum for Student Engagement workshop at the 2017 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference.

“How do I give this clue and NOT say the words that are taboo?” Participants play the “How Knowledgeable Are You?” game during the Creative Curriculum for Student Engagement workshop at the 2017 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference.

A workshop participant struts his stuff as he shows off the t-shirt he created during the Creative Curriculum for Student Engagement workshop at the 2017 NCCEP/GEAR UP Annual Conference.

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