(April 4, 2013) -- On Friday, April 5, The University of Texas at San Antonio will welcome state Senator Leticia Van de Putte to the UTSA Downtown Campus for the Texas Early Learning Innovation Summit. The event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. will focus on innovative strategies in early learning, building upon the momentum of San Antonio's novel Pre-K 4 SA program to promote early childhood education.
Summit participants will include San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, state Representative Justin Rodriguez, state Representative Mike Villarreal, UTSA sociology professor Harriett Romo and Footsteps2Brilliance® CEO Ilene Rosenthal.
"Research shows that early learning gives children the head start they need to become engaged learners throughout their educational life," said Van de Putte. "This summit will bring together all the elements needed to make early learning innovations happen from the educational, policy and private sectors, all converging on the same goal -- allowing our students to reach their full potential."
Romo heads the Bank of America Child and Adolescent Policy Research Institute. The UTSA research center supports the interdisciplinary study of topics such as infant cognition, early language development, childhood literacy, juvenile justice, child abuse prevention, school readiness and success, and foster care youth, ultimately translating research results into policy recommendations.
"The Early Learning Summit aims to make San Antonio a Model Innovation City for early learning," said Romo. "Ultimately, our goal is to address strategies that would allow us to promote early learning that would lead to literacy in all children by the third grade, regardless of socioeconomic status.
"Parents and guardians are generally a child's first teachers. If we can create a way to enhance the home-school connection, we will have created a win-win situation for the children, their families and society-at-large."
The summit will feature a variety of panelists including superintendents, researchers, scholars and industry leaders aiming to shed light on early learning best practices.
Massachusetts superintendent Paul Dakin, for example, will discuss how he used the Footsteps2Brilliance mobile platform to engage and support an overage of families in his district who were seeking pre-K learning opportunities for their children.
Grounded in research, the Footsteps2Brilliance game-based platform teaches children literacy skills and other core competencies through learning content delivered on a parent's mobile device. The platform includes colorful English-Spanish bilingual texts in a series of layered language combinations supported by audio, interactivity and gaming options testing the child's comprehension. It is compatible with most mobile devices and tablets, both online and off-line, allowing children to literally take learning into their own hands.
"Current research shows that 46 percent of children enter kindergarten at risk of failure," said Rosenthal. "Eighty-eight percent never catch up, and 61 percent don't have any books in their home. But 80 percent of the time, people in impoverished areas use a cell phone, making it an ideal way to deliver early learning tools into the home."
Rosenthal endorses the efforts of San Antonio leaders to address early learning as a critical problem that requires discussion to develop citywide, scalable solutions.
Texas Early Learning Innovation Summit agenda
10 a.m.: Opening remarks
10:15 a.m.: The Early Learning Grand Challenge
10:30 a.m.: Pre-K 4 SA -- A Citywide Planning Roadmap for Early Learning
11:30 a.m.: Early Learning Solutions Citywide
12:30 p.m.: Lunch
1:10 p.m.: Make No Little Plans -- Using Early Learning and Community Involvement to Transform School Districts
2:10 p.m.: Obtaining Success: Policies and Partnerships
2:55 p.m.: Closing remarks
The annual Center for Innovation, Technology and Entrepreneurship (CITE) 100K Venture Competition and Exposition will be held on the Main Campus on Dec. 1. Twenty-eight teams from across the university will exhibit their project; six teams will compete for a prize pool of more than $100,000 in funding to launch their new venture / company. More than 650 students have participated in launching new technology ventures.
Biotechnology, Sciences and Engineering (BSE 2.102), Main Campus
This concert features 50 community children performing music in the UTSA Downtown String Project Winter Concert. The children, led by UTSA music students studying to be music teachers, will join together in playing the Theme from Batman at their concert. The Batman of San Antonio, a local celebrity figure, will make an appearance at the concert. This event is free.
Buena Vista Theatre, Downtown Campus
Graduate student uses storytelling to highlight important issues facing children
As touch screens and e-books demand more and more attention from both casual readers and scholars, many people say the handwriting is on the wall for the printed page.
At UTSA, the handwriting is on the wall for a library that doesn't have any printed books.
Since March 2010, the bookless library in the Applied Engineering and Technology Building has given UTSA students an innovative way to read, research and work with each other to solve problems.
With ultra-modern furniture and a décor featuring desktop computers, scanners and LCD screens, the AET Library is designed to engage students in an online format. But it also offers group study niches and study rooms with whiteboards and glass walls on which students can write. The space encourages teamwork, communications and problem solving for the next generation of scientists and professional engineers.
Did you know? The UTSA AET Library is the nation's first completely bookless library on a college or university campus. It served as a model for Bexar County's first-in-the-nation public bookless library system and one of its branches, the Dr. Ricardo Romo BiblioTech.
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
To be a premier public research university, providing access to educational excellence and preparing citizen leaders for the global environment.
We encourage an environment of dialogue and discovery, where integrity, excellence, inclusiveness, respect, collaboration and innovation are fostered.