Western Illinois University: Macomb Campus
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First Year Experience
Mentoring Co-Curricular Events
Co-curricular events are a strong component of the FYE program. Fortunately, there are a variety of activities and educational opportunities offered at WIU. There are a few great resources to get you started:
- Consider talking to your faculty member! Chances are they already have a few ideas in mind, so collaboration between the two of you will make for a great experience.
- Talk to former mentors! Because they have done this before, they will know what works and what does not.
- Ask your class what activities they would be interested in. Asking for feedback will help ensure a successful activity. Each class is different, so try to pay attention to their needs.
- Check out the WIU online calendar.
Ideas for Academic Events
Creating a study group can be one the easiest, most effective and most beneficial co-curricular activities. Consider having your first study group a week before the exam or quiz, this way students learn early on that studying ahead of time is an effective technique. Use the time to not only discuss class material but also effective study habits, test taking tips and skill preparation. In terms of making attendance more attractive, think about using your funds to buy pizza or other snacks.
Writing is a core element of the First Year Experience courses. Because such an emphasis is place on written materials I would suggest having a paper revision group. Take time to have each student peer review papers (if they feel comfortable) and give advice on how to construct a paper, proof read and revise. It may be as simple as sitting down with the students and giving them some guidance in terms of their writing. Additionally, consider giving them a sample paper that you and the faculty member agree on. The paper should exemplify the characteristics you’d like out of their written work.
Group Tutoring Sessions
If you feel like your class is struggling with material, or even if they’d just like to engage with it out of class, consider throwing out the idea of a group tutoring session. While study sessions for exams are great, this may grant students the opportunity ask more questions and open up about material. Talking in class can be frightening for new students, so giving them this venue to learn is a spectacular idea.
International Film Series
Every year the university sponsors the International Film Series at Cinema 1 and 2. The films represent a vast array of subject matter and come from a variety of countries. FYE funds can be used to purchase tickets for this event. Check the University Calendar for a list of the films along with dates and times.
Each year the University Theme Committee helps to pick a common reading book for all freshman students, faculty and Peer Mentors. This book reflects the University theme for the year and is encouraged to be used in classroom discussion. With your faculty member, create a list of discussion questions related to the book and classroom material. Facilitate the discussion either in class, or out of class at a social activity. Allow students space to talk and take the discussion in a direction that promotes both learning and open dialogue.
Ideas for Social Events
Last fall, many classes opted to use funds for a cook-out. Many classes found locations like Lake Argyle, or Spring Lake to socialize, eat food and create lasting bonds. Not all co-curricular events are academic in nature; remember that part of our aim is to create new social bonds for freshman students. Use the FYE funds to purchase food! Bring a variety of games out such as baggo, kickball or football. Be sure that in the planning process you are ensuring a good turnout by planning both far in advance and asking for feedback on the date and time of the program. Try and coordinate transportation before the event as to avoid leaving anyone stranded.
Getting your students together and watching a film can be both social and educational. Finding a film that comments on or reflects current class material can bring together the new concepts and help to foster discussion. The connection students will feel between the classroom material and the media will help to create a better understanding of the material. Talk with your faculty member about possible films and consider purchasing food, such as pizza (something that can be constituted as a meal), to increase attendance. Create a list of discussion questions related to the film, though strive to keep it informal and let the students take the discussion where they would like. Here is a list of past films Peer Mentors have used: Supersize Me, Malcolm X and An Inconvenient Truth.
Still not sure? Try this of list of past co-curricular events, submitted by previous Peer Mentors.