July 2012 Archives

SSU Noyce Scholars Chu and Green Present at NSF Noyce Conference

By Pamela Van Halsema on July 11, 2012 2:15 PM

<p>School of Education faculty member Kirsten Searby, and Noyce Scholars Adam Green and Ginnie Chu representated Sonoma State University at the May 2012 NSF Noyce Conference in Washington D.C. The meeting was an opportunity for hundreds of NSF Noyce Program awardees from across the nation  to learn and share strategies from each other, as well as from K-12 STEM leaders, and national experts in recruiting, preparing, and retaining new K-12 STEM teachers.  The invitation-only conference featured plenary speakers and panel sessions; concurrent workshop sessions, including sessions for Noyce Scholars and new teachers; and poster sessions. </p>

<p>Noyce Scholars Green and Chu have both completed the Single Subject Teaching Credential Program in the School of Education, and just finished their first year of teaching.  Green teaches mathematics at Rancho Cotati High School here in Rohnert Park, and last year Chu worked as a science teacher at Piner High School and Grace High School, which both meet on the same campus in Santa Rosa.  

Searby, who is the Sonoma State Noyce Program Coordinator says this is the first time Sonoma State Noyce Scholars have presented at this annual conference.  She says the opportunity proved to be a great experience for them, and remarked that  "Watching them interact and share ideas with other new teachers and experts in the field  was inspiring.  Seeing them participate in the conference showed me what they understood and valued about education.  They are both really excited to try some of these new ideas in the schools where they work." </p>

<p>In addition to attending workshops, both Sonoma State Noyce Scholars made presentations at the conference.  Adam Green participated in a poster session, presenting information about three teaching strategies he finds helpful in the mathematics classroom.  Ginnie Chu was as a panelist for a session titled, "Voices from the Field", featuring six beginning teachers from different regions of the country.  The session was attended by hundreds of people including pre-service teachers, new and old teachers, deans, and professors. Searby noted that the audience all clapped when Chu said, "I have learned that to my students I'm not only teaching science but I also have to teach language as part of the curriculum."  Chu, reflecting about the conference and the opportunity to talk to teachers from all over the country said, "I realize that I am not as isolated as I think. As I attempt to make small ripples in my classroom, teachers all over the country are doing the same. And together, we are collaborating to generate a large wave of positive change while propagating social justice." You can read Ginnie Chu's full article here.</p>
 

<p>The Robert Noyce Scholarship Program for Math and Science Teachers seeks to encourage talented Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) majors and professionals who might otherwise not have considered the teaching profession, particularly those from underrepresented groups. Each Noyce Scholar receives a maximum of three years of scholarship support of up to $10,000 per year. In addition, Sonoma State provides support to the scholars throughout the period covered by the scholarships and up to two years after to assist the scholars to reach their goal of a credential and a teaching position. Noyce Scholars are selected by consideration of academic achievement, under-representation and financial need. To learn more about the Noyce Scholarship Program on the School of Education website at www.sonoma.edu/education/scholarships/noyce</p>
 
 

SSU Noyce Scholars Chu and Green Present at NSF Noyce Conference

By Pamela Van Halsema on July 11, 2012 2:15 PM

image of Ginnie Chu and Adam Green at the NSF Noyce poster session

Adam Green at the NSF Noyce Poster Session in Washington D.C.

School of Education faculty member Kirsten Searby, and Noyce Scholars Adam Green and Ginnie Chu represented Sonoma State University at the May 2012 NSF Noyce Conference in Washington D.C. The meeting was an opportunity for hundreds of NSF Noyce Program awardees from across the nation  to learn and share strategies from each other, as well as from K-12 STEM leaders, and national experts in recruiting, preparing, and retaining new K-12 STEM teachers.  The invitation-only conference featured plenary speakers and panel sessions; concurrent workshop sessions, including sessions for Noyce Scholars and new teachers; and poster sessions.

Noyce Scholars Green and Chu have both completed the Single Subject Teaching Credential Program in the School of Education, and just finished their first year of teaching.  Green teaches mathematics at Rancho Cotati High School here in Rohnert Park, and last year Chu worked as a science teacher at Piner High School and Grace High School, which both meet on the same campus in Santa Rosa. SSU Noyce Scholars receive collegial support both during their credential program and for the first couple of years as they begin to work in California high needs school districts.

image of Adam Green at the NSF Noyce poster session

Noyce Scholar Adam Green with his poster NSF Noyce Conference

Searby, who is the Sonoma State Noyce Program Coordinator says this is the first time Sonoma State Noyce Scholars have presented at this annual conference.  She says the opportunity proved to be a great experience for them, and remarked that  "Watching them interact and share ideas with other new teachers and experts in the field  was inspiring.  Seeing them participate in the conference showed me what they understood and valued about education.  They are both really excited to try some of these new ideas in the schools where they work."

In addition to attending workshops, both Sonoma State Noyce Scholars made presentations at the conference.  Adam Green participated in a poster session, presenting information about three teaching strategies he finds helpful in the mathematics classroom.  Ginnie Chu was as a panelist for a session titled, "Voices from the Field", featuring six beginning teachers from different regions of the country.  The session was attended by hundreds of people including pre-service teachers, new and old teachers, deans, and professors. Searby noted that the audience all clapped when Chu said, "I have learned that to my students I'm not only teaching science but I also have to teach language as part of the curriculum."  Chu, reflecting about the conference and the opportunity to talk to teachers from all over the country said, "I realize that I am not as isolated as I think. As I attempt to make small ripples in my classroom, teachers all over the country are doing the same. And together, we are collaborating to generate a large wave of positive change while propagating social justice." You can read more of Ginnie Chu's reflections here.

close up image Ginnie Chu participating in the panel discussion at the NSF Noyce conference

SSU Noyce Scholar Ginnie Chu during the Voices from the Field panel discussion. Conference photo by colellaphoto.com

The Robert Noyce Scholarship Program for Math and Science Teachers seeks to encourage talented Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) majors and professionals who might otherwise not have considered the teaching profession, particularly those from underrepresented groups. Each Noyce Scholar receives a maximum of three years of scholarship support of up to $10,000 per year. In addition, Sonoma State provides support to the scholars throughout the period covered by the scholarships and up to two years after to assist the scholars to reach their goal of a credential and a teaching position. Noyce Scholars are selected by consideration of academic achievement, under-representation and financial need. To learn more about the Noyce Scholarship Program on the School of Education website at www.sonoma.edu/education/scholarships/noyce

SSU Noyce Scholar Ginnie Chu Reflects on Conference Participation

By Pamela Van Halsema on July 10, 2012 9:59 AM

A Sense of Perspective

by Ginnie Chu, SSU Noyce Scholar, and Science Teacher

At the recent NSF Robert Noyce Teachers Scholarship Conference, as I recounted some of my teaching experiences to a professor in attendance, he asked how long I have been teaching. When I responded that this was my first year, he exclaimed, “But you sound like such an expert!” I was caught a bit speechless, because I thought, “Of course I am an expert of my own experiences.” I realized that as I write this, I should ask you, dear reader, to bear in mind, my musings on my first year teaching come from a sample size of one…me.

About me:

  1. I just completed my first year teaching at a comprehensive and an alternative high school in Santa Rosa, CA. Both are high-needs public schools sharing one campus.
  2. 2) This is the first STEM education conference I have ever attended.
    1. One of the many challenges I faced in my first year teaching was a lack of perspective for the diversity of new experiences in which I found myself living. I was constantly reflecting, asking colleagues for their perspectives, and then re-evaluating my own instinctual reactions to these new experiences because I lacked past experiences for comparison. One of best outcomes of attending the Noyce conference was the valuable perspectives and additional lens I gained for which to view my understanding and place in the larger world of education. While the conference provided me with rich layers of multifaceted learning, I will focus on three specific experiences.

      NOYCE12_406.jpg

      The first one-hour workshop I attended was titled, “Social Media for STEM Educators: How to Build an Online Community Around STEM Ideas and Market Yourself as a Leader in the Field.” While I gained some tips and tricks, such best blogging sites and how to set up a Twitter account, sitting in this workshop forced me to consciously recognize that I am actively building my identity as an educator. I must exercise great intention in the process of creating my professional identity. This workshop emphasized the use of social networking tools in education. The idea of social networking tools spurred me to think deeper about the idea of education itself. Very few educators currently in classrooms today experienced the same learning environment of that of their students. The current learning environment is a very different landscape from which I was raised. The learning paradigm is shifting, and whether I choose to shift and adapt my teaching with it has significant implications for my students’ achievement. This is well illustrated in an exchange I had with a student I taught this year. The classroom was buzzing with a school scandal. When I asked the students what they were talking about, one student said to me, “Oh come on Ms. Chu. You know what we are talking about.” When I feigned ignorance, she responded, “Don’t you read the news? You need to go to Facebook.” While it hadn’t occurred to me that Facebook was a legitimate news outlet, it also had not occurred to me that I was not meeting my students where they were, both metaphorically and in the virtual places they congregate. Recognizing this leads me to ponder, how do I teach to most effectively engage today’s students in the act of learning?

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      Another workshop I attended was titled, “Using Concept Maps as an Assessment Tool to Close the Achievement Gap.” In this one-hour workshop, two professors presented a cursory introduction to concept mapping followed by practice creating our own concept maps. This workshop was unlike any other experience I had at the conference. Some audience members raised skepticism and expressed negative sentiment about the validity and effectiveness of concept mapping as an assessment tool. There was provocative and at times hostile debate throughout. From my participation in this workshop, as well as the conversations I had with other scholars in attendance afterwards, I have two conclusions to share. First, I was surprised by the controversy surrounding something as seemingly innocuous as concept making. This surprise underscores a greater philosophical debate about education. We as educators share a common goal; we want students to learn. That may be where the consensus ends. What we consider effective teaching, whether in theory or practice, expected learning outcomes, and how we assess those outcomes lie on a wide continuum. Just as students act in the way they see themselves, we act in the way we see our roles as educators. The controversy in which I found myself allowed me to realize this second point. The dialogue around me underscored the importance that I must form and articulate my own pedagogy in order to participate in both the larger conversation as well as in consensus building in the STEM education community. While this goes in tandem with building professional identity, I believe that when I can articulate what teaching and learning mean to me, I will find that identity. Or alternatively, how am I able to cross pedagogical lines if I don’t know where I stand?

      Aside from attending workshops, I also had the opportunity to speak on a plenary panel discussing some of the trials and tribulations of my first year teaching. It was not the panel talk itself but rather the feedback I received that was so poignant and thought provoking for me. Teaching can be an isolating experience. In the concentric circles of inclusion, I am in the center. From there, my students, departmental colleagues, school faculty, and district occupy the outer circles roughly in that order. While I shared my experiences as a first year teacher in a high needs school, I falsely assumed that many in the audience would not be able to relate to the unique vagaries and challenges of teaching in Northern California, or more specifically, at my schools. For example, I believed that some would take offense to the idea that I see myself as both a science and language educator. After this plenary session, a first year teacher from Mobile, Alabama thanked me for the talk. This teacher expressed gratitude and appreciation for my words because, as she put it, “You articulated everything I was thinking and wanted to say.” From that brief exchange, I learned two new things. First, a teacher from Mobile, Alabama and one from Northern California shared similar teaching experiences. It suggests to me that our situations and experiences are far more alike than not. For one, we are attempting to teach scientific literary. While there are always nuances to each individual circumstance, teachers in high-need schools throughout the country share similar obstacles, needs, and student populations. If this is true, then there must be similar underlying root causes to these challenges we face. The second realization I made from talking to this teacher is that I am not as isolated as I think. As I attempt to make small ripples in my classroom, teachers all over the country are doing the same. And together, we are collaborating to generate a large wave of positive change while propagating social justice.

      This conference was an invaluable opportunity for me to immerse myself in quality discourse. It challenged my own ideas of what it means to be an educator. And in a year when I was just treading water to stay afloat, this experience was a lifeline that brought me back to the raft of values that originally inspired me to teach. During my time in the SSU credentialing program, I felt indoctrinated to many of the visions contained within the School of Education Conceptual Framework. I understood what that meant on paper, but only now am I beginning to embody and understand what that means in action.