Educational Leadership and Special Education Archives

Maker Day in Marin Showcases How Teachers and Students Integrate Creativity and Science

By Pamela Van Halsema on April 2, 2014 9:11 AM

The MAKER Movement has taken hold in many schools around Northern California. Over the last several years interest in the grass roots MAKER Movement has grown. MAKER Fairs around the world have attracted hundreds of thousands of people. Now MAKER is beginning to spill into schools and be used by innovative teachers seeking to provide engaging, hands-on, authentic learning experiences in Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics.  

You can find out what MAKER is all about the 1st annual MAKER Day on April 12 at the Marin County Office of Education.See how the future is being imagined,invented, designed, programmed, and manufactured by Marin County students.Meet the MAKERS and have fun with the hands-on exhibits. Everyone is welcome--teachers, kids, families and more-- and it's free! HERE to register.

GO Green and ride your bike to MAKER Day on April 12. Valet bike parking courtesy of the Marin County Bicycle Coalition!

The Marin County Office of Education and partners Autodesk, Microsoft, Edutopia, Intel Clubhouse, Marin County Bicycle Coalition, Lego Play-Well, Buck Institute for Education, and Bay Area Science Festival are hosting MAKER Day on April 12, from 10:00-4:00 at the Marin County Office of Education, 1111 Las Gallinas Avenue, San Rafael. Experience the excitement, creativity, genius and the "do it yourself" ingenuity of our students. More info at

The School of Education encourages both pre-service and in-service teachers to take advantage of this opportunity to see how schools are incorporating the MAKER mindset in their classrooms.

'Taste' of Graduate Study Available to Newly Credentialed Teachers

By Pamela Van Halsema on January 10, 2014 1:40 PM

If you just finished your credential in Fall, the School of Education has a unique offer for you to get a little taste of what graduate study in education is like.  This might be just the right opportunity for those teachers who may be waiting to begin a full time teaching position in Fall, but have more flexibilty in their Spring schedule.   

For the semester immediately following completion of the credential program, students at SSU are classified as a "continuing education student." During that time (and that time only), students are able to enroll in one or two classes leading toward a Master's In Education degree through Open University, with instructor permission. For this unique opportunity, students do not need to apply to SSU or School of Education program for this offer to be valid.

The fee structure is $280 per unit through Open University.

Courses are offered one night per week, usually at 4-6:40 or 7-9:40 pm, or on Saturdays, and may have a hybrid model wherein some classes meet face-to-face and other sessions are constructed online through Moodle (or some other platform).

The spring 2014 course offerings are listed on our web page at Not all courses are appropriate for students exploring the program as some have pre-requisites. But many of the courses will be useful for any teaching career and will apply to your MA degree if you apply and are accepted later on.

The process to enroll through Open University can be found at the Extended Education web page at

Generally, the steps to follow are:

1. Look over the course offerings and determine if you wish to take any of the courses listed.

2. Get the REGISTRATION form in the Extended Ed office and secure the instructor approval and department chair approval to enroll in the class.

3. Pay the fee of $280 per unit, or $840 for a 3 unit class, $1,680 for two classes. (Note, this is significantly less expensive than the normal SSU graduate program course fee structure.)

4. Start attending classes the week of January 13.

While engaged in the course or courses, seek advising, review the programs we offer and, if appropriate, apply to that program in the spring for consideration of fall enrollment.

Note, attending courses as a "continuing education student" does not automatically allow you entry to that program--you must still go through the normal application process later if you decide to move forward with the advanced degree. No more than two courses taken through Open University can be applied toward your MA degree. The instructor must approve your enrollment.

To see what MA concentrations we offer and connect with one of our faculty advisors, see our Graduate Studies webpages for more detailed information.

SSU's Teacher Technology Showcase Fosters Dialogue & Innovation

By Lina Raffaelli on January 8, 2014 2:08 PM

Where can you play PacMan with a carrot controller, walk on the moon, and play a digital piano using Play-Doh, all in one evening? One month ago, educators and students gathered together for the Teacher Technology Showcase, and were able to do all three in this year's interactive Maker's Space.

The annual event, now in its third year, is an open house for creative thinking about how to effectively use technology in teaching. Thirty six presenters shared and demonstrated their ideas for lesson plans, tutorials, and tools, all designed to improve learning and student engagement. The event gathered over 200 attendees, including SSU credential and master's degree students, SSU faculty, staff, and alumni, and Bay Area educators.

Posters around the room encouraged participation and dialogue with phrases like "Choose to be Creative," "Create classroom activities that don't yet exist in the world!" and "Ask me how this meets the needs of all learners." One of the graduate students who attended said, "I really appreciated the opportunity to talk with the presenters about the benefits for students."

Watch the video slideshow:

This year the School of Education welcomed the Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) as a partner for the event. Presenters from SCOE provided many of the hands-on Maker Space activities, and helped spread the word out about the Showcase to local schools. Technology Showcase supporters Edutopia and KQED also sent representatives to present and share information about the resources and tools they offer for the classroom.

Presentations covered a broad range of topics, and were aimed at various teaching levels, including elementary, secondary, and special education. Presenters shared their utilization of various websites including Prezi, Wix, Twig World, and Moodle, as well as a handful of useful iPad apps used for behavioral change, teaching science, and verbalizing emotions. In an attendance survey many participants said they appreciated the relevance and practicality of the presentations, as well as the broad range of topics and grade levels included.

One of the goals of this event is to help educators see creative and practical uses for a variety of applications for the classroom, and encourage them to try out some of these new ideas with their own students. To help them put the ideas into practice, each of the presenters created an online version of their presentation which is available online on the School of Education website. One elementary school principal left saying, "I have homework!" commenting on how there were so many things to learn at the showcase.

Read about the Tech Showcase in the Sonoma State STAR

3rd Annual Sonoma State Teacher Technology Showcase December 5

By Lina Raffaelli on November 15, 2013 10:40 AM

Technology has infused education, and teachers have at their fingertips an overwhelming array of choices in software, mobile apps and web-based resources for teaching and instruction. This year's SSU Teacher Technology Showcase provides the opportunity for both new and experienced teachers to share what technologies they are using and demonstrate how they are using applications to more fully engage students and impact student learning. This year the School of Education has partnered with the Sonoma County Office of Education to make this event, now in its third year, bigger and better than ever, with 40 presentations and interactive displays. The event will take place on Thursday, December 5 from 5:00-7:00 p.m in the SSU Cooperage and is free and open to the public (parking on campus is $5.00 per car)

Dr. Carlos Ayala, Dean of Education, says that the Showcase represents two very important movements that will have a broad impact in the North Bay education sphere: "First, it represents the collaborative nature of education agencies, non-profits, community agencies, and businesses working together to accomplish change," said Ayala. "Second, it represents the latest in educational technology innovation." The School of Education is reaching out to strengthen partnerships in our region, share ideas and leverage resources to innovate and meet the needs of our public schools. This year KQED, Edutopia and Google will participate in the fair.

Tech Showcase 2012 presentersPresenters at the 2012 tech showcase share their innovations

techshowcase2.jpgAttendees learn about pedagogy for mobile devices

The showcase has continued to grow each year both in attendance and presentation numbers. "Last year, there were 150 people in attendance and 26 presentations from both pre and in-service educators," said Assistant Professor Jessica Parker, who is the annual event coordinator. "This year, we expect 250 local educators, administrators, and campus community members to attend to experience 40 presentations from our teacher candidates and alumni of our program that are working in local schools."

Makey Makey supplies for the Maker Space at the Technology ShowcaseThanks to this year's partnership with the Sonoma County Office of Education, this year's fair will also incorporate a unique and interactive "Digital Sandbox" and experiential Maker Space. The Maker Space will offer attendees hands-on opportunities to hack a laptop with MaKey MaKey, use play dough to conduct electricity via Squishy Circuits, and create Blinky bugs. "This is all part of the School of Education's effort to promote the Maker philosophy and learning," said Parker. "Additionally, local educators will demonstrate how they have integrated Maker culture into their classrooms."

"The goal of the Showcase is to highlight how educators are creating better learning environments for students through the integration of technology," said Ann Steckel, SSU's new Director of Educational Design & Curricular Innovation. "The School of Education is always excited to bring educators and community members together to support local teachers, administrators, and faculty to discuss their work." Since coming to SSU this semester, Steckel has been working to bring faculty on SSU's campus together to strengthen pedagogy and support one another for more collaboration and innovation in the realm of teaching. Helping faculty develop and share ideas for effective use of Moodle and other online tools is one part of that work. Although the Showcase centers on Preschool through 12th grade instruction, the event can help university faculty think about the way they incorporate technology into their college level courses as well.

Read here about the success of the 2012 tech showcase

Planning to come this year? Tell your friends! Share the event on Facebook!

Ed Tech Tips: Padlet, Vialogues & Todaysmeet

By Lina Raffaelli on October 24, 2013 4:29 PM

Padlet wall example Welcome back to Tech Tips and Tools, brought to you by Jessica Parker. This second installment is focused on tools which allow users to post and share ideas and inspirations in unique, easy, and meaningful ways online--no need to install a thing. 

  1. Padlet:  Padlet allows you to create your own online wall, and all your students or colleagues need access to is the link that is created just for you. Pose a question or a ask folks to respond to a prompt, and then your students can respond on the wall using a combination of text, images or videos. It's basically a digital piece of paper for brainstorming, sharing, notetaking, discussing or listing ideas and comments. Padlet is already being used by School of Education faculty in their classrooms as either a brainstorming or pre-reading activity and even as a formative assessment tool like an exit ticket.

  Vialogues = video + dialogue 2. Vialogues: Wondering how to make a digital video more interactive? Vialogues is your answer. This site gives you the ability to annotate a video--it allows you to add comments throughout the video and it then time-codes those comments and hyperlinks it. Teachers (or students) can post comments, polls, or surveys to scaffold the video content and create a collaborative viewing.

  3. Want to capture questions, ideas, and inspirations while engaged in a long activity like a (boring) meeting, student presentation, a long film clip, or a guest lecture? Create a backchannel then using A backchannel is a real-time form of online communication that complements live communication. An example of the backchannel includes a person presenting at a conference; this "front" person is the main speaker, and she employs a "back"channel to allow the audience to post their questions, comments, and/or epiphanies during her presentation. does not require a log-in. Just create your own "room" and then share the hyperlink and students can post their comments in real time as the activity (in the front) continues. It's also great for collective notetaking, sharing resources, or as a brainstorming tool.  

Reading Program Alumna Diane Dalenberg excites students through technology

By Lina Raffaelli on October 10, 2013 1:20 PM

dalenberg.jpgIn a technological age with countless distractions, where paper books are quickly being replaced by eReaders, iPads and tablets, educators are faced with one important question: how can they reignite students' excitement about reading?

School of Education alumna Diane Dalenberg has made it her purpose to find a solution to this question, attempting to spark interest while also improving literacy for students at all levels of skill and ability.  Her approach focuses on working with technology, instead of against it, to foster more positive attitudes in young readers. As an avid reader herself, Dalenberg encourages frequent and strategic reading for the purpose of practice and enjoyment.

In 2011 Dalenberg completed SSU's Educational Leadership program, earning an Administrative Credential. She continued on to obtain a master's in Educational Leadership, with a concentration in Reading and Language in 2012.

While finishing her master's, Dalenberg coordinated the Summer Reading Academy for 3rd graders of Sonoma Valley Unified School District as her cognate project. Working alongside Professor MaryAnn Nickel, she designed the program at El Verano Elementary School to mirror Sonoma State's summer academy, repurposing it to shift the focus on student engagement.

Dalenberg worked with another seasoned School of Education Alumna, El Verano School principal Maite Iturri. Iturri received multiple teaching credentials, an Administrative Services credential and a Master's in Educational Administration from Sonoma State.

Together, the two created a hands-on summer program designed to foster excitement for reading and imaginative engagement. "First and foremost the goal is gained confidence and a growing love of reading...that's number one," said Dalenberg. 

The structure of the program is built upon self-selection of reading material. Teachers aid students in choosing a "homerun" or "just right" book, one that they just can't put down. Not only does this allow them to select content based on their interests, but also allows an opportunity to self-assess their reading abilities by determining material that is too challenging. Dalenberg said it was challenging to find the "homerun" match for some students.

To provide greater resources, Dalenberg incorporated the use of technology through the introduction of websites and online libraries. "Our school and class libraries are wonderful," she said "but they can be limited, and don't always have the material [students] are looking for." By allowing the children access to several online libraries, they had a much broader range of material.

8232915327_e5828c4569_o.jpg The selected sites also offer additional tools (such as audio support and highlighted tracking on screen) that can be very helpful for young readers. These tools create an interactive experience and help students catch their own mistakes. "They can be the judge of their own fluency, and react to their own reading, which is huge," said Dalenberg. 

"I think using technology to get the kids engaged is her greatest strength," said Nickel. "Depending on the child, they may be much more motivated to read from a computer than from a book." 

Dalenberg cites on her website that the greatest challenge with teaching reading is the "frenzy" to cover standards. In large classrooms, students are given less individualized instruction, so they're generally taught reading and writing methods solely in preparation for standardized testing. The benefit of the Summer Reading environment is the freedom of creative and individual growth.

The overall success was measured by student and teacher evaluations at the conclusion of the three-week program. Based on the comparison of before-and-after attitudes of self-rating and enjoyment, the results reflected an overall improvement in all categories.

The academy returned for Summer 2013, this time growing to incorporate a class of 2nd-4th graders and more teachers. In the future she hopes to include more parent outreach and instruction on how parents can keep their kids engaged at home.

"When I started my master's I had no idea what I would do for my project. It's much easier when it's like 'this is my path and these are the steps to take." She added happily, "I couldn't have imagined when I started that this is what would blossom from it." 

Ed Tech Tips: Fantashow, Soundcloud and Diigo

By Pamela Van Halsema on September 30, 2013 4:25 PM

Are you interested in finding a way to share your students' podcasts or listen to audio books via the web? Looking for more efficient research methods, or wishing you could annotate the web with your own sticky notes? If so, then Assistant Professor Jessica K. Parker has a few recommendations for you in this, our first of the semester Ed Tech Tips Blog post.  Give these tools a try:  

1. Fantashow by Wondershare. Customize your own slideshow from your photos or video, add some text and special effects, and then share on YouTube, Facebook, Moodle, or even DVD. This resource is fast, (relatively) easy, and free (up to a certain point).

soundcloud.jpg 2. SoundCloud: Share your sounds (e.g., music, interviews, language, appropriate noises, etc.) on SoundCloud and have access to the largest community of artists, bands, news organizations, podcasters, etc. This site lets you share your podcasts or your students' podcasts, follow your favorite organizations or news agencies, listen to audio books, and find wonderful historical gems. You can search by theme: books, learning, comedy, news, arts, or business. Try adding a SoundCloud audio link or ask students to create a SoundCloud creation to spice up your online modules.
diigo.jpg3. Diigo: This web-based research tool will transform the way your search and gather information. Diigo allows you make annotations, highlights, and sticky notes for the web. (You can make these annotations private or give access to specific people/groups/classes). This is referred to as social bookmarking: as you read on the web, instead of just bookmarking with your browser's bookmarking tool, you can highlight portions of webpages that are of particular interest to you.

You can also attach sticky notes to specific parts of the pages and then categorize your notes based on theme--this is called tagging. Then your Diigo highlights and sticky notes will remain on the pages; whenever you return to the original webpage your highlights and sticky notes will be there. There is also an educator account too! You can use Diigo on any web browser and even on an iPad.
Keep following our blog for upcoming EdTech tips!
Or follow the #EdTech hashtag on our Twitter feed to get more great Educational Technology news and information.

Unleashing Entrepreneurial Spirit Course Registration Open

By Pamela Van Halsema on August 2, 2013 9:39 AM

Entrepreneurs are known for their ability to seize opportunity and move forward toward their creative and innovative goals, usually taking substantial risks along the way.  With skill, they have an ability to keep advancing, pivoting on the path, avoiding obstacles and adjusting to the changing conditions to achieve success.  If they don't reach their goal, they learn from the experience and apply that new understanding to the next creative project.    


The Unleashing Entrepreneurial Spirit course will open up dialogue on innovation for participants from a variety of backgrounds.

In the course Unleashing the Entrepreneurial Spirit, teachers, school administrators and community leaders will learn how to apply entrepreneurial techniques to the domain of education, and put into action their own creativity. The four-session course offers participants the opportunity to build their own plan for realizing their creative vision.  The course will bring insightful speakers to prompt class discussions and inspire group collaboration as each participant builds and refines their strategic plan for innovation. The course is designed and delivered as a collaboration between the School of Education and the School of Business and Economics at Sonoma State University and

The link to register and pay for this short course is now available online.  The course fee is $50, plus there is an option to register for 1 continuing education unit for an additional $55.  Instructions for payment are at

Here is a taste of what is in store each week in this course:


Tony Harris, left, with some of his students, receiving the 2013 Sonoma State University Jack London Award for Educational Innovation for NorthWest Prep's Multi-Age, Project-Based Learning Curriculum for grades 7-12.

Monday August 26, 2013

This session centers on the importance of establishing a compelling vision to guide our actions as educational entrepreneurs and creators.  

Discussion Topics: 
  • How to 'pivot' the way entrepreneurs do, making adjustments along the way toward reaching goals.  Almost every great innovator and entrepreneur finds that the initial plan requires adjustment as the work gets underway.  How can educators have that kind of flexibility and responsiveness in their environment without losing their way to the goal?  
  • Be ready to question the norm.  Norms are the sometimes subtle 'ways fo doing things' that are often unspoken but can have tremendous influence on how we see things and the productivity of groups and individuals.  The ability to see and question the norm is a key skill of entrepreneurial thinkers.
  • Consider different perspectives.  The skill to of being able to 'switch lenses' and view a situation from other perspectives can open up new approaches and ideas for problem solving.
Guest Speakers:  
  • Tony Harris, Director, Northwest Prep Charter School, Santa Rosa
  • Bonnie Raines, Teacher, Santa Rosa Charter School of the Arts

Monday, September 9, 2013

Working to realize a vision cannot be done alone.  Building a strong professional network can help get a plan off the ground, find resources to make that vision sustainable, and help the idea take root and grow.  Entrepreneurs are skilled at using networks to build collaboration, partnerships and remove obstacles.  

Discussion Topics:
  • Building the network--What are the elements of strong personal learning network.  How does one leverage digital tools to build their network
  • Breaking down silos--it will be important to reach outside of your sphere to build connections outside of your silo to form a truly strategic network.  How do you engage the non-education community in your professional network?
  • Accessing Resources--how can the network help you access financial, human and material resources, as well as the essential knowledge to make your plan a reality?
  • Networked Collaboration--How to recognize and optimize opportunity for collaboration in a professional network?  What do you have to offer?  What can you expect in return from this dynamic connection?

Guest Speakers: 
  • Kristin Swanson, a passionate learner, keynote speaker and the author of "Professional Learning in the Digital Age". She is also a founder of the EdCamp movement, adjunct professor at DeSales University, Google Certified Teacher. She has worked as a third grade teacher, RtI Building Leader and Teacher Trainer. She currently works for Bright Bytes to help people learn better using technology.
  • Catlin Tucker, Google Certified Teacher, CUE Lead Learner, 9th and 10th grade English language arts teacher at Windsor High School in Sonoma County. She is the author of the book, "Blended Learning for Grades 4-12: Leveraging the Power of Technology to Create a Student-Centered Classroom"

cli-photo-vertical.jpgMonday, September 23, 2013

Entrepreneurs face risks when starting a venture, and know that there will be obstacles along the way.  What can educators learn from how entrepreneurs adjust plans or strategically maneuver a landscape that could be a minefield?  The best entrepreneurs know how to turn those problems into opportunities.

Discussion Topics:
Problem identification and problem solving--Defining the problem in new and different ways is the first creative step in problem solving.  Many initiatives fail because people solved the wrong problem.
Failure as a vaccine--If at first you don't succeed, try, try again.  How did the first, second or third failure teach you something that can inform your next attempt to realize your vision? How can you start viewing failure as something that makes you stronger and closer to success the next time?

Guest speaker:
  • Oscar Chavez, recently appointed Assistant Director of Human Services for the County of Sonoma, formerly Executive Director of the Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County. In both his previous work experience and in his current position, Oscar has dedicated himself to establishing strong and positive ties between the County's low wealth neighborhoods, public entities, and the business community in order to raise awareness about the growing education, health, and income disparities that exist in our communities.  He is equally committed to finding solutions that get at the root cause of poverty.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Successful entrepreneurs build sustainable business models that can support themselves over time.  Educators need to consider sustainability too when building their innovations.  And, over time, as the project grows and the environment changes, the innovator needs to be open to receiving feedback and incorporating change to keep what they are doing relevant, true to their vision, and successful.

During this session, participants will share their ideas and action plans based on their collaborative work developed during the course.

More details on this session TBA

Preview Class Introduces Idea of Entrepreneurial Thinking in Education

By Pamela Van Halsema on July 26, 2013 9:13 AM


The room in Salazar Hall was filled with educators and community members: school teachers, principals and superintendents, community organization leaders, college students, and local business people. They had all come to explore the idea of entrepreneurial thinking in education in the Preview Class for Unleashing Entrepreneurial Spirit at Sonoma State University.

Organized as a follow-up to the ieSonoma community-wide event featuring Sir Ken Robinson, the pundit who claims in his popular TED talk that 'schools kill creativity', the evening offered participants a chance to engage in an in-depth dialog about how to foster innovation in schools, and helped them get a taste of what the four-session course would be like when it begins on August 26. The Preview also provided a forum for course planners to hear what aspects of entrepreneurship participants are most interested in exploring. In subsequent sessions, students will have the opportunity to meet and talk with people who are entrepreneurs and innovators in their field, engage in critical dialog and deep thinking about creativity and innovation, and work on developing their own strategic plans.


Mark Nelson, Codding Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Sonoma State University and William Silver, SSU Dean of the School of Business and Economics were the featured presenters for the Preview Class. Their talk focused on how they envision entrepreneurial thinking can be applied in educational settings. Entrepreneurs need to have a vision, be creative and resourceful, recognize opportunity, take risks and learn from failure. Working in small groups, Preview Class participants discussed the nature of creativity and innovation, and explored how those ideas might be applied in a new way to their work in schools, organizations, businesses and the community.

To design and lead the class, SSU Educational Leadership Professor Paul Porter pulled together a team that includes Jennie Snyder, Superintendent of Piner-Olivet Union School District, Dan Blake, Director of Innovations and Partnerships, Sonoma County Office of Education Mark Nelson, Codding Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Sonoma State University and former President and COO of the Nelson Family of Companies. This is one of the collaborative learning initiatives that Porter is working to develop this year for the School of Education.

In planning the class, the team felt it was important to leave the Unleashing Entrepreneurial Spirit course outline open at first, and didn't finalize details of the course content in advance; they waited to meet with the Preview Class participants and engage in discussions with them about their needs, and their ideas about creativity and innovation before sketching out the mini-course's full outline. Many who attended were looking for ways to incorporate some of the '21st Century Skills' into their classrooms and expressed the need to be ready for the new Common Core Standards curriculum changes, while others were looking for ways to develop community partnerships that could help support student learning. Some said they hoped to develop their leadership skills to foster a climate of innovation in their schools and organizations. Most of the Preview participants plan to attend the four fall class sessions.


"The first session was inspiring and productive," noted course facilitator Jennie Snyder, " We had a wide range of experiences and backgrounds among the participants. I was particularly impressed with their level of engagement and commitment to creating positive change in their organizations."

Registration is still open for the Unleashing Entrepreneurial Spirit Class. The cost for the four Monday night sessions (8/24, 9/9, 9/23, 10/7. 6:00-8:30) is $50, plus an option to earn one CEU for $55 more. For more information about the class and how to register visit

Sir Ken Robinson Inspires Innovative Thinking in Local Education Community

By Pamela Van Halsema on July 17, 2013 3:55 PM

Sir Ken Robinson

Last month over seven hundred local teachers, school administrators, university faculty, and community and business leaders came together for an inspiring event designed to open up dialogue about creativity, innovation and technology in our schools. The June 10 event started out with a panel discussion of leading North Bay entrepreneurs followed by a keynote by Sir Ken Robinson, a respected inspirational speaker, well-known for his TED talk entitled Schools Kill Creativity. Sonoma State University's School of Education was a major sponsor of the event which was held at Sonoma Country Day School and organized by ieSonoma (innovate + educate Sonoma), a new collaborative partnership between public and private educational institutions and the larger community spearheaded by the Sonoma County Office of Education. ieSonoma's collaborators hope to engage in projects which improve teaching and learning in local schools so that students will be prepared for life in a technology rich world.

Changes in information resources, educational technology and the national shift to the new Common Core Standards are helping fuel a growing interest in how to lead innovation in schools. According to Robinson, "Education is not a linear process of preparation for the future: it is about cultivating the talents and sensibilities through which we can live our best lives in the present and create the future for ourselves." In his talk he questioned assumptions in the education system and challenged listeners to make systematic changes that will foster, not inhibit student learning and creativity. He asserted that "creativity is as important now in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status."

Part of the audience formed teams representing 18 local schools and districts who spent the remainder of the week at an institute focused on how to implement some of these ideas in their schools this year. Participants examined how their schools can systematically support teachers and students to teach in a way that will foster creativity and infuse what have become known as 21st Century skills into the curriculum. This kind of learning, which has been regarded as essential for student success in college and careers, requires students to develop and practice their ability to think critically, communicate effectively, collaborate and be creative as they are studying core subjects and developing both cognitive and technical abilities. The teams worked together to form a strategic plan for implementation over the 2013-2014 school year.

A team of faculty from Sonoma State's School of Education participated as a team at the Institute this year too. While critical thinking, collaboration and communication are not new concepts in teaching and learning, their context is new with the adoption of the Common Core Standards and innovations in technology. The SSU team hopes to spend the year helping the credential program faculty infuse more technology in the teaching preparation program, find new ways to collaborate with local districts and schools, and look at ways the specific skills emphasized by the Common Core align with the School of Education's Conceptual Framework..

Dr. Karen Grady, Professor in the Single Subject Credential Program is on the SSU team. She noted "The ieSonoma institute provided me with the opportunity to spend a week talking with School of Education colleagues and other teachers and administrators from Sonoma County about curriculum, technology, and teaching and learning in general. That kind of focused time is such a luxury these days. I was able to make new connections, renew existing partnerships and hear many different perspectives on long-standing issues in education."

Dr. Susan Campbell, Program Director of the Multiple Subject Credential Program also found the experience at the institute worthwhile. She valued "the opportunity to connect with teachers and principals in the surrounding area, Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) resources, and my Sonoma State colleagues. During the week I was able to find support for future projects planned for the SSU Multiple Subject Program. For instance, I scheduled a meeting with a person who works at SCOE who collaborates with schools in maximizing resources in support of English language learners. We are going to meet with one of our faculty members who teaches our English language learner (ELL) credential course and discuss how we can better prepare student teachers to be innovators in classrooms with high ELL populations."

Unleashing Entrepreneurial Spirit Brochure

In addition to sending a team to the summer institute, the School of Education is continuing to find ways to work collaboratively in the community and contribute to this dialogue. The University setting provides a learning environment with unique resources and a faculty that is rich with knowledge, diverse teaching experience and valuable expertise. Sonoma State aims to provide opportunities for teachers and educational leaders to think deeply about both the practical and the theoretical issues embodied in the changes schools are facing. Continuing education offerings and events designed to build on the themes of creativity, innovation, communication, and educational technology will complement the teaching credential and graduate programs which provide space for research and reflection along with innovation.

Building on the momentum of the day with Ken Robinson, Sonoma State invited attendees to enroll in a short follow-up course, "Unleashing Entrepreneurial Spirit", geared to help educators and community members develop their own entrepreneurial spirit, stay relevant, challenge assumptions and take risks. In the course, participants will have an opportunity to take with innovators, engage in critical dialog about creativity and innovation and work on how to apply that in their own environment. For more information about the class, which starts on August 26, 6:30-8:00 PM and will meet on four Monday nights, visit