Featured Stories Archives
Byon February 20, 2014 4:53 PM
Reader's Theater brings together theater, literature and reading in the classroom. MaryAnn presented new literature to the third graders in effort to spark their interest in theater and to help students further develop their reading skills. Her hope is that teachers can creatively weave good quality literature and theatrical activities into their classrooms which will help increase engagement in reading lessons and initiate learning through student inquiry. In Mr. Madison's classroom, the process began by placing students into five groups. All students were assigned one month to rehearse their material from the script, Traveling to Tondo, an African Tale from a book by Verna Aardema. Week by week, all students rehearsed their material in the classroom. Dr. Nickel and the classroom student teacher, Katie Johnstone, encouraged students to continue rehearsing assigned sections of the script at home. After one month of rehearsal, the students would perform their play in front of a video camcorder. That's where I came in. The first time I visited El Verano School, I filmed the students' "dress rehearsals" as part of the preparation for their final presentation. The main purpose of the first recording was for students to become familiar with the video recording process. After their "dress rehearsal," students were able to watch their recordings and engage in a conversation with Dr. Nickel to critique their own performances, as well as the performance of the group overall. The first recording was an important tool for students to view their work and critique themselves. The class was given an additional week to practice their material before their final recordings. For their final performance, each group performed in front of the class. To increase student involvement and interest, students were encouraged to take part in all aspects of the Reader's Theater. I encouraged students who were not participating in the current scene to maintain their involvement by becoming a part of the production process. For each new scene, I asked a different student to assist with monitoring the camera, recording audio, and with directing. I asked students to help set up the cameras in order for them to develop understandings of the film production process. Students learned how to work with tri-pods, cameras, microphones and lights. While some students were performing, I had volunteers helping as directors by calling action or assisting their peers during their work.
Working with Dr. Nickel and Mr. Madison's third grade class was not only an experience for the students but it was a learning experience for me. Students exuded much enthusiasm and eagerness to prepare for their performances. It was inspiring to see how captivated the students were during the whole process - I was impressed that the third grade class took their performances very seriously.
Those who were typically limited in their classroom participation were more eager to maintain involvement in the play. There was an increased sense of confidence in the students that had not been showcased until this performance. The introduction of Reader's Theater is one effective and exciting way Sonoma State's School of Education and Sonoma Valley School District are working together to help in the transition to the new Common Core Standards in the classroom. It is a great method to increase student's theatrical interests, develop self confidence and ability to communicate effectively, and improve reading skills for all students--from the confident reader to the struggling reader.
Watch the students' performance! >>
Byon February 6, 2014 2:24 PM
If you've recently visited the School of Education office, you may have stopped to admire the large, eye-catching mandalas decorating the walls and student credenza. These intricate pencil-drawn creations are part of a new program that incorporates student schoolwork into the lobby decor.
The goal of the new program is to showcase the lessons that our recent graduates prepare while working in local public schools. The current installment is from Novato High School, where Single Subject Alumna Roxanna Lieva teaches art to freshman and sophomore students.
"The idea is to include the lesson plans alongside the work itself, for a more in depth understanding of the assignment" said Pamela Van Halsema. "We also want to recognize how our new teachers are excelling in local schools."
"Additionally we visit the classrooms and observe our teachers in action, so that our display reflects not only the lesson but also the students," added Van Halsema. "We want to shift the focus back on the children we serve."
The School of Ed plans to incorporate four exhibits per year. Keep an eye out in late February for the next installation, featuring work from Rohnert Park's Monte Vista Elementary School, home to several Multiple Subject alumni teachers.
Byon 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.
Byon 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.
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."
Thanks 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.
Byon November 8, 2013 4:31 PM
This past Tuesday, The HUB at Sonoma State organized a panel and public conversation in response to the recent shooting death of 13 year old local boy Andy Lopez with a lunch hour event, A Conversation About Youth and Social Justice. The HUB is an acronym for Honoring the past; Uniting in the present; Building the Future and is a center on campus for Diversity, Vitality and Creativity. At noon, students, faculty and staff packed the Commons, which would normally be filled with people eating lunch at that hour, all gathered to discuss how this tragedy impacted our region, our schools and our campus community.
Leading the discussion were four faculty panelist who provided unique perspectives on the topic of social justice in our community, guns and youth.
Professor Ron Lopez, Professor of Chicano and Latino studies was the first to speak. Lopez touched upon the deeper issues rooted in the Andy Lopez case. His comments about injustices prevalent in. He spoke as an expert on social justice issues as they relate to Latino experience in the United States, and discussed how Andy Lopez was a product of a neighborhood that was essential lacking services. Prof. Lopez added that we must find ways to live that "help prevent these things from happening in our community."
Speaking from a law-enforcement perspective, Professor Napoleon Reyes, brought his expertise in Criminal Justice to the conversation. Reyes noted that he has seen several similar cases where the use of deadly force was ruled to be justified. He provided data and statistics related to police-related incidents in other times and places for comparison to the Andy Lopez shooting.
Professor Cynthia Boaz of the Political Science department spoke about the role of youth in global uprisings and social justice movements. Since Sonoma County youth and Sonoma State students want to do something to engage the community and make positive change, Boaz stressed that the first thing any strategic movement needs to have is a clear, unambiguous goal.
Anthropology Professor Margie Purser spoke after Reyes, expressing that this incident hit her close to home. Her home is relatively close to Andy Lopez's family, she stressed to students that Lopez was part of all of our community. "These are my neighbors. This is us." As a resident of Santa Rosa, Purser described the archetype of Santa Rosa's identity, and how it is not an accurate representation of the current community. She commented on the lack of representation from SW Santa Rosa in City Council.
Dr. Carlos Ayala, the Dean of the School of Education talked about how the Andy Lopez shooting directly impacted himself and his family. He accompanied hundreds of students who walked out of school to march in protest just days after the tragic event. He called on SSU students to consider a career in teaching to really make a direct impact and help students like Andy in our community. He called on everyone at SSU to be better connected to the people of Sonoma County.
Mark Fabionar, Director of The HUB followed the panel by encouraging all students and attendants to actively participate in the conversationby forming into small groups to respond to the panelists' statements, consider what is needed to create a just, vital and healthy community, and how students and others from SSU can be part of the change that is needed to bring healing and justice to our region and the people who live here.
After the groups concluded their conversations, the participants re-gathered as a whole to contribute their own perspectives. There were a diverse range of viewpoints from students, faculty, residents of Santa Rosa and community members. The most frequently asked question from participants was "What is our goal?" Participants deliberated ways on forming a mutual achievable goal. They also discussed what strategies and tactics can be organized to achieve those goals.
Students and faculty of Sonoma State advocated various ways to make small impacts on campus. Students were encouraged to explore and engage with the neighborhoods in which they reside. Some other suggestions included an increased involvement with on-campus affairs as a technique to directly impact others in the campus community. Simply by participating in campus dialogues like the ones hosted by the Hutchins Dialogue Center at SSU can help students become more aware of social justice issues both locally and more universal issues.The level of active participation from the event seemed to provide hope for social justice in our community. Not only are community activists speaking, but students are raising their voices and concerns as well. Involvement and participation from SSU students in the discussion panel exemplified the curiosity the younger generation maintains and the direct impact their presence holds. No matter what stance they take, students seem willing to talk seriously about these issues and wrestle with important decisions about how they individually, and the University as a larger entity, can help can do what is needed to made sure social justice is always part of the conversation.
SFSU Provost Sue Rosser addresses campus community and opens up discussion on unconscious gender bias in the STEM fields
Byon November 1, 2013 2:08 PM
The event was supported by every school on campus and many departments and programs, including the School of Education's Noyce Scholarship Program. The NOYCE Scholarship Program works in collaboration with the School of Education to recruit STEM majors to consider a career in teaching, in order to fill an important need in our California public schools.
Several Noyce scholars, many of whom now teach in local public high school science and math classrooms, attended the lecture, and then had the valuable opportunity to meet with Dr. Rosser after the event and discuss how an understanding of unconscious bias can help their own teaching practice.
The first of Rosser's four discussion points was the exclusion of females as experimental design subjects. For example, for a long period of history only men participated in drug trials. Problems arose as drugs were released and women began taking prescriptions designed for men.
With no research to reference, it was impossible to predict potential side effects a woman might experience from a given medication. Although this oversight was arguably unintentional, men continued to the serve as the archetype for research, creating a knowledge gap between how drugs may affect the genders differently.
By excluding half of the population, drug manufacturers took serious risks with the health of their patients. Rosser noted that if more female scientists had been involved behind the research then perhaps the inclusion of females as study participants would have began much sooner.
It is historical circumstances like this, Rosser argues, that have contributed to an unconscious gender bias over time. It's something that is ingrained in our history, and often something we unknowingly contribute to. However, women have made huge strides in the STEM fields, and more females are beginning to saturate these fields every day.
One strong point Rosser discussed is the importance of education and the early introduction of science and math.
"I know that the gender gap has improved in some areas of STEM but not enough," said NOYCE coordinator Dr. Kirsten Searby. "As parents we should expose our children to science at an earlier age so it becomes a gradual, natural area of study for all children."
Another contributor to unconscious bias is the overwhelming male majority amongst politicians and policy makers. Those in charge define what problems are the most important and the order in which they shall be researched. Similarly as professionals in the STEM field, fewer women equates to a weaker representative voice in the general community.
Rosser argues that diversity is the key for innovation to excel and STEM fields to keep their forward-moving momentum. Diversity ensures that important decisions aren't made with any overpowering singular bias, unconscious or otherwise, while providing multiple perspectives on which to draw conclusions and contribute ideas.
Educators hold the power to be a major influence in this shift, as teachers cultivate early interests in science and mathematics, and encourage students to pursue STEM degrees and careers.
"The more females we have in STEM, the more they will be role models in our schools" said Searby. " I believe we need to have more science in elementary schools, so girls will feel comfortable with it early." Parents, teachers, and STEM professionals can also help encourage girls.
"I encouraged my son and daughter to follow their passion and keep an open mind. Most people do not have a thirty year career in the same field," said NOYCE scholar Anne Chism. "Education is the key to being successful, regardless of what your definition of successful is."
The full lecture is available on YouTube
California Reading Association Institute brings prominent language and literacy experts to SSU campus, Nov. 1 & 2
Byon November 1, 2013 12:38 PM
The Professional Development Institute offers over 60 sessions, focusing on the Common Core, the new California English Language Arts/English Language Development (ELD) Framework, reading comprehension, writing, early literacy, the new ELD standards and techniques for teaching English learners which are issues and challenges our schools and districts are currently facing.
The conference features literacy leaders, educational experts, and award-winning children's authors. These sessions will provide the latest researched based strategies for teachers, librarians and administrators, who are transitioning to the new Common Core State Standards as well as a forum to discuss literacy issues, provoke innovative thinking and network with colleagues from around the state.
Dr. Karen Grady, Professor in the Sonoma State Reading and Language Program in the School of Education noted that while "teacher educators have been working on the ideas associated with Common Core for some time--this is a unique time of transition which provides the opportunity for educators to re-imagine what we have been working on all along."
Dr. MaryAnn Nickel, Sonoma State Professor of Reading and Language emphasized this transition must be grounded in literacy research. Educators must "meet the needs of all learners, and as we move to interpret Common Core standards into practical applications, we need to stay true to sound literacy theory as both our anchor and our path forward." The CRA, with this professional development conference provides this anchor, and offers educators a hub for collaboration and communication on literacy education.
Speakers include internationally respected researchers, including:
Many SSU professors and School of Education graduate students from the Master of Arts in Education program will also be presenting sessions, and some SSU students will be volunteering to help at the conference. Speakers include Dr. Charles Elster, Dr. Karen Grady, Dr. MaryAnn Nickel and graduate student Diane Dalenberg. Professional development credit units for the conference will be available through Sonoma State University's School of Extended Education for professional educators who attend. For more information about the conference schedule and about the California Reading Association, see californiareads.org.
Byon October 24, 2013 4:29 PM
1. Padlet: http://padlet.com/ 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.
2. Vialogues: https://vialogues.com/ 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. Todaysmeet.com: http://todaysmeet.com/ 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 Todaysmeet.com. 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. Todaysmeet.com 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.
Byon October 23, 2013 1:57 PM
October is pumpkin season, and Sonoma County has many fun field trip options for school groups to visit pumpkin patches to celebrate the harvest season. But this week, the pumpkin came to school. Carlos Ayala, Dean of the School of Education at Sonoma State grew this one in his garden, and decided to give it to the kids at University Elementary School at La Fiesta. And this is no ordinary gourd: it is huge!
Pumpkins can spark the imagination of children. When he brought this one to the school, the kids wanted to climb on top of it and ride it like a pony! Teachers can use pumpkins to start a line of inquiry with kids, driven by their own natural curiosity: What do you do to get your pumpkins to grow that large? How many seeds are inside of it? How did you weigh it? How do you move it? How many days does it take to grow?
Without a scale, how can you weigh such a big vegetable? Thankfully there are some clever online tools to help calculate the weight of a giant pumpkin based on specific measurements. One such web based weight calculator can be found at Overthetop.com. Based on the measurements, this grand gourd weighs in at 200 lbs.
How can you move a big pumpkin like that? Carlos used teamwork, employing a traditional Amish method for moving heavy objects by rolling it onto a sturdy canvas fabric, with many people working together to grasp the fabric's edge and lift it up, distributing the weight. As a team, the adults were able to bring the pumpkin into the classroom.
The school might raffle off the pumpkin before Halloween as a fundraiser. No doubt the winner of the raffle will need to get a cloth and practice that Amish method to get the pumpkin moved all the way home.
Byon October 10, 2013 1:20 PM
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.
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."