Featured Stories Archives
Byon April 10, 2014 1:12 PM
There are not many women in their eighties who have the gusto and vivaciousness to rouse a crowd of a thousand faces, not only inspiring their audience but eliciting a mixture of laughter and serious reflection; Dolores Huerta is a rare exception.
On March 27 Huerta, activist and co-founder of the United Farmworkers Union, spoke at Sonoma State as part of the H. Andréa Neves and Barton Evans Social Justice Lecture Series.
The evening kicked off in The HUB, SSU's multicultural center, where Huerta spoke directly with students in an intimate and open discussion about her life and work as an organizer. Students asked thought provoking questions and sought advice for young people who desire to organize and work towards social justice in their own communities.
She later spoke in the Student Center ballroom, an event that sold-out at just over 1,000 tickets, distributed to high school and college students, community members, and faculty. Huerta covered a variety of topics, such as women rights, workers right, and marriage equality. She emphasized the importance of organizing and empowering people to make a change. "Poor people don't often think they have any power." She explained how, alongside Cesar Chavez, she helped spread a grassroots movement towards workers rights by visiting the homes of farmworkers and speaking to them face to face.
She also strongly encouraged the audience to go see "Cesar Chavez," the feature film directed by Diego Luna, which was set to hit theaters the following day. "If enough people go and see the film, maybe we can show Hollywood that these kinds of films are important, and maybe we will see more like them in the future," said Huerta, who is portrayed in the film by Rosario Dawson.
By the end of the evening Huerta had 1,000 attendees on their feet chanting "SÍ, se puede!" a phrase that she famously coined during the farmworkers movement. She arroused and inspired the crowd, chanting "who has the power?" with a sea of booming voices shouting in response: "WE have the power!"
Student Angelica Shubbie said she loved how engaging Huerta was during her lecture. "She showed her passion, wisdom, and hope, which was inspiring to witness in person." said Shubbie. "Although her main focus is on Farm Labor Unions, it's amazing to see her work towards human rights for everyone!"
Slideshow by Gabrielle Cordero
Byon April 8, 2014 1:27 PM
By Guest Author: Travis Pappa
5 Ways to Make your Student Teaching Effective, Enjoyable and Fulfilling
Form a Positive Relationship with Your Mentor Teacher
This may come very naturally or it may take some intentional effort on your part. Chances are, you probably won't agree with everything your mentor teacher says or does, nevertheless, do your best to understand their point of view and the experiences they have had (namely, their teaching experience that caused them to adapt the procedures or habits they have). While you may find yourself eager for the freedom of your first year of teaching solo, take advantage of the ideas, constructive critique (as humbling as it may be, it will be worth it!), perspective, advice and anecdotes that years of experience have yielded your mentor teacher. Developing a sense of teamwork and camaraderie with your mentor teacher can be of great value to both you and your students.
Read Articles and Books Related to Education that Interest You
Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov has been one of my favorite reads during my time as a student teacher because of the practical and easily implemented teaching techniques it describes. Ask your mentor teacher for reading recommendations since it is likely they have established a personal library of education-related readings. Books and articles provide a great point of conversation between educated individuals (such as you and your mentor teacher) and are certainly a catalyst for creativity during your lesson planning.
Greet the Students Who May Feel Overlooked or Unnoticed in Class
While student teaching, I was surprised to find that I had at least two students each period who would try to be as unnoticeable (by teachers and/or students) as possible. I challenged myself to greet each of these students personally and consistently at the beginning of each class period - even if it was a simple: "Good morning, Irvin, I'm glad you're here today." Although one of my students wanted to keep their interactions with me limited to this, over the following three weeks, most of these quiet students began to change their classroom behavior. Most of these students who were once shy and quiet began to be more alert and active in class. These students also began to hold conversations with me (during and after class!) and even began smiling more frequently during the period. It was an enjoyable lesson in how intentionality and consistency go a long way for the students who are accustomed to being overlooked.
Listen More, Talk Less
The more I teach, the more I am reminded that I become a better teacher by listening: talking with other educators in my content area, formal student feedback, informal student feedback and reading works by published educators. Ironically, the best teachers seem do a great deal of listening. High school students have an average "lecture attention span" of 14-18 minutes, which means that a teacher should spend most of a class period not addressing the entire class. There are a plethora of ways students can learn content aside from lecture (and a substantial amount of research-based methods and materials to do so). Save your voice for when it's needed and spend time circulating your classroom, talking with students and conducting thoughtful formative assessments on how your students are understanding the material. Often, the less I talk, the more meaningful my words are to my students.
Remind Yourself of the Reasons You Want to be a Teacher
No matter how good of an imagination you have, teaching looks, feels and is much different than you ever imagined. Inevitably, there will be days when you will feel you don't have what it takes to be a teacher. After some pizza, chocolate, or a power nap, take some time to remind yourself of why you want to be a teacher. There were likely multiple things that inspired you to pursue this profession and it is important to remind yourself of such inspiration on the days that discourage you. After that, create opportunities that allow you to enjoy your favorite parts of teaching.
The Accelerating Academic Achievement for English Learners (AAAEL) Project is a five-year, teacher-centered professional development project funded by the U.S. Department of Education that is focused on improving English Learner (EL) student achievement in mathematics, science and English language arts.
Byon April 2, 2014 3:25 PM
May 17, 2014 will mark the 60th anniversary of the historical Brown v. the Board of Education decision. The upcoming anniversary presents the educational community with a moment to re-evaluate race relations today. It is a time to analyze how much education and race in America have transformed since the U.S Supreme Court's decision, as the SSU community joined to discuss on February 19th.
As an institution that recognizes the importance of diversity and education, Sonoma State engaged a panel discussion organized by SSU librarian Karen Brodsky. Speakers included History professor Steve Estes, English and American Multicultural Studies (AMCS) professor Kim Hester-Williams and Erma Jean Sims, professor of Education. Each professor offered insights on the subject through the lens of their professional expertise.
For those who need an update, Brown vs. Board was an important landmark case by the Supreme Court that discontinued the legality of racial segregation in U.S. public schools.
Erma Jean Sims focused on the development and causes of resegregation, explaining how racial issues persist in American society. Along with resegregation, there are economic issues some have to endure, "Resegregation by race usually leads to further segregation by income, which has far-reaching effects on the quality of housing, and quality of education," said Sims, "Racially segregated schools are almost always schools with high concentrations of poverty."
Kim Hester-Williams examined black rights today by prefacing with an excerpt from Toni Morrison's The Dancing Mind, and followed with the powerful painting of Ruby Bridges by Norman Rockwell. Williams added that the incident of Ruby Bridges, entering her first day of first grade, came a mere six years after the Brown v. Board decision.
The painting served as an example of how racism prevails in American society. Although America has taken legal matters to protect the rights and education of minorities in America, it seems that diverging interests undermine Brown decisions, as Hester-Williams explained. She pulled into question the extent of progressivism for black rights today and how far American society still has to go.
Steve Estes concluded with his historical knowledge on the matter, detailing how Brown vs. Board inspired movements such as the Grassroots Movement. The audience was given an overview from Plessy to Brown to the 2000's, to help examine issues such as gentrification today. With higher income families migrating back to the cities, audience members learned that segregation is being created within schools. Thus creating an insufficient and inferior education for the Black and Latino youth.
As a conclusion to the discussion, the panel opened to a group discussion. Eager participants from the audience questioned how they could help make changes in the community. From remarks and inputs, the professors and members of the audience offered more active recruitment from the campus.
The group brought attention to the University and ways the SSU community can be an active part resolving racial issues in education. Fellow participants offered that University, itself, could begin recruiting a more diverse faculty and becoming more involved. The discussion served as a first step to realizing the needs in education in terms of race.
Byon 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 http://make.marinschools.org.
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.
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