Featured Stories Archives

Looking Through the Camera Lens: A Videographer's Nostalgic View of the Sonoma State's Global Cardboard Challenge

By Casey Sears on October 27, 2014 2:38 PM

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Guest Blog Post by Russell Brackett, Sonoma State University Communications Major and Multimedia Communications Intern in the School of Education


When I saw the Caine's Arcade video for the first time, I couldn't help but smile uncontrollably. Flashbacks to my childhood washed over me as I watched this amazing kid use his imagination to build something incredible out of nothing. This video tells the story of a creative kid from East LA who built an incredible pretend arcade out of cardboard boxes. It was heartwarming to see especially in this world of video games and nonstop technology.

When I heard we were putting on our own Global Cardboard Challenge at Sonoma State, in response to the Caine's Arcade video, I instantly began thinking of ways to contribute to this movement to get kids to be creative and have fun in the process. I not only thought about ways to film this event, but also the things that I could build with cardboard! This was a great opportunity to help not only the kids, but myself as well by taking me back to my childhood days of imaginative play.

Growing up, I was the type of kid who had to be told multiple times by my parents to get in the house for dinner. I'd always yell back "Just a minute!", but one minute often turned into fifteen before they physically would come and get me. I was often wrapped up in some imaginative scenario using random objects to build forts, cars, or weapons to fight battles to save a damsel in distress. This is why I was so excited because I remember getting lost in play on a daily basis as a kid and always having a blast! I waited in anticipation for the day of the Cardboard Challenge as I was hoping to relive some of something from my childhood.

October 10th finally arrived and I woke up excited and ready. Our plan was to build a village out of cardboard. Once the first wave of children began pouring in with their amazing creations built out of old boxes, I again found myself smiling and feeling happy in the same way I did when I watched the Caine's Arcade video the first time. 

Our event included preschoolers, elementary kids and college students who built houses, hospitals, and even trees for the village, made colorful with the splash of poster paint. Sounds of laughter and happiness could be heard throughout the makeshift village all day as more and more people poured in with their projects. 

Rocket ships, hotels, buses, ice cream shops, and all kinds of imaginative ideas built by people of all ages filled the quad. I was focused on filming, but there were a couple moments where I had to step back, put the camera down, and just enjoy what was taking place.

As a videographer, I film all day in hopes of capturing those moments that not only look good on camera, but most importantly evoke emotion in my viewers. Those moments were not hard to find that day as everyone who participated seemed genuinely excited to be there, and it showed in their body language and finished projects. 

At the end of the day, I was exhausted but couldn't help smiling as I knew we had accomplished something great. That day will always serve as a reminder that no matter your age, it is important to step away and be creative just like when you were a kid.

To read more about the event visit The Startup Classroom website. Check out my finished video story here: Global Cardboard Challenge Video

The Day in the Life of a Multiple Subject Student Teacher

By Gabrielle Cordero on October 13, 2014 11:50 AM

By Guest Author: Jared Candelaria

Editor's note: This guest blog article is one in a series written by students in the Multiple Subject Credential Program, intended to offer a glimpse into the life and work of a credential candidate in our program. Candelaria completed the program in Spring 2014.

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My day as a student teacher starts when I wake up at 6:00 a.m. Immediately, I start to think about the lesson plans I have done that prior weekend. As I drink a cup of coffee, I look over my daily lesson plans and wonder how effective they will be that day. I arrive at my teaching placement site around 7:30 a.m and about 7:45a.m. I start to feel a little nervous about the start of my day. As students trickle into the classroom, I greet them at the door with a smile; and after the bell rings, I say, "Time to begin our day, class".

In the classroom not every day is the same. Obviously, the content of the lessons are different and each student is unique. Because no two students are the same and have individual needs, everyday is filled with new challenges. Teaching multiple subjects daily is one of the many challenges I face not only because of the knowledge requirement but also because I must find ways to relay that knowledge to a variety of learning abilities. Some days these challenges are easy to overcome and other days lessons simply fail. No matter the outcome, each day is a learning experience for me and because I care, these experiences will allow me to grow as a teacher.

When the last bell rings and the students are gone, it is time to reflect. I am sure student teachers are overwhelmed by these feelings. I might feel discouraged, happy, excited, sad, or disappointed; but no matter the feeling, tomorrow is another day. A day you continue with the successes and correct the missteps with the help of your mentors. As a student teacher in the Multiple Subject Credential Program, always keep in mind the reason why you entered it. It was to help students reach their potential; and by remembering this, it will allow you to face the classroom challenges and eventually overcome them so that you can be successful.

To learn more about becoming an elementary school teacher and the Multiple Subject Credential Program at Sonoma State University, read more online or drop by and visit us on the ground floor of Stevenson Hall, Suite 1078.

Math Educator Megan W. Taylor on KQED to Discuss Innovative Professional Development Models for STEM Teachers

By Pamela Van Halsema on October 8, 2014 12:18 AM

Mentor teachers and teacher candidates working together at a table

Today's KQED public radio program Forum with Michael Krasny brought together education experts to discuss the best models and reforms in teacher preparation programs.  Sonoma State School of Education's Asst. Professor Megan W. Taylor was a featured guest on the program along with SFSU's former Dean of Education Betsy Keane, Stanford's Linda Darling-Hammond, and EdSource executive director Louis Freedberg. 

The radio discussion was prompted by a new report from EdSource entitled "Preparing World Class Teachers". This particular report is intended to highlight the most promising reforms to create a more effective teaching workforce. The article suggests that such induction programs could benefit from innovation and reform.

Listen to the Forum podcast from KQED


 Implementing Innovative Models for New Teacher Support

Megan Taylor, Asst. Prof. of Curriculum and Instruction in the School of Education at Sonoma State is a sought-after expert in mathematics education, teacher development, and curriculum design in the Bay Area and beyond. Her recent work with Sonoma Valley School District is notable.  Taylor worked with Sonoma State University teacher candidates and ElevatEd fellows (undergraduate and graduate students in Math and Science) at Adele Harrison Middle School in early September as part of a year-long pilot of a professional development school partnership between Adele Harrison and the Sonoma State University School of Education. 

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Megan W. Taylor, Asst Prof. of Curriculum and Instruction in Mathematics, SSU

In the program Taylor facilitated teacher candidates and ElevatEd Fellows as they observed lessons across the classrooms of the math teachers at the school, with an eye on rich classroom discussion, then participated in structured debriefs with each other and the teachers they observed. 

Principal Mary Ann Spitzer, Director of Curriculum & Instruction Karla Conroy, and ElevatEd CEO Zach Levine observed and participated in the work as well, reflecting the belief that teacher education "takes a village." 

As discussed on KQED's Forum on October 8, this experience is part of a long-term effort by SSU to strengthen the partnership between the mentor teacher and the student teacher candidate. The strong partnership is formed through key strategies, making the clinical experience for its students more effective and the return for mentor teachers more substantial. 

Another new innovative initiative, the CalCorps program strives to be the "gold standard" in teacher education and professional learning for secondary STEM teachers in California, guiding new teachers for a full 6 years from pre-service to in-service teaching. (much longer than the standard one year credential program plus two years of induction that most teachers experience) 

CalCorps focuses on creating the first, research-based, practice-focused, long-term program for the recruitment, education, support, retention, and development of outstanding STEM teachers. CalCorps is different from other models because it provides a cohesive trajectory of professional experiences for new a teacher that spans the moment they choose the profession to their 6th full-time teaching year. Find out more at: http://calcorps.squarespace.com.

To learn more about professional, university and research based teacher credential programs visit us at www.sonoma.edu/education

The Day in the Life of a Student Teacher as Told by Indy Luis

By Gabrielle Cordero on July 23, 2014 4:05 PM

By Guest Author: Indy Luis

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As a student getting started on the Multiple Subject Credential (Elementary School) CORE track at Sonoma State, you get to spend two days getting hands on experience as a future teacher. Although, with 5 on campus courses at SSU your focus is more on learning the fundamentals for creating lesson plans, being familiar with the theories behind what you are seeing in the classroom, content knowledge, etc.

But when you transition to your semester as a full time student teacher the focus is more on your time inside the classroom 4 1/2 days a week. You truly get to feel what it feels like to get to school early, prepare your classroom, and then spend the day teaching children. You will spend time getting to know your students, learning your classroom management style, your philosophies on teaching, procedures that work best in primary and upper grades, etc. The learning that can be accomplished in one day is endless, especially if you take advantage of every opportunity.

Mondays during your full time student teaching are the days where lots of caffeine is needed. You are inside the classroom from 8 to 12, business as usual. By 12 you're on the road heading towards SSU where you will attend two courses. These courses are re doable, and they are full of useful information, but having full concentration for 6 hours can be challenging.

Not only is the hands on experience at your school site challenging, but it is also extremely beneficial, and is the most important piece of this program in my opinion. I thoroughly feel like my work in the field was the most important part of my journey to being a credentialed teacher.

The most stressful time of your full time student teaching will be the works prior, during, and after you create, teach, film, and reflect on your PACT lessons. PACT stands for Performance Assessment for Credentialed Teachers, and fulfills a requirement from the State of California's Commission on Teacher Credentialing. To earn a credential, there is a series of skills that you must be able to show. You must design some sort of literacy lesson, film it, and submit all your work to be evaluated by the university. It is something that most all student teachers are able to accomplish and do a fantastic job, and from what I understand all the student teachers in my class did well and passed.

Overall the process during your full time student teaching will be hard, and it will test your strength. Even though it was the hardest thing I went through in relation of my education, I feel like it showed me that I was made to do this. As I was stressing about my PACT lessons, and nervous beyond belief teaching them, I was also nervous about the outcome in my classroom. I wanted my students to learn the literacy skill I was teaching them SO bad. This realization showed me how much I truly was made for educating the members of our future generation. I know that my passion for teaching and learning clearly showed through my work as well, because the entire class was able to succeed in my lessons.

I also feel fortunate to have made this journey through Sonoma State's program with a dedicated staff who were extremely understanding throughout the entire year, as well as a wonderful group of individuals who were also in this journey. Not only do I recommend getting to know your professors, but I also recommend depending on your fellow student teachers at your site and at SSU to get you through this. We should be in this together as a group of future teachers, and helping each other should be part of the deal. It sure was hard at various times during the year as I battled through this program, but anytime I didn't think I could do it, I knew I would have people behind me telling me I could.

Overall I feel that I have learned to become the best teacher I can be in Sonoma State's Multiple Subject Teaching Credential program. I almost gave up multiple times, and it was an extremely difficult process, but I am proud to say I made it. One thing you must remember about this program is that you can and you will get through it, just like many amazing student teachers before you who were also meant to be educators.

To learn more about the Multiple Subject Credential Program at Sonoma State, read more on our website, or attend one of our monthly information workshops!

A (Tues)Day in the Life of a Multiple Subject Credential Student Teacher at Sonoma State

By Gabrielle Cordero on June 30, 2014 11:55 AM

By Guest Author: Jessica Hernandez

Being a credential student at times can be challenging, especially if you are a mother and a wife as well. Being a credential student requires discipline and commitment. But, knowing you're making a difference in the lives of children validates everything.

For part-time student teachers in the Multiple Subject Program like me, you usually have two days at the university taking classes and two days at your placement site. In one of those site days you have a seminar class. On the other days you have an option to spend time substitute teaching during the day and in the afternoon doing homework if you want more experience. The following is a snap shot of a typical Tuesday in my life this semester.

quote from blog: Being a credential student takes hard work and dedication.  But, knowing you are helping children validates everything

On Tuesday, up at 6:00 a.m get ready and everything ready for my twins for Day Care. At 7:30 I head to my school site. It's a 30 minute to and from the site in Santa Rosa to my home in Cloverdale. Arrive at 8:00, sign in at the office and drop my reflection sheet for the week for the site supervisor to read. Class starts, for the first half hour students come to my desk for help. Teacher opens the class each morning allowing students to work on things that they may need to catch up on. After my mentor teacher starts the class. The full-time student teacher and I (the part-time student teacher) sit and correct papers for the teacher. From time to time I will stop and take notes on what I observe. Later I take a group of students to the library for reading. After reading we go back to class. The full-timer student teacher is doing a lesson. I help, in whatever she wants me to help her. During recess, our mentor teacher has study hall and the full-timer and I take turns going to the restroom since students cannot be left unsupervised.

From 12:00 -1:30 p.m we have our site seminar, this seminar will be different depending of which school site you are in. For us it was on Tuesday and typically between this time. In seminar we learned about different things we wanted to learn about teaching. At the beginning of the semester we brainstormed ideas and decided on the topics. Some seminar days were exclusively about PACT (Performance Assessment for California Teachers) for the full-timers, one was about CWS-1 (Candidate Work Sample) for the part-timers. But, most of the time the seminars were in teachers' classrooms where different teachers talked to us about topics like; classroom management, back to school night, Common Core Standards, etc. Most of the time, it was during upper grades' lunch, so we had to eat our lunches during that time as well.

After seminar, we went back to class, assisted our mentor in whatever she wanted us to do. Sometimes it was correcting, copying, taking down projects from the wall and displaying new projects on the wall. Sometimes, I would leave the class to observe other peers doing a lesson in different classrooms.as a part-timer you're required to do four peer observations After we would have a debrief session where we talked about what we observed about the lessons. Then I would return to my class and walk around helping students and observing. Then we head to the gym for P.E. before school ended. I always participate in the lesson. I believe it's important for students to see you as the teacher willing to do what you want them to do. Plus, it's fun to move around and play with your students. Class is dismissed at 2:54 p.m.

We went back to the classroom to plan for the next day and next week. Sometimes we would have auto duty in that case we would be doing that for at least 40 minutes. After school is your opportunity to ask questions about anything you saw or anything you have questions about. During this time I would plan with my mentor on anything she wanted to let me teach for the next day or what I could teach next week. Sometimes we would leave this planning for the next day. Usually I would stay at the site until 3:30. Headed to the university for a class from 4-6:40. Then head back home.

When I got home I attended to my parental duties. Once my twins were in bed. I finished doing homework. Work on my lesson plan for the next day or for the following week. Usually this was a two hour deal on a good day. Then off to sleep I went.

Alumna Kaki McLachlan selected as 2014 PBS Digital Innovator

By Lina Raffaelli on June 20, 2014 3:15 PM

Kaki McLachlan at the 2013 Teacher Technology Showcase at Sonoma State

Kaki McLachlan shares an interactive project at the 2013 Teacher Technology Showcase at Sonoma State

As education is rapidly running to catch up with today's digital advances, institutions have begun to acknowledge and reward educators who are helping pave the way through useful and creative classroom strategies.

PBS LearningMedia Digital Innovators Program is a year-long professional development program designed to foster and grow a community of ed-tech leaders. Each year PBS hand-selects 100 digitally-savvy K-12 educators who are effectively using digital media and technology in their schools to further student engagement and achievement.

School of Education Alumna Kaki McLachlan, graduate of the Single Subject Credential Program and Master's in Education in Curriculum, Teaching, and Learning, has been selected for this honor for the 2014-2015 school year.

"When students use technology in the classroom it allows them to take ownership of what they are learning," said McLachlan. "It is also an engaging way for students to gather up-to-date information in a variety of ways and share what they have learned in more exciting ways then ever before!"

Kaki McLachlanShe acknowledges that all the new technology can be confusing for teachers. "New amazing resources are available each and every day for teachers. At times, it can be overwhelming, but it's not necessary to know it all!" Trying a new technology with students can be a risk, and doesn't always work perfectly. She notes, "It's important to remember, as a teacher, that not every lesson is going to be a success. This is especially important to remember when you begin to implement new projects with technology in the classroom. It is okay to fail! We are students too."

McLachlan teaches science and technology to 6th-8th graders at White Hill Middle School in Fairfax. In addition to teaching life science, this year she took on two brand new technology elective courses focusing on digital citizenship and media.

Throughout the year McLachlan will participate in various virtual trainings in educational technology. As a Digital Innovator, she is expected to lead several professional development activities in the 2014-2015 school year to share her innovations with other educators within her school and district 

The PBS Learning Media Digital Innovators Summit was held in June, hosted at the PBS headquarters in Washington D.C. You can learn more about Digital Innovators by following the event on Twitter at #pbsdigitalinnovator and #pbsdisummit.

Why Learn About Being an Entrepreneurial Educator--an #Edupreneur?

By Pamela Van Halsema on June 13, 2014 11:38 AM

Guest Blogger Dr. Paul Porter, SSU Professor of Educational Leadership

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Educators + Entrepreneurialism = Edupreneurialism

"Edupreneurialism?"  Just another term or something meaningful?  As an instructor in this course The Entrepreneurial Educator, of course, I lean towards the term having great meaning.  For too many years educators have avoided any ties to business, and business has criticized education's graduates.  This artificial separation has led to neither side being able to benefit from the depth and wisdom of the other.  Every business must see itself as a learning organization.  Every school and student must see themselves as a bit more like a business. 

If we are to truly move to 21st century learning and embrace the concepts of the Common Core, our students (and teachers) must begin to think of themselves not as passive recipients of knowledge but as finders and shapers of their own future.  In the course we explore the concept of every student and teacher seeing themselves as an "economic unit of one,"  not in just a financial sense, but with the belief that each student must, early in their education, begin to see themselves as responsible for developing themselves, for marketing themselves, for discovering their passions and for aligning these passions and interests with the realities of today's world.  This is not a task for a career project as a senior in High School, but a way of thinking that needs to be nurtured at an early age.

Come and join us in exploring this concept. Begin looking at yourself as an entrepreneurial educator. Our course begins on June 23 and is hosted on Canvas.net.  Enrollment is free.

Education Specialist Clear Induction Program at Sonoma State University

By Pamela Van Halsema on June 12, 2014 11:29 AM

education specialist clear induction program now accepting applications for Fall 2014The Educational Leadership and Special Education (ELSE) Department is pleased to announce that we have preliminary approval from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) to offer a Clear Education Specialist Induction Program.

What does this mean for you? 

All teachers are initially issued a preliminary credential, which must be "cleared" within a period of time after it is earned. The induction process has been designed based on research that indicates that teachers are more successful, and that they stay in the profession longer when they have been provided support during the early years of their career. The CTC has given candidates holding a Preliminary Education Specialist Credential two options to receive early career support and clear their credentials: Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA), or a university based induction program. Now that SSU has an approved program in special education, you can pick us to complete your induction into the profession of teaching!

Advantages of the SSU Induction program over BTSA include:

  • The option to clear your credential even if you are not employed as a teacher.
  • A one-year timeline to complete the clear credential.
  • Coursework aligned with our master's degree program in special education; you can earn 12 of the 30-36 units you need for the MA by completing induction.
  • Core induction courses offered in a hybrid format;
  • Come to campus on 5 Saturdays, do the rest of the work online. 
  • (This will account for 6 of the 12 units you need to complete for induction).
  • Supportive professors and rigorous instruction, similar to what you enjoyed as a SSU credential candidate.

We will offer the Clear Education Specialist Induction Program at SSU for the first time in the fall semester of 2014. Find more information and an application on our website: http://www.sonoma.edu/education/else/clear-induction-es/index.html  We will be taking applications until August 10. We hope you will consider being a member of our inaugural cohort of clear credential candidates!

Please contact Dr. Jennifer Mahdavi (jennifer.mahdavi@sonoma.edu) with any questions you have about this exciting new opportunity.

FREE Summer Science and Math Foundational Level Institute for Teachers

By Lina Raffaelli on May 27, 2014 2:13 PM

Student looking through microscope If you are a credentialed teacher who wants to teach math or science, Sonoma State University has just the program for you! This summer the School of Education at Sonoma State University is offering a Foundational Level Mathematics Institute at SSU, as well as two Foundational Level Science Institutes, located in Santa Rosa and Napa. These free programs are designed for teachers who currently hold a Multiple or Single Subject Teaching Credential and provides them the opportunity to add an additional credential.

The Institutes offer both a content methods course and content review to prepare and assist teachers to pass the CSET's. Participants will earn 5 units of credit and will only need cover the cost of their own books.

For more information about the Foundational Level Mathematics Institute, please visit sonoma.edu/education/smtri/foundationalmath. Information on the Foundational Level Science Institute can be found at sonoma.edu/education/smtri/foundationalscience

Both program application deadlines have been extended to May 30th.

Napa Science Institute deadline: June 15th EXTENDED TO JUNE 30! We still have room!

ieSonoma Event June 9 Features Design Thinking in Education

By Pamela Van Halsema on May 21, 2014 10:00 AM

Sonoma State School of Education is pleased to be a co-host of the 2014 ieSonoma event on Monday, June 9, 8:30am-12:30pm at Sonoma Country Day School in Santa Rosa.  The event is focused the changing demands of the 21st century and how our community, and its schools, must respond to meet those demands. Two keynote speakers will be featured, Dr. Sugata Mitra and Nirvan Mullick. A discussion on "Design Thinking in Education" will include a panel of experts, including Greg Bamford, Kristen Swanson, and others to be announced.


Sugata MitraDr. Sugata Mitra is Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, England. His 30 years of research spans a wide range of disciplines, but he has earned the greatest recognition for his creative experiment known as the Hole in the Wall, which showed that children can teach themselves and each other when they're motivated by curiosity and peer interest. This work inspired the book and award-winning movie Slumdog Millionaire. Dr. Mitra received the 2013 TED Prize and was named one of the Top 10 Thinkers of 2013 by CNN.

Nirvan MullickNirvan Mullick is a filmmaker, creative consultant, speaker, and entrepreneur. His animated short films have screened in festivals worldwide. In 2001, he began an ongoing collaborative experiment called The 1 Second Film, which was one of the first crowd-funded films. In 2012, he directed Caine's Arcade, an 11-minute film that became a viral phenomenon, receiving over 8 million views and sparking a global movement of "cardboard creativity." Mullick subsequently founded the non-profit Imagination Foundation to find, foster, and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in children. He has received the Dan Eldon Creative Activist Award and Innovation in Action award.

Registration is free for teachers and students using the promotional code innovate14 on the registration form, but tickets are limited.  General admission is $40 for non-teachers.  To register, see this registration page

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About ieSonoma

ieSonoma is a partnership of educational institutions and the larger community dedicated to exploring the research, theory, and practice of transforming education for the 21st century. The partnership was initiated by SCOE in collaboration with founding partners Sonoma Country Day School and Sonoma State University and is aligned to the Cradle to Career Sonoma County goal of ensuring that every child succeeds academically