Featured Stories Archives

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

student teacher Indy Luis teaching a lesson

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

School of Education 27th Annual Jack London Award for Educational Innovation to honor three Sonoma County public school programs at May 13th award ceremony

By Pamela Van Halsema on May 5, 2014 1:07 PM

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For almost 30 years Sonoma State School of Education has recognized innovative programs in Sonoma County public schools with The Jack London Award for Educational Innovation.

The Jack London Award is designed to recognize, encourage and spread good ideas about innovative educational programs. Innovation required creativity and risk taking, two qualities that author Jack London himself embodied in his life and work.

This year the committee conducted site visits and is naming three recipients of the Jack London Award--two in the Early/Elementary category and one in the Secondary.

2014 Jack London Award Recipients

Secondary Category

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Project Make students at Comstock Middle School

Comstock Middle School of Santa Rosa is being acknowledged for their "Project Make" program, which gives students the opportunity to delve into hands-on, technical education that promotes problem-solving and real-world applications.

In January of last year, Comstock Middle School converted one of three existing elective sections devoted to Art into a Project Make elective. Teachers John Lundblad and Dawn Thomas spearheaded the class, providing a rich "making" environment, including access to diverse tools and materials from which students can develop and apply academic, aesthetic, technical and interpersonal skills by creating and building meaningful products appropriate to the middle school level. The program gained momentum from a summer Project Make camp offered at the school.

Early/Elementary Category

Santa Rosa Charter School [LaDonna Moore and Catherine McCracken, Directors] is receiving the Jack London Award for the Adlerian Positive Discipline Program which extends to their whole school community--from staff, to students to families. At the school, students learn self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation and problem solving skills through non-punitive and non-permissive techniques.

According to this approach, all ages learn more effective communication and encourage one another, developing skills that will help them in the present and as they grow and move on to high school and beyond. Monthly training for parents, and professional development for teachers in the Adlerian approach has created a safe and nurturing environment for students from preschool through 8th grade for many years.

Finally, Park Side School in Sebastopol is receiving a Jack London Award for their International Baccalaureate World School program, which has the goal of helping students grow to be compassionate, knowledgeable and caring lifelong learners. [Jude Kreissman, IB Program Coordinator]

Park Side teachers have developed curriculum in accordance with International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program (IB PYP) guidelines, with Units of Inquiry that encompass learning, action and reflection. Developed in collaboration, these units address the California Standards while providing a global perspective for students and following a pedagogical model based on inquiry. Park Side is the only IB PYP school in Sonoma County.

Award Criteria

Schools self-nominate their programs, and the committee narrows down the field to just four finalist programs based on their written applications. Programs are judged on their innovative approach, ability to engage teachers and their school community collaboratively, and the impact of the program on students.

For many years one award was presented each year, but in 2011 the Jack London Award Advisory committee decided to expand the award to honor exemplary programs in two categories: Early/Elementary and Secondary level programs.

Award Ceremony

The Jack London Award recipients will be honored at the Annual Education Recognition and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, May 13 at the Sonoma State Cooperage from 5-7 p.m. Admission is free to the public; all ages are welcome. Parking pass required.

School of Education honors local educators and alumni at annual awards ceremony

By Pamela Van Halsema on May 5, 2014 12:03 PM

Assistant Superintendent of Special Education Ron Whitman

Sonoma County Assistant Superintendent of Special Education Ron Whitman

For over 20 years Sonoma State's School of Education has acknowledged alumni and community partners for their excellence in local education at the annual School of Education Recognition and Awards Ceremony.  This year's event is slated for Tuesday, May 13 at 5:00 PM on SSU's campus.

The Circle of Excellence Awards recognize the accomplishments and contributions to the local education community by School of Education Alumni and community partners. Faculty members nominate alumni, mentor teachers, and friends of the program for this recognition. 

This year's recipients of the Circle of Excellence Award include: Andy Gibson (Sonoma Valley High School), Tom Griffin (Casa Grande High School), Ron Whitman (Sonoma County Office of Education) and the mentor teachers at Santa Rosa's Kid Street Learning Center.

teacher Erin Fightmaster in her classroom at Kid Street Learning Center

Teacher Erin Fightmaster in her classroom at Kid Street Learning Center

Professor Emiliano Ayala nominated Assistant Superintendent Ron Whitman for his support and ongoing collaboration with the Special Education programs at Sonoma State. "As a strong leader in our community, his colleagues offer high praise for his student-centered approach to decision making that upholds the mission of Sonoma County Office of Education," said Ayala. 

Tom Griffin, department chair at Casa Grande High School, Petaluma, was nominated by Susan Victor, faculty member in the Curriculum Studies and Secondary Education department. "He has been a tireless advocate for English learners and a supportive mentor teacher for Single Subject teaching candidates," said Victor. 

Strong teacher mentors play an essential role in the field experience component of SSU's teacher preparation programs, and both Andy Gibson and three educators from Kid Street Learning Center (Principal Kathleen Mallamo, Clare McKenzie and Erin Fightmaster) are nominated for their exemplary work supporting and mentoring new teacher candidates in the classroom. 

In addition to the Circle of Excellence honors, the School of Education will present the Jack London Awards at the event on May 13, and acknowledge the recipients of two scholarships. Early Childhood Studies major Alyx Fritz will receive the Patricia Nourot Early Childhood Scholarship. Veteran science teacher Linn Briner will receive the F. George Elliott Exemplary Professional Renewal Scholarship, providing the funds for Briner to work on a M.A. in Education in the School of Education.
Sonoma Valley High School teacher Andy Gibson standing outdoors with a group of his students

Sonoma Valley High School teacher Andy Gibson standing outdoors with a group of his students


The Circle of Excellence and scholarship recipients will be honored at the Annual Education Recognition and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, May 13 at the Sonoma State Cooperage from 5-7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.  

The event is sponsored by The SSU Alumni Association, the SSU Office of the President, The California Faculty Association, The Sonoma County Educators Council CTA/NEA, the F. George Elliott Scholarship Fund and the Patricia Nourot Scholarship Fund. is free and open to the public.

Activist Dolores Huerta rouses crowd at SSU during social justice lecture

By Lina Raffaelli on 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!"

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Slideshow by Gabrielle Cordero