5 Tips from a Novice Student Teacher: Amy Nelson

Posted by Gabrielle Cordero on April 15, 2014 1:22 PM

a picture of Amy Nelson Student Teacher

By Guest Author: Amy Nelson

5 Tips from a Novice Student Teacher

Accept the Awkward

There are going to be MANY uncomfortable and awkward moments during your student teaching year. Embrace them, laugh about them, and learn from them. Nothing can really prepare you for the moment when you are staring at a room full of 35 seventh graders, and somebody tells you that you have spilt coffee down your white shirt and didn't even notice. You will have moments when you simply don't know what to say or can't recall the brilliant point you'd planned on making. Student teaching is a time when you can make mistakes, you won't be perfect. In fact, I've learned the most from the lessons I created that didn't work out whatsoever. So when you're "onstage" and the lesson doesn't turn out like a clip from Freedom Writers... just roll it.

Work with Your Mentor

One of the first things my mentor told me was that picking a student teacher is like picking a roommate or a spouse. Having a good relationship with your mentor truly makes a huge difference in your experience. Your mentor is there to coach and guide you: ask them questions, admit defeat and confusion, talk to them about what you're doing well and what you need to work on. Don't be offended when they offer you constructive criticism about your instructional approaches. RELY on your mentor, for they are there to support you in every situation, a.k.a. when the class has gotten out of control and you have absolutely no idea how to quiet them down before the principal walks in.

Get to Know Your Students

This seems obvious, but as a novice teacher it is easy to get caught up in the chaos of prepping for your next class, remembering how to work the copy machine at break, trying to find the assignments for a student who hasn't been to class in two weeks, etc. Make it a goal to just talk to your students when time permits--ask them about their lives and what is going on in their world. Just the other day I noticed while putting in grades that Lilly, a quiet student who doesn't "hide" from me nor shout out and demand my attention, has been performing exceptionally well during my "Outsiders" unit. Sometimes I get so caught up with interacting with the students who require so much attention, that I don't get to check in with the students who don't beg to be noticed. I made sure to approach Lilly at her desk the next day and tell her that I have seen how well she has been doing, and that I was really proud of her. The smile that stretched across her face sent chills down my arms--she beamed with pride and it surprised me how just that one comment meant so much to her. You are the teacher, but you will learn so much from your students... so talk to them.

a picture of Amy Nelson Student Teacher

Make a Name for Yourself

Student teaching isn't a time to be shy. Talk to the other teachers and administrators at your school, there is no better time to observe the teaching styles and techniques of others. Ask educators why they got into the profession. Don't be afraid to put yourself out there and be the student teacher who is always shaking people's hands and roaming around campus.

Remember Why You Want to Teach

During your student teaching you will be completely stressed out, overwhelmed, and unsure of yourself--it's okay. You will have one million things to do: papers to write, projects to make, and essays to grade, but be sure to take time for yourself. Take a deep breath and remind yourself why you want to be a teacher. There have been many days where I've felt like I'm doing a horrible job and question whether or not I have what it takes to be an English teacher. Days like that happen, but then, a student tells me that I'm their favorite teacher -or--someone spells the correct form of "your" and "you're" on their essay and I know that I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be. It is easy to get caught up in the stress of it all, but remember that the kids are what make it all worth it in the end... teaching is truly a joy.

Activist Dolores Huerta rouses crowd at SSU during social justice lecture

Posted 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

Survival Tips from a Student Teacher by Single Subject Candidate Travis Pappa

Posted by Gabrielle Cordero on April 8, 2014 1:27 PM

a picture of Travis Pappa Student Teacher

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.

a picture of Travis Pappa Student Teacher

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.

SSU discussion commemorates upcoming Brown v. Board of Education 60th anniversary

Posted by Gabrielle Cordero on 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.


(From left to right: Professors Erma-Jean Sims, Steve Estes & Kim Hester-Williams

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.

ruby bridges

Norman Rockwell's "Ruby Bridges" painting

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making Learning Fun! Sonoma State teams up with Sonoma Valley Unified School District

Posted by Gabrielle Cordero on February 20, 2014 4:53 PM

Back in December of 2013, I was given the wonderful opportunity to work with El Verano Elementary School in Sonoma, Ca. I collaborated on a project with MaryAnn Nickel, Professor in the Department of Literacy Studies and Elementary Education for the School of Education. After she was asked to help instruct Mr. Madison's third grade class one day a week, she started to implement what is known as Reader's Theater into the classroom--an approach that aligns well with the new Common Core Standards for English Language Arts.

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.

Students lined up preparing for their presentation 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! >>

School of Education lobby displays work to highlight alumni and local schools

Posted by Lina Raffaelli on 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."

Roxana Leiva assists students during her Art & Design class

Roxana Leiva assists students on a project during her Art & Design class at Novato High

Hanging Mandalas

The student credenza displaying the lesson and mandalas from Roxana's classroom

"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.

Professors Kathy Morris and Debora Hammond Honored with Goldstein Award

Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on January 31, 2014 3:31 PM

Dr. Kathy Morris

Dr. Kathy Morris, Goldstein Award recipient

Sonoma State has named two faculty members as this year's recipients of the Bernard Goldstein Award for Excellence in Scholarship.  These faculty demonstrate a strong commitment to the teacher-scholar model here at the University.

The award recognizes the important connection between faculty professional development (scholarly creative activities) and enriched learning environments for students.

Dr. Kathy Morris received her Ph.D. in Educational Studies - Teacher Education from University of Michigan. Since joining the Sonoma State University faculty, Dr. Morris has authored or co-authored five peer reviewed publications, completed two book chapters and six other publications. In addition, she's participated in 38 conference presentations since 2003 alone.

Dr. Morris has been a Carnegie Fellow on two different projects; The Goldman-Carnegie Quest project related to elementary school mathematics teaching and the MSRI Carnegie Elementary Math Project. For the past five years Dr. Morris has been a Principal Investigator and Co-Director on grants totaling three and a half million dollars. This includes a current $500,000 State grant related to the California Common Core project.

This work has led to her current book project on effective strategies for implementing Math lessons. Dr. Morris was instrumental in the design of the MA in Mathematics Education through the School of Education. Graduates of this program are teachers who go on to take leadership roles in the K-12 education system.

Dr. Debora Hammond

Dr. Debora Hammond, Goldstein Award recipient

Dr. Debora Hammond received her Ph.D. in History of Science from University of California, Berkeley.  She is an international expert in the history of systems thinking; she has given plenary talks six times for the annual meeting of the International Society for the Systems Sciences. She has over 20 publications on topics which range from systems thinking, to food, education, ecology and sustainability.

Her book, The Science of Synthesis; Exploring the Social Implications of General Systems Theory was published in 2003. She has also been an invited speaker, workshop organizer or participant in over 28 conferences and events. Her two recent publications in 2013 are "Reflections of Recursion and the Evolution of Learning" and "Systems Theory".

Dr. Hammond works with graduate students in the Hutchins Action for a Viable Future MA program, and as Coordinator of the MS in Organization Development. Dr. Hammond has the honor to be selected as an invited participant to the 2014 International Federation for Systems Research Conversation which will be held in Linz, Austria. This biennial event gathers a team of researchers together to work collaboratively for a week on a shared theoretical paper.

The vision of Bernie and Estelle Goldstein is definitely reflected in this year's "Goldstein Awards for Excellence in Scholarship" winners.  Each recipient will receive $1,500 to support their ongoing scholarship efforts.  Debora Hammond and Kathy Morris will be formally recognized at the annual Exposition of Faculty Research event that will be held later this spring.

'Taste' of Graduate Study Available to Newly Credentialed Teachers

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

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

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

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

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

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

The process to enroll through Open University can be found at the Extended Education web page at http://www.sonoma.edu/exed/misc/open-university.html

Generally, the steps to follow are:

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

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

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

4. Start attending classes the week of January 13.

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

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

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

SSU's Teacher Technology Showcase Fosters Dialogue & Innovation

Posted by Lina Raffaelli on January 8, 2014 2:08 PM

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

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

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

Watch the video slideshow:

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

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

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

Read about the Tech Showcase in the Sonoma State STAR

3rd Annual Sonoma State Teacher Technology Showcase December 5

Posted by Lina Raffaelli on November 15, 2013 10:40 AM

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

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

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

techshowcase2.jpgAttendees learn about pedagogy for mobile devices

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

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

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

Read here about the success of the 2012 tech showcase

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

Noon Event about Youth Social Justice, and Andy Lopez Highlights Need for SSU Community Engagement

Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on November 8, 2013 4:31 PM

Photography and article by Gabrielle Cordero

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

Posted by Lina Raffaelli on November 1, 2013 2:08 PM

Sue Rosser lecturing

Dr. Sue Rosser addresses audience questions

Two weeks ago Sonoma State welcomed Dr. Sue Rosser, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at San Francisco State University, for a campus-wide academic discussion. Dr. Rosser delivered a thought-provoking lecture on Unconscious Gender Bias, delving into the complex issue of underrepresentation of females in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields. Rosser is a noted scholar, having written 13 books and contributed to more than 130 journal articles on this and related topics.

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.

Attendees packed in the Cooperage Oct. 21 to hear Sue Rosser

Attendees packed the Cooperage to hear Sue Rosser's lecture

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.

NOYCE Scholar Josh Baca asks a question

NOYCE Scholar Joshua Baca asks a question during the Q&A portion

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

Posted by Lina Raffaelli on November 1, 2013 12:38 PM

Today Sonoma State University welcomes the California Reading Association's Annual Professional Development Institute, Literacy: Passport to the World! to campus. This two-day conference is the premier event for literacy professionals in our state. Mendocino County Special Educator Nancy Rogers-Zegarra, one of the organizers of this year's event noted that she is "excited that the conference will act that this year's conference will be held on a university campus so that K-12 and University educational leaders can meet and learn together and form partnership for future work. The North Bay International Studies Project and the School of Education have been wonderful partners in encouraging collaboration."

CRA logo 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.

Nell Duke & P. David Pearson Speakers include internationally respected researchers, including:

  • Regie Routman, an internationally respected educator and author with more than 40 years of experience teaching, coaching, and leading in diverse schools across the U.S and Canada.

  • Nell Duke, an award-winning literacy researcher and professor of Language, Literacy, and Culture at the University of Michigan

  • Linda Dorn, most well known as the primary developer and lead trainer of the nationally recognized Partnerships in Comprehensive Literacy Model. She is a professor of reading education at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and has taught for 30 years at the elementary, intermediate, and college levels.

  • P. David Pearson, a professor at UC Berkeley who lead the creation of the Literacy Research Panel to respond to critical literacy issues facing policymakers, school administrators, classroom teachers, and the general public. He also works with teachers to promote deeper learning as they navigate the new Common Core State Standards in English Language Arts.

  • 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.

    Ed Tech Tips: Padlet, Vialogues & Todaysmeet

    Posted by Lina Raffaelli on October 24, 2013 4:29 PM

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

      1. Padlet: 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.

      Vialogues = video + dialogue 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.  

    Its the Great Pumpkin...at University Elementary School!

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on October 23, 2013 1:57 PM

    Dean Carlos Ayala with pumpkin

    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?

    team moving the pumpkin

    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.

    Ed Tech Tips: Fantashow, Soundcloud and Diigo

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

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

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

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

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

    Unleashing Entrepreneurial Spirit Course Registration Open

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

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


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

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

    The link to register and pay for this short course is now available online.  The course fee is $50, plus there is an option to register for 1 continuing education unit for an additional $55.  Instructions for payment are at http://www.sonoma.edu/education/ues/index.html

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


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

    Monday August 26, 2013

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

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

    Monday, September 9, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Monday, October 7, 2013

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

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

    More details on this session TBA

    Preview Class Introduces Idea of Entrepreneurial Thinking in Education

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


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

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


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

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

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


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

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

    Sir Ken Robinson Inspires Innovative Thinking in Local Education Community

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

    Sir Ken Robinson

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Unleashing Entrepreneurial Spirit Brochure

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

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

    Two Retirements Bring Changes to School of Education Student Services

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on May 31, 2013 9:43 AM

    robin.jpgTwo long time Student Services employees retire this month from the School of Education.  Robin Coolidge, Administrative Coordinator and Lane Olson, Senior Credentials Analyst have both served students from  recruitment and admissions to the point of program completion and beyond teacher and graduate programs here at the University, and have provided important services to staff, administrators, faculty and students with their range of experience and knowledge.

    Coolidge started her work at Sonoma State in the School of Education as the Receptionist almost nine years ago, and had moved to the role of Administrative Coordinator for the admissions process in the school.  Co-workers noted that she seemed to "know everything" about the office and about campus, helping students navigate campus processes and get on their way to reaching their career goals.  It helped that Coolidge is also a student at SSU, earning her degree in History--so she could approach the work from both a staff and a student perspective.  Upon retirement, she will be able to focus her time, along with her husband on raising her two young sons. 

    lane.jpgOlson has been the School of Education Credentials Analyst for ten years, having come to SSU from Dominican University.  In her role at SSU she reviewed and filed teacher and administrative credentials to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) and served as Compliance Officer for state regulations related to public educator requirements.  She has been a leader in her profession and on this campus for years, serving as a Chief Steward for her union, the staff representative to Academic Senate, and as Board Treasurer for the Credentials Analysts and Counselors of California, which serves as an advisory body to the CTC.  Olson brought a depth of knowledge, professionalism, and compassion to her job which was clear to the students she served and the colleagues with whom she interacted. 

    The School of Education appreciates the work and dedication of both Robin Coolidge and Lane Olson and would like to thank them for their years of service to the University, and honor their efforts made for the students and local education community.

    School of Education Hosts Educators Job Fair on April 19

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on April 11, 2013 1:58 PM

    fairlogo.jpgThe School of Education will host an Educator Job Fair on Friday, April 19, 2:00-5:00 in the Student Recreation Center on campus. The fair is an opportunity for new and recently credentialed teachers from the School of Education's programs to meet school and district administrators and discuss what job openings are currently available or coming on the horizon. Employers from schools all over Northern California will participate in the fair, including schools from Alameda, Lake, Marin, Napa, Sacramento, Sonoma, Solano and Mendocino counties--public schools and charter public schools will be represented.  Some employers are coming to collect resumes as they are still not certain about openings in their districts, while others have present needs and hope to conduct preliminary interviews on site.

    It has been well over a decade since the School of Education has hosted a recruitment fair like this.  Student Services Coordinator Maricela Ibarra noted that she often receives requests for an event like this, "I always thought it would be a great idea to offer a job fair where offices of education and school districts could present information about jobs available, and conduct interviews. Seeing that this is finally happening creates a special kind of atmosphere for the entire school. It gives me a sense of accomplishment to provide this opportunity to our graduating students and alumni."  Ibarra is hopeful this will be an annual event each spring, and that faculty and staff can continue to support students in their job search. 


    Teacher candidates and graduate students have been gearing up for the event.  The Single Subject Credential Program and the Administrative Credential Program help students with resume preparation and conduct mock interviews to help prepare candidates for the job market.  Associate Professor Susan Campbell who teaches in the Multiple Subject Credential Program says the full time students who are finishing the program are excited about this opportunity to meet potential employers here on campus. Campbell noted they are very grateful to our education community for making the effort to come here to meet them and talk about jobs in their schools and districts.

    The market for teaching jobs in the Bay Area has been tight over the last several years, but there has still remained a consistent need for teachers in Special Education, Mathematics and Science.  The Dean's Office in the School of Education had been receiving many more requests from school districts to post job announcements than usual, and took that as a sign that the time was right for a recruitment event. A significant increase in the teacher retirement rate is one factor causing new opportunities in the job market for teachers, and researchers predict the trend to continue for the next several years. Other factors that may have influenced the job outlook for educators are the passage of Proposition 30, which may have brought more predictability to California public school funding, and the fact that statewide, fewer new teachers have come through credential programs over the last several years.    

    To read more about the Job Fair at Sonoma State University, see www.sonoma.edu/education/jobfair.

    Anne Frank: A History for Today on Display in Sonoma State University Library through April 22, 2013

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on March 29, 2013 3:10 PM

    Picture of Anne Frank

    The Sonoma State School of Social Sciences and University Library are honored to host the exhibition Anne Frank: A History for Today. The exhibit provides a glimpse into the story of Anne Frank and her family, which is juxtaposed against world events before, during, and after the rise to power of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi party.

    Anne Frank: A History for Today coincides with the planting at SSU of a sapling from the chestnut tree Anne Frank so often wrote about in her diary. The tree which gave Anne so much inspiration was set to be destroyed due to disease. SSU is one of 11 locations in the the United States to receive one of the saplings. "The addition of the Anne Frank tree will solidify the SSU campus as a major center on the West Coast for the study of the Holocaust and genocide," says Elaine Leeder, Dean, Social Sciences. "It will provide eventually a vast canopy under which the University Holocaust Lecture Series can continue for generations." The sapling will be planted at the Erna and Arthur Salm Holocaust & Genocide Memorial Grove at SSU mid-April, 2013.

    Anne Frank: A History for Today is on display on the second floor of the University Library at the Schulz Information Center. The exhibit runs through April 22, 2013. A reception with light snacks will take place on April 12, 2013 from 12:30 - 2:00 on the second floor of the University Library.

    For more information about the exhibit, please visit: http://library.sonoma.edu/about/frank.php or contact University LIbrarian Karen Brodsky at karen.brodsky@sonoma.edu For information about the sapling planting at SSU, contact Dr. Elaine Leeder, Dean, School of Social Sciences, elaine.leeder@sonoma.edu, (707) 664-2120.

    Rebecca Lynne Lucas 2013 Nourot Scholarship Award Recipient

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on March 1, 2013 3:45 PM

    Article by Melissa Marengo, School of Education Multimedia Student Assistant


    Rebecca Lynne Lucas is the 2013 Patricia Nourot Memorial Scholarship recipient! In honor of Dr. Patricia Nourot, every year the scholarship is given to a student to cover expenses in the Early Childhood Studies program.

    Rebecca grew up in Vallejo, California and had a great experience at her own elementary school, Dan Mini Elementary. This made her want to start volunteering with children as she got older. She volunteered at the school's after school program for three years. Rebecca has also contributed many hours of community service with children through her church and Vallejo High School.

    Currently, Rebecca works with Join Us Making Progess (a.k.a. JUMP) on campus as a student leader for their Hunger and Homelessness program. She also volunteers as a coordinator for Catholic Charities Family Support Center. In the future she hopes to work with non-profits that help children and their families enrich their lives or become an elementary school teacher. She believes that with enough support and encouragement, every child should be able to grow up the confidence to follow their hopes and dreams, and not be limited by their present situation. After earning her degree, Rebecca is hoping she can get a job working with children, be part of that support system for children, and continue to be inspired every day by their energy and optimism.

    Ed Tech Tips: Student Authoring Tools

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on February 27, 2013 12:51 PM

    Article by Jessica K. Parker, Assistant Professor

    What's one of the best things about living in the digital era? With access to the Internet, we can all be authors! This wasn't always the case. I grew up a consumer and I watched TV and listened to the radio. The only things I created were mixed tapes and video recordings of athletic events. Today, youth grow up as both consumers and producers. Why not capitalize on this by having students create media texts! Here are three powerful tools that students can use to author their own content and demonstrate understanding.

    Child dressed in Yoda costume with annotations on the photo

    Dr. Parker's son dressed up as Yoda last Halloween.

      Storybird: Storybird is an online collaborative storytelling tool that gives users the ability to read, create, and share books online using original art and their own writing ideas. Students can make visual stories with artwork from illustrators and animators around the world! Storybird can inspire anyone to turn images into narratives. Want to learn more? Here is a digital handout on Storybird designed by School of Education Master's students, Kristina Beltz and Carol Wise.

      Capzles: Curate your own multimedia presentation with images, audio, and video with Capzles! Dr. Carlos Ayala is using Capzles to have his students discuss important historical events in education.

      Jing: Use Jing to take free screenshots or make screencasts. Have credential students annotate aspects of student work or images of their classroom walls. Have math students talk through their process of solving a problem by recording their own computer screen. Give directions for homework by annotating the document using Jing. You will need to download the software, and Jing saves all your work to your computer. I attached my own example of an annotated Yoda!

    Ed Tech Tips: Great Online Reference Tools

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on February 25, 2013 12:03 PM

    Article by Jessica K. Parker, Assistant Professor

    How did we survive without these essential resource and reference tools?

    image of the Wolfram-Alpha search box

    WolframAlpha is a computational knowledge engine. Want to find the answers that aren't in the back of the math and science textbooks? Still trying to solve that chemistry equation from HS? Or are you more interested in people and history, culture and media, music, words and linguistics, education, or even weather--because WolframAlpha can rock your world in about a nanosecond. Check it out some examples and then let's chat about traditional assessments in math, science, history, etc., since one can easily solve for X with this computational knowledge engine.

    Popplet website home pagePopplet

    is an online mind mapping tool. Want a way to create multimedia galleries, record your thoughts, explore ideas, and organize your insights? Popplet is your online tool for mind mapping with text, images, videos, AND you can collaborate with colleagues and students! Easily zoom in and out and just use your cursor to move around your map. Here is an example from a group of students who shared their summary of the book, Reading the Media, in the EDCT 559 class.

    Studyblue.com homepage image
    StudyBlue Flashcards helps you create your own digital flashcards! Geared towards students, this site allows you to build flashcards, practice on any device, and share your cards with peers.

    Ed Tech Tips: Using TED Educational Resources

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on February 7, 2013 11:17 AM

    Article by Dr. Jessica K. Parker

    TED Screenshot

    Here is another installment of our biweekly Ed Tech Tips blog articles from the Sonoma State School of Education. In this platform we will share thoughts and practical advice on technology and ideas for how to use these tools and applications for good teaching practice.

    1) TED Talks: You love TED talks, but are you aware of all their amazing features? Not only can you embed the TED talk in a Moodle page or your latest blog post, but you can also email the link to colleagues and students. Feel free to turn on subtitles for talks as well and download the talk to use later, EVEN if you don't have access to the Internet. Not interested in watching a video but would rather listen to a TED talk? Then subscribe to the RSS audio feed and start listening via iTunes!

    2) TED Ed: Love TED talks and want to use them creatively in your class? Check out the TED Ed videos that allow you to customize supplemental material such as quizzes, questions, and additional readings and activities for a specific Ed video. Just click on the "flip this video" button and you can turn a TED Ed video into a customized lesson. Take the TED Ed tour to learn more.

    3) TED Books: Wishing you could read a multimedia TED book? Now you can download the TED Books app and choose a TED book from their library for either $2.99 per book or $4.99 per month for all access. Plus, the TED books are short and inspiring. TED books work with the iPad, Kindle, and the Nook.

    Assistant Professor Megan Taylor Named 2013 STaR Fellow

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on February 5, 2013 10:50 AM


    Congratulations to School of Education Assistant Professor Megan Taylor for recently being accepted as a 2013 STaR Fellow! The Service, Teaching and Research (STaR) Project is an induction program for recent doctoral graduates in mathematics education. The program, funded by the National Science Foundation, is a 12-month experience that networks early career mathematics educators (in the first or second year of their first academic appointment). The Program focuses on three themes: research, teaching and service as well as leadership development To be eligible for this program you must have your doctorate in mathematics education and be in your first or second year of tenure track at an institution of higher education in the U.S. As a STaR Fellow, Megan will have the opportunity to attend a week-long Park City Mathematics Institute this summer, get extra support as she continues her research agenda and collaborate with a strong cohort of other mathematics faculty to strengthen her teaching practice.

    Megan Taylor is the newest faculty member in the Curriculum Studies and Secondary Education department and the Single Subject Credential Program here at Sonoma State. Her research focuses on secondary mathematics and teacher education. Megan has taught 6th-12th grade for twelve years and believes that in order to improve public mathematics education in the U.S., improvements on teacher education are necessary. Her recent work investigates how mathematics teachers use textbooks and explores ways they can be do it more effectively to improve classroom learning.

    SSU Credential Candidate Roxana Leiva Explores and Exposes Salvadoran Immigrant Experiences with Exhibition 'Mourning and Scars: 20 Years after the War'

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on January 31, 2013 8:41 AM

    Roxana Leiva

    SSU Credential Candidate Roxana Leiva, 2012-2013 SOMArts Curator in Residence

    Roxana Leiva, Single Subject Credential Program Candidate in Art and student teacher in the Art Quest program at Santa Rosa High School knows what it is like to be an immigrant. She has done it herself-- twice. First, she moved to Petaluma at the age of 13 from her homeland of El Salvador. She recalls the experience as terrible--an incredibly difficult cultural transition--and vowed that after she grew up and finished school she would move back to home country. After high school, she earned her B.F.A. in Art/Illustration and her M.A. in Latin American Art and Culture at Long Beach State University and then she followed her heart and returned to El Salvador. She had a great job at the Art Museum of El Salvador, and even worked as the project director to establish a government funded arts school for youth. She was making a difference in the lives of hundreds of children through her arts education program there, but after several years, Leiva felt a need to come back to California and be near family, so once again she became an immigrant.

    Leiva recalls the culture shock she experienced both times she moved to the U.S., and how she felt out of place, and marginalized socially. Although she is Salvadoran, she was often referred to as Mexican, and she felt that people she interacted with didn't treat her as an educated woman. Even now, as a credential candidate at Sonoma State she says people that she meets and talks to often assume she is training to be a Spanish teacher, not an art teacher, just because she is from Latin America. Leiva is motivated to break through these stereotypes, and aims to work on building cultural understanding through teaching art and art history--both in the classroom and in the broader community. As an artist and an educator, Leiva understands that art is a powerful medium which can help express ideas and feelings and expose people to new ways of thinking about culture.

    Leiva is on a career path for arts education, and realized her employment options would be much wider if she had a Single Subject Credential in art. As she looked for jobs in arts education both in non profits and in public schools, most required that she hold a credential.


    Artists installing their work at SOMArts. Left to right: Leiticia Hernandez, Jan Carlos Mendizabal, Tessie Barrera-Scharaga and Rick Victor

    In the Single Subject Program, students work directly with young people as they learn the teaching profession. Leiva's field site is the Art Quest program at Santa Rosa High School. She loves the program and the opportunity to work side by side with an experienced mentor teacher and share both art and art history with high school students.

    At the same time she was starting the credential program, she decided to build on her graduate school research too. Continuing her exploration of art, culture and civil war in 1980s El Salvador, Leiva applied for and received a grant the SOMArts Cultural Center in San Francisco to be a Commons Curator in Residence. Her project, Mourning and Scars: 20 Years After the War presents new artwork by Salvadoran immigrant artists and exposes their life straddling two cultures 20 years after the signing the Peace Accords which ended civil war. Leiva hopes that the show, which opens on February 1 and runs through the end of the month, will be a catalyst for dialogue on ethical, political and cultural matters and that it will help the reconciliation process needed after experiencing trauma and war.

    Mendizabal 'Black Butterfly'

    Black Butterfly by Juan Carlos Mendizabal

    The exhibit features work in a variety of media, including paintings, video, textile sculpture and large-scale multimedia installations by prominent contemporary artists, all immigrants from El Salvador, including Victor Cartagena, Carlos Rogel, Tessie Barrer-Scharaga and Juan Carlos Mendizabal and others.

    Leiva wants the Sonoma State community to join in the dialogue too, and is partnering with The Hub, our on campus multicultural center, to host a panel discussion on February 28. Three noted cultural scholars Beatriz Cortez, Karina Zelaya, and Douglas Carranza will speak at the noon event. Leiva is exploring the possibility of bringing the art exhibition to Sonoma State next year as well.

    The SOMArts Opening Reception for Mourning and Scars: 20 Years After the War will take place on Friday, February 1, from 6:00-9:00 PM. The event is free and open to the public. SOMArts is located at 934 Brannan St., San Francisco (between 8th and 9th streets). The exhibition will be on view through February 28. http://www.somarts.org/mourningopens/

    Single Subject Program Candidate Franklin Matthews 'Went the Distance' to Reach His Goal of Becoming a Teacher

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on January 22, 2013 10:34 AM

    Article written by SSU Student Melissa Marengo

    Franklin Matthews

    Franklin Matthews never thought he would one day become a teacher. At SSU during his undergraduate studies, he originally declared a business major. Eventually, he switched his major to Kinesiology where he began working as a basketball coach and personal trainer. Parents of kids that he was working with suggested to him that he become a Physical Education teacher because he seemed to work well with children and enjoy teaching them. He thought he would give it a try and began taking some pre-requisites for the credential program during his senior year in 2008.

    He then took a brief leave of absence from the school and moved down to the Peninsula with his wife. Wanting to continue his schooling and get his teaching credential he went to San Jose State who would not accept his transfer credits. Instead of starting over with them, he spoke with Dr. Karen Grady here at SSU who encouraged him to do the program up in the North Bay, despite the long commute. Franklin said that all of his teachers worked around his schedule and his busy commute to allow him to get his credential and fulfill his dream of becoming a Physical Education teacher.

    Franklin would commute by bus everyday from East Palo Alto to his classes in Rohnert Park. He got his student teaching opportunity at Petaluma High School, which he described as a "blessing in disguise". He was having a hard time finding a student teaching job and Petaluma High was his last hope. He said his experience there was great and he learned a lot about full inclusion for all students. During his time in the credential program what he learned most was classroom management, the importance of gaining student respect and understanding, and developing strong relationships with your students that will leave a lasting impact on their lives.

    With the help of all of his professors and fellow students at SSU, Franklin was able to graduate from the Single Subject Credential Program for Physical Education and is now working with kids in the South Bay. Franklin works at a non-profit organization which partners with Stanford University called East Palo Alto Tennis and Tutoring. He works with about 25 students every other day after school as the High School Group Coordinator. He teaches them life experience as well as offers help with college applications. Franklin Matthews would like to thank Dr. Grady, Dr. Marker, Dr. Victor, and the entire Sonoma State faculty and staff for being so supportive and flexible with him through out his credential program experience. He says he would not have made it where he is today without them.

    Ed Tech Tips: New Bi-weekly Series of Practical Tools and Advice for Teaching

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on January 18, 2013 2:30 PM

    By Dr. Jessica K. Parker

    keyboard with enter key

    Welcome to the first in a series of biweekly Ed Tech Tips blog articles from the Sonoma State School of Education. In this platform we will share thoughts and practical advice on technology and ideas for how to use these tools and applications for good teaching practice.

    Google Moderator
    • Totally frustrated because you can't get students to talk in class, or still trying to find a way to assess students' (mis)understanding of course content? Try using Google Moderator to have students respond to and post course-related questions before class. Students (and you) can mark the responses that are the most relevant with either a check mark or an "X"--this allows you to prioritize the ranked responses and promote student discussion based on the student-generated questions and responses. How cool, right! Here is an example from a panel presentation I was on--I used the posted questions to guide my talk.
    Moodle 2: Tool Guide for Teachers
    • What Moodle resource or activity is good for assessing learning, co-creating content, or promoting communication and interaction? Use this Moodle 2 Guide to help you use Moodle tools such as the wiki, glossary, choice, lesson, and book resource in your course. Download or print this bad boy and post it on your office wall for all to see.
    Advanced Power Searching
    • Feeling like Google's search engine just doesn't get you and your search terms? Well, you are in luck! Google Inc. is running a FREE Advanced Power Searching class that starts Jan 23rd. Not only will you be able to learn cool search strategies from "THE" search folks at Google, but you will also experience a MOOC. A MOOC is a massively open online course that Stanford, Google, and even the CSU are testing out these days. I enrolled in Google's first Power Searching class over the summer and had a blast.

    Mary Collins Symposium Addresses Math Common Core Standards, Critical Literacy and Technology

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on January 16, 2013 12:25 PM

    mary collins school symposium logo The teachers at Mary Collins School in Petaluma are dedicated to teaching as a profession, one which mentors new teachers and fosters professional growth for experienced ones through collaboration, research and study. Each semester the Multiple Subject Credential Program places teacher candidates at Mary Collins to gain valuable clinical experience from their staff of expert mentor teachers and the guidance from School of Education faculty supervisors and gain direct experience working with children in the elementary classroom.

    In step with this belief that a continual learning process is key for professional growth, Mary Collins teachers host an annual Symposium on topics related to curriculum, teaching and learning. The Symposium is not just for their own staff but is open to educators in the North Bay community. Motivated by the belief that parents are key partners in student learning, they include a parent night in the Symposium schedule so parents can listen to presentations by the guest speakers and discuss these topics too.

    This year will mark the 11th time they have hosted the Annual Mary Collins Symposium, which will take place on Saturday, January 26, 2013 and features presenters Dr. Vivian Vasquez and Dr. Patrick Callahan.

    Dr. Callahan will focus on the changed expectations for mathematics instruction with the Common Core Standards, specifically two of the mathematical practices: "Constructing Viable Arguments and Critiquing the Reasoning of Others" and "Reason Abstractly and Concretely" and Dr. Vasquez will focus on critical literacy across the curriculum--specifically: critical literacy and technology-- and place based pedagogy.

    Registration is $25 to attend the event, which includes lunch.  Registration is online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/308125

    This a wonderful opportunity to network with teachers and educators from all across Sonoma County.

    Celebrating New Teachers Completing their Credential Program

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on December 19, 2012 5:14 PM

    multiple subject faculty members with female student at credentials ceremony Person Theater's house was filled last week with people gathered to celebrate a new group of teachers who have completed their credential programs at Sonoma State.  This group of students will move on to work as public school teachers in elementary, middle and high schools in California.  Most have completed the program over the course of two or three semesters, including many hours of work in clinical practice, working with a mentor teacher and a university faculty supervisor to gain the important practical experience needed to begin their career as a teacher.

    Dean of Education Carlos Ayala and President Ruben Arminana delivered opening remarks for the evening's celebration. Faculty from the School of Education's Credential Programs spoke, offering kind and supportive words to the students as they begin their teaching careers.  A student speaker from each program offered remarks at the ceremony: Sarah Kremple, Yasha Mokaram and Jaime Alexander each spoke about their own experience in the program, and their passion for teaching.

    In her address to the Multiple Subject Credential Candidates, Dr. Susan Campbell noted that this is an exceptional group of motivated teachers saying, "You have also taken your own students beyond their immediate worlds and shown them how to be active citizens in a humane democracy. With your guidance and leadership, your elementary students have cleaned up local creeks, sent letters to active military personnel, sent food and cards to needy families, started school recycling programs, and made scarves for residents in eldercare-all this within the umbrella of academic learning as they also learn how to read, write, research, and interact within school. You have changed the world and we are proud of you."

    Dr. Viki Montera offered her congratulations to the group who completed the Education Specialist Credential Intern program, "who have earned their credential while also serving as full - time teachers in area schools."  Dr. Montera acknowledged the tremendous effort that required, since these Special Education Interns "are responsible for their students' success at work while simultaneously being responsible for their success here at SSU. A balancing act and a remarkable feat."

    Dr. credential candidates in Person Theater at the ceremonyKaren Grady acknowledged how challenging it is to earn a credential in California, and offered words of advice to the beginning middle and high school teachers: "
    Remember to be kind to adolescents. Even when it is hard to do, put the kids first" and stressed she the importance of maintaining a professional community, advising "...remember that you do not have to manage it all by yourself--the Lone Ranger is actually not a good metaphor for being a great teacher. Find like-minded colleagues, go to conferences, become members of your professional organizations. You will need to do this to be your best, to stay sane and healthy, and to keep growing."

    The inspiring ceremony concluded with a slide show of photos of the teachers at their student teaching field sites, and a reception for the graduates and their guests.

    Professor Jim Fouche Retires

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on December 18, 2012 10:41 AM

    groupshot.gifSonoma State faculty, staff and administration got together on December 14 to honor Professor James Fouche's retirement from Sonoma State's School of Education after twenty years of service.  Dr. Fouche came to SSU as the Dean of Education in 1992 following a post as Dean of Education at Winthrop University in South Carolina.  During his tenure as Dean of Education, Fouche contributed in many ways to the campus and community, including the establishment of the Educator in Residence Program, work as a partner on the design for Technology High School, and a co-author of the North Coast Beginning Teachers Program, along with many other projects and initiatives. In 1997 he transitioned to a faculty position in the Curriculum Studies and Secondary Education Department and spearheaded many successful state and federal grants, including work for the advancement of bilingual teacher preparation (Projects BECA and PITA), and many notable initiatives to the advancement of educational technology for teachers: Digital Bridge, Light Bridge and SMART. More more recently he was a partner on the EnAct grant project for accessible technology and Universal Design for Learning. Together these grant projects brought millions of dollars for educational research and innovation to Sonoma State and our public school region.

    gift.gifAt the retirement celebration, colleagues shared stories of working with Dr. Fouche over the years, noting many examples of his steady leadership, collegiality, vision for innovation, and dedication to helping teachers and students that characterized his career.  Retired faculty joined the celebration, including Jayne DeLawter, Rick Marks, and Marty Ruddell.  cake.gifDr. Fouche's roots in Louisiana and his well-known dedication to Gators football were a theme at the party too, including a cake decked out with an alligator staring down a seawolf, surrounded by blue and orange icing.  The School of Education faculty presented Jim with a gift of a framed Matisse print in honor of the occasion. 

    Jim and his wife Kathy look forward to this new opportunity to spend more time with their family, especially their two young grandchildren.   

    Technology Showcase Provides Opportunity for Creative Idea Sharing and Professional Dialogue

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on December 7, 2012 11:36 AM

    Despite the stormy weather outside, an enthusiastic crowd of teachers, school and district administrators, university faculty, staff, and Sonoma State Students gathered in the Student Union on November 29 for an evening of creative idea sharing and professional dialogue about educational technology. Twenty-nine student and alumni presenters showed examples of the kinds of lessons that they are designing using new media tools. What is unique about this showcase is the emphasis not on the tools themselves, but on how they are used to increase student engagement and student learning. Carlos Ayala, Interim Dean of the School of Education posed the question, "How can we create a better learning environment for students through the integration of technology, and how do we know it is better?" Presentations at the event demonstrated how new teachers at Sonoma State are working to answer those questions.

    Dr. Jessica K. Parker first organized the Technology Showcase last year, as part of a project funded by Google. Dr. Parker noted that this year the event has more than doubled in size. This year's Showcase was once again sponsored by Google, with additional support from KQED Education and Edutopia (The George Lucas Education Foundation); both of these organizations tabled at the event.

    What the Showcase revealed is that across all subjects and age groups, new technology tools provide many possibilities for engaging students, providing teachers with tools for teaching and assessing student progress. There are many useful tools that foster open student collaboration and creative opportunities for student engagement. The Showcase also demonstrated that there is much room for research on how these tools can best be applied to advance learning.

    Many of the applications that were on view were not originally developed for educators, but have been applied to teaching in unique and powerful ways by these beginning teachers. For example, a team of Special Education teacher candidates Wendy Franklin, Samantha Thurston and Erica Metz showed how music entertainment software Garage Band can help students learn vocabulary. And Diane Dalenberg, Master's Degree candidate in Educational Leadership showed how she re-purposed two children's storybook websites to analyze children's reading skills with retrospective miscue analysis.

    Some presentations showed how applications can provide ways for reluctant students to become more engaged and active in learning. Christina Sanders and Tasha Schmitz, both from the Multiple Subject program, demonstrated using Voicethread to get students to talk about literature. Carmen Vecchitto, a candidate in Single Subject Spanish showed how a 'digital jump start' can warm students up and help them be ready to learn more in a Spanish lesson. Julia Marrero and Mary-Clare Neal showed how the social learning platform Edmodo can help keep students engaged and collaborate on learning activities beyond the classroom walls.

    The atmosphere at the event was one of wonder, hope and possibility--an invitation for educators to try new things and share ideas with colleagues, to experiment and innovate all to help foster student learning. In the lobby of the Student Union, informal 'sandbox' areas were provided for one on one dialogue about tools, equipment and applications. Clearly, in this ever-changing technology environment, educators from all backgrounds need to be agile and open to learning new skills. The robust attendance at the event showed that many teachers, administrators and students are eager to acquire some of these skills themselves.

    Dean Ayalay noted that Sonoma State's School of Education is ready to be a center for innovation in educational technology for the region and welcomes opportunities for collaboration and research in this arena. Hosting this annual Showcase, offering credential and advanced degree programs that spur innovation in schools, and participating in partnerships that encourage collaboration and innovation all contribute to this effort to support the appropriate use of educational technology in our schools.

    Teacher Technology Showcase Highlights New Media for the Classroom

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on November 26, 2012 2:33 PM

    techshowcase-poster-web.pngImagine a classroom where middle school students learn geospatial awareness by taking a virtual tour of the moon, or a lesson where special education kids improve their vocabulary with Garage Band.  These are just a couple examples of projects that will be featured at the Teacher Technology Showcase this Thursday at Sonoma State University.  At the Showcase, twenty four pre-service and recently credentialed teachers will demonstrate lessons that they have created to help build student engagement and support student learning. 

    School of Education Assistant Professor Jessica Parker designed the event, which provides beginning teachers the chance to share creative ideas for ways they plan to use new media tools in classroom experiences. Dr. Parker, who teaches educational technology at SSU, notes that the focus of the event is not just on the technological tools the teachers are employing, but also on the content objectives as well; how are they creating a better learning environment for students through technology integration.   At the showcase, presenters will have the opportunity to converse with experienced teachers and administrators from local schools, graduate students and faculty about the lessons they designed. 

    Presentations will include examples of lessons built for mobile devices, the use of web based collaboration tools, video screencasts for flipped classrooms, wikis and more. The presenters come from a range of teaching environments and student age groups, from early education, elementary, secondary, educational leadership and special education, and they will provide examples of for kindergarten through senior year of high school and beyond.

    This is the second year that the SSU School of Education is hosting the Showcase, which this year has support from Google, KQED and Edutopia. The event will take place on Thursday, November 29, 5:00-7:00 PM in the Student Union Multipurpose Room and is free and open to the community.  (Please note that parking on campus is $2.50).

    Can't make it to the event?  Follow us on Twitter for highlights:  @educationSSU #ssuedtech.

    Teacher Technology Showcase Highlights New Media for the Classroom

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on November 26, 2012 2:33 PM

    Early Childhood Studies Major Launch Celebration November 1

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on October 24, 2012 1:42 PM

    early childhood studies launch flyer

    The School of Education will officially launch a new undergraduate major in Early Childhood Studies with lunch hour celebration of children, learning and play on the Stevenson Quad on Thursday, November 1, 11:00 AM - 1:00 PM.  The new major will help prepare students to work or pursue graduate study in education, health and other professions that serve young children and their families, leading to better health and education outcomes as children grow into adulthood. 

    "Early investments in children help all youth, regardless of the barriers they may face, to increase their personal achievement, thus breaking the cycle of disadvantage that perpetuates inequalities in the United States," says Associate Professor Chiara Bacigalupa, faculty advisor for the Early Childhood Studies program.

    "In order for these advantages to be realized, however, early childhood program need educated professional who understand the complexities of providing effective care and learning opportunities in today's diverse communities."

    The major is a multi-disciplinary course of study will prepare students for a variety of career paths, including:

    • Infant, toddler and preschool teachers
    • Administrators of programs for young children and families
    • Professionals in health fields, including child life specialists
    • Pre-requisite work for the multiple subjects credential for elementary school teachers
    • Pre-requisite work for the special education teaching credential.

    The November 1 launch celebration will include interactive exhibits from the Sonoma County Children's Museum, play-based learning activities and the chance to meet representatives from agencies in Sonoma County that offer support services to children and families.

    Single Subject Program Co-Teaching Pilot

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on October 17, 2012 2:07 PM

    coteaching pilot group photo

    The goal of the Single Subject Credential Program is to prepare candidates to be successful secondary teachers for California Public Schools. Achieving that goal requires a study in teaching theories and pedagogy, balanced with valuable practical experience working in classroom settings with a professional mentor. This year the Single Subject program is impementing a new model for student teaching, called co-teaching.

    Dr. Karen Grady and Dr. Susan Victor have been working closely with teams of teachers and single subject candidates in five local schools for this pilot: Altamira Middle School in Sonoma, Elsie Allen High School in Santa Rosa, Petaluma Junior High School and Lawrence Jones Middle School in Rohnert Park. Teams from the schools came to Sonoma State campus and participated in special workshop so they will be ready to put the model into practice in Spring semester 2013. Grady hopes to expand the model to more schools in coming years.

    Co-teaching is defined as two teachers (mentor teacher and teacher candidate) working together to teach groups of students - sharing the planning, organization, delivery and assessment of instruction, as well as the physical space. Co-teaching involves a continuing partnership where the lessons are all prepared collaboratively and taught as a team. Both teachers are actively involved and engaged in all aspects of instruction. This differs from the prevalent model of student teaching in secondary classrooms where student teachers are expected to solo teach for the entire semester of student teaching. In the co-teaching model student teachers both team teach with their mentors and solo teach.

    Mike Lesch and a co-teaching team from Elsie Allen High

    The co-teaching model has been used and evaluated nationwide, and shows benefits not only for beginning teachers, but benefits for student learning. One high school student remarked, "While one is teaching, the other comes around and asks if we need help. It makes it easier to get around to everybody." The research shows that this model enhances classroom management, supports different learning styles and increases student engagement and participation. Another student noted, "I think we learn more because there are two different teachers in the room - which means they teach different ways - which means they know different facts - which means you're going to learn a lot more."

    Mentor teachers have a lot to gain from the model too. Teachers who have implemented co-teaching in their classrooms noted that not only do student teachers perform better through the collaboration, but that they themselves feel a new energy for teaching, have experienced professional renewal, and have been better able to try new things because they are working in a team.

    Janet Hardcastle Retires from SSU After 25 Years of Service

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on September 28, 2012 10:31 AM

    Janet Hardcastle with framed picture of SSUJanet Hardcastle retires today after twenty five years of dedicated service to Sonoma State University.  When she started working here in 1987, her first position was with the Intensive Learning Experience Program for the Communication Studies Department.  But shortly after that, she took a position with the School of Education, where she has worked ever since.  From 1989-2001 Janet worked as the assistant to the dean in the School of Education, before transitioning to the world of educational technology grant work, where she has truly made her mark over the last decade.  Janet has been the administrator of three major federal grant projects sponsored by U.S. Department of Education, and has worked closely with teams of faculty from Sonoma State and other partner institutions.  These projects include Light Bridge:  Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology, Ensuring Access through Collaboration and Technology (EnACT) and EnACT - Partnerships, Technology and Collaboration, EnACT-PTD.

    Janet Hardcastle retirement viewTwo weeks ago, the campus celebrated her retirement with a send-off party hosted by the School of Education.  Faculty and staff from across campus, as well as other retired SSU people and family members came together at the Terrace Room and Patio at the Commons to thank Janet for all the good work she has done for Sonoma State, and to wish her well.  Colleagues Gayle Graff, Jim Fouche, Brett Christie and Emiliano Ayala praised her for years of professionalism, precision, dedication and collegiality.  They credited her with much of the success of their grant work, because she brought so much knowledge and expertise to the complex world of federal grants.  Janet was at the hub of all their work, and for that they are forever grateful.

    The School of Education presented Janet with a commemorative Waterford vase and a framed picture with photographs of campus to mark the occasion.  Janet noted that she loves Sonoma State’s beautiful campus, and while she will no longer be working here, you will likely in the future see her here taking a walk, maybe pushing one of her grandchildren’s strollers, enjoying the beauty of the trees and gardens here at Sonoma State, truly taking time to make the most of her retirement.

    Melba Patillo Beals, Member of 'Little Rock Nine' to Speak at SSU September 27

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on September 10, 2012 10:24 AM


    Sonoma State welcomes Melba Pattillo Beals to campus on September 27, 7:00 PM in the Cooperage.  Beals is a journalist and member of the Little Rock Nine, a group of African-American students who were the first to integrate Central High in Little Rock, Arkansas. Beals' book Warriors Don't Cry chronicles the events of 1957 during the Little Rock crisis, based partly on diaries she kept during that period. She also wrote White is a State of Mind, which begins where Warriors left off. 

    In 1958, the NAACP awarded the Spingarn Medal to Beals and to the other members of the Little Rock Nine, together with civil rights leader Daisy Bates, who had advised the group during their struggles at Central High. In 1999, she and the rest of the Nine were awarded the highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal. Only three hundred others have received this. Beals will be discussing her book and experiences.

    This events is free, but you need a ticket to attend. Stop by the SSU Student Union Box Office to get a ticket. Tickets will be available to select freshman classes this week, and opened up to the community starting Monday, September 17.

    Check out a clip here about Beals and how she grew to love learning, books and libraries:

    Technology Infusion Challenge

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on September 5, 2012 2:16 PM

    illustration of a laptop computer

    As part of Sonoma State University's ongoing effort to improve student learning for all, the School of Education is launching its first Tech Infusion Challenge. The Tech Infusion Challenge is a project sponsored by the CSU Digital Learning Ambassadors Program and the Google Education Division.

    School of Education students and a faculty partner are invited to design a lesson in mathematics, science or language arts that infuses technology in teaching based on a lesson the student observed at Sonoma State. The best lesson selected and re-designed will be awarded $600.

    • Consider a lesson that you observed at SSU and how it might be improved.
    • Invite a faculty member to be a partner in redesigning the lesson.
    • Prepare an alternative lesson that infuses technology to help convey subject content and skills. Work collaboratively.
    • Four workshops will be offered throughout the semester to assist with your technology planning and implementation.
    • Submit your lesson (e.g., *video link, webpage, presentation) with any additional instructional materials that would be used by students (*video no longer than 10 minutes).
    • Each submission will be reviewed by a panel of faculty.
    • First Prize $600
    • Second Prize $400.

    Dr. Sandy Ayala demontrates educational tools on an iPad to preservice teacher candidates at Sonoma State University

    Partner teams must REGISTER by SEPTEMBER 25, 2012

    Only the first 12 qualifying teams will be selected to participate. All team members will receive digital prizes for participating.

    Registration and challenge guidelines can be found online at:


    Submissions are due by Monday, November 26, 2012. Winners will be announced Friday, December 7, 2012. For more information contact Dr. Sandy Ayala, 707-664-2972 or ayalas@sonoma.edu

    Gotta Keep Reading: 2012 Summer Reading and Writing Academy

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on August 31, 2012 12:41 PM

    written by MaryAnn Nickel, Professor


    Fifteen graduate students and 56 kids had an exciting two weeks of adventuring with reading and writing at the Summer Academy held on the Roseland Elementary School campus. The Academy ran from July 9th through July 20th. Guest readers shared their favorite books to close each day. Children worked in a small groups with two or three graduate teachers selecting books to read from a wonderful collection of rich multicultural children's literature and authoring an original story or non-fiction piece to be published in the Sonoma State University's Academy 2012's annual Academy Magazine. At the SSU Author's Tea in the fall, students and their families will come to campus to receive their copy of the magazine. For many it is their first time on a college campus.

    Dean of Education Carlos Ayala reading to Summer Academy kids

    The Academy is a supervised practicum for Reading certificate and Specialist candidates. Using a Reading and Writing Workshop format, candidates work with students from 2nd to 9th grades under the supervision of and in collaboration with faculty and Specialist candidates. An emphasis is placed on assessing the strengths of readers and writers from all levels and ages with an obligation to inform the students of what they can do well. Informal assessments and planned instruction utilizes learners' strengths in order to address their needs. Candidates participate in professional conferences and write reports in which they summarize and critique assessment findings. Opportunities are available for candidates to work with beginning readers, struggling readers at different levels, English language learners, and successful readers and writers.

    Academy Philosophy


    Language is learned through its functional use. As our students engage in purposeful literacy experiences they learn language, learn about language, and learn through language (M.A.K. Halliday). Literacy is a dynamic and multidimensional human process that enables individuals to express, communicate, and reflect on their experiences and their potential next steps. Reading and writing involve constructive strategies of communicating, composing, and meaning making.  Language and literacy vary according to regional, historical, social, cultural, political, and economic influences; these and other factors must be interrogated and taken into account when making instructional decisions. Teachers who understand the linguistic, cognitive, socio-cultural, and developmental dimensions of literacy in authentic contexts can better address students' next places to learn and roadblocks in language arts, reading and writing. The course focuses on assessing, planning, teaching and collaborating with fellow graduate candidates to best meet the needs of readers and writers at all levels of skill and ability. The end goal is deep preparation of graduate students who will return to their classrooms and schools and become more successful literacy professionals and educators.

    Department Chair Changes in ELSE Department

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on August 30, 2012 9:02 AM


    The Department of Educational Leadership and Special Education welcomes Dr. Viki Montera to the position of Department Chair for the Fall 2012 semester.  Dr. Montera is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership for the ELSE Department which offers both advanced credential and master's degree programs for the preparation of principals, superintendents and education administrators. In addition, Dr. Montera is taking over the role of co-director of the CANDEL Joint Doctoral Program in Educational Leadership this semester as well. Joining her in a department leadership role this semester is Dr. Sandy Ayala, who will serve as the program coordinator for the Education Specialist Credential program. Fellow ELSE Department faculty member Jennifer Mahdavi, on sabbatical through the end of this term, will move into the role of department chair in Spring 2013 upon her return.


    This change in leadership follows former Department Chair Professor Emiliano Ayala's departure from Sonoma State University to a new position at our sister institution Humboldt State University as Associate Dean of the College or Professional Studies. Dr. Ayala was a member of the Sonoma State faculty since 2000, teaching in the Education Specialist Credential and Special Education Master's Degree programs. In addition to his recent role as department chair, he wrote and directed two grant projects here on campus related to adaptive technology and Universal Design for Learning, first as Project Co-director and Co-principal Investigator for Access by Design (AxD) funded by the National Science Foundation, and later, from 2005-2012, as Project Director/Principal Investigator for Ensuring Access through Collaboration and Technology (EnACT~PTD) funded by the U.S. Department of Education: Office of Postsecondary Education.

    Dr. Ayala has been a valued scholar and leader at Sonoma State, and will be missed here on campus. Department colleague Professor Paul Porter remarked that "Emiliano is one of the brightest and most talented faculty members in the School of Education. His great organizational skills, vision, student-centered outlook, and always positive attitude will add so much to Humboldt State. We will miss him very much."

    CSSE Department Welcomes Megan Taylor

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on August 16, 2012 10:56 AM

    Megan Taylor

    The CSSE Department in the School of Education welcomes new Assistant Professor for Mathematics Education Megan Taylor this semester.  She comes to Sonoma State having just completed  a post-doctoral research fellowship at Harvard Graduate School of Education for the TESLA Project (Transforming the Engagement of Students Learning Algebra).  Immediately prior to the postdoc, her doctoral work at Stanford focused on the way mathematics teachers use and adapt textbooks in the classroom.

    We asked Megan tell us a little about herself and her journey to becoming a mathematics educator:

    *Math was never easy for me. If you had told me, as I was struggling through freshman Algebra (and hating every minute), that I would become a mathematics teacher, I would have laughed hysterically (and probably cried a little, too). But I AM a math teacher today in spite of and because of the teachers I had along the way. Teachers who ignored my needs, who frustrated me, who saw me as a lost cause. Teachers who inspired me to challenge myself, try my best, and never give up. Teachers who helped me realize I wanted to BE a teacher.

    Today I work with mathematics teachers and study mathematics teaching so more people can help more students be successful in mathematics. In my dissertation research I studied how four teachers worked to use their textbooks more effectively, and observed fascinating changes in how they adapted and created curriculum materials over time. In my postdoc the past two years I developed curricula and a professional development experience for over 400 teachers, as part of a project designed to understand motivation in middle-school mathematics. One of the most recent findings emerging from the data is that the "best" lessons were not necessarily those from teachers implementing our materials the way we expected them to.

    I couldn't be more excited to join the SSU team and get to know the Seawolf culture!"

    SSU Noyce Scholars Chu and Green Present at NSF Noyce Conference

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on July 11, 2012 2:15 PM

    image of Ginnie Chu and Adam Green at the NSF Noyce poster session

    Adam Green at the NSF Noyce Poster Session in Washington D.C.

    School of Education faculty member Kirsten Searby, and Noyce Scholars Adam Green and Ginnie Chu represented Sonoma State University at the May 2012 NSF Noyce Conference in Washington D.C. The meeting was an opportunity for hundreds of NSF Noyce Program awardees from across the nation  to learn and share strategies from each other, as well as from K-12 STEM leaders, and national experts in recruiting, preparing, and retaining new K-12 STEM teachers.  The invitation-only conference featured plenary speakers and panel sessions; concurrent workshop sessions, including sessions for Noyce Scholars and new teachers; and poster sessions.

    Noyce Scholars Green and Chu have both completed the Single Subject Teaching Credential Program in the School of Education, and just finished their first year of teaching.  Green teaches mathematics at Rancho Cotati High School here in Rohnert Park, and last year Chu worked as a science teacher at Piner High School and Grace High School, which both meet on the same campus in Santa Rosa. SSU Noyce Scholars receive collegial support both during their credential program and for the first couple of years as they begin to work in California high needs school districts.

    image of Adam Green at the NSF Noyce poster session

    Noyce Scholar Adam Green with his poster NSF Noyce Conference

    Searby, who is the Sonoma State Noyce Program Coordinator says this is the first time Sonoma State Noyce Scholars have presented at this annual conference.  She says the opportunity proved to be a great experience for them, and remarked that  "Watching them interact and share ideas with other new teachers and experts in the field  was inspiring.  Seeing them participate in the conference showed me what they understood and valued about education.  They are both really excited to try some of these new ideas in the schools where they work."

    In addition to attending workshops, both Sonoma State Noyce Scholars made presentations at the conference.  Adam Green participated in a poster session, presenting information about three teaching strategies he finds helpful in the mathematics classroom.  Ginnie Chu was as a panelist for a session titled, "Voices from the Field", featuring six beginning teachers from different regions of the country.  The session was attended by hundreds of people including pre-service teachers, new and old teachers, deans, and professors. Searby noted that the audience all clapped when Chu said, "I have learned that to my students I'm not only teaching science but I also have to teach language as part of the curriculum."  Chu, reflecting about the conference and the opportunity to talk to teachers from all over the country said, "I realize that I am not as isolated as I think. As I attempt to make small ripples in my classroom, teachers all over the country are doing the same. And together, we are collaborating to generate a large wave of positive change while propagating social justice." You can read more of Ginnie Chu's reflections here.

    close up image Ginnie Chu participating in the panel discussion at the NSF Noyce conference

    SSU Noyce Scholar Ginnie Chu during the Voices from the Field panel discussion. Conference photo by colellaphoto.com

    The Robert Noyce Scholarship Program for Math and Science Teachers seeks to encourage talented Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) majors and professionals who might otherwise not have considered the teaching profession, particularly those from underrepresented groups. Each Noyce Scholar receives a maximum of three years of scholarship support of up to $10,000 per year. In addition, Sonoma State provides support to the scholars throughout the period covered by the scholarships and up to two years after to assist the scholars to reach their goal of a credential and a teaching position. Noyce Scholars are selected by consideration of academic achievement, under-representation and financial need. To learn more about the Noyce Scholarship Program on the School of Education website at www.sonoma.edu/education/scholarships/noyce

    SSU Noyce Scholars Chu and Green Present at NSF Noyce Conference

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on July 11, 2012 2:15 PM

    <p>School of Education faculty member Kirsten Searby, and Noyce Scholars Adam Green and Ginnie Chu representated Sonoma State University at the May 2012 NSF Noyce Conference in Washington D.C. The meeting was an opportunity for hundreds of NSF Noyce Program awardees from across the nation  to learn and share strategies from each other, as well as from K-12 STEM leaders, and national experts in recruiting, preparing, and retaining new K-12 STEM teachers.  The invitation-only conference featured plenary speakers and panel sessions; concurrent workshop sessions, including sessions for Noyce Scholars and new teachers; and poster sessions. </p>

    <p>Noyce Scholars Green and Chu have both completed the Single Subject Teaching Credential Program in the School of Education, and just finished their first year of teaching.  Green teaches mathematics at Rancho Cotati High School here in Rohnert Park, and last year Chu worked as a science teacher at Piner High School and Grace High School, which both meet on the same campus in Santa Rosa.  

    Searby, who is the Sonoma State Noyce Program Coordinator says this is the first time Sonoma State Noyce Scholars have presented at this annual conference.  She says the opportunity proved to be a great experience for them, and remarked that  "Watching them interact and share ideas with other new teachers and experts in the field  was inspiring.  Seeing them participate in the conference showed me what they understood and valued about education.  They are both really excited to try some of these new ideas in the schools where they work." </p>

    <p>In addition to attending workshops, both Sonoma State Noyce Scholars made presentations at the conference.  Adam Green participated in a poster session, presenting information about three teaching strategies he finds helpful in the mathematics classroom.  Ginnie Chu was as a panelist for a session titled, "Voices from the Field", featuring six beginning teachers from different regions of the country.  The session was attended by hundreds of people including pre-service teachers, new and old teachers, deans, and professors. Searby noted that the audience all clapped when Chu said, "I have learned that to my students I'm not only teaching science but I also have to teach language as part of the curriculum."  Chu, reflecting about the conference and the opportunity to talk to teachers from all over the country said, "I realize that I am not as isolated as I think. As I attempt to make small ripples in my classroom, teachers all over the country are doing the same. And together, we are collaborating to generate a large wave of positive change while propagating social justice." You can read Ginnie Chu's full article here.</p>

    <p>The Robert Noyce Scholarship Program for Math and Science Teachers seeks to encourage talented Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) majors and professionals who might otherwise not have considered the teaching profession, particularly those from underrepresented groups. Each Noyce Scholar receives a maximum of three years of scholarship support of up to $10,000 per year. In addition, Sonoma State provides support to the scholars throughout the period covered by the scholarships and up to two years after to assist the scholars to reach their goal of a credential and a teaching position. Noyce Scholars are selected by consideration of academic achievement, under-representation and financial need. To learn more about the Noyce Scholarship Program on the School of Education website at www.sonoma.edu/education/scholarships/noyce</p>

    SSU Noyce Scholar Ginnie Chu Reflects on Conference Participation

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on July 10, 2012 9:59 AM

    A Sense of Perspective

    by Ginnie Chu, SSU Noyce Scholar, and Science Teacher

    At the recent NSF Robert Noyce Teachers Scholarship Conference, as I recounted some of my teaching experiences to a professor in attendance, he asked how long I have been teaching. When I responded that this was my first year, he exclaimed, “But you sound like such an expert!” I was caught a bit speechless, because I thought, “Of course I am an expert of my own experiences.” I realized that as I write this, I should ask you, dear reader, to bear in mind, my musings on my first year teaching come from a sample size of one…me.

    About me:

    1. I just completed my first year teaching at a comprehensive and an alternative high school in Santa Rosa, CA. Both are high-needs public schools sharing one campus.
    2. 2) This is the first STEM education conference I have ever attended.
      1. One of the many challenges I faced in my first year teaching was a lack of perspective for the diversity of new experiences in which I found myself living. I was constantly reflecting, asking colleagues for their perspectives, and then re-evaluating my own instinctual reactions to these new experiences because I lacked past experiences for comparison. One of best outcomes of attending the Noyce conference was the valuable perspectives and additional lens I gained for which to view my understanding and place in the larger world of education. While the conference provided me with rich layers of multifaceted learning, I will focus on three specific experiences.


        The first one-hour workshop I attended was titled, “Social Media for STEM Educators: How to Build an Online Community Around STEM Ideas and Market Yourself as a Leader in the Field.” While I gained some tips and tricks, such best blogging sites and how to set up a Twitter account, sitting in this workshop forced me to consciously recognize that I am actively building my identity as an educator. I must exercise great intention in the process of creating my professional identity. This workshop emphasized the use of social networking tools in education. The idea of social networking tools spurred me to think deeper about the idea of education itself. Very few educators currently in classrooms today experienced the same learning environment of that of their students. The current learning environment is a very different landscape from which I was raised. The learning paradigm is shifting, and whether I choose to shift and adapt my teaching with it has significant implications for my students’ achievement. This is well illustrated in an exchange I had with a student I taught this year. The classroom was buzzing with a school scandal. When I asked the students what they were talking about, one student said to me, “Oh come on Ms. Chu. You know what we are talking about.” When I feigned ignorance, she responded, “Don’t you read the news? You need to go to Facebook.” While it hadn’t occurred to me that Facebook was a legitimate news outlet, it also had not occurred to me that I was not meeting my students where they were, both metaphorically and in the virtual places they congregate. Recognizing this leads me to ponder, how do I teach to most effectively engage today’s students in the act of learning?


        Another workshop I attended was titled, “Using Concept Maps as an Assessment Tool to Close the Achievement Gap.” In this one-hour workshop, two professors presented a cursory introduction to concept mapping followed by practice creating our own concept maps. This workshop was unlike any other experience I had at the conference. Some audience members raised skepticism and expressed negative sentiment about the validity and effectiveness of concept mapping as an assessment tool. There was provocative and at times hostile debate throughout. From my participation in this workshop, as well as the conversations I had with other scholars in attendance afterwards, I have two conclusions to share. First, I was surprised by the controversy surrounding something as seemingly innocuous as concept making. This surprise underscores a greater philosophical debate about education. We as educators share a common goal; we want students to learn. That may be where the consensus ends. What we consider effective teaching, whether in theory or practice, expected learning outcomes, and how we assess those outcomes lie on a wide continuum. Just as students act in the way they see themselves, we act in the way we see our roles as educators. The controversy in which I found myself allowed me to realize this second point. The dialogue around me underscored the importance that I must form and articulate my own pedagogy in order to participate in both the larger conversation as well as in consensus building in the STEM education community. While this goes in tandem with building professional identity, I believe that when I can articulate what teaching and learning mean to me, I will find that identity. Or alternatively, how am I able to cross pedagogical lines if I don’t know where I stand?

        Aside from attending workshops, I also had the opportunity to speak on a plenary panel discussing some of the trials and tribulations of my first year teaching. It was not the panel talk itself but rather the feedback I received that was so poignant and thought provoking for me. Teaching can be an isolating experience. In the concentric circles of inclusion, I am in the center. From there, my students, departmental colleagues, school faculty, and district occupy the outer circles roughly in that order. While I shared my experiences as a first year teacher in a high needs school, I falsely assumed that many in the audience would not be able to relate to the unique vagaries and challenges of teaching in Northern California, or more specifically, at my schools. For example, I believed that some would take offense to the idea that I see myself as both a science and language educator. After this plenary session, a first year teacher from Mobile, Alabama thanked me for the talk. This teacher expressed gratitude and appreciation for my words because, as she put it, “You articulated everything I was thinking and wanted to say.” From that brief exchange, I learned two new things. First, a teacher from Mobile, Alabama and one from Northern California shared similar teaching experiences. It suggests to me that our situations and experiences are far more alike than not. For one, we are attempting to teach scientific literary. While there are always nuances to each individual circumstance, teachers in high-need schools throughout the country share similar obstacles, needs, and student populations. If this is true, then there must be similar underlying root causes to these challenges we face. The second realization I made from talking to this teacher is that I am not as isolated as I think. As I attempt to make small ripples in my classroom, teachers all over the country are doing the same. And together, we are collaborating to generate a large wave of positive change while propagating social justice.

        This conference was an invaluable opportunity for me to immerse myself in quality discourse. It challenged my own ideas of what it means to be an educator. And in a year when I was just treading water to stay afloat, this experience was a lifeline that brought me back to the raft of values that originally inspired me to teach. During my time in the SSU credentialing program, I felt indoctrinated to many of the visions contained within the School of Education Conceptual Framework. I understood what that meant on paper, but only now am I beginning to embody and understand what that means in action.

    Jennie Snyder, Superintendent of Piner Olivet Receives Circle of Excellence Award

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on May 8, 2012 3:51 PM


    Jennie Snyder, Superintendent of Piner Olivet Union School District has been awarded a Circle of Excellence Award by the School of Education's Educational Leadership faculty. Jennie has served the district as Superintendent for two years. She is an alumna of the CANDEL Ed.D program, a joint doctoral program that Sonoma State offers in collaboration with UC Davis. Dr. Paul Porter, Co-Director of CANDEL describes Jennie as an outstanding educator and thoughtful leader who, since becoming Superintendent has "already begun to change and shape the culture of the district, stressing collaboration, team work, and highest standards."


    At a recent visit to her office I had the opportunity to speak with Superintendent Snyder about her work and her experience in the CANDEL program. As a doctoral candidate, she appreciated the time and space for reflection, and the collaboration with a cohort of fellow students with a diverse set of experiences and backgrounds. In her role at Piner-Olivet she sees tremendous challenges ahead, yet is inspired by the opportunity to collaborate with teachers and administrators in an effort to find creative solutions for her schools and community. In the end she believes that each student in her district is entitled to an education that sparks their natural curiosity, builds on their capacity to learn, inspires their imagination and provides opportunities for them to express their ideas to their fullest. Jennie Snyder is receiving the Circle of Excellence Award because she is an accomplished scholar and gifted administrator. She is the kind of child-centered, collaborative, reflective and thoughtful leader that can make those goals come to fruition.

    Jack London Awards Presented to Windsor High and Oak Grove Elementary School

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on May 7, 2012 12:37 PM


    Congratulations to Windsor High School's Vineyard Academy and Oak Grove Elementary School's Primos programs for both receiving the 2012 Jack London Award for Educational Innovation.  Each year this award is granted to one or more programs for their exemplary and innovative contributions to education in a Sonoma County Public School Because of their originality, creativity, and their ability to engage children and the community, these exciting programs deserve public recognition.

    This year the honor in the elementary school category goes to the Primos program at Oak Grove Elementary School in the Oak Grove School District in NW Santa Rosa.  Program coordinator Nancy Saylor designed it after a big brother mentorship model, to provide support for kids who are learning English.  The mentors provide a little extra help at school and and a lot of encouragement.  To find mentors, Saylor started out by extending an invitation to some Oak Grove alumni who were enrolled in nearby El Molino High School, Those kids took on the role of primos, our cousins to the younger students. Their time together is characterized as playful and fun, a mix of homework help, games, and social events, all with the goal of helping these kids acquire academic skills and foster a desire in them to succeed.


    The award to a secondary level program goes to Vineyard Academy at Windsor High, an interdisciplinary career track program combining culinary arts training, English, math, science and history. Students at Vineyard Academy see and experience the real world relevancy of these subjects as experience coursework in business building, economics and applied arts. The program works with community collaborations, and is supported by local businesses and organization partnerships, who provide not only resources but mentors for these students. Graduates of Vineyard Academy have a good foundation for building a career path in local tourism, including hospitality, winery and food businesses. Marie Ganister is the culinary instructor coordinating this program, but the strong collaborations include many teachers across the curriculum.

    The Jack London Award program is now in its 25th year at Sonoma State University. Recipients of the award this year received a framed award certificate, two hardcover books by Jack London for their school library and a gift certificate for Copperfield's Books to purchase more reading material for their programs.

    The Jack London Awards are sponsored by the California Faculty Association, The Sonoma County Educators Council CTA/NEA, The Sonoma County Office of Education, and the Sonoma State University Educational Leadership Institute, which is supported by Lozano Smith Attorneys at Law.

    Information Meetings Slated in May for Administrative Services and Clear Credential Programs

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on May 1, 2012 10:16 AM


    The SSU Educational Leadership Program will host a series of Information Meetings in May for educators interested in earning Administrative Services Credentials, Preliminary and Clear Credentials and Master's Degree in Educational Leadership.

    • Sonoma Valley Unified School District
      El Verano Elementary School Library
      18606 Riverside Drive - Sonoma CA, 95476
      Wednesday, May 2, 4:30 p.m.
    • Napa Valley Unified School District
      Napa Valley Adult Education, Room #15
      Monday, May 14, 2012, 4:30 p.m.
    • Solano County Office of Education
      Wednesday May 16th 4:00 pm

    The meetings will provide Information on how SSU's Master's Degree in Educational Leadership and/or Preliminary or Clear Administrative Services Credential Programs will prepares candidates for a position of leadership in K-12 educational settings. Public, private and charter educators welcome. Prospective candidates will receive information on the following topics:

  • The ASC Preliminary and Clear Credentials and Master's Program
  • Information about the Administrative Intern Credential
  • Requirements for admission and how and when to apply
  • Now accepting applications for Fall, 2012 admission.
    Application Deadline: May 30, 2012

    For more information visit the Educational Leadership Programs webpage, or contact Dr. Rod Buchignani at buchignr@sonoma.edu or Dr. Viki Montera at montera@sonoma.edu

    School of Education Presents Elliott Scholarship Awards

    Posted by Katherine Russo on April 30, 2012 2:58 PM

    towner.jpgOn April 25, 2012 the School of Education made a public presentation to 2011's Elliott Scholars: Christina Towner, Linsey Gannon, and Chris Berg. The presentation was part of the annual School of Education Recognition and Awards Ceremony. Recipients were selected for their scholarship and success in the classroom.

    The F. George Elliott Scholarship Fund is an endowment of over $250,000 to the Sonoma State University School of Education. The endowment each year awards two scholarships for graduate study at Sonoma State University; one for an outstanding student teacher, and the other for a Santa Rosa City School District middle school, junior high, or high school teacher. Recipients of these scholarships will be known as Elliott Scholars.

    Christina Towner is a student who came to the Special Education Credential Program at Sonoma State University in the Fall 2009 term, and she completed her Education Specialist Credential from Sonoma State in 2011. She is an outstanding student, praised for maintaining her strong academic record at Sonoma State while also holding a full-time teaching position as a Special Education Intern. Currently, Christina teaches a Special Day Class comprised of students who have mild to moderate disabilities at Altamira Middle School in Sonoma, CA. According to her University Support Provider, Barbara (Bobbie) Russell, Christina has created an exemplary positive learning environment for all of her students. As an Intern, Christina quickly adopted many of the core practices necessary to become an effective special educator. With recommendations from faculty, her dedication, preparation and passion make Christina Towner the perfect recipient of the Elliott Exemplary Student Teaching Scholarship this year.

    Professor George Elliott taught Education at Sonoma State University from 1968-1992.  He worked for many years supervising student teachers in middle schools and junior and senior high schools in the Santa Rosa City School District. He was dedicated to quality teacher education, and worked closely with many master teachers and school administrators in Santa Rosa schools to achieve that end. This scholarship is his legacy to the middle level, junior high, and senior high teachers of the Santa Rosa City School District.

    The Elliott Fellowship for Professional Renewal is an award open to all Santa Rosa City School District middle school, junior high, and senior high teachers who have completed from three to nine years teaching in the Santa Rosa City School District. It provides the recipient a two-semester scholarship in the amount of part- or full-time enrollment fees plus an additional twenty percent toward fees for books and supplies. For the award year 2011, two recipients were chosen to receive the Elliott Fellowship for Professional Renewal. The first award goes to Chris Berg, a physics teacher at Montgomery High School. And the second recipient for The Elliott Fellowship for Professional Renewal is Linsey Gannon, Assistant Principal at Lawrence Cook Middle School. Linsey is also now enrolled in the Master's Degree program of Educational Leadership at the Sonoma State University School of Education.

    Mary Gail Stablein Named "Friend of the Program"

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on April 27, 2012 4:03 PM

    stablein.jpgThis week, Mary Gail Stablein received the 2012 Circle of Excellence Award in the category "Friend of the Program", having been selected by the Single Subject Credential Program faculty for this honor.  The annual award recognizes the contributions of a local educator for their contributions to and in support of the Single Subject Program which prepares beginning teachers to teach in a California public high school.

    Stablein is an alumna of the Educational Leadership program at SSU, and many of the teachers on her faculty at Elsie Allen are graduates of the SSU Single Subject Program. The school continues to be a training ground for many candidates during their field experience semester.  In the award ceremony, SSU lecturer and retired Elsie Allen teacher Kirsten Searby noted that many single subject candidates appreciate how helpful Principal Stablein has been to them as they prepare for their first teaching job, offering concrete advice about job interviews as well as a candid introduction to the realities of the impact of standardized testing data, NCLB legislation, and how that legislation relates to their classroom teaching. 
    Stablein is a dynamic and creative leader, qualities that serve her in her role as Principal of Elsie Allen High School.  Elsie Allen serves a highly diverse population of 1150 students in the southwest part of Santa Rosa. Instead of viewing the diversity of the student body as an obstacle, the school embraces the diverse population as something to be celebrated and a opportunity for learning.  The school's foyer is adorned with flags of fifty nations, each representing a home country of students at the school.  When she is hiring teachers, Principal Stablein carefully selects candidates that are skillful in teaching populations of English Learners, and teachers who are passionate in their role to help every child achieve and have a positive high school experience, equipped with the skills necessary to succeed in college and careers.

    High school students who excel in academics have an opportunity to participate in the University Center, which is a collaboration between SSU and Elsie Allen, upholding rigorous academic standards and an opportunity to take classes at the college level while still in high school.  After graduating from the University Center program, students are guaranteed admission to SSU, although some go to colleges far away from home, including Harvard, University of Chicago, and the University of California. 

    One of the other special programs and career tracks at Elsie Allen include classes in Agricultural Sciences.  The week I visited the campus, and took the photos for this article was the first time teachers were able to use a newly refurbished Ag Building, equipped with science labs and a forklift, welding station and other specialized equipment for students to learn skills for careers in farming and agriculture. 
    Offering programs and opportunities for kids to succeed and learn are essential to the program at Elsie Allen.  Mary Gail Stablein exemplifies good administrative leadership because she knows that to be a good principal, she needs to be in touch with and care about the kids, stay in communication and be a support for her teaching staff, and collaborate  effectively with community partners. Kristen Searby commented, "she has been instrumental in promoting the Single Subject program and assisting student teacher candidates to be informative, confident and successful.  She values the work we do here in the school and is a great model for these beginning educators."

    Early Childhood Masters Alumna & Peace Educator Margaret Clark honored with Award

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on April 23, 2012 9:53 AM


    This week The School of Education celebrates alumni and local educators with annual Circle of Excellence Awards, and this year's recipient in the field of Early Childhood Education is Master's Degree Program Alumna Margaret Clark. Faculty in the Early Childhood program selected her for her exemplary scholarship.

    Associate Professor Chiara Bacigalupa remarked that Clark's rigor and intellectual curiosity was evident from the start.  She noted that "in her very first class in the program, she completed an excellent action research study on children's ideas about peace and then continued to build on that research as she continued her studies." During her time in the program, Clark also served as a research assistant for Dr. Bagigalupa. Clark's Master's thesis, entitled, Making Peace: A Creative Thesis Project defined the ways children are natural at making peace, and explored literature and projects that build on their inclinations to be peace makers, peace builders and peace keepers. As part of the project, Clark wrote a children's book, Making Peace, which she hopes to publish.

    Her thesis and the research behind it garnered national attention this year when it was selected as the first place winner of the American Montessori Society's Outstanding Master's Thesis Award, one of two such awards given annually to exemplary graduate studies research in the field of Montessori methods and theory. Clark is now at UC Santa Cruz where she continues her research in peace education in the doctoral program there.

    The School of Education Recognition and Awards Ceremony will be held on Wednesday, April 25, 5:00-6:30 pm. in the Cooperage at Sonoma State University and is a free event, open to the public. The Circle of Excellence Awards are generously sponsored by the Alumni Association of Sonoma State University. Click to view the invitation flyer.

    School of Education Earns a Stellar Accreditation Site Report

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on April 4, 2012 5:15 PM

    representing-multiple-subject-program.jpgThe School of Education at Sonoma State University successfully completed its national and state accreditation review with a stellar performance that the university president described as "hitting a home run with the bases loaded." The School of Education prepares teachers and principals for the North Bay Region.

    "These are a remarkable group of faculty and students," said Gerry Giordano, a professor in education management at the University of North Florida who was the head of the 13 member review panel which said the School had exceeded both state and national standards.

    This includes all of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing Program Standards for all of its programs and all six National Council of Accreditation for Teacher Education (NCATE) Standards.

    Giordano said that the School stood out because of "the extraordinary faculty and students that it had recruited," "highly imaginative community-based programs," and a "culture in which candidates and faculty members interacted outside as well as inside university classrooms."


    The team specifically commended School programs where social justice permeated every aspect of every program as evidenced by eloquent and inspiring testimonials that local teacher candidates provided.

    The re-accreditation was extensive, said Carlos Ayala, interim Dean of the School of Education.

    Since the fall of 2011, the expert panel had reviewed the School's website, an exhaustive repository of documentation for all of the teacher, counseling, school administrator and masters programs, sifting through evidence from the last three years of program implementation.

    In order to verify the electronic reports and evidence, the expert team then visited campus. While at Sonoma State, they interviewed nearly 473 teachers, faculty, staff, students, mentor teachers, counselors, school principals, superintendents and community members; sifted through budgets, meeting minutes and assessment results; and visited Roseland Elementary School where School of Education prepared teachers, counselors and principals work.

    Signficantly, the review panel did not find any "areas of concern" nor did they identify any "areas for improvement" in any of the programs and are proposing that the maximum accreditation period of seven years be awarded.


    The panel specifically gave the School of Education four commendations in the following areas: teacher candidates completing programs learn to develop highly creative learning activities, learn to assess student learning, exhibit professional dispositions, and employ pedagogy aligned with state standards.

    The review panel will present its findings to their respective governing boards for those boards to take final action in April for state and in October for the national review.

    Article written by Jean Wasp, University Affairs

    Michael Kirst, State Bd of Ed President to Speak at SSU March 22

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on March 14, 2012 10:54 AM

    kirst-poster.gifWhat does the President of the California State Board of Education think about the current state of the educational system? Dr. Michael W. Kirst delivers his overarching vision for California to emerge once again as a national leader in education from 7-8:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 22 in the Cooperage as a part of the Andrea Neves and Barton Evans Social Justice Lecture Series.

    His talk - "California K-12 Education: Challenges And Solutions" - addresses the current state of affairs of a state public school system stretched to the limit but aspiring to greatnesss once again.

    Kirst is serving his second term as President of the State Board of Education and is also Professor Emeritus of Education at Stanford University.

    Kirst's aims to rebuild and re-imagine the public education system through a set of policies that include stabilizing education funding and increase local flexibility,implementing the Common Core Standards, strengthening the teacher workforce, building district and school leadership capacity, supporting innovation, but ensure accountability, facilitating the best uses of technology and ensuring that all students are included.

    "Our goal is to dramatically improve the academic achievement and attainment of all students, regardless of proficiency, but with targeted attention to raising achievement and opportunities low income and minority students," he says.

    A prolific writer, he has authored ten books. As a policy generalist, he has published articles on school finance politics, curriculum politics, intergovernmental relations, as well as education reform policies.

    While his early work focused primarily on k-12 policy and politics, much of his recent work has focused on college preparation and college success at broad access postsecondary institutions that are open enrollment, or accept all qualified applicants.

    The disconnections between k-12 and postsecondary education cause much of the low college completion rates, he says. Kirst's research demonstrates that only K-12 and postsecondary education working together to improve preparation and college readiness will increase college completion.

    Before joining the Stanford faculty in 1969, Kirst held several positions with the federal government, including Staff Director of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Manpower,
    Employment and Poverty, and Director of Program Planning for Elementary and Secondary Education at the U.S. Office of Education.

    He received his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard. His latest books are "From High School to College" with Andrea Venezia (2004) and "Political Dynamics of American Education" (2009).

    Kirst was appointed in 2011 as the President of the California State Board of Education for the second time. He also was President from 1977 to 1981. He received his bachelor's degree in economics from Dartmouth College, his M.P.A. in government and economics from Harvard University, and his Ph.D. in political economy and government from Harvard.

    For further information about the event, contact Pam Van Halsema, School of Education, (707) 664-2132, pamela.vanhalsema@sonoma.edu

    1st Class Jails, 2nd Class Schools" with Dr. Marc Lamont Hill Workshop and Lecture Feb. 8

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on January 27, 2012 10:13 AM


    Sonoma State Associated Students Productions welcomes political analyst and intellectual Dr. Marc Lamont Hill to Sonoma State University on Wednesday, February 8, 2012. He will be presenting a free workshop at 3PM in the Multi-Purpose Room in the Student Union and will lecture at 7:30PM in the Cooperage.

    Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is one of the leading hip-hop generation intellectuals in the country. His work, which covers topics such as hip-hop culture, politics, sexuality, education and religion, has appeared in numerous journals, magazines, books, and anthologies. Dr. Hill has lectured widely and provides regular commentary for media outlets like NPR, Washington Post, Essence Magazine, and New York Times and has been a regular guest on CNN, MSNBC, and Larry King Live. He has recently become the host of the nationally syndicated show Our World with Black Enterprise.

    In Fall 2009, he joined the faculty of Columbia University as Associate Professor of Education at Teachers College. He also holds an affiliated faculty appointment in African American Studies at the Institute for Research in African American Studies at Columbia University.

    His workshop, "Why Black Fraternities and Sororities Still Matter," will take place at 3PM in the Multi-Purpose Room in the Student Union. As we enter the 21st century, many people question the role, purpose, and function of Black Greek Letter Organizations (BGLOs). In this lecture, Marc Lamont Hill (a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc.) argues that Black fraternities and sororities still play a critical role in the Black community. He takes on some of the key issues and challenges faced by BGLOs such as hazing, political engagement, and institution building. Rather than merely spotlighting problems, Dr. Hill also offers concrete solutions and shares his vision for building and sustaining strong 21st-century Black fraternities and sororities. FREE

    In his lecture, "1st Class Jails, 2nd Class Schools," Dr. Hill will be speaking about the how much financial focus is given to our jail system while our education system is continually on the chopping block.   He will acknowledge the large number of poor and /or minority people currently incarcerated, which he attributes in large part to a War on Drugs going on since 1984.  Dr. Hill believes that democracy needs people to ask tough critical questions in terms of how to get American society on track to educationally balanced country.

    This lecture will take place at 7:30PM in Cooperage. Tickets are free for SSU students and faculty and $10 for general admission. Pick up yours today in the Student Union or order by phone at 664-2382.

    Multiple Subject Core School Hosting Symposium Jan. 28

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on January 19, 2012 11:45 AM


    Mary Collins School, one of the CORE collaboration school sites for the Multiple Subject Credential Program is hosting their annual Symposium for educators this month, and invites the local education community to participate on Saturday, January 28, from 9:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. SSU student teachers, faculty and alumni will attend the event, which provides a setting for collaboration about big ideas in teaching and learning.

    This year's speakers for the Symposium are Dr. Jo Boaler and  Dr. Peggy Albers. Dr. Boaler will be talking about, "Beautiful Math: How successful school approaches change students' lives" and Dr. Albers will be speaking about,  "Working Critically in the Arts". This is a fabulous opportunity to hear both Peggy Albers and Jo Boaler, dialogue in small groups with other educators around the county and be able to ask them questions.

    For more information and to sign up to attend, download the registration form.

    About the Symposium

    Now in its 10th year, the Symposium typically highlights teaching and learning in literacy and mathematics, typically featuring a presenter in each subject.  To prepare for the Symposium, Mary Collins faculty engages in professional book clubs, reading books and articles of the featured presenters.  The Symposium itself kicks off with a Parent Night, in which featured presenters share important educational research, providing a glimpse of the big ideas their children's teachers will be studying in the Symposium. The teachers spend the following day engaging with the presenters, thinking about and leveraging theory into practice.

    The third day in the Symposium their doors to the community to continue the conversation with colleagues from around the greater Bay Area.  Featured presenters start off the morning by introducing the group to another aspect of their work, simultaneously building on the previous days and integrating new teachers into the conversation. Throughout the Symposium Mary Collins teachers take the lead, facilitating collegial dialogues that consider the application of research and theory site-based and in the district and expanded to the broader community.

    About Mary Collins School at Cherry Valley

    Mary Collins School has been a collaboration site for the Multiple Subject Credential Program for over a decade.  Mary Collins School at Cherry Valley "converted" to a charter to preserve their constructivist and child-centered approaches to teaching and learning when they saw it being slowly eroded by district pressures. With a tradition of learning through the arts and engaging the whole child and the world in which  (s)he lives, they established tenets and a mission to help us maintain our school's focus and our identity.  A big part of their mission is that teachers maintain their lifelong learning stance and to that end make every effort to stay current and engaged in educational scholarship.  

    Google Showcase Highlights Online Tools for Learning

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on January 19, 2012 10:39 AM


    On December 8, 2011, the Pre-Service Teacher Technology Showcase provided SSU School of Education pre-service teachers and recent credential students in their first years of teaching with an opportunity to present how they have used or plan to use technology in the classroom to support students and student learning. The Showcase was run like a poster session at a conference and allowed students to share with attendees their unit plans, lessons, or activities that incorporated new media technologies.

    The Showcase was created out of a project supported by Google and developed in a collaborative project at the Google Faculty Institute. Three CSU campuses explored online tools and how they are integrated into classroom projects. A special emphasis was placed on geospatial technologies for multidisciplinary, locally relevant lessons for K-12. Cal State Bakersfield, San Diego State and SSU each took part in the collaboration, with Dr. Jessica K. Parker directing the efforts here at Sonoma State.  Students and recent graduates from the Multiple Subject Program, the Single Subject Credential Program, Education Specialist Program presenters, with some demonstrations offered by School of Education Masters students and faculty.

    The goal of the Showcase was to highlight how our novice (pre) teachers were integrating technology in their work with students. The focus was not just on the technological tools the teachers are employing but also on the content objectives as well: how are they creating a better learning environment for students through the integration of this technology? We also offered "how-to" stations on Google Earth, Google Docs, and iPad apps for attendees interested in learning about new, cool tools for teaching.

    Some examples of the 13 student presentations included a middle school science teacher using Google Maps to highlight plate tectonics and numerous earthquakes; a high school history teacher employing a Flickr gallery to analyze Russian propaganda during the Cold War; a middle school English teacher relying on blogs to stimulate student discussion about students' outside reading books; a high school math teacher using Google Earth to have students learn about the Pythagorean theorem by measuring distance; and special education pre-service teachers using an iPad app called proloquo2go to promote student communication.

    Watch the two videos here and hear our students talk about their projects.

    Credential Ceremony Celebrations!

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on December 15, 2011 3:09 PM

    sully.jpgThis week was one of great celebration for our candidates completing the credential program, as the School of Education hosted two Credential Ceremonies in Person Theater where faculty, family and friends came to honor and congratulate this group of new teachers.   Carlos Ayala, Interim Dean, Department Chairs from the School of Education, Emiliano Ayala, Karen Grady and Paula Lane offered words of welcome and insights about what the achievement of a California Teaching Credential means, and how the teaching career is rewarding, challenging and surprising in many ways.
    Students from each program offered heartfelt speeches, reflecting their passion for teaching, the hard work and dedication it required to get through it all, and the bright hopes they have for their careers in education.  Speakers included Jenny Fung (Education Specialist Program), Tracy Olson (Single Subject Credential Program), Megan Gauci, Jessica Sully and Lauren Everett (Multiple Subject Program). 

    everett.jpgUniversity President Ruben Arminana participated in Tuesday's ceremony, and Vice President of Student Affairs Matthew Lopez Phillips in Wednesday's;  both administrators commented on the lasting impact that these teachers will have on the lives of today's children. Concluding each program, Dean Carlos Ayala provided a future outlook that is promising for the teaching profession, projecting many veteran teacher retirements in the next few years, and a smaller pool of new teacher to fill those positions.  He congratulated these graduates for the leap of faith and courage that it took for many of them to make personal sacrifices, take on personal debt, and quit their jobs to embark on the important job of becoming a teacher in the California Public Schools. 

    Pre-Service Technology Showcase December 8

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on November 22, 2011 4:54 PM

    keyboard.jpgOn Thursday, December 8, the School of Education is holding a Pre-Service Teacher Technology Showcase in Schulz 3001 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. This new event is intended to provide pre-service and beginning teachers an opportunity to present how they have used or plan to use technology in the classroom to support students and student learning. The School of Education welcomes local teachers, SSU Students and community members to attend the Showcase, as a way to both support novice teachers and engage in dialogue with them about their work.

    The Showcase will be run like a poster session at a conference, allowing students to share with attendees their unit plans, lessons, or activities that incorporate new media technologies. The goal of the Showcase is to highlight how our novice teachers are integrating technology in their work with students. The focus is not just on the technological tools the teachers are employing but also on the content objectives as well: how are they creating a rich learning environment for students through the integration of this technology.

    The type of presentations you might see at the event include a middle school science teacher using Google Earth to map numerous elements on the periodic table; a high school history teacher employing a Flickr gallery to analyze Russian propaganda during the Cold War; and a middle school English teacher relying on blogs to stimulate student discussion about students' outside reading books.

    All credential students in the SSU School of Education are welcome to present at the Showcase as long as they provide a brief description of their presentation that is approved by Dr. Jessica Parker.   Please e-mail Dr. Jessica Parker at Jessica.parker@sonoma.edu if you are interested in presenting or attending the Showcase, along with a completed form by December 2. The Pre-Service Teacher Technology Showcase has been made possible in part by a gift to the School of Education from Google.

    Master's Degree Cognate Fair November 29

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on November 18, 2011 2:24 PM

    cognate-fair.jpgOn Tuesday, November 29, the School of Education will hold the second annual Cognate Fair in Schulz 1121 from 6:00-7:45 PM . The Cognate Fair is an informal way for students, faculty, teachers and Sonoma State community members informally interact with Master's Degree candidates about their research, through a poster session-style event. The open house event will include project presentations by Juhwan Kim, in the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program concentration; Shawn Rosales and Jonathan Wright, in the Curriculum, Teaching and Learning (CTL) program concentration; and Jennifer Cantrell and Emily Walz in the Early Childhood Education program concentration.

    postersession.jpgThe cognate is one of three pathways to completion of the Master's Degree in Education program in the School of Education. The cognate project (e.g., professional article, video, website, field-based product) is a significant undertaking through which students connect their cognate course of study with the program concentration, and/or work in the field. Projects arise out of candidates' goals and professional interests and may take virtually any form. The project may address, for example, implications of the cognate course of study for the classroom, or be reflections on teaching practices involving the use of new technologies, or the application of scholarly research and educational theory in a particular setting. A written reflection that includes the theoretical context for the project must be included, and students must present the completed project to their three-member committee in a public forum. The Cognate Fair provides the perfect setting for that public forum, which not only fulfills the degree requirement but also allows others not in the program to hear about the creative,and stimulating research with which our students are engaged.

    Master's Degree Cognate Fair November 29

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on November 18, 2011 2:24 PM

    Marine Mammal Lessons at Mary Collins School Weave a Story of Learning

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on November 10, 2011 5:11 PM

    A memorable storyline brings learning to life in Gena Richman and Liza Eichert's classrooms at Mary Collins Elementary School in Petaluma. This semester mentor teachers Richman and Eichert have worked with SSU Multiple Subject Credential Program student teachers Kelly Simonis, Carlyn Kerney, Diana Long and Laurel Angeli as they encouraged their second and third grade children to use their imagination and employ problem solving skills while learning about marine mammals. The lessons were based on the Scottish Storyline method, which integrates curriculum in a narrative created by teacher and students in collaboration. The teacher poses questions that begin the process, and the kids create the setting, the characters, and investigate and solve problems that might occur. Through the context of the story, children learn lessons and develop skills in reading, writing, mathematics, social studies and science.

    trixie.jpgThe learning unit included a field trip to the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito. In preparation for the field trip, Richman's students started by creating a freize, or classroom mural, depicting the Marin Coastline, teaming with ocean life, and the nearby Marine Mammal Center ready to help rescue injured or sick animals. Then the students each created their own imagined story character that would work at the facility, and researched and wrote a biographical narrative about why that person works there and what their duties entailed.  Characters included Trixie, who takes X-rays, Blossom, the veterinarian and John, the security guard. On the field trip the children got to meet the people that work there, see some of the animals, and learn about the need to protect wildlife and reduce pollution in our oceans.

    otter.jpgAfter the field trip, Eichert's class was motivated to support the Center's work and raise money to "Adopt a Seal." The children decided to hold a bake sale to raise the funds, and student teachers helped facilitate the project. Kids needed to use math skills to determine how to set their pricing, figure out how much they needed to sell in order to raise enough to meet their goal. The children wrote letters to the other classes in the school to announce their project and advertise their sale. They made apple juice and zucchini muffins harvested from their school garden to sell. In the end they managed to raise enough money to adopt two seals, named Garnett and Calloway.

    Another student teacher-collaborative project in Richman's classroom was a letter writing campaign for the Friends of the Otters, and another was a homework project inspired by the art project called Washed Ashore, in which children created sea creature sculptures out of trash and recycled materials, to bring awareness to the problem of trash destroying ocean life. Creations included assemblages that looked like sea turtles, lobsters, dolphins and more. One of the classes followed up by writing letters to the Mayor and City Council of Petaluma, urging them to take steps to reduce plastics pollution that can harm oceanlife.

    In designing these lessons, teachers hope to not only offer kids the chance to master basic skills like reading and writing, but also to encourage creativity, problem solving, teamwork and civic responsibility through a lasting, memorable learning experience. For more information visit Multiple Subject Credential Program at Sonoma State University.

    Teaching English Abroad Panel Discussion Nov. 16 5:00-6:30 pm

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on October 28, 2011 5:43 PM

    globe.jpgTeaching English in another country is becoming a popular post-graduation career option, one that is exciting, rewarding and even life-changing. The School of Education TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) Masters Degree Program is joining with the English Department to host an Informational Panel Discussion about Teaching English Abroad. The event will take place in Schulz 3001 on Wednesday, November 16, 2011 from 5:00-6:30 PM. This event is free and open to community.

    Panelists will include SSU students and graduates who have traveled and have lived around the world while teaching English.  They will talk about their personal experiences and answer questions.  Faculty will be on hand to discuss what programs SSU offers to prepare student for teaching English overseas, what countries are looking for English teachers, and what qualifications are necessary for getting a good position. 
    For more information contact Greta Vollmer in the English Department, or Karen Grady in the CSSE Department.

    CTL Masters Candidate Laura Bradley Awarded PEF Major Impact Grant

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on October 21, 2011 3:30 PM


    Teaching literacy to middle school kids means a whole lot more than reading books and writing papers for the students in Laura Bradley's English classes at Kenilworth Junior High.  The lessons in this classroom are applied to a 21st-century media and technology environment. Although this generation of middle schoolers have grown up with computers, Bradley has discovered that they needed instruction to know how to use technical tools appropriately.  Bradley  teaches essential reading and writing skills through blogging and writing their blogs keeps them engaged.  Laura notes, "This simple shift from paper to internet is a powerful strategy for improving students' writing, reading and analysis. For example, an online blog allows students to 'pass through' classroom walls and collaborate with peers in other classrooms, schools and even countries."  

    Bradley, who is currently a Masters Degree candidate in the Curriculum, Teaching and Learning Educational Technology program in the School of Education, was recently awarded a grant to help purchase laptop computers for her classroom. The $15,000 Major Impact Grant from the Petaluma Education Foundation is awarded annually to innovative projects of "extraordinary scope, reach or longevity".  The news of Bradley's grant was recently featured online in the Petaluma 360 blog: http://town.blogs.petaluma360.com/10107/petaluma-educational-foundation/

    Physics Department and Noyce Program Host Astronomy Education Lecture and Reception October 17

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on October 12, 2011 12:55 PM

    illustration of telescope

    The Physics Department at SSU has invited physicist Dr. Ed Prather to speak about Astronomy Education as part of their on-going "What Physicists Do Lecture Series" on Monday, October 17, 4:00 PM in Darwin 103. The event is open to the community.

    Dr. Prather is an Associate Professor at Steward Observatory, and the Department of Astronomy, at the University of Arizona and is Executive Director of the NASA and NSF funded Center for Astronomy Education (CAE) at the University of Arizona. He has led several research programs to investigate students' conceptual and reasoning difficulties in the areas of astronomy, astrobiology, physics, and planetary science. The results from this research have been used to inform the development of innovative instructional strategies proven to intellectually engage learners and significantly improve their understanding of fundamental space science concepts.

    Over the past decade members of the Center for Astronomy Education (CAE) at the University of Arizona have worked closely with hundreds of college instructors, postdocs, graduate students, and undergrads on collaborative projects designed to understand issues of teaching and learning in college-level gen. ed. college Earth, Astronomy and Space Science courses (EASS). The results from these collaborations have been used to transform traditional lecture-based classrooms into learning environments shown to significantly impact learners' science literacy and engagement in STEM. The recent national study his team completed, involving nearly 4000 students at 31 institutions around the United States, reveals dramatic improvement in student learning with increased use of interactive learning strategies. In addition, the study revealed positive effects of interactive learning strategies apply equally to men and women, across ethnicities, for students with all levels of prior mathematical preparation and physical science course experience, independent of GPA, and regardless of primary language. These results powerfully illustrate that all categories of students can benefit from the effective implementation of interactive learning strategies.

    Future Science and Mathematics Educators

    The Noyce Scholarship program will host a reception in the lobby of Darwin Hall immediately after Dr. Prather's presentation. Sonoma State University's Noyce Scholars, all of whom are on track to become mathematics or science teachers in the School of Education Single Subject Credential Program, will attend Monday's lecture.

    Noyce logo

    The Noyce Scholarship Program is a collaboration between the School of Science and Technology and the School of Education at SSU, providing support for future math and science teachers. Each Noyce Scholar receives a maximum of three years of scholarship support of up to $10,000 per year. In addition, Sonoma State provides support to the scholars throughout the period covered by the scholarships and up to two years after to assist the scholars to reach their goal of a credential and a teaching position. For more information about the Noyce Scholarship Program see www.sonoma.edu/education/scholarships/noyce

    Multiple Subject Credential Program Pilots Urban Field Experience

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on August 12, 2011 2:39 PM

    skyline.jpgFall 2011 the Multiple Subject Credential Program will pilot an Urban School Field Experience option for their candidates.  The pilot is an effort to give more varied opportunities for teacher credential candidates at Sonoma State.  Participants will have direct, hands on experience in an urban setting in the East Bay.  Urban schools tend to be categorized as 'high needs', which means the populations they serve have a high percentage of economically disadvantaged students and a high percentage of English Language Learners.  Students in the Multiple Subject Program had the option of participating in this field pilot, which is structured to offer plenty of time working directly with mentor teachers and university supervisors while student teaching both in and out of the classroom.  Paula Lane, Chair of the LEEE Department, is also hopeful that this type of experience will help these new teachers find jobs upon completion of the program.

    Dr John Kornfeld New Director of Undergraduate Studies

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on August 12, 2011 2:25 PM

    Dr. John Kornfeld has a new position in the Academic Affairs Office of the Provost as the kornfeld.jpgDirector of Undergraduate Studies for Sonoma State University.  Dr. Kornfeld worked in this new role starting part time in Fall 2010, and now will be engaged in this work full time starting Fall 2011.  The position was established to provide leadership and vision for enriching students' Sonoma State experience through coordination and growth of first-year programs, rejuvenation of General Education, and enhancement of curricular and co-curricular opportunities both on and off campus.

    The School of Education and the CSSE Department would like to express appreciation for John's many years of teaching, leadership and collaboration in the field of teacher preparation and curriculum development.  John has been a wonderful colleague and amazing teacher for countless credential and masters degree students since he joined the department in 1995.

    ELSE Dept. Welcomes New Faculty Member Dr. Sandy Ayala

    Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on August 11, 2011 11:32 AM

    ELSE welcomes a new Assistant Professor to its faculty beginning Fall 2011, Dr. Sandy Ayala. Sandy comes to the department with a strong background and varied experience in special education, having served as a K-12 special education teacher, speech/language pathologist, and assistive technology specialist. She also has recent experience teaching at the university level as well as serving on the editorial board of a noted journal in the field of special education. She completed her doctorate from U.C. Riverside in 2010 and has relocated from the Claremont area to Sonoma County.

    We asked Sandy to tell us more about herself:


    I am a native New Yorker. Born and raised in the Bronx and Whitestone, Queens, I discovered my love for working with children with special needs as a volunteer through girl scouting and summer camps. A graduate of SUNY Geneseo, I began my professional career in special education as a Speech Pathologist on Long Island. I earned a Master's degree at the University of Northern Colorado in Outdoor and Therapeutic Recreation Programs where I specialized in ropes courses, rafting and canoeing for children with special challenges and at-risk youth. I moved to Northern California to teach in the Bay Area and direct resident summer camps. I love sports, the out-of-doors, road trips and music.

    I moved to Southern California where I worked as a Speech Pathologist for L.A. County and earned a special education teaching credential at CSU San Bernardino. Over the course of the next 15 years I was a teacher of children with varied disabilities including autism, Down syndrome, mental retardation, learning disabilities and communication disorders. I eagerly integrated my love for music and technology into the classroom and became a trainer of teachers in these domains. As an Assistive Technology specialist and advocate, I pride myself on pursing the latest technology research to engage children in their learning process. As a musician, I produce children's educational music and can often be found with a guitar in my hands. I earned my doctorate at the University of California, Riverside in special education with an emphasis on technology integration. I spent 4 years as a Doctoral Fellow working on RTI research and as the Editorial assistant for the Journal of Learning Disabilities. My dissertation work was on the use of video self-modeling and reading disabilities. I am enjoying my return to Northern California whole-heartedly and have kayaked the Russian River a number of times in the past month - with my dog Capo at the helm. I am looking forward to the start of the new academic year and getting better acquainted with Sonoma State University.