Literacy, Elementary, and Early Education Archives

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

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

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! >>

Professors Kathy Morris and Debora Hammond Honored with Goldstein Award

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

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

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

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!

California Reading Association Institute brings prominent language and literacy experts to SSU campus, Nov. 1 & 2

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.

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

    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.

    Reading Program Alumna Diane Dalenberg excites students through technology

    By Lina Raffaelli on October 10, 2013 1:20 PM

    dalenberg.jpgIn a technological age with countless distractions, where paper books are quickly being replaced by eReaders, iPads and tablets, educators are faced with one important question: how can they reignite students' excitement about reading?

    School of Education alumna Diane Dalenberg has made it her purpose to find a solution to this question, attempting to spark interest while also improving literacy for students at all levels of skill and ability.  Her approach focuses on working with technology, instead of against it, to foster more positive attitudes in young readers. As an avid reader herself, Dalenberg encourages frequent and strategic reading for the purpose of practice and enjoyment.

    In 2011 Dalenberg completed SSU's Educational Leadership program, earning an Administrative Credential. She continued on to obtain a master's in Educational Leadership, with a concentration in Reading and Language in 2012.

    While finishing her master's, Dalenberg coordinated the Summer Reading Academy for 3rd graders of Sonoma Valley Unified School District as her cognate project. Working alongside Professor MaryAnn Nickel, she designed the program at El Verano Elementary School to mirror Sonoma State's summer academy, repurposing it to shift the focus on student engagement.

    Dalenberg worked with another seasoned School of Education Alumna, El Verano School principal Maite Iturri. Iturri received multiple teaching credentials, an Administrative Services credential and a Master's in Educational Administration from Sonoma State.

    Together, the two created a hands-on summer program designed to foster excitement for reading and imaginative engagement. "First and foremost the goal is gained confidence and a growing love of reading...that's number one," said Dalenberg. 

    The structure of the program is built upon self-selection of reading material. Teachers aid students in choosing a "homerun" or "just right" book, one that they just can't put down. Not only does this allow them to select content based on their interests, but also allows an opportunity to self-assess their reading abilities by determining material that is too challenging. Dalenberg said it was challenging to find the "homerun" match for some students.

    To provide greater resources, Dalenberg incorporated the use of technology through the introduction of websites and online libraries. "Our school and class libraries are wonderful," she said "but they can be limited, and don't always have the material [students] are looking for." By allowing the children access to several online libraries, they had a much broader range of material.

    8232915327_e5828c4569_o.jpg The selected sites also offer additional tools (such as audio support and highlighted tracking on screen) that can be very helpful for young readers. These tools create an interactive experience and help students catch their own mistakes. "They can be the judge of their own fluency, and react to their own reading, which is huge," said Dalenberg. 

    "I think using technology to get the kids engaged is her greatest strength," said Nickel. "Depending on the child, they may be much more motivated to read from a computer than from a book." 

    Dalenberg cites on her website that the greatest challenge with teaching reading is the "frenzy" to cover standards. In large classrooms, students are given less individualized instruction, so they're generally taught reading and writing methods solely in preparation for standardized testing. The benefit of the Summer Reading environment is the freedom of creative and individual growth.

    The overall success was measured by student and teacher evaluations at the conclusion of the three-week program. Based on the comparison of before-and-after attitudes of self-rating and enjoyment, the results reflected an overall improvement in all categories.

    The academy returned for Summer 2013, this time growing to incorporate a class of 2nd-4th graders and more teachers. In the future she hopes to include more parent outreach and instruction on how parents can keep their kids engaged at home.

    "When I started my master's I had no idea what I would do for my project. It's much easier when it's like 'this is my path and these are the steps to take." She added happily, "I couldn't have imagined when I started that this is what would blossom from it." 

    Ed Tech Tips: Fantashow, Soundcloud and Diigo

    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.