December 2012 Archives

Celebrating New Teachers Completing their Credential Program

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

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

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.