November 2013 Archives

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!

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

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.

Joseph LeBlanc

By Lina Raffaelli on November 7, 2013 3:35 PM

Joseph LeblancJoseph Leblanc grew up in San Jose. He attended Sonoma State as an undergraduate and earned his B.A in Human Development in 1999. He worked at several colleges, including Santa Clara and San Jose State University. Leblanc's mother was a preschool teacher; helping out in her classroom made him realize he also wanted to work with kids.

Even while in school he knew he wanted a career working with people and not a desk job. During his undergrad he worked in-home care and early childcare. There are not a lot of men in his field and he enjoys the challenge that comes with being a minority.

One day Joseph hopes to run his own school. He decided to pursue a Master's in Early Childhood Education so he could start an outdoor/mature program for kids. He now works at the SSU Children's School and is partnering with Lia Thompson-Clark working on opening a new school that is more lab school oriented, sustainable and outdoors.

He likes working with families and people. He also hopes to be an advocate for more men to join his field and find the balance. He loves being at the Children's School and is challenged by trying to align his philosophies with the school's philosophies.

Tamsen Fynn

By Lina Raffaelli on November 7, 2013 1:39 PM

Tamsen Fynn at the micTamsen Fynn attended Smith College in Massachusetts, where she studied psychology with a minor in gender studies. In 1994 she graduated and moved to the west coast, settling in the Bay Area where she's now lived for almost twenty years.

She chose a career in Early Childhood Education because she's always loved working with very young children. She's particularly fascinated by the development that occurs between birth and three years old, and has focused on working singularly with this age group. As a singer and musician, Tamsen has combined her passions to teach early childhood musical education.

Primarily, she sings children's folk songs, adapting them to each lesson plan, while using children's ideas to direct the play during music. She also integrates movement and music, to help internalize rhythm and sound at a young age. Lastly, she uses the children's names in as many songs as possible, conveying to children their value and worth in the community of music makers.

Tamsen intends to continue teaching music in early childhood programs while refining her approach, branching out into developing educational materials, and writing about early childhood music philosophies.

SFSU Provost Sue Rosser addresses campus community and opens up discussion on unconscious gender bias in the STEM fields

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

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