Looking Through the Camera Lens: A Videographer's Nostalgic View of the Sonoma State's Global Cardboard Challenge

Posted by Casey Sears on October 27, 2014 2:38 PM

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Guest Blog Post by Russell Brackett, Sonoma State University Communications Major and Multimedia Communications Intern in the School of Education


When I saw the Caine's Arcade video for the first time, I couldn't help but smile uncontrollably. Flashbacks to my childhood washed over me as I watched this amazing kid use his imagination to build something incredible out of nothing. This video tells the story of a creative kid from East LA who built an incredible pretend arcade out of cardboard boxes. It was heartwarming to see especially in this world of video games and nonstop technology.

When I heard we were putting on our own Global Cardboard Challenge at Sonoma State, in response to the Caine's Arcade video, I instantly began thinking of ways to contribute to this movement to get kids to be creative and have fun in the process. I not only thought about ways to film this event, but also the things that I could build with cardboard! This was a great opportunity to help not only the kids, but myself as well by taking me back to my childhood days of imaginative play.

Growing up, I was the type of kid who had to be told multiple times by my parents to get in the house for dinner. I'd always yell back "Just a minute!", but one minute often turned into fifteen before they physically would come and get me. I was often wrapped up in some imaginative scenario using random objects to build forts, cars, or weapons to fight battles to save a damsel in distress. This is why I was so excited because I remember getting lost in play on a daily basis as a kid and always having a blast! I waited in anticipation for the day of the Cardboard Challenge as I was hoping to relive some of something from my childhood.

October 10th finally arrived and I woke up excited and ready. Our plan was to build a village out of cardboard. Once the first wave of children began pouring in with their amazing creations built out of old boxes, I again found myself smiling and feeling happy in the same way I did when I watched the Caine's Arcade video the first time. 

Our event included preschoolers, elementary kids and college students who built houses, hospitals, and even trees for the village, made colorful with the splash of poster paint. Sounds of laughter and happiness could be heard throughout the makeshift village all day as more and more people poured in with their projects. 

Rocket ships, hotels, buses, ice cream shops, and all kinds of imaginative ideas built by people of all ages filled the quad. I was focused on filming, but there were a couple moments where I had to step back, put the camera down, and just enjoy what was taking place.

As a videographer, I film all day in hopes of capturing those moments that not only look good on camera, but most importantly evoke emotion in my viewers. Those moments were not hard to find that day as everyone who participated seemed genuinely excited to be there, and it showed in their body language and finished projects. 

At the end of the day, I was exhausted but couldn't help smiling as I knew we had accomplished something great. That day will always serve as a reminder that no matter your age, it is important to step away and be creative just like when you were a kid.

To read more about the event visit The Startup Classroom website. Check out my finished video story here: Global Cardboard Challenge Video

The Day in the Life of a Multiple Subject Student Teacher

Posted by Gabrielle Cordero on October 13, 2014 11:50 AM

By Guest Author: Jared Candelaria

Editor's note: This guest blog article is one in a series written by students in the Multiple Subject Credential Program, intended to offer a glimpse into the life and work of a credential candidate in our program. Candelaria completed the program in Spring 2014.

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My day as a student teacher starts when I wake up at 6:00 a.m. Immediately, I start to think about the lesson plans I have done that prior weekend. As I drink a cup of coffee, I look over my daily lesson plans and wonder how effective they will be that day. I arrive at my teaching placement site around 7:30 a.m and about 7:45a.m. I start to feel a little nervous about the start of my day. As students trickle into the classroom, I greet them at the door with a smile; and after the bell rings, I say, "Time to begin our day, class".

In the classroom not every day is the same. Obviously, the content of the lessons are different and each student is unique. Because no two students are the same and have individual needs, everyday is filled with new challenges. Teaching multiple subjects daily is one of the many challenges I face not only because of the knowledge requirement but also because I must find ways to relay that knowledge to a variety of learning abilities. Some days these challenges are easy to overcome and other days lessons simply fail. No matter the outcome, each day is a learning experience for me and because I care, these experiences will allow me to grow as a teacher.

When the last bell rings and the students are gone, it is time to reflect. I am sure student teachers are overwhelmed by these feelings. I might feel discouraged, happy, excited, sad, or disappointed; but no matter the feeling, tomorrow is another day. A day you continue with the successes and correct the missteps with the help of your mentors. As a student teacher in the Multiple Subject Credential Program, always keep in mind the reason why you entered it. It was to help students reach their potential; and by remembering this, it will allow you to face the classroom challenges and eventually overcome them so that you can be successful.

To learn more about becoming an elementary school teacher and the Multiple Subject Credential Program at Sonoma State University, read more online or drop by and visit us on the ground floor of Stevenson Hall, Suite 1078.

Math Educator Megan W. Taylor on KQED to Discuss Innovative Professional Development Models for STEM Teachers

Posted by Pamela Van Halsema on October 8, 2014 12:18 AM

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Today's KQED public radio program Forum with Michael Krasny brought together education experts to discuss the best models and reforms in teacher preparation programs.  Sonoma State School of Education's Asst. Professor Megan W. Taylor was a featured guest on the program along with SFSU's former Dean of Education Betsy Keane, Stanford's Linda Darling-Hammond, and EdSource executive director Louis Freedberg. 

The radio discussion was prompted by a new report from EdSource entitled "Preparing World Class Teachers". This particular report is intended to highlight the most promising reforms to create a more effective teaching workforce. The article suggests that such induction programs could benefit from innovation and reform.

Listen to the Forum podcast from KQED


 Implementing Innovative Models for New Teacher Support

Megan Taylor, Asst. Prof. of Curriculum and Instruction in the School of Education at Sonoma State is a sought-after expert in mathematics education, teacher development, and curriculum design in the Bay Area and beyond. Her recent work with Sonoma Valley School District is notable.  Taylor worked with Sonoma State University teacher candidates and ElevatEd fellows (undergraduate and graduate students in Math and Science) at Adele Harrison Middle School in early September as part of a year-long pilot of a professional development school partnership between Adele Harrison and the Sonoma State University School of Education. 

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Megan W. Taylor, Asst Prof. of Curriculum and Instruction in Mathematics, SSU

In the program Taylor facilitated teacher candidates and ElevatEd Fellows as they observed lessons across the classrooms of the math teachers at the school, with an eye on rich classroom discussion, then participated in structured debriefs with each other and the teachers they observed. 

Principal Mary Ann Spitzer, Director of Curriculum & Instruction Karla Conroy, and ElevatEd CEO Zach Levine observed and participated in the work as well, reflecting the belief that teacher education "takes a village." 

As discussed on KQED's Forum on October 8, this experience is part of a long-term effort by SSU to strengthen the partnership between the mentor teacher and the student teacher candidate. The strong partnership is formed through key strategies, making the clinical experience for its students more effective and the return for mentor teachers more substantial. 

Another new innovative initiative, the CalCorps program strives to be the "gold standard" in teacher education and professional learning for secondary STEM teachers in California, guiding new teachers for a full 6 years from pre-service to in-service teaching. (much longer than the standard one year credential program plus two years of induction that most teachers experience) 

CalCorps focuses on creating the first, research-based, practice-focused, long-term program for the recruitment, education, support, retention, and development of outstanding STEM teachers. CalCorps is different from other models because it provides a cohesive trajectory of professional experiences for new a teacher that spans the moment they choose the profession to their 6th full-time teaching year. Find out more at: http://calcorps.squarespace.com.

To learn more about professional, university and research based teacher credential programs visit us at www.sonoma.edu/education

How to Talk to Parents About the Common Core Standards in Mathematics

Posted by Casey Sears on September 30, 2014 4:11 PM

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Are you an educator wanting to know the best way to talk to parents about the new Common Core Standards in Math? Well you are in luck because Bill McCallum, a distinguished professor of mathematics at University of Arizona and author of the Mathematics Common Core, came to Sonoma State University and addressed this topic recently.

Bill McCallum spoke at the Student Center Ballroom on September 3, 2014. His presentation covered the basic facts about the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics that parents might want to know. McCallum discussed strategies on how to answer questions they might have. There is a plethora of misinformation about the Common Core Standards being spread by traditional and social media. McCallum was able to put some of the misconceptions about the standards to rest and show educators how to address the positive attributes in a way parents will understand. McCallum's visit was very interactive with the audience. He made sure to give a solution to the questions that people wanted answered. 

This event was organized by the Sonoma State Department of Mathematics and Statistics in collaboration with the School of Education as well as the SSU Math Club and SSU Statistics Club. A special thanks to the NSF Noyce Scholarship Program who made this event possible.  

Below is a video of the speech in case you missed it!

The Day in the Life of a Student Teacher as Told by Indy Luis

Posted by Gabrielle Cordero on July 23, 2014 4:05 PM

By Guest Author: Indy Luis

student teacher Indy Luis teaching a lesson

As a student getting started on the Multiple Subject Credential (Elementary School) CORE track at Sonoma State, you get to spend two days getting hands on experience as a future teacher. Although, with 5 on campus courses at SSU your focus is more on learning the fundamentals for creating lesson plans, being familiar with the theories behind what you are seeing in the classroom, content knowledge, etc.

But when you transition to your semester as a full time student teacher the focus is more on your time inside the classroom 4 1/2 days a week. You truly get to feel what it feels like to get to school early, prepare your classroom, and then spend the day teaching children. You will spend time getting to know your students, learning your classroom management style, your philosophies on teaching, procedures that work best in primary and upper grades, etc. The learning that can be accomplished in one day is endless, especially if you take advantage of every opportunity.

Mondays during your full time student teaching are the days where lots of caffeine is needed. You are inside the classroom from 8 to 12, business as usual. By 12 you're on the road heading towards SSU where you will attend two courses. These courses are re doable, and they are full of useful information, but having full concentration for 6 hours can be challenging.

Not only is the hands on experience at your school site challenging, but it is also extremely beneficial, and is the most important piece of this program in my opinion. I thoroughly feel like my work in the field was the most important part of my journey to being a credentialed teacher.

The most stressful time of your full time student teaching will be the works prior, during, and after you create, teach, film, and reflect on your PACT lessons. PACT stands for Performance Assessment for Credentialed Teachers, and fulfills a requirement from the State of California's Commission on Teacher Credentialing. To earn a credential, there is a series of skills that you must be able to show. You must design some sort of literacy lesson, film it, and submit all your work to be evaluated by the university. It is something that most all student teachers are able to accomplish and do a fantastic job, and from what I understand all the student teachers in my class did well and passed.

Overall the process during your full time student teaching will be hard, and it will test your strength. Even though it was the hardest thing I went through in relation of my education, I feel like it showed me that I was made to do this. As I was stressing about my PACT lessons, and nervous beyond belief teaching them, I was also nervous about the outcome in my classroom. I wanted my students to learn the literacy skill I was teaching them SO bad. This realization showed me how much I truly was made for educating the members of our future generation. I know that my passion for teaching and learning clearly showed through my work as well, because the entire class was able to succeed in my lessons.

I also feel fortunate to have made this journey through Sonoma State's program with a dedicated staff who were extremely understanding throughout the entire year, as well as a wonderful group of individuals who were also in this journey. Not only do I recommend getting to know your professors, but I also recommend depending on your fellow student teachers at your site and at SSU to get you through this. We should be in this together as a group of future teachers, and helping each other should be part of the deal. It sure was hard at various times during the year as I battled through this program, but anytime I didn't think I could do it, I knew I would have people behind me telling me I could.

Overall I feel that I have learned to become the best teacher I can be in Sonoma State's Multiple Subject Teaching Credential program. I almost gave up multiple times, and it was an extremely difficult process, but I am proud to say I made it. One thing you must remember about this program is that you can and you will get through it, just like many amazing student teachers before you who were also meant to be educators.

To learn more about the Multiple Subject Credential Program at Sonoma State, read more on our website, or attend one of our monthly information workshops!