Faculty News

Ostroff Invited to Lecture at Wellesley College

Wendy Ostroff, Ph.D., faculty member in the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, was invited to deliver the Annual Anna and Samuel Pinanski Lecture at the Pforzheimer Learning and Teaching Center at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts on April 16. Dr. Ostroff's lecture was entitled, "Born to Learn: Motivating and Engaging Learners from a Developmental Science Perspective."

Discoveries about cognition and the brain have exploded over the last two decades, and yet most of these findings have not altered the way that learning is approached in the classroom. From preschool through higher education, understanding how learning happens is vital for those of us designing curriculum and pedagogy. In an attempt to mend the disconnect between cognitive and developmental scientists in the laboratory, and educators on the ground, this presentation brought to light processes that inspire or propel learning - not just in childhood, but throughout life - such as play, confidence, self-regulation, movement, mnemonics, metacognition, articulation and collaboration. As highlighted in her recent book, Understanding How Young Children Learn (2012), and in her work with higher education curriculum development with the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Learning at Stanford University, Professor Ostroff discussed empirical data in learning science and suggested meaningful techniques for integrating them into teaching in higher education.

Vollmer to Consult with Writing Institute in Ireland

Dr. Greta Vollmer, Professor of English Education & Applied Linguistics, has been invited to be a consultant for the first Writing Institute being developed at the University of Ireland, Maynooth this summer.

In July, the University, in consultation with a range of teaching and learning networks, including Early Childhood Ireland, the Further Education Support Service, the Professional Development Service for Teachers, the Reading Association of Ireland and the Irish Network for the Enhancement of Writing, will host a week-long writing institute on its campus.

This institute will draw from the U.S. National Writing Project model and is designed to provide an opportunity for dedicated teachers of writing from all education levels to meet, share good practices, and learn more about writing and the teaching of writing.

Vollmer is Director of the Bay Area Writing Project (BAWP), which is the founding site of the National Writing Project, now a network of nearly 200 sites serving all 50 states. Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, BAWP works in partnership with area school districts to offer high-quality professional development programs for educators.

BAWP serves nine Bay Area counties (including Sonoma County) with "teacher-consultants" who offer institutes & workshops to teachers in schools and on the UC Berkeley campus. Other activities related to writing and the teaching of writing are also offered.

“Since its founding in 1974, our work has been based on the guiding principle of teachers teaching teachers: that is, teachers who are successful in the classroom teaching of writing are the best teachers of writing,” says Vollmer. The Writing Project also believes that teachers of writing should be writers themselves, and every workshop incorporates this principle.

There is now research that corroborates that significant gains in writing performance among students of teachers who have participated in these programs.

Vollmer says “we are especially proud of our Young Writers Summer Camps, in its 18th year this coming season, with sites in El Cerrito, San Ramon, Kentfield, and San Francisco; these camps are for kids from grade 3 to 9 who like to write ­ they are not remedial writing classes. For more information about the Writing Project’s programs and initiatives, see (http://www.bayareawritingproject.org)