Kaleidoscope of Creativity

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The School of Education hosted it’s third annual “Kaleidoscope of Creativity” last night. Thirty-eight K-12 students from North Haven Public Schools, Hamden Public Schools, Fair Haven School in New Haven and Side by Side Charter School in Norwalk have loaned their artistic creations to the SOE for display. The North Haven High School Ensemble provided musical accompaniment during the reception. Please stop by the SOE to personally view the artwork – you will be amazed!

SOE Faculty and Students Present at Professional Development Schools Conference

6girlswithsignWhat happens in Vegas does not need to stay in Vegas when sharing what Quinnipiac’s School of Education is implementing in their Professional Development Schools! Nine presenters from QU School of Education shared their research at the National Association of Professional Development Schools conference this past weekend.

Six honors interns from the SOE graduate program, provided visual demonstrations and engaged conference participants in conversations about their action research capstone projects implemented at Side By Side charter school in Norwalk, CT. Kara Alberse, Amanda Hegler, Jessica Joline, Emily Kupper, Alexandra Mandel and Annamaria McCarthy were all well received by attendees of the NAPDS conference as they shared their embedded research into practice approach and their deep understanding of the research process. Each teacher candidate expertly communicated the powerful influence strong research has on effective teaching practices in the classroom. Comments by participants recognized the above average level of understanding and unique integration in school culture that is illustrated in the PDS relationship at Side By Side Charter School.

Anne Dichele and Matt Nittoly presented a model of the collaborative classroom research to attendees from across the nation. The presentation provided a framework in which other PDS partnerships can enhance research-based problem-solving and active engagement on reflective practice. Encouraged by the innovative design and unique strategies of integration into school culture, participants shared a renewed motivation to bring back to their own school settings this innovative model of collaborative action research.

Monica Cavender’s presentation on the clinical reading experience at Fair Haven School provided conference attendees insight into the design of the reading clinic experienced by all of elementary teacher candidates. This year’s specific focus was on innovative and reflective practice in instructional planning when working with English Language Learners and early reading strategies. Video illustration supported by the effective strategies outlined by colleague Dr. Christina Pavlak gave the participants tools to use when returning to their schools.

MAT Students Present at Harvard Student Research Conference by Rich Guidone and Eric Conrad

Research students from as far away as Russia were among the more than 150 or so who attended the annual Harvard Student Research Conference held on Friday, March 28, 2014.

Despite the crunch of a looming deadline for submission, six MAT students bravely submitted proposals for review and were accepted.

Four students, Lauren Bernachia, Kathryn Thompson, Daniella Maddaloni, and Kristen Helinski submitted proposals to the poster session which was held throughout the day. Their work was alongside similar themed research for perusal and discussion by interested faculty, moderators, students and invited guests.

Jenna Dezio chose the roundtable format to present her school based action research and you could tell from the line of discussion that followed that the other participants were impressed by the fact that Jenna is doing all this while doing student teaching and tending to all the other demands of the program.

Amanda Donovan was the final presenter late in the afternoon on her topic and once again, I was impressed by the many questions the audience had about her ELL presentation and the ease and confidence her demeanor displayed.

Email comments from Professor Eric Conrad say it all, ‘The time you have dedicated and the interest you possess with regards to your research is evident.

Your presence and ability to captivate your audiences at the HGSE demonstrates your ability to compete with the best of the best.

Well done!

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Art in the Classroom, by Rose-Ann Chrzanowski

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“I doubt that the imagination can be suppressed. If you truly eradicated it in a child, he would grow up to be an eggplant.” Ursula K. Le Guin, The Language of the Night.

Is there a place for imagination, creativity, and the arts in the classroom? Children are artists. Whether they choose visual art, acting, or music, they should be given the tools and encouragement to express themselves. Consider pre-school classrooms with their art centers, music areas, and dress up boxes. It could be said the arts are children’s first language. Young children draw what they cannot write, act out what they do have verbal skills to say, and move to music before they can walk.

Of course, in deference to good classroom management and overall sanity, perhaps spontaneous self-expression should take a back seat to guided practice. Providing art materials, discussing and interpreting master works of art, and exposing children to the art of different cultures allow them opportunities to explore the diversity in art and expand their own world views. Sharing personal ideas and cultural experiences encourages acceptance, understanding, and tolerance. Once they have explored the possibilities, they can create art in response. That’s where imagination comes into play. Even when a group of students is exposed to the same introduction to an art activity, each will create a work that is a personal expression of his or her creative process.

Imagine a classroom filled with children creating, singing, moving, and acting. They are discussing, exploring, and working collaboratively. No eggplants here! This could be the safety net that keeps students from disengaging, as Stella shows us in Through the Cracks (Carolyn Stollman, Barbara Emmons, Judith Paolini. Davis Publishing, Inc, Artsake Publinshing, Inc). Cchildren who have difficulty learning in the traditional classroom might find a love of learning in an art based environment. Playing music that reflects the time period, subject matter, or cultural tradition of the art work or providing musical instruments allows students to make other valuable connections. Directing students to use role playing to act out scenarios that complement the works stretch imaginations and promote collaboration, especially if they work together to write a script! Teachers who weave the arts into the core curriculum areas reach the diverse learning modalities and styles of their students; and help them develop creative and critical thinking.

Studies have shown that children who participate in arts education fair better on standardized tests. Are they able to see the possibilities to respond more clearly to questions? Can they draw on their interpretation skills and imaginations to write more confidently? Do they see classrooms as places where creative thinking and self-expression are valued and encouraged?

Rose-Ann Chrzanowski
Ed 562 Facilitating the Arts in the Elementary Classroom

“Pass Your Paper Forward” by Professor Richard Guidone

As a teacher for 36 years in the schools of New Haven I must have used that phrase hundreds of times without giving it much thought. But one time as I routinely uttered that command, I was struck by something for which I was totally unprepared. At the time I was teaching in the heart of what was and still is considered the inner city, the Yale-New Haven Hospital region of the city. Teachers had been instructed by our administrator to always check outside doors to make sure they were closed to the world a few steps away that we did not want our kids to be exposed. A package store was our across the street neighbor as was a used appliance store that stored its wares outside for all to see in rain or shine.

One day while doing hall duty, I found a door to be slightly open on a cold and rainy day so I instinctively went over to check to see why the door appeared to be slightly ajar. To my surprise, I saw a man lying face down in the doorway on the cold, wet sidewalk. Calling the security guard to assist me, he took one look and walked off as if nothing had happened. Apparently, the person in the door was a frequent visitor to the public library which shared a space with the school and he often came in just to keep warm but on this day fell down drunk before he could make it inside. Playgrounds were similarly hazardous as broken bottles riddled the asphalt and shots fired by passing cars could often be heard in the middle of the day so that too was off limits to our students. During report card meetings at night, teachers would meet with parents in a common area, usually the cafeteria, so as to limit the chance of a teacher being attacked in a classroom far removed from the watchful eye of the security guards.
It was these conditions under which I taught for several years and in all that time I was struck not by the number of students who did not do well given their circumstances but by the many who managed to maintain some sense of dignity and hope amid the conditions that even the most tested of us would surely find challenging, to say the least. Such was the case with this one particular student to whom I am referring who made passing the paper forward an experience I have carried with me for a lifetime in teaching.

“Pass your papers forward”, I said after the math homework had been checked that morning. The rustle of twenty-five or so sixth grade students passing papers could be heard over the din of sirens and honking horns on the streets around Howard Ave. Retreating back to my desk to dutifully put a little check mark in the homework section of the grade book I noticed one little girl did not turn in her paper though she was present.

‘Maritza’ (not her real name), I said. ‘I don’t have your paper, did you do the homework?”

‘Yes’, she said shyly and barely audibly not looking up from her desk or making eye contact; a sign of respect I later learned common in the Hispanic culture.

‘Did you do your homework” I asked again.

‘Yes’, she repeated as she had said before.

‘So, when I asked you to pass your paper forward why didn’t you pass your paper?” I held my breath waiting to hear what would I knew would be a novel reason for not doing homework.

‘I didn’t hand it in because you said to hand in your ‘paper’,……. I ……I didn’t use paper” she explained.

With that she proceeded to pull out from her desk three pieces of wood no larger than a medium sized index card on which she had written the math problems from the night before. All were done in pencil and were done correctly. She explained that she looked all over her house but could not find a piece of paper on which to do her homework so she used the only medium she could find which were those three pieces of wood. Unable to imagine such a situation in my own secure world and unable to find the right words to say to make it ok, I retreated back to my desk to give her proper credit for her work the night before. However there is no column in a grade book for ingenuity or resilience or persistence but the character shown by this 12 year old girl stayed with me a lifetime and earned her an A for effort.
I kept those three pieces of wood in my desk drawer at school for many years as a constant reminder of the fragile nature of the students in our charge and the real human life dramas that we as teachers must overcome before we attempt to reach and teach. I lost touch with Maritza. . . and I lost those three pieces of wood in the process of moving to another school some years later, but I never forgot the lessons of humility, understanding and compassion she taught me.

So think of Maritz, as I do, the next time you say to your class, ‘Pass your papers forward.’

Professor Richard Guidone

QU Teacher Candidates Present Workshop to Local Preschool Teachers

Blog photoposted by Monica Cavender

Rachel Battino, Adriana Chiappelli, Jessica Payne, and Lindsay Rosenberg engaged preschool teachers from Southington and Cheshire in a morning full of exciting math activities. Framed within a professionally presented Prezi Presentation, the graduate students involved teachers in early childhood math activities that included making paint bags to trace numbers, moving to the rhythm of Pete the Cat lyrics, and sharing children’s literature focused on beginning number sense.

The School of Education teacher candidates planned and presented over 25 ideas grounded in the Connecticut Framework Standards for Preschool Learning. Participants tapped balloons in the air to illustrate number and quantity relationship. To illustrate the ordering of objects, Quinnipiac students had the preschool teachers sort themselves by a variety of attributes and then sequence themselves by shoe size. Participants made manipulatives out of pasta and food coloring to support patterning and counting concepts with their students. Each activity was aligned with standards and reflected the recognition of the natural development of early numeracy.

Rachel, Adriana, Jessica, and Lindsay represented the School of Education with their leadership, learning, and teaching in the community. This is just another example of why our faculty is so proud of our students. Congratulations girls, for the hard work and planning that went into presenting a workshop to teachers in our neighboring towns.

Superintendent on school reform: “It is Not Working.”

Posted by Kevin Basmadjian, Dean

An article in today’s Washington Post discusses the possible reasons for Governor Malloy’s plans to delay Connecticut’s new teacher evaluation and development system. Contained within the article is a letter written last week by the Superintendent of Madison Public Schools, Thomas Scarice, on what he considers the real problems with education reform in the state of Connecticut. The letter is clear, compelling, and, in my estimation, very accurate, so I have decided to repost it to our own blog for others to read and comment on. Here is the link to the Washington Post article:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2014/02/03/superintendent-on-school-reform-it-is-not-working/

The CCSS and its Impact on Teachers By Professor Leanne Gmeindl

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This picture says it all! Is this how we all feel? I believe so! Like many other teachers in Connecticut, I am in the middle of Teacher Evaluation and implementing Common Core State Standards into my teaching and curriculum. It is exhausting work…it is confusing at times, it is nerve-wracking, and it is time consuming.  Between the new teacher evaluation system and implementing the CCSS, many of us are questioning our own professional judgment, experience, actions, intentions and competence. Those of us who felt confident in our teaching expertise, in a career and field that we love and cherish, are now second-guessing ourselves.

I recently read an article in the Hartford Courant titled, “Why I Want To Give Up Teaching” by Elizabeth A. Natale, an English and Language Arts teacher at Sedgwick Middle School in W. Hartford http://www.courant.com/news/opinion/hc-op-natale-teacher-ready-to-quit-over-common-cor-20140117,0,6264603.story. While reading this story, initially, I thought to myself, “Wow, someone FINALLY said it! Thank you!”. You see, I don’t think that many lawmakers, “higher ups”, dare I say it…parents, always know or appreciate all of the hard work, dedication, planning, executing, heart and soul that goes into teaching. It is so much more than tests, data collection, documentation, standardization and accountability. All of those criteria are very important, yes, but what about our love of our profession and the students that we teach. Isnt’ that what Natale was really getting at?

Teaching is such a rewarding career…teaching has changed my life in so many ways. Although, like many other educators in Connecticut, I understand and agree with much of what Natale stated in her Op-Ed piece. However, I can’t imagine walking away from my profession. More now than ever, our students need us. They need experienced teachers to take the lead in this new charge that is CCSS, teacher evaluation and the new Smarter Balance Assessment. Our students (and newer teachers) need to see their more experienced teachers unaffected by these changes. Rather, we need to represent a solid and consistent force and take all of these changes head on. We need to become more involved and be part OF the change, rather then let these changes happen TO us.

I encourage our teacher candidates to tread forward and embrace these new challenges that they face.  In fact, I believe that our teacher candidates are in an excellent position to “take on” all of these new challenges. Let’s face it, it’s a lot more difficult for us experienced teachers to accept these new changes to education than it will be for someone who does not know any different. I also encourage our veteran teachers to “hang in there”.   As we all know too well, change is always more difficult at the beginning. Sooner or later we find our way and things that were once difficult become the norm once again. Our students deserve to have the best teachers and that is who we are!

 

“To Teach” by Tamara Priestley

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To Teach

To teach is not to preach.
The professor and the pupil, each
Must discover daily lessons, given
For absolute knowledge, hidden.

The professor and the pupil, each
Imparting puzzle pieces, reach
For absolute knowledge, hidden.
Guided by the other, trust

Imparting puzzle pieces, reach
For true enlightenment, being
Guided by the other; trust:
To teach is not to preach.

Not so long ago I gave myself the assignment of writing a poem in pantoum form that embodied the essence of what teaching is for me. ‘To Teach’ is the result.

When I began my self-imposed homework, I felt like a fisherman but instead of an easy haul of flounder I kept netting paradoxes. I kept hauling in contradictory notions; teacher/student, flexible/structured, individual/group, head/heart, accountability/responsibility, subject/creative, control/trust, test/discovery, etc. And, I came to more fully realize and appreciate that teaching is an art not of balancing paradox but rather not being afraid of the tension created by paradox.

On my best teaching days I am fearless. No technical glitch, no student question, no schedule interruption rattles me, trips me up. I’m living amidst the paradoxes in a pattern of flow much like that described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi:

You yourself are in an ecstatic state to such a point that you feel as though you almost don’t exist. I’ve experienced this time and again. My hand seems devoid of myself, and I have nothing to do with what is happening. I just sit there watching in a state of awe and wonderment. And it just flows out by itself.

“Total control” of one’s own mind is in fact too strong an expression to describe accurately what happens when one is in flow. The point is not that one can always do what one wants, but rather that the possibility of making things happen as one wishes is present in a way that seldom occurs in “real” life.

Then there are the days I feel defeated by the system, by peers, by parents, by students, by myself. And I ask, ‘Why do I stay in teaching?’

At those times I reflect on the big picture and the little pictures of the day and I almost always realize that the canvas of that day didn’t honor the tensions created by the paradoxes encountered. Instead of being fearless I allowed fear to paint my lesson, my class, my day.

Reflection then, is the brush that answers, ‘I stay in teaching because I am a fearless artist who enjoys the challenge of paradoxes encountered each day, in each lesson, and each new school year.’

To teach is not to preach but to reflect and live in the paradoxes.

Tamara Priestley

Side By Side’s First Lego League Team Wins “Core Values” State Trophy

By: Matthew Nittoly, Executive Director of Side By Side Charter School

This past Saturday, 12/7, Side by Side’s First Lego League Team– The Pink Panthers– competed in the State Championship at Central CT State University.  Side by Side was one of 49 teams in the competition and is one of two Professional Development Schools connected to the Quinnipiac School of Education.

The Pink Panthers walked away with another huge victory by winning the state’s trophy for “Core Values” and also earning one of five special awards, including a $200 award given out by the Institute for Electronics Electrical Engineers.

Team Pink Panthers success at the State level this year was a tremendous accomplishment.  Way to go Side by Side!

Special Thanks to team coaches, Marie Iannazzi, Sue Taylor and Mary Newbery as well as Lucie Howel and the BMS institute (Bristol meyers squibb) who  provided some financial support for the team.

Congratulations to the 2013 SBS Pink Panthers: Liberty Brown, Chris Shillinglaw, Tes DeJaeger, Kevin Nava, Yuuki Hosokawa, Taishi Hosokawa, Jonathon Randretsanilo, Adam Peter, Matthew Montanez and Sean Buzzee.

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