Archive for the 'Stories from the classroom' Category

Where Are Our Alumni? Catching Up With Thess Dobbs

In this #ThrowbackThursday post, we catch up with one of our alumni who participated in an undergraduate version of our Masters in STEM Teaching program, Thess Dobbs. Currently teaching at Milwaukee School of Languages, Thess was recently awarded the Edyth Sliffe Award for Distinguished Teaching in Middle School and High School. Read on to hear more about what she’s been doing since graduating!

thessI teach high school math at Milwaukee School of Languages (MSL). At MSL I also lead the math club, which I started in 2014. In this club, we work on more challenging math that goes above and beyond the standard curriculum. Our students have the opportunity to wrestle with challenging competition-level problems and receive guidance to help them build their skills. Through fundraising we make all activities free or low-cost for our students, and we are proud to make these opportunities, often reserved for privileged students at elite schools, accessible to our students. The racial disparities in the STEM fields begin with the inequities in our school systems, and the process to end those disparities must also start with our schools.

Originally, I am from Milwaukee and grew up with a lot of brothers and sisters. My dad is a professor, and both my parents placed a strong emphasis on learning. Being a big sister made me a natural teacher. The Noyce Program gave me more hands-on experience than the typical pre-service teacher has. It wasn’t until student teaching that I really had to learn how to manage a classroom, but the relationships built during my field placements helped me maintain my confidence during the hard times later on. Thanks to the amount of time spent in field placements, I also got a good sense of the school culture of a few different schools.

Even though we aren’t in touch as much as we used to be, I feel the bond still exists between the Noyce Scholars in my cohort. All the formative experiences we shared as undergraduates are not easily forgotten. One person who inspires me is my grandma, Leona Sherrod, who passed away three years ago. She taught in public school for eighteen years, and taught for eighteen more years in prisons’ adult education programs. Though she is gone now, I’m glad she got to see me become a teacher too.

Interested in learning more about how you can pursue your Masters Degree and Wisconsin Teaching Licensure in just fourteen months? Our Noyce Scholars graduate program is accepting applications through February of 2019!

Becoming a Social Studies Teacher

This post originally appeared on Dr. Gibson’s Medium page.

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“painting of man” by Aarón Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash

By Melissa Gibson

The other night, I had an anxiety dream. In it, I was conducting research at an international school on its approach to civic education (you know, part of what I do in real life). My host was a teacher I know well, with whom I’ve worked in Peru. But before I could get started, he said I needed to meet with the principal. I entered her office, where another social studies teacher was waiting; across from us, the principal sat at her large desk, her head slung down while she napped. Worst nightmare of a job interview EVER.

Eventually, the principal jolted awake and leered at both of us. Our college transcripts were in front of her. She inspected each, and then looked at us with disgust: “Why would I hire YOU, either of you, to teach social studies when you do not even have good survey history courses on your university transcript? How can you even pretend to be social studies teachers?!” The other woman, who was clearly interviewing for a teaching job at the school, began to explain how her high school offered a plethora of college-level survey courses, and so when she got to college, she was able to move into advanced history seminars. She showed off her flashy knowledge of dates and names, and then went down a wormhole about some 1800s Navy admiral she was obsessed with. She ended with a summary of her students’ AP scores for the past twenty years. The principal nodded, clearly assuaged.

Then she turned to me. “What about you, little miss interdisciplinary?”
I gulped. I began my usual explanation of what it means to have studied Women’s Studies as an undergraduate, the various social science lenses on the same questions. I showed her on my transcript the “surveys” of sociology, history, literature, political science, but how they were all focused on questions of gender. And as I explained what I had studied, I grew more animated in my explanations of how I study these topics. The principal seemed unimpressed.

Gathering steam, I tried to give a narrative of how I came to this place in my intellectual career: I talked about not seeing myself in the curriculum (or in my classmates) and seeking academic spaces that honored the questions I was asking as legitimate intellectual inquiry. I talked about questioning dominant narratives, and moving back and forth between the various disciplinary cannons and critical theorists and scholars. I talked about my discovery late in life of how thrilling history can be when it is more than a collection of dates and names. I may have shown her the syllabus to my methods courses. I definitely showed her the documentaries and podcasts and blogs that my students have written in my social studies classes.

Eventually, she relented, agreeing that while my training was non-traditional, I clearly knew how to ask questions and get students to do some work (there may have been a tirade about lazy millenials and the ills of technology). She looked about to nod off for a nap again (and I really wanted to ask a snide question about what work she did if she spent so much time napping), so I mustered the courage to ask permission to conduct my research, which she granted. The next thing I knew, the dream had morphed into a murder mystery complete with chupacabras, and instead of conducting research on civic education, I was helping high school students escape some murderous blob-ghost thing, which liked to strike during football games. Also, there were rickshaw rides and a lack of child care for my own children so…definitely an anxiety dream.

School is finally back in full swing here in Milwaukee, and we are hunkering down at Marquette to dig into the meat of our courses. And on the eve of these intellectual journeys, I guess my sub-conscious needed to pause to reflect on what it means to be a scholar of social studies education, especially when one isn’t a traditional social scientist or historian. I talked my own imposter syndrome down in the dream, as evidenced by the principal’s relent, but I woke up aware of that always present feeling of self-doubt. Which, believe it or not, is important for me to hold onto. Not because it’s a valid self-critique but because it reminds me of how my pre-service teachers may feel in my methods courses and in their placements—not quite the real deal. And that self-doubt can be paralyzing. Part of my job as their methods instructor is to help them see the multiple ways that we can become scholars of teaching, and that our most powerful intellectual tools are the questions we ask.

This publication, which we will add to throughout the school year, is a record of their journeys learning to ask good questions. Along the way, they will uncover resources, stories, places, and instruction that just may help you become a better social studies teacher, too—whether this is your first year teaching, or your fortieth.

This is social studies. Not a collection of dates and names, but a way of inquiring about the world. We hope you’ll join us on our journey.

Changing Climate: Counselors Getting Crafty!

By Sabrina Bartels

At the start of this school year, the Student Services department decided to help “beautify” our building. Here are some fun things we did to help our school climate!

  1. “Be the nice kid” quote. This was one of the most difficult things we did, but it was definitely worth it. We started by purchasing white paint and painting over a small section of the brick wall. We then projected a picture of the quote on the wall and traced the lettering, before finishing off the words with a couple coats of paint. It was finicky and stressful, but we’ve gotten tons of compliments on it. If you’re thinking of adding this quote to your school, we recommend picking up a variety of brushes to accommodate the different fonts. Also, this is a team activity – all the painting can get very tedious for just one person! Be the nice kid
  2. Drake bulletin board. Our students love this one (and also use it as an excuse to sing the song “Hey Keke.”) We saw a bulletin board on Facebook that used the quote, so we adjusted it a little to fit our school and added our own picture of Drake. We hope that it encourages our students to start thinking about their post-secondary education paths. It’s also a fun way to incorporate a little pop culture into school! Bulletin Board
  3. And speaking of education paths … we added a bulletin board outside of Student Services so we could post our own educational paths. Our students love seeing where all of us went to school! We’ve also used our new bulletin board to post inspirational quotes for our students to read. Educational PathwaysEducational PathStudent Services board
  4. Inside Out bulletin board. We also created a bulletin board that offers students a gentle reminder about what we do in Student Services. So often, we have students who don’t know what our roles are, or what they can talk to us about. Inside Out
  5. Pennants. In September, we sent out emails to (almost) all of the colleges and universities in Wisconsin, asking for pennants and any “swag” the colleges had to promote their school. The responses we got were overwhelming! Around 15 schools (Marquette included!) not only sent us pennants, but were super generous in sending us t-shirts, temporary tattoos, stickers/decals, water bottles, and more! Thanks to their kindness, we are able to start discussing post-secondary education right now with our students. We wanted to hang them over the bulletin board outside our office, but are trying to find something better than duct tape to hold them up.

Getting to Know Our Students: Meet Rebecca Vandersluis

This fall, we are spending time getting to know our students! You can get to know more of our students and our faculty/ staff on previous posts. Read on to meet Rebecca Vandersluis, one of our Noyce Scholars in the Masters in STEM Teaching Program.

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I grew up in Maryland just north of Baltimore. After college, I moved to Florida to begin working in project management at CSX Transportation and have had the opportunity to live in many parts of the country: Maryland, Florida, Washington, Rhode Island, Tennessee, California, and Wisconsin. My husband is Captain Matthew Vandersluis, Commanding Officer of Navy and Marine Corps ROTC Unit here at Marquette. We have three teenagers and a black labrador named Maggie. In my free time, I enjoy walking, reading and baking. My family inspires me every day to keep working toward my passion and my goals.

I must say my current experience at Marquette is my favorite educational experience. I feel like I am able to be fully engrossed in the education and really want to learn. When I was in high school, I wanted to be a teacher but was discouraged from doing so. I actually received my substitute teacher license in California and transferred it to Wisconsin. After subbing in Wisconsin I thought I would look into getting my teaching license. My first call was to Marquette University where the Noyce STEM Teaching program was explained to me!

I feel as though many earlier decisions have led to this point and this feels like the cherry on top. The Noyce Program is giving me an opportunity to pursue a dream I thought I had let slip away. After graduation, I’m looking forward to having fun while helping my students realize anyone can learn Math.

Catching up with Courtney Farley

After completing student teaching last January, Courtney Farley finished out the rest of the academic year as a long-term substitute. However, with the new school year beginning, so is her new adventure! Courtney will be spending the next year teaching English in Spain. Read on to hear all about it.

farleyBy Courtney Farley

I grew up in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. I attended Queen of Apostles grade school, Catholic Memorial High School, and then found myself at Marquette. I have one sister, who graduated from Madison last year in biology and is now doing an accelerated nursing program at Madison. My mom works for Sherwin Williams in sales and my dad is a retired lawyer and now loves spending his days golfing. Finally, we have our dog, Guinness, who is a mini golden doodle and easily the family favorite.

I have been attending Marquette Basketball games ever since I could walk. My dad went to Marquette and so did a lot of my cousins, aunts, and uncles. I grew up surrounded by people who loved Marquette and I knew that there was no other college that I wanted to go to. I came into Marquette knowing I wanted to major in Spanish, but not knowing what I wanted to do with it. I have worked at a summer day camp every summer since high school and knew I loved working with kids. I transferred into the College of Ed my sophomore year and absolutely loved all the classes I was taking. The class size and relationships I have formed with my peers and with the professors are incredible and that is what I love most about the College of Ed. You truly feel valued and your professors want you to succeed and help you as much as they can.

Someone who has been an inspiration to me and has made a huge impact is my high school Spanish teacher, Señora Diedrich. She was so passionate about teaching Spanish and made me realize how much I love it. She created a classroom environment where we felt like family and weren’t afraid to make mistakes. She cared about each of her students and helped us along the way. I hope to make as big an impact on my students as she did on me.

I had such an amazing experience during my student teaching at St. Anthony’s in Milwaukee. I was placed in a third-grade classroom with an amazing cooperating teacher. Student teaching can be very nerve-racking those first couple weeks, but everyone at the school made me feel welcome and part of the St. Anthony family. My cooperating teacher always explained everything and always asked for my input and reflections on lessons. Taking over teaching and getting to use all that I learned at Marquette was awesome. Not only did I get to see what really worked in my classroom, I got to grow and learn through those lessons that didn’t go as smoothly. I was lucky enough to get to stay at St. Anthony after student teaching and take over a 4th grade class as a long-term sub. I continued to learn so much about myself and realized how passionate I was about teaching.

I am going to be in Spain teaching English to kids from ages 3-18. I am going through a program that allows me to pull out small groups of children to help them learn English. I just took an online class and got my TEFL certification. I am excited to put everything I learned from the class into practice. I will be living in a small city outside of Barcelona called Vilafant.

While I am in Spain, I will be staying with three different host families. I chose this program partly because I wanted to stay with a host family. I am excited to become a part of their family and live a true, authentic Spanish lifestyle. I am so excited to get to learn more about the Spanish culture and what it means to make Spain my new “home.”

I am also excited to continue to grow as an educator and see what other school systems are like outside the United States and how I can bring back what I learned abroad and implement it in my own classroom.

I don’t know anyone else doing the program. I am going over there and am a little nervous about not knowing anyone, but more excited for the possibility to meet so many new people. This will force me out of my comfort zone and allow me to learn more about myself. I’m excited for the chance to teach abroad and to learn from the people in Spain gets me excited when I think about it. I will be in a whole new country, but I will still be doing what I love, which is teaching, working with children, and experiencing new cultures.

 

 

We Hold These Truths to be Self-Evident

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By Patrick R. Johnson

As educators, we oftentimes come to this vocation by a calling—thus why I would call our craft a vocation rather than a profession. While this calling comes in different ways and at different times, the bells it rings in our heads is one of many things that unites us. My bells rang quite literally upon my first campus visit to Marquette, a very delayed one at that. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but what I wanted to teach was massively in conflict: do I become a biology teacher because I loved the scientific method and studying life, or do I do what many told me not to—become a journalism teacher. I heard the bells of Marquette Hall on my way to visit Johnston Hall; despite the rainy day, the bells gave light to where I belonged. I chose the road less traveled and you should too.

Journalism (and media as a greater umbrella) is the Fourth Estate—the checks and balances to the government as a whole. Journalism is the truth, despite what some who are being checked by the Fourth Estate may continue to argue. Journalism is the voice for the voiceless, the sounding board for the unspoken and the gatekeeper for all that is good and evil. Yet, especially now more than when I began my journey against the grain as a journalism teacher, journalism isn’t what it should be allowed to be and I argue that in order to change that we need to put journalism and media education back into our schools.

That all men are created equal

It is in teaching our students that equality can only be granted when we’re willing to critique ourselves and our systems that we truly will learn. In media production classrooms, we promote social justice and awareness by challenging our students to engage with and produce content about those who have been silences—unearthing the truths that have been buried for so long.

When we teach news and media literacy, we ask our students to curiously question who produced a piece, who runs the organization, or who guides the message; what the message says and how the message says it; when the message is created and for whom it was created for; and why.

To promote and ensure the equality that was granted to us in the confines of the Declaration of Independence, we must first ask why we are afforded these rights in the first place and who helps provide us with them. Media classes do just that.

That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights

Media classrooms are the “Four Cs of 21st Century Learning” and endow our students with the unalienable rights associated with a strong and sustainable education. Students in media classrooms learn to communicate beyond a screen and reignite a passion to care about one another. Students in media classrooms challenge the system using critical thinking skills that are developed in their analysis of media, their creation of content, and their questioning of ethics. Students in media classrooms engage in collaboration daily as they must work together to produce a product, one that is public and out there for all to see (and critique). Students in media classrooms invoke creativity not just in the work, but also in their leadership and passions. These Cs guarantee student success and push them to reach their maximum potential inside and outside of the classroom.

That among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

In an age where journalists are under fire, quite literally as we recently saw with the shooting at the Capital Times, fastening our students with weapons of truth and language and thought are more necessary than ever. Journalism programs around the country are being cut, teachers are being released from their contracts, and kids are going without a proper education of their First Amendment freedoms because there is a fear that journalism endangers the unalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Instead of fearing what this experience produces, we should deeply consider what this experience can afford our students—the future of America. Instead of fearing that journalism will take away our rights, we should be embracing the unknown and pushing for our rights to be celebrated, honored and respected.

We must renew our trust in journalism, a vocation that is foundational to the American Dream. It starts with an education and it starts with us. Help champion the cause for truth by either investing in journalism or media classes in our schools, or bringing them back if they’ve sadly disappeared. We need declare our independence by reigniting our passion for and discovery of knowledge. Join the cause because journalism is going to be the only thing to make America great again.

Give Your Writing A Dash—of Creativity

writing-675083_960_720By Elizabeth Jorgensen

Earlier today, a student raised his hand and said, “You commented on my paper that I should be using the dash, but I’m actually using a hyphen. But I don’t know how to make the dash.”

I said, “I know Google Docs is not set up to make it, so you will need to modify your settings so you can turn – into — .”

Although an en (word-space-hyphen-space-word) dash and em (word-hyphen-hyphen-word) dash are automatically created in Word, they’re not in Google Docs (where my students craft and submit drafts). At this point, I paused class and asked each student to set up the em dash on his or her Google Doc preferences.

A student Googled how to do this. He said, “Go to tools, then preferences, then add the two hyphens in the left column that says ‘replace’ and paste the em dash into the right side that says ‘with’.”

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To paste the em dash, students went to “insert” and then “special characters” and typed “em dash” where it says “search.” This allowed them to copy and paste the em dash into the “with” column. I told students they could also paste the em dash from a different document or from a website that used the dash. I reminded students they needed to select “save” in order for the changes to update.

After updating Google Doc preferences, students went into a Google Doc, keyed in two hyphens and saw the dash automatically created. When some students couldn’t make the dash, others commented they needed to “hit the spacebar.”

One student with a Mac said she uses “shift-option-dash” to create the em dash in both Google and Word. I said, “Depending on your device, you might need a different keystroke.” I told my students to Google “How to make the em dash on [insert your device/program here]” if they still struggled to create the em or en dash on their device and/or document.

Then, I spent time reviewing the different dashes. I projected examples so the students could visually see the difference as well as the dashes and hyphen in context. I said, “The em (—) dash is the longest; en dash (–) is slightly shorter; even shorter is the hyphen (-). Remember, the dashes are different from a hyphen which connects compounded words like Wi-Fi or e-mail. And an en dash is used with numbers or dates (as in July–October 2010 or 1999–2002) while the em dash is what you’re frequently using in sentences.” Students then wrote sentences that used the em dash, en dash and the hyphen.

The em dash is what I primarily focus on in my classroom. At the beginning of each semester, my students read excerpts from On Writing Well by William Zinsser. In his “Bits & Pieces” chapter, he discusses the dash:

Somehow this invaluable tool is widely regarded as not quite proper—a bumpkin at the genteel dinner table of good English. But it has full membership and will get you out of many tight corners. The dash is used in two ways. One is to amplify or justify in the second part of the sentence a thought you stated in the first part. “We decided to keep going—it was only 100 miles more and we could get there in time for dinner.” By its very shape the dash pushes the sentence ahead and explains why they decided to keep going. The other use involves two dashes, which set apart a parenthetical thought within a longer sentence. “She told me to get in the car—she had been after me all summer to have a haircut—and we drive silently into town.” An explanatory detail that might otherwise have required a separate sentence is dispatched along the way.

My students and I discuss how and why a writer might use dashes instead of commas, parentheses, or colons. We discuss the value of varied punctuation and the effect each piece of punctuation can have on readers. And on this particular day, I reviewed the differences in the em and en dash as well as the hyphen. I am hoping this mini, impromptu lesson will inspire students to dash into drafting with a greater understanding of punctuation—and how to both make and use it correctly.

 


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