Archive for the 'What I’m Doing This Summer' Category

Hitting A Change Up

Frisbee_090719By Carl Anderson

For the last three summers, after I gave up working at Camp Lincoln for the whole summer for good, I have taught at Summer Splash at a Middle School, working with 3rd-7th graders (and for an hour a day this year with 4K and 5K kiddos). Now, I’m a High School English Teacher, so why on earth would I do that? Honestly, it’s because I love hitting the change up.  

During the school year, I teach 9th and 12th grade. For first semester, the freshmen getting used to high school are really hard to deal with. For second semester, senioritis sets in, and the seniors are rough. By the end of the year, I’m totally worn out. But I know I’d be bored out of my mind not working, and I’ve yet to find a job I like more than any job working with kids. So I decided to try Summer Splash. I’ve done reading interventions with students going in to high school (very similar to the school year), taught golf (3rd graders and golf clubs don’t always mix…), lacrosse, and added ultimate Frisbee this year. Working with a variety of ages, in classes that take everyone and especially with age groups I’m not as used to has made me a better teacher. I’ve become more patient (great to use with freshmen), more sympathetic and empathetic to middle and elementary school teachers, and I’ve had a ton of fun. I’m also reminded that while this is a great change up for eight weeks in the summer, I’m definitely meant to be a high school teacher for the full school year.  

For all you teachers out there that might get a chance to work with a wildly different age group that you’re used to for the summer, I’d totally recommend it. You learn plenty, you’ll probably be better with that group than you think, and, hey, you could end up like me and play ultimate Frisbee for two hours a day, which is not a bad gig at all. 

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy


By Dhanya Nair

A large part of my summer is currently being spent on taking a course about counseling children and adolescents; I often walk down memory lane as I read about concepts like attachment and modeling. And, I think frequently about the power vested in adults. People often refrain that childhood is the most carefree period in one’s life, however I beg to differ. Children face the immense task of initiation into the adult world. There are constant pressures on them to toe the line, to be a “good” kid, to get along with peers, to be an all-rounder…the list is endless!

I am reminded of one of my classmates from school in India as I write this piece. The average class size in my school was about 30 and the class would be firmly divided on the basis of grades- the “good” and “poor” students. The “poor” students would consistently remain “poor” and any behavioral indiscretion on their part would mean banishment to the corner spot in the classroom where they would stick out like a sore thumb. I guess the idea behind the punishment was to shame the student into obedience. One of the “poor” students happened to be the aforementioned classmate, who also had the reputation of being a bully as he routinely got into fights and overpowered most of his opponents. He was more often than not banished to the corner spot in the classroom from where he would make faces at the rest of us or doodle idly. However, one day, things changed for him, our seventh grade science teacher announced that he was incredibly bright. We were stunned and stared at her in disbelief when she told us that she had discovered he was a quick learner while coaching him for a test. After that point, he did not seem to get into as many fights. And years later, I discovered that he had secured an engineering degree from an Ivy League school in the States. I can’t help but think that my science teacher’s discovery of my classmate’s “hidden” potential could have well started him off on his journey to academic excellence.

The “self-fulfilling prophecy” concept in social psychology refers to the phenomenon of behavior being influenced by prior expectations. I believe that my classmate’s better academic performance in middle school and high school was positively affected by the altered perception which others had gained of him. Very often, children become victims of the self-fulfilling prophecy not just because others around them expect them to act in certain set ways, but also because they internalize messages received from these external sources. Labeling in schools as well as homes can have a lasting impact on children’s development. A “lazy” child will be seen as a sluggard no matter what she/he does, and the lore will be passed around to everyone in the child’s life leading her/him to internalize that message.

Gender-priming, also, I believe, strengthens the self-fulfilling prophecy effect. Why is it that women in developed and developing nations alike are not well-represented in STEM (Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) professions? Is it because society keeps propagating the myth of men being good at science and math and women being good at languages? There is optimistic news from the scientific fraternity now about female performance on math and science tests, it seems like in societies where more gender equality exists, females perform as well or nearly as well as males in math and science. And, now, on that happy note, I need to treat myself to some coconut French toast!

Week One “The more you read … The more you achieve”


By Charlotte Adnams 
Sixty 2nd and 3rd grade students trickled into the Hartman Center Monday morning fresh-eyed and excited for the start of the Dwyane Wade LIVE TO DREAM: Summer Reading Program, the program’s second year at Marquette. The morning started with the students hearing from a special guest, Tragil Wade, the Director of the Wade’s World Foundation and Dwyane Wade’s sister. The students gathered in a cluster on the floor listening to Ms. Wade encourage and emphasize to the young learners the value of reading. Though he was not able to physically join the students, Dwyane Wade supported the students via video expressing his passion for reading and his encouragement for them as they begin the summer reading program.
The 12 “Wade Coaches,” graduated and current Marquette Education students, spent the first week getting to know their students and doing several pretests as a way of gauging where the students are to help them excel in these next few weeks. Each mini-classroom is adorned with its own theme, providing a comfortable and encouraging space for the students to learn, along with the over-arching theme of the program, the “Reading Olympics.”

Throughout the day students have recess, snack, and lunch breaks so they can get all of their wiggles and soccer moves out. This new addition of the morning snack and lunch program is funded by the Summer Food Service Program.

There are many fun things ahead for these 60 students as they embark on their journey of enhancing their reading and writing skills, this first week was only the start!

When One Door Closes…

2972235208_f249b6a3c4_b.jpgBy Amanda Szramiak – On my last blog, I talked about my rejection from Teach for America. This week I have some more positive news to share.

I was offered to teach summer school with the Center for Urban Teaching, and I am so immensely excited. Though I am not sure what school or grade I will teach, I will be teaching! It is so exciting to finally be able to say I am going to be teaching for longer than a period or two. Others may be frightened by the 7a.m. to 5p.m. time commitment for six weeks, but I am truly overjoyed with the opportunity. I have been reaching out to some of my friends and colleagues who have been affiliated with CfUT, so if you are, please don’t hesitate to give me advice.

The Center for Urban Teaching’s main purpose is to “identify, prepare, and support high performing urban teachers.” Their values of being spiritually focused, respectful, courageous, perseverant, and dedicated coincide with my beliefs on what it takes to be a powerful teacher. I think having an organization instill these values in their teachers helps to ensure that the teachers will also inspire their students. Not only does CfUT want to enhance student achievement, but they also want to aid and support urban teachers to become high performing.

I think this experience coupled with my field experiences will give me all the valuable tools needed in order for me to be considered successful in my future classroom.

Take-Aways from My Summer at the Hartman Center

zZfZWEIFt3OgDFsZuozBA0MJYd9BleSIDMJLPr3_QVU,6hdR0P8saxgOJ_R4juSoFGpeLEXcrYJihz99Kvaiu0A,Cc5P0-eE6owQQjT6zTh4Ej4jU3PxaU40mlHhUm09GAk,cBst4vJdvs4-iXcM6bXkiu5mO-C6fyWDTGWiFCRx9_s,lQTZCuHHbQHjMVxoHoJ3M0vfkInwGujO-wBDg-mXX4IBy Lily Vartanian – Now that the “Live to Dream” Hartman Center program has ended, I enlisted the help of my fellow Wade Coaches to reflect on some of the things we learned both individually as teachers and as a group this summer.

Personally, I feel as though I have grown in many ways this summer. I felt more equipped to handle a classroom, especially when approaching both learning and behavior issues, after a semester of student teaching. In my previous experience working at the Hartman Center, I had completed my final semester and took the Reading Three course in the fall of 2014, but had not yet student taught. Using what I learned in student teaching this summer at the Hartman center made my classroom a lot more efficient and differentiated than the previous semester.

Additionally, this summer taught me a lot about young readers. I was a student teacher in fifth grade, and my previous Hartman classroom had fourth graders, so the last time I had truly worked with beginning readers was in the Fall of 2013 during my first Reading course at Marquette. This was something that was an adjustment for me, as I had to review the processes of Core and Key words and teaching blending and segmenting, in addition to putting myself in the mindset of teaching second and third graders rather than fourth and fifth graders. I am grateful for the opportunity, however, as I will be teaching third graders this fall!

Wade Coach Julia Fornetti observed the confidence in both her students as well as the Wade Readers overall within the six week program. Most of our Wade Readers made gains in reading and confidence, and none regressed in their learning which was huge for some of these struggling readers. As summer is a time when students lose information and skills gained during the school year, this was a great accomplishment. As Ms. Fornetti observed and noted, “This summer really showed that everyone has an innate desire to be able to read fluently. When we provide students with the proper learning environment paired with the right amount of support, they begin to see themselves as the readers they’ve been striving for without realizing it.”


Wade Coach Emily Wulfkuhle had similar notions regarding her learners. She found that, “Kids are excited about reading if they have a mentor that stresses the importance of reading, and praises even the smallest reading victories, which may be great accomplishments to the reader themselves.” Ms. Wulfkuhle, when reflecting on herself as a learner, found that she knew more about reading interventions than she gave herself credit for and became more confident using RTI (Response to Intervention).

Overall, the Wade Coaches did an excellent job supporting each other as well as their Wade Readers this summer. We drew on our students’ abilities as well as the data to help drive our instruction, while focusing on the areas of need for each Wade Reader. Additionally, our experiences gained during our student teaching semesters exposed each of us to a wide variety of instructional and behavioral strategies we could implement this summer.

The summer has gone so quickly, and I am sad to say that my time as a Wade Coach has come to an end! I am grateful and thankful for not only the opportunity to have been a Wade Coach this summer, but also for the chance to share my ideas, experiences, and students’ progress as a summer blogger. I am off to begin my first year teaching third grade, with the new school year just around the corner!

Lessons Learned from Life Abroad

Erica's blog pic 1By Erica Henderson – This summer I decided to travel.

I’m 25, looking forward to my last year of graduate school, and uncertain what’s going to happen after graduation. I could have gotten a job or internship for the summer, but I was starting to feel like this could be my last opportunity to do what I’d always wanted but never felt able to—travel.

I figured that this seemingly irresponsible summer was a rite of passage that everyone should experience once before life gets too real. And I don’t necessarily just mean travelling. That accusatory question I would hear from some people (“What do you mean you’ve never been to Europe?!) irked me to no end. I realize how lucky I am to have been able to go a whole summer with no income and still cover the expenses of travelling. It’s certainly not something that should be expected of everybody.

What I mean by an irresponsible summer is simply a summer consisting of nothing Erica's blog pic2that one would likely put on a resume. This could be travelling to another country or going on a road trip to Montana and camping out for a few weeks. It could be cramming a group of ten friends into a small rental cottage in some tourist-y beach town and bartending for a summer. It could be working on a farm when you’ve never watered a plant in your life. None of these things are likely to advance my nascent career in the world of educational policy, but judging by my experience this summer, it would still prove to be an irreplaceable learning opportunity.

The month I spent abroad provided an astounding array of random and unexpected experiences. I saw Bam Margera dressed like a pirate, drunkenly trying to start a fight with an Icelandic gang. I hiked a glacier in Skogafoss. I met a girl in Reykjavik who grew up in my neighborhood in Boston. I saw Bam Margera (again) with a black eye. I stayed in a small town in Austria with an old lady whom I’d never met and who didn’t speak a word of English. Later, she and I split a bottle of wine at her grandson’s soccer game.

I drove an ATV along the cliffs of Santorini. I watched the sunset in Oia and then slowly made my way to the other side of the island in time to watch the sunrise at Kamara Beach. I heard the protesters in Athens shouting “OXI!” to the proposal of austerity, and I learned the effects of a suffering economy so plainly in the conversations I had with the restaurant owners who showed me what real hospitality looks like.Erica's blog pic3

I realized I was relying on everyone else knowing English, and I started to feel very self-conscious about that. I learned that Europeans associated America most commonly with guns and Coca Cola. They also loved asking me about the typical college tuition and, after hearing of my sister’s colossal debt from law school, coyly bragging about their free higher education. I found myself, along with a comrade from Dallas, explaining to a group of curious Australians what exactly is the confederate flag, and struggling to explain why it’s still being flown. I was often embarrassed when someone from Glasgow or anywhere else knew more about American politics than I did, whereas I know absolutely nothing about Scotland whatsoever.

In the end I was wrong to think this was my last chance to travel. If it is a passion, one just needs to learn how to prioritize it. I have a friend who is a high school teacher, and she aims to visit at least three Erica's blog pic4countries every year. I always considered that irresponsible, with her looming college debt. Looking back, I realize she is doing it right. That is her passion, and although she often has to forego big nights out, dining at expensive restaurants, or finally buying a car, she never feels as though she is missing out, because she has prioritized what is important to her. I plan to try to do the same from now on.

Perhaps the most important takeaway from my journey abroad was this: I was wrong to think that I wouldn’t learn anything of value to my professional future. I have learned to be open-minded and curious of others’ cultures (though I couldn’t bring myself to try the Icelandic staple: putrefieErica's blog pic5d shark). I want to be more aware of what is going on not just in my own country but also around the world. I gained a new perspective simply hearing others’ reasons for travelling, of which no two are alike. I found that I couldn’t even begin to understand the nuances of international economics, and now have a healthy skepticism when hearing criticisms of countries that are struggling. I am even learning German.

To be sure, many of these experiences are things that I could have found right here in Wisconsin, but the curiosity and perspectives I gained while abroad will inform the way I navigate the rest of my education and beyond.

The Last Days of Living the Dream

1MdTAzair-EiAClNV9B8Hb5NtLOlpbAFUVGmqKIgbY0,UZNAaqf_rsoR19Knfse5vWjAoFi-lFHN27u-QHsGfHw,iAzOYSVQ33dBKfjG1sO_zpc4cIIz1RQjU5w-QiEd-OY,MEXR7fjN6qrU_9PydwHuRu68KnqMV2_CojqShk1gtW0By Lily Vartanian – The last days of the “Live to Dream” summer program were filled with fun and learning, as a way to wrap up our six weeks together. These last few weeks, assessing students’ progress was essential, as their growth was vital to our intervention-based teaching and goal of the program!

To measure the Wade Readers’ progress from start to finish, we assessed students using the Gates-MacGinitie test. These tests, which are leveled based on the reader, help measure both comprehension as well as reading achievement in word and sound recognition for the Wade Readers. We administered these tests during both the first and second-to-last weeks to help gauge where the students were in the beginning of the summer program as well as how much progress they had made.

Because this information was vital to both the program’s success as well as for our readers, we had to ensure that the tests were completed both pre-program and post-program for each student. As with any standardized testing, this always proves to be a challenge, with attendance and time as variables we needed to work with. As a way to incentivize the testing, which took between two and three days at 30-40 minutes per day, we decided to have the Wade Readers work towards an ice cream treat goal.

Each day the Wade Readers completed their Gates test, working hard and concentrating to give their best answers, they would earn an ingredient for an ice cream sundae. The first day, students could earn one scoop. The second, one topping on their ice cream, and the third day they could earn a second topping. Although each reader would get ice cream regardless at the end of the week, this was a way to hold them accountable and keep them motivated to work hard throughout the week.

Overall, this incentive worked well! We were successful at not only completing each student’s testing, but they also showed improvements, which was our overall goal as Wade Coaches. The student enjoyed their ice cream and worked hard to reach both their goal of finishing the tests and getting their ice cream sundae!

Our last day of the program was bittersweet, as both the Wade Readers and Coaches were sad to say goodbye to each other after our time together this summer. My Wade Readers wrote me kind messages on the chalkboard, enacted and read one of their favorite stories from the summer, and enjoyed popsicles with Ms. Werner’s class. I will miss my Wade Readers as I transition into my own third grade classroom for the fall, but I am both proud of them and grateful for the time we were able to spend together!

With the summer winding down and the final day of the “Live to Dream” program completed, stay posted for my final entry of the summer with more reflections and takeaways from this exciting time at Marquette!

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