Category Archives: MAT Elementary Education

2017 Teacher Research Project Conference

On May 17, 2017, Brown MAT students gathered at The Wheeler School in Providence to present their year-long teacher research projects. Director of Teacher Education Daniel Bisaccio welcomed everyone to the conference.

Dulari Tahbildar (Brown ’00), executive director of Breakthrough Providence whose works centers on educational equity and social justice, provided the keynote address. Dulari challenged the MAT students by participating in an exercise that encouraged them to reflect on their own teaching experiences and what they hope to do and be in the future classroom.

After a brief reception for students, faculty, mentors, and friends, 39 MAT students presented their projects during three 30-minute sessions. Visitors ambled from room to room to view presentations on computers and on posterboards, some with visual aids ranging from completed classroom assignments to student poems to taxonomy.

Read on to see candid conference photos of some of the presenters and their projects: Continue reading


Meet Professor Andrea Flores!

Andrea_FloresAndrea Flores will be an Assistant Professor in the Department of Education at Brown University starting this Fall 2016. Her research focuses on how Latino youth who participate in a college readiness program in Nashville, Tennessee conceptualize the value of higher education and civic engagement for themselves, their families, and their communities. In particular, Andrea focuses on how educational aspiration is tied to Latino youth’s senses of self and feelings of socio-civic inclusion in the United States. Andrea is also interested in the role of school-community partnerships in both facilitating persistence in school and reshaping public education. Her next project follows a group of students she previously worked with as they transition into private religious colleges.

Prior to graduate school, Andrea worked as a research assistant at Project Zero at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she worked on projects on youth’s online ethics and young people’s conceptions of trust. Her work at Project Zero inspired her to pursue graduate work related to adolescents and education. She received her bachelor’s degree in anthropology at Harvard University and her doctoral degree in anthropology at Brown University. An NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, a grant from the Ruth Landes Memorial Research Fund, and fellowships from the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation and the National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation have supported her research. This fall, she will teach Education 1450, The Psychology of Teaching and Learning. As the sister of two elementary school teachers, she is very excited to be teaching in the MAT program. She is looking forward to getting to know the MAT students this fall and follow their progress during the year!

“Brown Alumni Analysis” Convenes!

MAT alum Zach Edson (Elementary ’15) reached out to the MAT Program to tell us of a unique way our recent Elementary alumni are supporting each other on their new-found professional journeys.  Read his words below!

“I wanted to share with you something special that recent graduates of the Elementary MAT program have begun. In an effort to support one another professionally and strengthen our own practices, we have formed a professional development group. Our meetings are modeled after our ‘Analysis’ course, and so we are calling the group ‘Brown Alumni Analysis’.

Our first meeting was this past Thursday, and eleven Elementary MATs from ’15 and ’14 got together. We shared work from our classrooms and discussed solutions to dilemmas different teachers are facing in their early teaching experiences.

I wanted to share this because it reflects how our studies at Brown shaped our professional attitudes and gave us the resources to become the best teachers we can!”

Brown Alumni Analysis

“Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors?”: Encouraging Girls to Reach their Full Potential

Current Elementary MAT Emma Gonsalves completed her fall practicum this semester at Sophia Academy, a small, nondenominational, independent middle school for girls from low-income homes in Providence. Emma was kind enough to share her experience bringing guest speaker Dr. Shelley Cyr into the classroom, who reinforced to the students that they can achieve their dreams with hard work and persistence. Read Emma’s words below!

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Sophia Academy, an all-girl independent school in Providence, is the ideal location to encourage young girls to be strong, determined, and ambitious individuals. Over the past few months, the 5th graders have been learning about Elizabeth Blackwell and her admirable persistence in becoming the first female doctor. For our class book bag project, we read the story Who Says Women Can’t Be Doctors? by Tanya Lee Stone and discussed the meaning of persistence. Each week, three girls bring home the book bag, read the book to a family member, and write a story of a time when they were persistent.

In order to reinforce the importance of women in the medical field, I invited Shelley Cyr, a doctor at Brown University, to talk about her experience in pursuing a career as a doctor. Beginning at a young age, Shelley was driven to prove her worth as a female by fighting to join the all-boy track team in high school. She was the first and only girl to run alongside the boys, proving she was equally capable. Shelley explained to the 5th graders that although she faced adversity as a female, she never gave up her dream of becoming a doctor.

After answering questions the girls previously prepared, Shelley passed out stethoscopes and penlights for the girls to experiment with. Each student had the opportunity to listen to a classmate’s heartbeat, and examine how their pupils contract when exposed to light! Not only was Shelley’s story motivating, but the hands-on experience inspired many of the girls to consider becoming doctors one day. One student even exclaimed, “I want to be a doctor just like Shelley because I want to help kids feel better when they are sick!”

Watching my students become excited about their future proved the power that teachers have in encouraging their students to reach their full potential. I hope they always remember this experience and the wonderful stories Shelley shared with us! As Shelley wrote in a letter to the 5th graders, “You can do anything if you follow your dreams with persistence.”

Wrapping up SummerPrep and BSHS 2014

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As the summer semester comes to a close, MATs, students, and families alike have celebrated another successful summer of SummerPrep and Brown Summer High School. After three weeks of SummerPrep, students showcased their work in an Exhibition Day. Families were invited to visit students in their classrooms and hear about the projects they had worked on throughout the summer, which ranged from engineering walls to sharing their bravest moments to building model communities.

Brown Summer High School students also shared final projects from their classes in various exhibitions. BSHS Science classes created sustainable urban designs for Providence, which they described in a poster session attended by Rhode Island officials from the Department of Education, Public Transit Authority, and Providence Plan. Students also had an opportunity to share their work and experiences through live performances in a final BSHS assembly.

After an active summer filled with practicum teaching, methods, and literacy classes, our MAT cohorts are still busy completing their summer coursework and preparing their digital portfolios. We’re happy to be celebrating another successful summer and are looking forward to the year ahead!

Kicking off SummerPrep & BSHS

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Summer teaching has begun here at the MAT program! Yesterday marked the start of SummerPrep and Brown Summer High School (BSHS), our summer academic enrichment programs for Providence-area students. SummerPrep celebrates its 15th year with 160 students entering grades 2 through 6. Students are grouped by grade across eight classrooms, each named after a World Cup team. Over the next three weeks, SummerPrep students will explore the question, “What does it really take to be successful?” Brown Summer High School, now in its 46th year, has enrolled over 250 high school students with the support of Providence Mayor Angel Taveras and the Providence PROMISE initiative. In classrooms with a range of 9th through 12th graders, BSHS students investigate essential questions in English, History/Social Studies, Science, and Math through hands-on activities, including elements from the ArtsLiteracy cycle.

Both SummerPrep and BSHS are taught by current MATs who collaborate in teams of two or three students with guidance from one of our mentor teachers, many of whom return each summer. Using a theme specific to their discipline, each teaching team has designed a curriculum and lessons unique to their classroom. With the start of SummerPrep and BSHS, MATs begin the process of planning, teaching, and reflecting that is central to the Brown MAT program. For the next few weeks, MAT candidates will explore strategies and concepts from Methods and Literacy classes as they develop their teaching styles. They’re off to a strong start, and we’re excited to see how both MATs and their students grow throughout the summer!

Welcoming in the new MAT cohort

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Today, we welcomed our newest MAT cohort for the 2014-15 year! Students across all four disciplines attended sessions with faculty and staff at orientation this morning before heading to the Community Building workshop facilitated by Laura Snyder, Director of English Education, and guest speaker Steve Kidd. During the workshop, the new MAT students began to explore instructional methods using the ArtsLiteracy cycle. Some highlights included text- and movement-based activities, such as the exchange pictured above.

Throughout the day, MATs, mentor teachers and faculty have started gaining a better sense of how they will work together in the coming year. We look forward to sharing more news from the newest members of our MAT community!

Elementary MAT mentor teacher wins teacher of the year award

Last week during a school-wide assembly at Pleasant View Elementary School, second grade teacher Claudia Jackvony was awarded by Providence Mayor Angel Taveras with the teacher of the year award. Pleasant View Elementary is part of the Providence Public School District. The assembly was billed as a recognition of students’ testing achievement, so the award announcement was a surprise. Although, with years of being recognized as a master teacher, beloved by colleagues, parents, students and student teachers, the Providence Schools 2014 teacher of the year award going to Mrs. Jackvony shouldn’t have been too surprising. She was a mentor for two Brown Elementary MATs this past year, in the fall and spring, respectively, and we hope will continue mentoring beginning teachers for years to come.

Congratulations to Mrs. Jackvony!

Read the story and see a video here.

Annual Brown MAT Teacher Research Project Conference

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Last week saw the successful climax of a major endeavor for all Brown University MATs – the Teacher Research Project. Fondly known as the TRP, Teacher Research Projects involve each MAT, Elementary and Secondary English, History/Social Studies and Science cohorts alike, in examining their teaching practice with the goal of greater student growth and improved outcomes. During their student teaching semester, MATs identify an area in which students in their classroom are particularly struggling. Through an inquiry process, MATs then choose a guiding question, implement one or multiple interventions, collect data, analyze results, and report findings, implications and future investigations. The questions MATs chose to pursue this past semester speak to the range of MAT interests and an understanding of their learners’ needs, such as “How can podcasts be used to support student learning in multilevel secondary social studies classrooms?” and “How does explicit coaching and instruction on student questioning during math promote inter-student math talk?”

As has been tradition for several years, the presentations took place at Brown’s Office of Continuing Education in Providence’s Jewelry District. In attendance were Brown MAT alumni, mentor teachers, program faculty, family and friends of the program, as well as two featured speakers.

Providing an insightful keynote address to kick off the Teacher Research Project Conference was Jed Lippard ‘95, Head of School of Prospect Hill Academy Charter School. Lippard spoke briefly about his 20-year story in becoming an educator and school-leader, including his relationship with well-known education reformer and former Brown University professor Ted Sizer. He then presented his seven C’s for becoming a responsive teacher, each of which Lippard backed-up with personal anecdotes. Although we won’t go into detail, the seven C’s resonated across the audience and include: Check assumptions, find Conspirators, self-Care, Call it out, Cater to and cherish the child, Challenge conventional wisdom and, last but not least, Convene and connect. Lippard will be returning to Brown University on Saturday, May 24th, for a forum with Nancy Faust Sizer.

Longtime mentor teacher and friend of the Brown MAT program, Edward Abbott, History Teacher at Central High School, gave the mentor address. Abbott reflected on his years of relationship-building and teaching and learning with MAT student teachers that have been a part of his classroom. As Abbott is retiring from teaching this year, friends and past mentees were invited to reflect on what they have learned from Abbott, from teaching skills to life lessons. The sheer number of those who spoke about Abbott and the multitude of laughs and tears inspired are testament to the dynamism of this master teacher and mentor, as well as the close knit community that is the Brown MAT program.

Elementary Students Host Public ‘Virtual Museum’ Opening

The third and fifth grade curators of William D'Abate Elementary School on a field trip

Across the Brown MAT programs there is much conversation about real world learning and authentic assessment. What does that look like? Two Elementary MATs worked collaboratively with their mentor teachers and fifty two students in their spring student teaching practicum at William D’Abate Elementary School to provide one example.

Liz Carr and Beau Poppen-Abajian planned a social studies unit that sought to address stereotypes and misconceptions their students had of American Indians. As part of the unit, students did a scavenger hunt of the Tomaquag Virtual Museum, hosted arts educators from the RISD Museum, an anthropologist from the Heffenreffer Museum Culture Caravan, and took field trips to the RISD Museum and the Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center. After several months of research, analyzing artifacts and discussing primary source videos, it only made sense that all of this work would lead to having the third and fifth graders create their own virtual museum to demonstrate their learning, utilizing their growing knowledge of American Indian culture and helping to develop skills with technical writing, curation and digital technology.

Although the students were creating a virtual museum, Liz, Beau, and their mentor teachers Carmen Rodriguez (3rd grade) and Amy Lopes (5th grade), thought it was important for the museum to be exhibited publicly. The students were on board, prepared and dutifully practiced presentations, were assigned roles and responsibilities, and invited guests for the public opening of the “D’Abate Rooms 205 and 206 American Indian Virtual Museum.”

On April 11th, family members, Brown University faculty, city officials, Providence School District administrators, D’Abate students and staff, and others from the community attended the opening. Students gave presentations and toured guests through their virtual museum exhibit on laptops spread throughout the commons. After presenting to several groups, each followed by Q&A, students served refreshments and closed out the virtual museum opening, which was, by all accounts, a tremendous success. Liz, also known as Ms. Carr at D’Abate, says that several guests described the students, their presentations, and the exhibits as “very professional,” and that “the students were beaming with pride.” Now that sounds like real world learning and authentic assessment.

Visit the virtual museum here to see the important work done by the third and fifth graders. Don’t forget to leave a comment for the curators!