Tag Archives: Brown MAT

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!

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Congratulations to MAT Science Mentor, Erin Escher, winner of the Presidential Award for Excellence in Science Teaching!

Erin EscherMAT Science Mentor Erin Escher has been named by the White House as one of 108 recipients of the prestigious Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching!  This honor is given annually to outstanding K-12 science and mathematics teachers across the country. Winners receive $10,000 from the National Science Foundation, and are invited to Washington, DC for an awards ceremony, educational and celebratory events, and visits with members of the Administration.

The award is a part of President Obama’s initiative to strengthen education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields in order to fully harness the promise our nation’s students. Read the official White House press release to find out more about the award and the President’s “Educate to Innovate” campaign.

Erin Escher has been teaching at Rhode Island’s Portsmouth Middle School for the past 14 years. As an eighth grade science teacher and leader of the school’s garden and hydroponics club, Erin shares his curiosity in science and enjoys playing an interactive role in his students’ discovery and generation of knowledge. He has been influential in promoting STEM at his school by leading STEM workshops and serving on the school improvement technology committee.  In his free time, Erin acts as a Mentor to Science student teachers in the Brown MAT Program.

Congratulations Erin!

Brittany Brewer Presents at 2014 NCTE Annual Conference!

In November, the MAT Blog covered an amazing feat — 11 English MAT/UTEP alumni, faculty, and current students descending on Washington, D.C. to attend the 2014 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) Annual Convention.

Since then, one of our current English MATs, Brittany Brewer, has graciously recounted her experience workshopping, networking, and even presenting at the convention. Read her words below!

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The MAT Program at Brown University strongly advocates for student attendance and participation in professional development opportunities. This past November, thanks to the kindness of a respected educator, I was extended the opportunity to present during a roundtable session entitled, “The Future is Now: Exploring 21st Century Teaching Ideas with the Next Generation of English Teachers,” at the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention: Story as the Landscape of Knowing. My experience at the 2014 NCTE convention was an invaluable one, particularly as a new teacher, as I had the opportunity to practice presenting my research, observe and participate in workshops, meet numerous young adult authors, and learn about the happenings of Brown MAT secondary English education alumni.

On the third day of the NCTE national conference, Saturday, November 22nd, I presented my teacher research project, “Navigating Non-Fiction through Drama: Using Choral Reading to Create a Transaction with Text,” at the roundtable session to a small but very engaged and supportive audience, which included Brown’s English MAT Director, Laura Snyder, as well as three of the program’s alumni. My teacher research project addressed the essential question: How can drama be utilized to create student understanding of purpose in non-fiction texts? Presenting at NCTE aided in the development of my research as it drove me to complete my research earlier, to seek constant critique and feedback, and to present the material in front of several different types of audiences.

When I was not presenting, I was exploring the numerous workshops NCTE offered its conference attendees. I participated in many presentations, from several created by diligent graduate students to those created by educational “celebrities,” including Jim Burke and Kelly Gallagher. After reading a sizable portion of these authors’ texts over the past summer and fall as part of the MAT curriculum, it was great to see them in action, discussing and developing education with fellow advocates. During the workshops, I filled my journal with pages of notes and afterwards, I waited for the opportunity to converse briefly with presenters. During exhibit hours, attendees were also offered the opportunity to meet various authors of all genres of prose, from children’s books to poetry, fantasy, and non-fiction. Not only did I fill my canvas bags and arms with all of the complimentary copies of young adults’ novels that I could carry and meet my favorite childhood author, T.A. Barron, but I was able to meet and briefly talk to Jeffrey Wilhelm, an alumnus of the Brown University MAT English program! Dr. Wilhelm’s publication, “You Gotta BE the Book”: Teaching Engaged and Reflective Reading with Adolescents, greatly informed my teacher research project and I relished the opportunity to discuss the program and the influence his text had on my research, even briefly.

Finally, the NCTE Annual Convention provided me with the opportunity to meet and learn about the endeavors of recent Brown English MAT alumni, who, among those I met, are teaching in locations ranging from California to Maryland to Massachusetts to Africa. The presentations and stories of these fellow MATs from years past revealed dedication and compassion that (like my audience’s support of my presentation, the workshops I attended, the speakers I met, and the hundreds of educators in attendance) further fueled my dedication and passion as a new teacher!


Thank you, Brittany!

“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.”

Community, Equity, Positivity: Science Alumni Reflect on their MAT Years

Each year, many members of our vibrant MAT cohort consist of the the Science concentrators: students focusing on broadening and deepening their knowledge in Biology, Chemistry, or Engineering/Physics while training to become secondary school teachers.  We asked a few of our Science MAT alumni to share their thoughts on how their Brown education influences their current experiences as educators in science.

EmilyEmily Berman, Science MAT ‘14

Thanks to my experiences with the MAT program, I have entered my first year of teaching with confidence, focus, and, most importantly, an ability to reflect on my practice. The MAT program has taught me to be a conscious educator, and I am grateful that I am able to use the skills I have been taught to put together a strong lesson, and then afterwards to think critically about how I can improve upon it. The quality of reflective practice made me a strong candidate for teaching positions, and has been invaluable in the classroom. I am teaching 7th and 8th grade science, and I feel that the MAT program’s emphasis on reflection has helped me become more responsive to my students’ needs. During my year in the program, I was pushed to take risks and try new things with my students, and this also has been a great asset to my classroom teaching. I am having so much fun during my first year of teaching, and I really do feel I can attribute that to the attitude that the MAT program instilled in me!

Brianna-BalkeBrianna Balke, Science MAT ‘13

When I started the MAT program in 2012, I had a strong sense of what kind of teacher I wanted to be, but lacked the practical skills to transform that idealistic vision into reality. The MAT year provided me the opportunity to develop those skills in a supportive environment, while also pushing me to deepen and broaden my sense of how I could be a powerful agent of social change in the classroom. I am particularly thankful for the opportunities I had to engage with incredible faculty, mentors, and thoughtful, passionate teachers around what it means to create equitable, student-centered, inquiry-based classrooms that focus on students as individuals. The relationships I built with my faculty, mentors, and fellow teachers continue to sustain me in my teaching practice today.

Last year I taught at a school in my home state of Colorado, but I am now back in Rhode Island, teaching at Blackstone Academy, where I did my student teaching two years ago. I loved my student teaching experience so much that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to return as a full-time teacher when a position became available. I could not be more excited to be at a school that shares the same values as the Brown MAT program: a focus on community, equity, positive school culture, and individualized learning.

MATs Descend on Washington D.C. for NCTE Annual Convention

NCTE

On Sunday evening, English MAT students, faculty, and Providence-area alumni and mentor teachers gathered to hear in-person and Skype previews of some of this year’s presentations for the 2014 National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) annual convention. Presenters connected through Skype from California, Massachusetts, Maryland, and Burkina Faso! The event provided a great opportunity for rehearsal and was also designed to inspire current graduate students to take their own teacher research to the national stage.

Eleven English MAT/UTEP alumni, faculty, and students then descended on Washington, D.C. this week to take part in the NCTE convention from November 20-23.  MAT Professor Laura Snyder will be presenting with a group of four alumni on “Young Adult Literature as Part of a Social Justice Curriculum”. Their presentation will highlight key books taught in English classes at Brown Summer High School and peek into the alumni’s current classrooms around the world. Several of these teachers are also presenting their own research or presenting curricula with their schools and districts.

Waldina Pineda (MAT ‘11) will be presenting with others from her district on transforming their ninth grade English classes into a “readers and writers workshops”. Michelle Ramadan (UTEP ‘10) will present about understanding the Middle East through literature. Erik Skogsberg (MAT ‘09) will be speaking about teaching diverse learners. Brittany Brewer (MAT ‘15) will be presenting her recently completed Teacher Research Project, inspired by her work in arts literacy, on “Navigating Non-Fiction with Drama”.

Professor Snyder has also been leading an alumni panel at the NCTE conference for the past four years. This year’s panel features Sara Tahir (MAT ‘14), Debbie Yoon (MAT ‘13), Emily Scherer (MAT ‘13), and Eric Spreng (MAT ‘13).

Stay tuned for a recap following the conference!

“The Beginning of Something New” for Brown 5th-Year Students

Each year, a number of students in our cohort consist of Brown “5th-Years”: those who have just completed their undergraduate education at Brown University, and opt to stay on board for another year as they earn their MAT degree. We asked a few of our current 5th-Years to share their thoughts and feelings on their extra year at Brown.

Wendy Rogers, History/Social Studies MAT ‘15

Continuing at Brown for a fifth-year in the MAT program allows you to experience the invigorating newness of freshman year with the sense of purpose and comfort that can only be achieved after spending four years already on campus. In many ways, the classes feel like regular undergrad courses (and often, they are). However, approaching the courses through the lens of a teacher-in-training, as opposed to an undergrad with an abstract interest in the subject, allows for what I have found to be a much more fulfilling classroom experience. Now, when I listen to a lecture or participate in a discussion section, my thoughts aren’t just on final papers. Instead I ask, “How can I teach this to my students so they are as engaged as I am right now?” In many ways, the fifth year feels like just that – a fifth year in the same place. In more important ways, it feels like the beginning of something new.

ToriTeachingSummer14Victoria Wilson, Elementary MAT ‘15

During SummerPrep, I felt for the first time that I was truly immersed in a ‘world’ of teaching. Sure, I had plenty of teaching experiences in the past – I had taught at D’Abate’s summer program, as well as in a number of other classrooms as an assistant teacher – but SummerPrep’s days provided me a glimpse into how everyday teaching in a classroom might look and feel. I came to know not only a new kind of exhaustion, arriving at 7:30 AM each day and leaving after my own literacy, math, or analysis class at 5:00 PM, but also a different sort of flexibility. I became more familiar with lesson planning, preparing my materials days in advance, and learning to tweak them based on students’ progress and needs gleaned from the previous day. I saw how units of study, such as the literacy unit plan my co-teacher and I developed together, could transform as we realized what our students could do and what we might in turn challenge them to discover. I learned how wonderful it is to plan my questions in advance – never before had I realized they would be that much better – yet that I must also remember to think on my feet, taking each new question or comment from a child thoughtfully as it comes.

After SummerPrep, I felt ready to enter my fall placement at Pleasant View Elementary School. I know how  to remain flexible with lesson planning, and I know how to better manage my time. Although my placement has brought new challenges for me – and, of course, I am always learning – I am grateful for the experience I had this summer.

Professor Dan Bisaccio visits China and Taiwan

Professor Dan Bisaccio leading a workshop at Kaohsiung American School in Taiwan

Professor Dan Bisaccio leading a workshop at Kaohsiung American School in Taiwan

During a visit to Asia, Director of Science Education Dan Bisaccio led workshops with teachers and administrators in Shenzhen, China and Kaohsiung City, Taiwan. Here, he works with teachers at the Kaohsiung American School in Taiwan.