Tag Archives: Brown Summer High School

Student Perspective: Allie Curry on Curriculum Development

Allie CurryAllie Curry is a current Master of Arts in Teaching student concentrating in Secondary English Education. During her time student teaching at Brown Summer High School, Allie discovered a passion for the backwards-design approach to curriculum development taught by the Brown MAT Program.

Allie was kind enough to share with us some of her thoughts and reflections on this approach to teaching. Read her words below!

“I often think of K–12 curriculum as too important. In the hotly contested era of the Common Core, the American public debates whether curriculum is too important to be left to states or too important to be promoted by the federal government. In some urban school districts, curriculum is viewed as too important to be developed by teachers in the community, and so many cities are purchasing boxed curricula.

The Brown MAT program has taught me that curriculum is too important in a different sense. Beginning last summer in the first days of the program, I learned an approach to curriculum design that centers around Essential Questions—challenging, relevant, and authentic questions we ask about the world—and understandings, which, in the discipline of English at least, are rarely simple answers. With my talented teaching partner (another MAT), I developed a unit for a book we would teach to a diverse classroom of 9th through 12th graders over the course of Brown Summer High School, a free summer enrichment program for Providence-area youth.

In the afternoons, we paused our planning to take a Secondary program-wide course that has greatly influenced my teaching. Literacy Across the Curriculum challenged me to rethink my understanding of literacy and create curriculum that reflects and supports the community I teach. (I’ve thought about that class a lot in the first days of February. Curriculum—culturally relevant curriculum, that is—is too important to designate only a month of the year to the accomplishments of Black Americans.)

I posed the question in the picture above (“Does the identity of the authors we read matter?”), as a part of a unit I designed during my student teaching semester last fall at a suburban public school south of Providence, North Kingstown High School. In my student teaching semester, I iterated and refined my curriculum design process to the point that I now feel prepared, confident, and excited to begin my first teaching job in an environment that will empower me to develop curriculum of real significance to my students and community.

The Brown MAT program will teach you to design and carry out lessons, units, and learning experiences that matter. Over the course of the program, I’ve seen many times how an Essential Questions curriculum encourages students to discover and construct knowledge in ways that will transfer to their lives beyond school. Ultimately, curriculum is too important because all students deserve access to challenging, relevant questions about the world and safe, supportive classrooms in which they can develop and express their diverse understandings.”


National Science Foundation Awards a 5-Year Grant for Summer STEM!

We are very excited to announce that the National Science Foundation has awarded a 5 year grant to Professor Dan Bisaccio and his colleagues Charles Steinhorn (Vassar College), Victor Donnay (Bryn Mawr), and Maria Rivera (Barnard College) for “Summer STEM Teaching Experiences for Undergraduates (TEU) from Liberal Arts Institutions”.   The TEU program will develop and test a model program that provides undergraduate STEM majors with an immersive summer experience in secondary mathematics or science education. Over five summers, a total of 120 undergraduates (24 per year) will be recruited from a network of 60 liberal arts institutions to take part in a 6-7 week program that integrates a high quality STEM discipline specific pedagogy course with a teaching practicum. Twelve students per summer will participate in a mathematics TEU program at Brown University and 12 will participate in a science TEU program at Trinity College.

Sixty liberal arts colleges and universities have committed to join this project as institutional partners. The majority of these institutions do not currently offer discipline-specific STEM pedagogy courses in their Education programs. The TEU pedagogy course will enhance participants’ discipline specific pedagogical knowledge and skills. In the practicum, which is tightly integrated with the course, participants will create and deliver lessons of their own design to local urban secondary students in a summer enrichment program. The teaching practicum will allow participants to apply the theories and strategies they are learning in their pedagogy course directly to classroom teaching. The TEU participants will be closely supervised in their teaching by master teacher mentors.

The high school students for the Brown TEU will be drawn from the Providence area and will be taking part in Brown Summer High School (BSHS). For the Trinity TEU, students will be the entire class of rising sophomores from the Hartford Magnet Trinity College Academy (HMTCA). Over the 5 years, roughly 1250 high school students will receive an enriching STEM experience through these programs. This project builds upon a highly successful TEU pilot project focused on math pedagogy held at Brown Summer High School in 2013 and 2014.

Meet our English Summer 2015 Mentors!

Each summer as our new cohorts take their first steps of the year into student teaching at Summer Prep (Elementary) or Brown Summer High School (Secondary), MAT students are equipped with the support of our enthusiastic mentor teachers.  Brown MAT mentor teachers are a diverse group of educators from public and private schools, some of whom received their Master of Arts in Teaching from Brown University in years past!  They all share one thing in common: a dedication to shaping the newest members of their profession into the most effective teachers possible.

This year, our Secondary English mentors were kind enough to share a bit about themselves with the MAT blog.  Read their bios below!

PeterPeter Boland
 has been teaching English for nearly fifteen years in a career spanning public, private Catholic, continuing ed, college, the Upward Bound program, and charter schools. He has spent the past eight years at Beacon Charter High School for the Arts which he counts as a career highlight and an extremely rewarding experience. Over the course of the past eight years he has received a Golden Apple award, been nominated by Beacon as a State Teacher of the Year Candidate, and has served on the Educators in Action committee, an advisory board for Rhode Island’s outgoing Education Commissioner Deborah Gist. This is his second year as a Brown Summer High School M.A.T. Mentor and he is looking forward to working with his new team with great enthusiasm.

Daniel DeCellesDaniel G. DeCelles earned an MAT in Secondary English from Brown University in 2000, and an MA in ESL Education and Cross-Cultural Studies in 2014. He has taught grades 6-12 for 15 years in Central Falls, Rhode Island’s smallest, poorest, and most diverse community, with a focus on arts-integrated literacy. He is currently an Adjunct Professor of Education at Johnson & Wales, a member of the Board of Directors for the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, and a doctoral candidate in Curriculum and Instruction at Boston College. He has been a Mentor with the Brown Teacher Education program for nearly ten years.

Christina LawrenceChristina Lawrence teaches English at North Kingstown High School, a large suburban high school about half an hour south of Providence. Before moving to Providence, she attended Vassar College and majored in American Culture, with a focus on American Literature and Art History. Christina moved to Providence to attend the MAT program at Brown and graduated in 2008. Since then, she has worked in a variety of educational contexts in and around Providence, at both public and private schools and in non-profit organizations. Though she no longer works in Providence, she tries to maintain ties to after-school arts programming in Providence and volunteers at New Urban Arts. When not at school, Christina enjoys taking her dog, Rosie, on long walks around the city.

Kate LorchKate Lorch grew up in Brookline, Massachusetts and Little Compton, Rhode Island. One of her most influential high school English teachers was Margaret Metzger, a Brown Mentor and Visiting Professor. Kate attended University of California, Berkeley and studied abroad in Ghana, West Africa and Granada, Spain. She received her degree in Comparative Literature in English and Spanish.

Before returning to Rhode Island for the Brown MAT Program, Kate worked as a vocational trainer in San Francisco, coaching homeless youth and adults with psychiatric disabilities in job readiness and workplace skills. Attending Brown and returning as a mentor in the summer program was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for Kate. For the past ten years she has taught high school in Providence Public Schools and Marin County, California. She earned National Board Certification in 2008. For the past three years of her work at Tamalpais High School in Mill Valley, CA she has served as the mentor to new teachers at Tam, coaching new teachers one-on-one, serving as a California Beginning Teacher Support Provider, and co-teaching Instructional Design workshops to new teachers in all disciplines district-wide. This year Kate is on sabbatical from teaching while she explores her interest in adult learning styles and organizational development models and starts her own family.

Screen shot 2015-07-01 at 11.24.08 AMVanessa O’Driscoll is the Middle School Dean of Students and an English teacher at The Wheeler School in Providence. After living in the same ancient farmhouse in Massachusetts for the first eighteen years of her life, Vanessa moved to Swarthmore College and then to New York City. There, she lived in a total of eight different apartments over eight years, while working in arts administration and arts education. Managing a course called Shakespeare Teaches at BAM helped her realize that she didn’t feel like returning to her office from the classroom. Vanessa earned her M.A. in education from Columbia University Teachers College and taught at Brooklyn Heights Montessori School before moving to Rhode Island. She has been a mentor teacher with the Brown University Education department for five years. She no longer moves every year, and has settled in Providence with her husband and two children and a cantankerous cat.

Tamar PaullTamar Paull
 was a UTEP at Brown in 1996, and had the good fortune to be placed at Community Prep, a small independent school on the Southside of Providence. Little did she know, she would fall in love with the school and end up spending the first fifteen years of her career teaching language arts and social studies in the seventh and eighth grades there. After she and her wife adopted their twin sons, she took a year off from teaching to take care of them before starting work at Gordon School, an independent nursery through eighth grade in East Providence. She currently teach humanities and academic support to seventh and eighth graders at Gordon. She has mentored in the Brown Teacher Education program on and off since 2004 and has also worked as a teacher coach at Sophia Academy, a middle school for girls in Providence. Somewhere in there, she spent five glorious summers in Vermont completing a Master’s degree in English at Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. When she’s not teaching, preparing to teach, or talking about teaching, she can be found doing such glamorous things as laundry, dishes, or training for her first 5K (though by the time you read this, she may have given up).

Erik SkogsbergErik Skogsberg is currently an Assistant Secondary Coordinator and PhD Candidate in the Department of Teacher Education at Michigan State University. He is passionate about teaching and learning innovation that responds to the needs of schools, communities, and organizations. He brings a wealth of teaching, mentoring, curriculum design, and professional development experiences in both secondary and higher education across the US and in rural, urban, and suburban classroom and community spaces.

As a PhD Candidate in Curriculum, Instruction, and Teacher Education (CITE) at Michigan State University (MSU), his current research focuses on pre-service teacher (PST) development towards the inclusion of youth literacies, digital literacies, and culturally sustaining, dialogic pedagogies in the secondary English classroom. He teaches courses focused on disciplinary and youth literacies, digital literacies and educational technology, teacher identity, and secondary English methods for PST’s. Additionally, as the Assistant Secondary Coordinator in the Department of Teacher Education at MSU, he works closely with university, district, and community administrators and teachers to place junior-year students in classrooms and community sites that support optimal PST learning and fit with university, district, classroom, and organizational goals. Further, he supports graduate teaching assistant (TA) professional development across MSU through his work with Inside Teaching MSU and the MSU Graduate School.

Prior to his time at MSU, he taught high school English in Washington State and Rhode Island, as well as worked in Residence Life and College Admissions at Western Washington University (WWU). He holds degrees in English Literature (BA) from WWU and Secondary English Education (MAT) from Brown University.

Twitter: @erikskogs
LinkedIn: http://lnkd.in/dteNfPH

“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.

Recent article in the BDH about BSHS: BSHS educates both Brown grad students and local high schoolers

For three and a half weeks each July, a handful of classrooms on Brown’s campus transform into a mini-high school of sorts, hosting around 300 Providence-area students and providing the University’s secondary school teaching candidates with hands-on classroom experience.

The experience is part of Brown Summer High School, which just completed its 38th year.

“It’s rare that you have a program last as long as it’s lasted and remain both viable and valuable,” said Eileen Landay, an adjunct senior lecturer in the Department of Education who directed the program for 14 years until the summer of 2005. “Though it often goes under the radar of other students and faculty, it’s been an important part of the University’s relationship with the community.”