Tag Archives: MAT English

Student Perspective: A Visit (and Some Inspiration) from Penny Kittle

Bridget Sheppard is a current Master of Arts in Teaching student concentrating in Secondary English Education. This semester, the English MAT classroom was visited by a very special guest speaker, Penny Kittle, an English teacher, author, and student advocate. Bridget has graciously shared with us some of her thoughts and reflections on the experience. Read her words below!


There are those books you encounter that entirely change the way you see something–those moments of discovery that shift your perspective. For me, “Book Love” by Penny Kittle was one of those transformative books. So you can imagine my excitement when Ms. Kittle, also the author of “Write Beside Them,” visited Brown to talk with current English MATs, alumni, and local teachers.

During her presentation, Ms. Kittle shared more about her teaching philosophy: she believes that English class should be more focused on students discovering a love of books and of learning. She encourages this through a curriculum that has students each semester read one whole class novel, one option for a book club with other students, and their own independent reading.

As she showed us videos of her students discussing their reading and conferencing with her about books, it was clear how impactful this approach could be. One of her students in a video interview said he had never read any books for school before, but this year had read an entire stack of them–and the best part of this fact was the pride he had in saying it. What is so inspiring about Ms. Kittle is how she cares about and listens to her students and believes that they will find the books that resonate with them–they sense this belief she has in them and this love she has for books, and eventually, they believe it, too.

These moments of her students stood out to me among the million other ideas that stayed with me after the talk. I left Ms. Kittle’s presentation with enough enthusiasm and new ideas that I wanted to burst into a classroom the next morning and start trying them out right away. I wanted to try Draftback on Google Docs, I wanted to have students create their own reading ladders, I wanted to conference with students, I wanted to build up my own classroom library, I wanted to have book talks, and I wanted to have students freewrite and edit like we did on the idea of “Being 12” (sidenote: if you haven’t seen this video on YouTube, you should watch it–right after you finish reading this).

But most of all, I left wanting to see students discover the books that they love–the books that will make them fall in love with stories the way that Harry Potter did for me and did for my friend Hannah (Ms. Kittle’s daughter, who was also at the talk), the books that will then lead them to making friends with someone equally as enthused about them (because Harry Potter is part of the foundation of my friendship with Hannah–I’m refraining now from delving into an analysis of our Houses). I left wanting to put the ideas I learned from Ms. Kittle into practice, so that my students can find the books–like “Book Love” for me–that change the way they see the world.

Penny Kittle with English MATs, alumni, and local teachers

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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

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!

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!

So, you want to make a movie: Local high school students team with MAT Director of Science Education to produce a video about the secondary MAT program

High school seniors Rory McGuire and Travis Robinson (The Met School) hoped to produce a video as their final internship before graduation. Dan Bisaccio, Director of Science Education, served as their internship mentor for the project.

Faculty and Mentor Teachers Presented at NEATE Conference

Faculty members Laura Snyder and Maureen Sigler, along with English MAT mentor teachers Jonathan Goodman and Vanessa O’Driscoll, presented at the New England Association of Teachers of English Conference in Mansfield, Massachusetts on October 22nd. Their presentation, Anchoring Student Understanding and Literacy with Conceptual Vocabulary, was built on their collaborations as instructors during Brown Summer High School.