Sybil Kelley and Jean Aguilar-Valdez help make STEM classroom a reality

Sybil KelleyJean Aguilar-Valdez

Two GSE faculty members were recognized by the PSU Foundation for their leadership in acquiring $1.25 million in funding toward the GSE’s new home that opens in fall 2020. Assistant Professor Jean Aguilar-Valdez and Associate Professor Sybil Kelley are leaders in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) instruction. The PSU Foundation presented them with the Philanthropic Leadership Award at this year’s Commencement Ceremony. Aguilar-Valdez and Kelley have played significant roles in developing programming that led to the philanthropic gift to build the Vernier STEM Classroom in the new 4 th and Montgomery building.

Aguilar-Valdez teaches science methods and social justice courses for the Graduate Teacher Education Program (GTEP) in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. This includes working with teachers in the Bilingual Teacher Pathway program and with students to develop community activist approaches to education.

Kelley leads the Leadership for Sustainability Education (LSE) program in the Educational Leadership and Policy Department. In addition, she teaches the elementary science methods course for GTEP in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and is also the faculty coordinator for the Learning Gardens Laboratory in Southeast Portland that provides garden- based education for public school students, university students, and community members.

GSE’s Sybil Kelley honored with 2018 PSU sustainability award

imgsybilEach year the Institute for Sustainable Solutions honors a faculty member whose teaching inspires students to embrace sustainability both inside and outside the classroom.

Sybil Kelley, PhD, is an associate professor of science education and sustainable systems in the Leadership for Sustainability Education (LSE) program in the Educational Leadership and Policy Department. In addition, she teaches the elementary science methods courses for the Graduate Teacher Education Program (GTEP) in the Curriculum and Instruction Department and is the faculty coordinator of the Learning Gardens Laboratory.

Rather than rely solely on theories, Kelley incorporates innovative and experiential pedagogies to reinforce the content. This means that students not only learn about sustainability, they experience it in a reflective and integrated way through engaging in-class activities and community-based learning. Beyond teaching individual courses, Kelley helps to grow sustainability educators through the LSE degree program, from which students graduate ready and willing to dig into the work of sustainability in different capacities and forms. She has inspired countless students to become sustainability leaders throughout her time in the program.

Kelly has worked for Portland State since 2001 and holds a PhD in environmental science and an MS in science teaching from Portland State. She is the recipient of the 2017 Fred Fox Distinguished Service to Science Education Award from the Oregon Science Teachers Association.

Storyline methodology frames teacher assessment

Curriculum and Instruction faculty member Olivia Murray will present a new approach to a state-required teacher performance assessment at the International Storyline Conference in Ljubljana, Slovenia, this summer. Her trip is supported with a grant from the GSE that is focused on innovative assessment projects.

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Murray has taken a lead role in implementing the new state-mandated teacher performance assessment, EdTPA, in Graduate Teacher Education Program (GTEP). She has adapted the Scottish Storyline method as a way of teaching and modeling planning, instruction, assessment, and reflection to develop teacher candidates’ knowledge and skills.

Murray is the instructor for a yearlong course in the GTEP elementary program called Instructional Design and Assessment where teacher candidates learn how to design curricula, apply instructional strategies, and assess and evaluate student learning. Using the Scottish Storyline method, the candidates engage in learning content in context, and then by unpacking their experience, they learn how to create fun and engaging learning for P12 students.

The EdTPA was adopted by Oregon in 2015 and is used by 27 other states as a way to measure teacher candidate readiness. Murray selected Storyline to model and frame edTPA components for her candidates within an authentic context. Storyline is a structured curricular approach, which asserts that learning, to be meaningful, has to be memorable. Thus, Murray uses candidates’ enthusiasm for story-making to acquire and practice unit and lesson design, identify academic language demands and corresponding instructional supports, and create/augment assessments to measure student learning. Her utilization of this hands-on method of collaboratively creating a context (i.e., setting and characters) and scenarios (i.e., the plot) elicits creative exploration by candidates who direct their own learning.

Computer software engineer switches careers to teaching

McCourt
Susan McCourt, ’15, has little classroom experience, but that’s not stopping her. As a former computer programmer, she knows all about solving problems. As a recent GTEP graduate, she is enthusiastic about her newest challenge—working with kindergarten students. She recently collaborated with Graduate School of Education Professor Sybil Kelley on an article that describes the work she did last year during her practicum for a science unit about sound. “Assessing the Unseen: Using Music and Literature to Access and Develop First Graders’ Knowledge of Sound Waves,” was published in the January 2016 issue of Science and Children and provides insight on her exceptional ability to differentiate instruction for students with various skills.

“I’m so excited and proud of this article,” said Kelley. “Susan is really an amazing educator and colleague!”

McCourt is a kindergarten teacher at Chenowith Elementary School in The Dalles, Oregon. Kelley is an assistant professor of science education and sustainable systems at Portland State University in the Leadership for Sustainability Education program. She also teaches the Elementary Science Methods courses in the Graduate Teacher Education Program (GTEP). Continue reading

GSE students write Oregon African American History curriculum

Black historyIn 1844, Oregonians declared slavery illegal yet simultaneously enacted the infamous “Lash Law” requiring that “Blacks in Oregon, whether free or slave, be whipped at least twice a year until they quit the territory.” Four years later, Oregon’s provisional governor passed the first Exclusion Law making it unlawful for African Americans or people of mixed heritage to reside in Oregon Territory.1 African Americans were prohibited from living, travelling, or owning property in Oregon. Despite the fact that many of these laws were repealed in the early 20th century, discrimination against African Americans and other culturally diverse people continued unabated as they were refused service in restaurants, had limited access to businesses, jobs, and housing, and were prohibited from voting. Oregon was considered one of the worst places for African Americans outside of the South,2 and in the 1920s boasted an active Klu Klux Klan membership of 35,000.3 Does this surprise you? If so, you are not alone. The history of the African American population and other important people of color in Oregon is difficult to find in any mainstream textbooks.

Today, issues of diversity and inclusiveness are paramount in education. Because of this, a new project, conceived by Professors Patricia Schechter (HST) and Gayle Thieman (CI), was launched to provide new resources for K-12 educators related to the history of African Americans in Oregon. Dr. Schechter teaches in the PSU History Department and is an oral historian who co-authored an oral memoir of the first African American woman to be elected to the Oregon State Senate, the Honorable Avel Gordly. Dr. Schechter was also instrumental in getting an important African American history collection donated to the PSU library that is specifically focused on Portland. Dr. Thieman, a nationally recognized social studies professor, is a PSU Curriculum and Instruction faculty member who teaches in the Graduate Teacher Education Program (GTEP). Together they collaborated to offer a class for K-12 teachers that would provide them with a methodology for researching local history and also supply them with the tools necessary to create curricular materials with a local context for their classrooms.

Nine local teachers participated in the class, Using Archives to Teach Oregon African American History, which was held in a one-week intensive summer format. The curricular materials they develop will be available soon on a website created by the group. These important curricular materials and lessons are an invaluable resource that will provide history lessons never before available to K-12 teachers. Continue reading

PSU graduate Lyon Terry named 2014 Washington Teacher of the Year

Lyon Terry

Washington Teacher of the Year, Lyon Terry snaps a “selfie” with other TOY finalists.

Lyon Terry, the 2014 Washington Teacher of the Year (TOY), is a graduate of the Graduate Teacher Education Program (GTEP). Lyon Terry was selected from nine finalists across the State of Washington. He has a bachelor’s degree from Reed College, a master of education from PSU, and is National Board Certified.

Mr. Terry is a fourth grade teacher at Lawton Elementary School in Seattle and has taught second through fourth grades there for the last 10 years. He previously worked in the Highline School District and in New York City. He is a favorite among students and staff, starting each day in his classroom with his guitar. His approach to instruction is experiential and collaborative. Students in his classes receive extra emphasis on reading and writing. During his time at Lawton Elementary, he has increased fourth grade reading scores at the school by 10 percent. Continue reading