Fund Teachers for the Dream Grant Proposal and Application

Fund Teachers for the Dream Grant Proposal and Application

The Fund Teachers for the Dream grant was again awarded to the Pennsylvania Council of Teachers of English and Language Arts (PCTELA) by the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)! Just like last year, we are using this grant in order to mentor pre-service teaching candidates and new teachers within their first three years of teaching.

Our goal is to select teachers of color who are enthusiastic, academically ­driven, and passionate about this profession! We want to support these teachers in developing and implementing a mentoring opportunity for students so they can grow professionally and share that flare for learning with students across Pennsylvania.

We will be selecting two pre-service teaching candidates and/or new teachers within their first three years of teaching from Pennsylvania to mentor as they develop and enact an activity for students in a “pay it forward” play on professional development.

The teaching candidates and/or new teachers selected for this opportunity will receive:

  • Up to $100 to purchase materials for your proposed activity with students
  • Complimentary registration fee to attend the NCTE Affiliate Leadership Meeting in July 2018
  • Complimentary one ­day registration to the Annual PCTELA Conference in Pittsburgh, PA on October 19-20, 2018
  • Complimentary attendance at our PCTELA Board Dinner on October 19, 2018

See the full details and timeline for more information!

If you’re interested in applying for this fantastic opportunity, please don’t delay! Applications are due by Friday October 20, 2017.

You do not need to be an English or Reading teacher to submit a proposal! We welcome all teachers with a heart for using literacy in the classroom (reading, writing, speaking, and listening standards) at any grade level!

APPLY HERE

 

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Fund Teachers for the Dream Grant Proposal and Application

PCTELA Fund Teachers from the Dream Reflection #3

PCTELA was awarded the Fund Teachers for the Dream grant this year. NCTE was extremely generous in awarding this grant. They’ve given us the opportunity to mentor three fabulous pre-service teachers from Pennsylvania. In this series you’ll hear directly from them about their experiences this school year with engaging students in discussions about diversity and self identity. They each used grant funding to develop and facilitate programs in their selected schools. One pre-service teacher chose to establish a book club with fifth grade students reading The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake. Another chose to read, discuss, and create dynamic texts meant to guide students through tough discussions and self discovery. The third pre-service teacher offered movie nights to her high school students and used movies like Crash and Schindler’s List as spring boards for discussion. One of our mentors also wrote a blog post about her perspective, and that will be part of this series, too. Join us at our Annual Conference  this October 20-21 in Greentree, PA to hear these three pre-service teachers give a panel presentation about their projects and what they’ve learned.


Written by: Samantha Corza

Role: Grant Recipient

I watched  Kayla* shut down as Jamie* raised his voice and dismissed her commentary about her experience as a young female of color in a largely caucasian town. “That doesn’t happen here,” Jamie said loudly. Her body tensed up and I saw her pull away as she became visibly frustrated. She placed her All American Boys book on the floor and did not offer to speak again for the rest of the discussion.

Saddened and concerned by this interaction, I thought back to my conversation with Kayla before class. Kayla had seemed unsure about our whole-class discussion surrounding diversity, white privilege and the Black Lives Matter movement.  She verbalized her discomfort in participating, “I just don’t want to feel like I have to talk because I’m the only Black person in this class.” I assured her that she didn’t need to participate if she didn’t feel comfortable but reminded her of the power of her first-hand experiences. How would the other students ever come to know, understand or empathize with her experiences and perspective if she didn’t have the courage to share?

It was after this incident that I noticed Kayla become more reserved in our class. She no longer participated in whole-class discussions and generally only interacted with one or two other students. It was evident that Kayla felt that she did not have a voice and was unsure of whom she could trust in our classroom. The judgment and combativeness that she met when trying to express her perspective on the issue of racial bias was enough to make her shut down entirely.

Upon winning the Fund Teachers for the Dream Grant, I was inspired to implement an after school film club with my students where my mentor teacher and I used visual media to focus on the exploration of cultural differences and bias through popular films such as Crash or Remember the Titans. Our goal was to provide a space for our students where they could learn to have constructive conversations about cultural and personal values, beliefs, and biases. With funds from the grant, we were able to provide refreshments and snacks for students to enjoy as we watched the films and engaged in meaningful discourse.

After our first meeting, I encouraged Kayla to join us and she began to attend our smaller discussions. I could see her opening up and gaining confidence within these smaller sessions and felt her gratitude for the outlet we provided for her. She began bringing her friends from other English classes and through our use of film and inclusivity, began advocating for her own truth in our English classroom.

The film club supported students in various ways. Its afterschool setting allowed students to feel more at ease and allowed them to begin speaking up and sharing their opinions about their own biases and beliefs. It also encouraged students who previously would have avoided a negative or unfamiliar experience, to respond with, “I’m sorry that happened to you,” or  “I never thought about that before.” The emergence of empathy from these film events extended into our whole-class discussions where my students were able to transform their thinking about groups of stereotyped people to realize these groups were made up of individuals with beliefs, values, and relationships that are similar to their own.

*student names have been changed

PCTELA Fund Teachers from the Dream Reflection #3

NCTE Fund Teachers for the Dream Reflection #2

PCTELA was awarded the Fund Teachers for the Dream grant this year! NCTE was extremely generous in awarding this grant. They’ve given us the opportunity to mentor three fabulous pre-service teachers from Pennsylvania. In this series you’ll hear directly from them about their experiences this school year with engaging students in discussions about diversity and self identity. They each used grant funding to develop and facilitate programs in their selected schools. One pre-service teacher chose to establish a book club with fifth grade students reading The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake. Another chose to read, discuss, and create dynamic texts meant to guide students through tough discussions and self discovery. The third pre-service teacher offered movie nights to her high school students and used movies like Crash and Schindler’s List as spring boards for discussion. One of our mentors also wrote a blog post about her perspective, and that will be part of this series, too. Join us at our Annual Conference  this October 20-21 in Greentree, PA to hear these three pre-service teachers give a panel presentation about their projects and what they’ve learned.


Written by: Dr. Jolene Borgese

Role: Mentor of Daecia Smith throughout the grant period

I am uncomfortable writing or talking about the different shades of skin color. But the young African American girls in Daecia Smith’s book club were not. Daecia is a senior at Temple University, majoring in secondary English. She is student teaching this semester at a high academic performing school in Philadelphia.

The afternoon I joined them at the elementary school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for their book club I asked them two open ended questions: “How’s the club going?” and “How do you like the book you’re reading?” Like a fire storm, these 11 year old girls all spoke to me at once – eager to tell me about the book and the characters. Aiming to be the one I heard, their responses became louder and more animated but they were all talking about the bullying going on in the novel, The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake, and how it was all the about the lighter skinned character versus the darker skinned character. Without any inhibitions or fear of being politically incorrect they spoke to me candidly about the shades of being Black.

The teacher in me wanted to connect to these free spirited little girls so I shared with them what I knew about shades of skin color. I recounted quickly as to not lose their interest – “I am of Italian American descent and Italian skin color depends on what part of Italy you are from. The southern part of Italy is very close to Africa so if you are Sicilian- which I am part of – your skin is darker. Some of my sisters are very fair but my father, brother and I have darker skin.” They weren’t interested or cared. I got it. I was this white lady talking about getting a tan. I never got the chance to tell them that my mother sometimes wore pantyhose to the beach because her legs were so white.

The girls spoke with such confidence about shades of color that I asked them if they knew of this happening to people they knew or even themselves. With all of their heads nodding “yes” I realized why this was so important to them. Daecia gathered their attention back when she asked them to start reading. Having more girls than books they happily shared books and helped whoever was reading with words they couldn’t pronounce. They all followed along and listened carefully as their club members read.

Daecia would stop and asked them questions periodically about what they were reading. It seemed more like a conversation than comprehension questions because this was obviously important to them. They read for about 30 minutes never inattentive or disengaged. Reading the right book – the book that means something to the reader- was the key. It was obvious they saw themselves in the characters they were reading about.

At the end of the hour they cleaned up their snack wrappers (Daecia had provided snacks for them), collected the novels and journals. The girls put on their coats and headed out the classroom door. One little girl stopped and turned to Daecia and asked, “What are we reading next?” Daecia was exhausted from student teaching all day, and the extra hour she put in with these little girls, but she still managed a smile.

NCTE Fund Teachers for the Dream Reflection #2

NCTE Fund Teachers for the Dream Recipient Reflection

PCTELA was awarded the Fund Teachers for the Dream grant this year! NCTE was extremely generous in awarding this grant. They’ve given us the opportunity to mentor three fabulous pre-service teachers from Pennsylvania. In this series you’ll hear directly from them about their experiences this school year with engaging students in discussions about diversity and self identity. They each used grant funding to develop and facilitate programs in their selected schools. One pre-service teacher chose to establish a book club with fifth grade students reading The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake. Another chose to read, discuss, and create dynamic texts meant to guide students through tough discussions and self discovery. The third pre-service teacher offered movie nights to her high school students and used movies like Crash and Schindler’s List as spring boards for discussion. One of our mentors also wrote a blog post about her perspective, and that will be part of this series, too. Join us at our Annual Conference  this October 20-21 in Greentree, PA to hear these three pre-service teachers give a panel presentation about their projects and what they’ve learned.


Written by: Daecia Smith

Role: Grant Recipient

During my time at the elementary school with my book club of six fifth grade girls, I had many memorable experiences. One Wednesday afternoon, before we started the novel The Skin I’m In by Sharon G. Flake, I decided to do an activity to introduce the book. I picked three videos to show to my students. One video was by Dove and embraced curly hair texture. The second video was a poem entitled “The Average Black Girl” performed by Ernestine Johnson on the Arsenio Hall show. The last video was of a three-year-old girl reciting the poem “Hey, Black Child!”

I chose videos pertaining to self-identity and struggle in the black community because those are the main themes in the novel. The front cover of the book is the face of a dark skinned African American girl, Maleeka Madison, the protagonist of the story. I was a bit apprehensive about bringing up this sensitive topic, but I deemed it necessary in order for them to fully comprehend the message of the book. Also, I thought this conversation was pertinent because it is very relevant to their lives as African American females growing up in Philadelphia.

They appreciated the videos in book club, but they were more interested in why I chose to show them. I explained my reasoning and then the girls started to talk about how hard it is being females of color in Philadelphia. They added that they do not like White people because they always mistreat them and because they are all racist. I tried to explain to them that their feelings of alienation are justified and that we will discuss this later on. I added that despite their instances with certain White people, their actions do not speak for the entire race. I asked them if they hate when other races make assumptions about Black people. For example, I asked “Do you hate it when other races say that all Black people are loud, ghetto, ignorant and eat pig feet?” First, they exclaimed their distaste and hatred for pig feet and then they agreed that they don’t like it when assumptions are made with regard to the entire Black community. I asked if they can see how other White people would feel since they made assumptions about their race based off a few bad experiences with specific people. They stared at me in dismay and I knew that based off of their hesitation, we were going to have an interesting time together.

My one goal while spending time with my students was to open their minds to the world around them. The broadening and expansion of their minds included the knowledge and accessibility to neighboring cities as well as acceptance, tolerance and conversation about race, gender and education. The novel The Skin I’m In helped me achieve my goal to have active and fruitful discussion about the world around my students. I wanted to provide them with instructions and advice as how to navigate their futures and the struggles that are uniquely theirs as young, black girls.

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NCTE Fund Teachers for the Dream Recipient Reflection

How to Boost Teaching and Engage English Learners with Technology

How to Boost Teaching and Engage English Learners with Technology

One thing every teacher asks when they have an English Learner in their classroom is, what more can I be doing to help support this student? Technology can be a great resource to help a teacher who wants to engage their EL as a literacy learner.

First and foremost, it is important to remember that learning a new language takes time. In our high-stakes testing environments, we want to have ELs reading on grade level as soon as possible. We see that they are intelligent and are curious about the world. We want to learn what they are thinking and share our passion for learning with them. We must remind ourselves that learning a new language, especially when there may be gaps in a student’s education, caused by time away from school due to travelling or differences in curriculum, which insist on us to give the student time to acclimate and listen first.

When the student is ready to work on literacy skills, there are digital tools that can support a variety of learning goals.

Communication: Teachers and students can make use speech to text programs. Tools like Google Translate and American Wordspeller & Phonetic Dictionary can support students communicating into their home language and converting language into English. Likewise, if a concept the teachers is talking about is unclear, it can be translated back into the student’s first language for better understanding. While not perfect due to issues in the connotations of all languages, it can help get an important message across.

Listening Vocabulary and Comprehension: Especially for entering, emerging, or developing listeners, hearing stories read aloud is essential. There are many resources with read aloud features:

  • Scholastic’s Storia has a “read to me” feature for some of their e-books
  • PebbleGo offers spoken-word audio and audio/video media to support emergent reader research
  • Scholastic’s BookFlix pairs classic children’s storybooks in video format with nonfiction e-books
  • Scholastic’s TrueFlix offers multimedia science and social studies readings for older readers
  • Storyline Online, a free site featuring actors who creatively read books aloud
  • One More Story a site that features high-quality oral reading and the ability to read books independently with support

A low tech, but very helpful suggestion is to encourage the family to turn on the closed captioning on their television. Students will see and hear English spoken this way.

For students who are ready to be stretched in their listening and speaking skills, the app Speaky allows them to practice language socially. There are also a number of language learning tools, some of which are game based, like Duolingo. With Duolingo one can learn over 20 languages through gamification. Many more languages are being added monthly. More importantly, English can be learned from many of those languages, making it accessible for the learner of English, not just for someone speaking English learning a new language. And it’s free. To support academic and content learning, Voice Thread allows multimedia to be accompanied with narration.

Most importantly, get to know your student(s), his or her family, and celebrate their heritage and culture. The best strategy is being patient and finding creative ways to engage the EL in learning.


Aileen P. Hower, Ed.D. is the K-12 Literacy/ESL Supervisor for South Western School District. She also teaches graduate level reading courses for Cabrini University in Pennsylvania. In addition to teaching, she is the Vice President for the Keystone State Reading Association and conference chair for the KSRA 50th Annual Conference in Hershey, PA, in 2017. You can find her on Twitter at (@aileenhower) or on her blog (aileenhower.wordpress.com).

 

How to Boost Teaching and Engage English Learners with Technology

EdCamp Happy Valley & Why You Should Try an UnConference

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending my first EdCamp. Hosted by two teachers in our district, it was free, it was local, and it was fun (and I think EdCamp Happy Valley will be back next year). If you haven’t attended an EdCamp before, essentially it is an unconference. This means there’s no set schedule or set presenters until the day of the event. Whoever shows up shares ideas of what they want to talk about/learn about, and then the organizers create a schedule based on what people present want to explore.  Once the schedule is completed, you go to a room where there’s a topic interesting to you, and you have a conversation about the topic.

This democratic approach to Professional Development was eye-opening for me.  I know there are some amazing professionals in my district and in nearby schools, and this opportunity to network with them and share ideas and learn about how they approached challenges in their classrooms was fascinating. to me.  I attended a session on flipping the classroom and walked away with people to contact, with ideas of how to integrate it, and advice on what is best practice for flipping with high school students.

There was one session I did go to where there didn’t seem to be anyone in the room who was an expert, and when people just started Googling information on the topic, I excused myself and went with a colleague to start brainstorming ideas from a previous session.  The beauty of the EdCamp model is the concept that if you don’t find a session working out for you, it is not frowned upon to remove yourself and use one of the spaces designated as learning lounges.

The timing for this event was perfect for me. We’ve returned from spring break, the third marking period is ending, and I needed some re-energizing to approach the last marking period. If you haven’t had a chance to try an EdCamp yet, I would recommend it.  At first, I thought it was all tech-centered, but I realized when I arrived, any topic could be suggested.  Driven by teachers, centered on students, EdCamps provide a new model for professional development that I found appealing.

Posted by Kate, Blog Editor and Book Reviewer for PCTELA

EdCamp Happy Valley & Why You Should Try an UnConference

Where’s Your Diploma? Claiming Respect as Teachers

So here’s an idea for all my friends who are educators drawn from my recent presentation at NCTE…

Where’s your diploma?
Where are your credentials?

When I go to a doctor, lawyer, dentist – even my mechanic and the young man who cuts my few meager hairs, they have their diplomas and other credentials framed and on their walls.

Where are YOURS?

We teachers do a TERRIBLE job of “tooting our own horns.” That sets us up for a massive amount of disrespect from administration, parents, community, even fellow teachers. What do we know? We’re “just teachers.”
Well, we know a lot. To quote Fredo in The Godfather, ” I’m smart! … I’m smart and I want respect!”

So, in the subtlest, way possible, let’s claim a little respect. A small gesture. An action at an entry level to greater advocacy.

POST YOUR CREDENTIALS. Find your diploma that’s buried in a box in the attic. Find your certificate. Some of you may have them framed (but are they in your office or classroom?). Some don’t even know where they are! If you’re unwilling to frame and post the originals, just make a photocopy of them and post them on your bulletin board. Have fun. Mount them on construction paper. Make borders. Color the copies. Put them on the wall. Make a new copy every year.

Post items that certify or indicate that you were at a professional development workshop, took a class, attended NCTE. (I used to prop up my program book from NCTE in the chalk tray. Some student would always “bite” and I was afforded the opportunity to tell them about all the great people I got to meet and from whom I learned.)

Let everyone know that YOU ARE A PROFESSIONAL. That you are studied. That you know “current best practice”. That you are learned. ADVOCATE for YOU and for your profession!

Let’s start a movement. When you do it, take a photo, post it, share it with me. I respect you. You’re smart. You know things. Let the rest of the world in on it. If you like this Idea, spread the word.unnamed

Bob Dandoy is a Past President and Executive Director of PCTELA. Although still active in PCTELA and NCTE, he is now retired from the classroom after 38 years of service.

Where’s Your Diploma? Claiming Respect as Teachers