These artifacts showcase my learning, understanding, and application of theories and topics learned during my coursework in the MATC program at Michigan State University (MSU). Each title links to the actual artifact. The program standards and goals that align with each artifact are listed prior to the commentary.
Artifact 1 – Action Research Project – Exploring Best Practices of Vocabulary Instruction (TE 808)
I am very thankful to have taken this course during my first semester of the MATC program because it ignited a fire to constantly be looking for opportunities to put inquiry into action. I consider this course to be the foundation of my success within the program.
The course taught us how to enact action research by following the book The Power of Questions: A Guide to Teacher and Student Research by Beverly Falk and Megan Blumenreich. Each week corresponded to a chapter and step an educator can and should take when conducting action research in their classroom.
For my action research project, I revisited how I assessed vocabulary acquisition in my classroom. Fortunately, I had the students the previous year and the year I took this course. I was able to pull the formative assessments I had used the year prior, along with reflections from students about each one. I was already enacting action research without even knowing! With this quantitative and qualitative data and new readings and understanding of vocabulary acquisition, I set out to try a new method of teaching and assessment and the results were eye opening.
Artifact 2 – My Professional Learning Network (PLN) (CEP 810)
Standard 6 | Goal 3
I have enjoyed establishing and growing my Professional Learning Network (PLN) since my undergraduate work at MSU by attending conferences and joining conversations on Twitter. CEP 810 continued the momentum of networking by requiring each of us in the class to tweet and blog about our projects and readings. I thought this was a powerful element of the class, but there were a few drawbacks, as noted in my synthesis paper.
The PLN Popplet assignment had us think about who was in our PLN, and it showed me how large and reaching my PLN truly is. The people, organizations, resources that I uncovered and documented have provided me with learning opportunities outside of my classroom and the MATC program.
Since the Popplet has been created a few of the portions have increased as I’ve met more educators across the state of Michigan and country, while other elements have been reduced due to a new job in a new school district and a different concentration than education technology.
I feel like PLNs are extremely important in order for an educator to be successful. It is widely known that teachers within their first five years leave the profession due to feelings of isolation and lack of support. I have found that my PLN, especially those outside of my teaching context, have been a strong reason why I continue to be an educator by informing my practice with best practices and providing me with positive support.
Artifact 3 – Raising Student Voice Through 21st Century Skills, Activism, and Remix (TE 891)
I originally took the special topics course about hip hop because I enjoy listening to hip hop and using it in my classroom. I quickly realized that I was using hip hop to hook students in to the canonical poetry that I was required to cover; therefore, doing hip hop education an injustice.
Fast forward to the end of the course when I was required to utilize hip hop appropriately and faithfully in the classroom. I revisited a project I had students work on in groups – Take Action Project. This project allowed students to come together and take action on an issue they cared about from the Article of the Week unit.
Through the hip hop remix, students had to take their final projects, a presentation to classmates, and remix it into a new medium such as social media, music, or art and still communicate the original message of the project.
The prompt of the project – raising student voice – aligned with the, at that time, upcoming National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention theme, so our professor was pushing us to think about him as an audience for the material covered in the class, but also a professional organization that we could potentially be writing for if we were to propose a presentation.
Artifact 4 – Hip Hop Education Framework Application (TE 891)
Standard 3 | Goal 1 & 3
While working through the special topics course on hip hop education, I began to face roadblocks in the teaching setting I was working in at the time – a rural school district.
I knew my students enjoyed listening to hip hop through the conversations that we were having, but that was about it. They did not care for the lifestyle, activist messages, or hardships that those in hip hop are experiencing and sharing in their music. In addition to students unwilling to look at hip hop any closer, the administration was not welcoming to the ideas of “hip hop education” because it “did not fit or belong in our curriculum.” When I attempted to go to professional development outside of the district to learn more about hip hop education, I was advised to use personal days for the reason listed above.
What was I going to do to both complete the assignment and teach others about the benefits and purpose of hip hop education? I found a few loop holes, including Youth Lens, Place-Based Pedagogies, and identifying the tools hip hop education wishes students to utilize and going from there. I utilized it’s true intentions in order to make it work for me and my students within the context I was in.
I had a few opportunities to present on this paper at two conferences. Being able to showcase how and why hip hop education does have a place in a rural context was extremely rewarding because it allowed others in that context to begin to think about new pedagogies for their classrooms.
Artifact 5 – The Hate U Give Text Set (TE 849)
The Hate U Give had been on my to-read list since attending the National Council of Teachers of English Annual Convention in 2017, so having the opportunity to read it during TE 849 was perfect. I’d seen and heard all sorts of ways that teachers and students were connecting with it, so the suspense was killing me. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed the book.
One of the projects in TE 849 challenged us to think about one of the many young adult literature books we read in class and create a text set centered around it and two related themes. The Hate U Give was the book I enjoyed the most and found the most relevant to my students’ lives.
The themes I focused the text set on were activism and identity because I believe students should be comfortable in their own skin and have a level head on their shoulders with their own thoughts and opinion flowing through it. The texts selected were from a variety of sources and had a range of multimedia. I intended to provide students with a variety of texts in order to pique their interest before, during, and after their reading of The Hate U Give.
This project proved to be valuable as I was able to continue building on my understanding of the text and the themes when I attended a sit-in workshop centered on The Hate U Give at Michigan State, and as a PLC I am a member of at my school proposed adding the book to our sophomore English curriculum for next year.
Artifact 6 – Revision for Literacy Support Project (TE 846)
Standard 5 | Goal 2
Article of the Week has been a staple in all the courses I have taught over my career. I read about the unit in Kelly Gallagher’s book Readicide during my teaching internship. Without having a lot of curricular control and reading about it during the middle of the year, I bookmarked the idea for when I had my own classroom and students.
The Article of the Week assignments have been through trials and errors throughout the years. I have enjoyed reading alongside my students through various topics and issues. Each year brings nuances to the unit and the implementation in my classroom., and the Revision for Literacy Support Project allowed me to take a deeper dive into the process.
The project had me peel back the layers of both the assignment and my students’ needs. I learned that providing students with reading and writing supports enhances their understanding of the topics. It also aids in their ability to participate and digest everything that the Article of the Week unit promotes. While there is more planning on the teacher side, the end results of having ALL students read the article, understand the information, and form their own opinion on it is truly rewarding.