Education Students Named to “30 Under 30” List

Photo by Patrick Verel

Photo by Patrick Verel

Two Fordham Graduate School of Education (GSE) students have been honored by the International Literacy Association (ILA) for their efforts to advance literacy for all.
Alex Corbitt, 26, FCRH ‘12, GSE ‘13, and John Maldonado, 25, FCRH ’13, a doctoral student, were named to the ILA’s second annual “30 Under 30” list, an honor bestowed to teachers, authors, volunteers, researchers, social entrepreneurs, and leaders from 12 countries.

Maldonado, a Rego Park, Queens native who graduated with a double major in psychology and English, became a NYC teaching fellow and taught special education at P368K Star Academy in Brooklyn. He is working towards a doctorate in contemporary learning and interdisciplinary research while teaching English at his alma mater, Archbishop Molloy High School in Queens.

He said being named to the list is a validation of what he called the “ugly hours” that all teachers put in—time when they put in extra hours at home, trying to figure out how to best convey information to their students and how to attend to their additional needs.

“As educators, we don’t often get the credit we deserve,” said Maldonado, who is interested in equity and culture, and the roles they play in education. He noted that, beyond his teaching he worked to increase his students’ technological literacy, “in order to give them more career and life opportunities.”

“To be recognized for that work is really validating,” he said. “I’m lucky to be the recipient. But a lot of teachers are doing the same thing.”

Read the full post at Fordham News.


“Inquiring minds want to learn: Empowering his students is the goal for Bronx literacy teacher

For the October issue of New York Teacher, Linda Ocasio focused on GSE alum Alex Corbitt, who was named to the International Literacy Association’s “30 Under 30” List. In the past two years, three GSE students or alumni have made the ILA 30 Under 30. Corbitt joins CLAIR student John Maldonado in this year’s list. Last year, alum Madison Payton was named. Read the full article at the UFT website.

image via UFT and Miller Photography

Arizona is geographically — and culturally — far from New York City. But when the 8th-graders in Alex Corbitt’s Teen Activism class watch a documentary called “Precious Knowledge,” about Tucson HS students fighting for the right to study their Mexican heritage, it resonates deeply. Many of Corbitt’s students at the Bronx School of Science Inquiry and Investigation/MS 331 in Morris Heights are from the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico or Ecuador, and they have plenty to say on the topic.

“We can learn about both American and Latino history, past and present,” says Destiny.

Pedro is bothered by an Arizona legislator in the film who calls the Latino studies program seditious and anti-American. “He said it’s anti-American, but isn’t it more American to fight for what you believe in?” Pedro asks.

It’s a good question. And for Corbitt, it’s all about the questions.

“The goal is not to do the thinking for them,” he says. Corbitt, an ELA teacher, believes literacy is not just about reading and writing but about empowering students to become “critically engaged citizens” and that includes questioning the world around them.

In September, Corbitt, age 26 and in his fourth year of teaching, was named to the International Literacy Association’s “30 Under 30 List,” which recognizes “rising leaders” from 12 countries, including teachers, nonprofit leaders, authors, researchers and others at the start of their careers who are promoting “literacy in all its forms to those who need it most.”

John Maldonado, a teacher at P 368/Star Academy in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, also was recognized for his work helping students with autism develop literacy skills.

Read the full article at the United Federation of Teachers website.

“A Salute to ‘Old Glory’ from the Eyes of a 7th Grader”

Photo via the VAntage Point blog

Joseph Pizzo is a member of the Fordham Digital Literacies Collaborative, led by Dr. Kristen Turner. He is an English teacher at Black River Middle School in Chester, NJ and an adjunct professor at Union County College and Centenary College. The following excerpt is from Joe’s guest post on the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs VAntage Point blog.

Patriotism is a belief that inspires us to pay tribute to all who have sacrificed by serving our great nation.  Patriotism also recognizes the bravery both of those who have served and the families, friends, and fellow citizens who have supported the efforts of our brave men and women of the military.

As a middle school English teacher of 42 years, I have encouraged my students often to recognize the fact that it is only through the efforts of our dedicated military personnel that we are able to live in a society in which our freedom is guaranteed and defended daily.  Whenever the opportunity presents itself to recognize our military, I encourage my students to do so.  It is that encouragement that led my student Michael to author one of the finest tributes to our flag that I have ever had a student produce.

Let me explain how this poem was created.  During May of 2015, I assigned Lois Lowry’s novel The Giver to my seventh grade integrated language arts class to read.  We discussed the importance of color and the prominent place color plays for the main character Jonas.  After my students wrote their poems, I gave them the opportunity to use technology to celebrate color in a more vivid manner.  The students created online animations and a couple of iMovies.  When I saw the potential to use technology for this project, I decided to expand the use of technology on a larger scale when I would be teaching Lowry’s novel again this May.

Read the full post at the VAntage Point blog.

Learn more about digital literacy and integrating technology into the classroom at the annual Fordham DLC conference on Wednesday, July 13th.





“Why I Wouldn’t Teach Huck Finn Anymore: Course Design as a Sociopolitical Act”

Rebekah Shoaf is an adjunct professor, founding member of the Digital Literacies Collaborative, and Teacher Development Coach with the NYC Department of Education. In a post for the Writers Who Care blog, excerpted below, she writes about how her experience watching Fruitvale Station caused her to think critically about her students’ interests, and whether texts like The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn aligned with those interests.

I was watching Fruitvale Station. It was July 21, 2013, a week after the George Zimmerman verdict was announced and four months after a student at my school was killed by the police in Brooklyn. As I sat there, overcome by this true story of a young Black man losing his battle against oppressive social forces, I decided that I would not—could not—assign The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in my twelfth grade English class again. That realization began to unravel the way I thought about my course as a whole, from the texts we read to what my students wrote and for whom.

Fruitvale Station is a feature film about the last day in the life of Oscar Grant III, a young Black man who was killed by a police officer in an Oakland train station on January 1, 2009. He was unarmed, handcuffed, and lying face down on the ground when he was shot in the back. At the time that I saw the film, I was an English teacher at a small public high school in New York City. Roughly ninety percent of our students were Black and/or Latino/a, more than two-thirds of them were male, and more than eighty-five percent qualified for free or reduced lunch. They could have been Oscar Grant III, Trayvon Martin, or any of the other young people of color who have been tragically killed by police officers and armed civilians. They were–quite literally–Kimani Gray.

I assigned Huck Finn several times in the ten years that I was a teacher. I thought it was a worthy text for twelfth graders to read because I believed it had a decidedly anti-racist, anti-slavery message and because it is a foundational work of American literature. My students wrote required essays comparing and contrasting the novel with other texts we studied. Everyone—they, me, parents, administrators—seemed content enough. Fruitvale Station opened my eyes.

Read the full story at the Writers Who Care blog.


Teaching Teachers to Teach Students to Teach Themselves

the-question-is-the-answer-200x300The reading gap, or level of missing competency that can occur among students somewhere between grade school and high school, is closing, and a new book published this month by Molly Ness, PhD, is helping teachers make it happen.

Ness, an associate professor in childhood education at Fordham’s Graduate School of Education, has published The Question is the Answer, (Rowman & Littlefield, 2015). The manual is devised for teachers to help young readers become more familiar with expository text, a writing form common in news reports about world events, weather reports, recipes, and other adult-focused prose.

Ness noted that 10 years ago, children were spending the majority of their time entrenched in narrative text. Now, thanks in part to changes brought on by the Common Core, they’re reading 50 percent in narrative text and 50 percent in expository text.

The path to understanding a piece of expository text lies in posing questions, which has traditionally been the province of teachers who ask questions for students to answer.

Yet, research has shown that, at home, children ask one question every 2 minutes and 36 seconds, or between 400 and 1200 questions each week. Within one year, it’s estimated they’ll ask approximately 105,120 questions.

Ness’ book suggests that teachers should encourage the students ask the questions.

Read the full story at Fordham News.

All Learners Learning Every Day (ALL-ED) Webinar Series

Dr. Rhonda Bondie, assistant professor in our division of Curriculum and Teaching, is hosting a free, monthly All Learners Learning Every Day (ALL-ED) Webinar Series with the New Jersey Coalition for Inclusive Education (NJCIE). Learn more and register.

Topics include

  • Managing Small Group Learning (Oct 15) – Watch the recording
  • Co-Teaching Playbook (Dec 3, 3:30-4:30pm)
  • Developing Literacy through Small Group Rigorous Discussions (Jan 7, 3:30-4:30pm)
  • Assessing Learning when Students Work in Small Groups (Feb 4, 3:30-4:30pm)
  • Self-Regulation (Part 1): Setting Realistic and Productive Goals (Mar 3, 3:30-4:30pm)
  • Self-Regulation (Part 2): Student Driven Monitoring and Evaluation of Learning (Apr 14, 3:30-4:30pm)
  • Structuring Student Choice (May 5, 3:30-4:30pm)
  • Planning Effective Formative Assessment (June 2:30, 3-4:30pm)

ALL-ED is a network developed through collaboration between professors Bondie and Akane Zusho. Learn more.

“Beyond Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How: Preparing Students to Generate Questions in the Age of Common Core Standards”

Dr. Molly Ness and Jean Humphries (PhD in Language & Literacy Education) published “Beyond Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How: Preparing Students to Generate Questions in the Age of Common Core Standards” in the most recent issue of the Journal of Research in Childhood Education.

Using a case study design, our research explored question generation as a reading comprehension strategy, focusing on the types of questions 4th- and 5th-grade students posed before, during, and after reading narrative text. The authors aimed to determine whether their participants are ready to pose the higher-level questions expected of them by the U.S. Common Core State Standards (2010).

The results indicated that students asked mainly memory-based and convergent thinking questions, with far fewer divergent thinking and evaluative thinking questions.

Instructional implications for classroom teachers include teacher modeling and demonstration of how to ask divergent and evaluative thinking questions through explicit instruction, mentorship, and more teacher use of language related to deeper thinking comprehension questions. These findings are explained in connection to the Common Core State Standards.

Read more and access the article.

Dr. Ness is also the author of the forthcoming The Question is the Answer: Supporting Student-Generated Queries in Elementary Classrooms from Rowman & Littlefield.

Connected Reading: Navigating Print and Digital Texts

How should digital elements be approached in the English classroom? How can students learn to filter, analyze, curate, and share digital content, while making the best use of new technologies and tools, sometimes in coordination with existing print texts?

In an article from The NCTE Council Chronicle titled Teaching Teens – and Ourselves – to be Mindful, Connected Readers, Dr. Kristen Turner tackles connected reading, digital literacy, and how students can manage print and digital texts.

For their book “Connected Reading: Teaching Adolescent Readers in a Digital World“, Dr. Turner and Dr. Troy Hicks of Central Michigan University surveyed and interviewed over 800 middle- and high-school students about their reading motivations and habits. The NCTE Council Chronicle highlights their findings and recommendations, such as introducing students to tools that help them become more mindful readers.

Most students don’t know about RSS readers, for example, which let users subscribe to blogs, newspapers, or other sources and receive articles directly to their devices. They don’t curate content via aggregation tools like Flipboard, which lets you create collections of articles based on topic areas. They don’t use browser tools like Pocket and Readability, which let you easily save articles for later, offline reading.

The article also profiles teachers who practice connected reading, including Lauren King, Adolescence English MST student and member of the Fordham Digital Literacies Collaborative. Lauren teaches English at the Urban Assembly School of Design & Construction.

Last summer, she put a reading project on Twitter, posting high-interest articles that kids could read over break and comment on via tweet—which raised participation. Why? “Their reading and discussion was authentic and visibly connected to the rest of the world,” explains King.

Read the full article.

Madison Payton ’13 Among International Literacy Association’s 30 Under 30

Adolescence English alumnus Madison Payton ’13 was selected for the International Literacy Association’s inaugural 30 Under 30 list.

“I’m thrilled to unveil our first 30 Under 30 list of young individuals who are tirelessly working to impact the future of global literacy advancement,” said ILA executive director Marcie Craig Post. “Today, an astounding 12 percent of the global population is unable to read or write. These 30 young education champions are developing new, creative strategies to close the literacy gap and, in the process, are transforming lives in their communities and around the world.” Read more.

Madison teaches at English at the Eagle Academy for Young Men II in Brooklyn, where he established a writing center and AP language and literature courses. See Madison on the cover of the September/October issue of Literacy Today and read his full profile on page 26.

Madison was also recently awarded the Stanford Hollyhock Fellowship for High School Teachers, which recognizes “highly motivated early-career teachers.”


“Google Exec Urges More Innovation in the Classroom”

Jonathan Rochelle, the co-founder of Google Docs


Jonathan Rochelle, the co-founder of Google Docs, said teachers should be inspiring their students to be ready for jobs that don’t exist yet.

In his July 22 keynote speech, “You Should be Innovating,” Rochelle mixed anecdotes about his children with discussion on the creation of Google Classroom and other platforms that seek to teach innovation. He spoke at the Graduate School of Education’s second annual Developing Digital Literacies conference at the Lincoln Center campus.

Read the full story from Fordham News.