Foundational Understandings

Foundational Understandings


READING & LANGUAGE ARTS

I have loved to read for as long as I can remember. Growing up, my siblings and I did not watch television. Instead, our house was full of books. I read early and often, and I still end every day with at least a few pages of a good book.
I learned early in life that your imagination can take you anywhere, and books can be a great ticket. By reading about people and words different from their own, children (and adults!) can broaden their experiences and do and feel anything. I enjoy showing my students how accessible any topic can become when presented through literature, be it ancient China or the water cycle.

Students can learn about different ways of living, thinking, and feeling by stepping into a story. Reading can be used to teach interpersonal skills like empathy and compassion as well as substantive knowledge, and it is my goal to help every student not only learn to read but also love to read.

At William & Mary’s School of Education, I took coursework in Elementary Reading and Language Arts Curriculum and Instruction and earned a grade of A. As part of the course, I worked with a student in my class on a 1-on-1 basis weekly for 6 weeks. By testing administering a standard assessment (DRA) prior to beginning our work and then another version of the same assessment, I was able to show that his reading skills were greatly improved during our time working together. He has since developed into one of the most voracious readers in my class.

SCIENCE

Science is a subject that fascinated me as a child. I loved learning through hands-on experiments, and I still remember some of the experiments we did in my elementary school. For my Elementary Science Curriculum and Instruction course (grade: A) in the fall of 2010, I worked with a fellow student to design and teach a Discovery Circus on magnets to my 2nd grade class. This lesson involved groups of students rotating around the room to various stations where they used hands-on interaction with magnets and other items to discover the answers to questions in an Activity Book that I prepared for them. The students learned many different things about magnets and it whetted their appetite for more science activities.

This spring, I am teaching a unit on Matter & Weather. As part of our study of matter, I conducted a “science lab” where they used bucket balances and Play-Doh to discover that when the shape of solid matter is changed, the mass stays the same. We then explored the concept of volume using different colored liquids, and finally looked at the relationship between mass and volume by comparing the mass of large items with smaller items. Throughout the whole series of investigations students used a sheet that I prepared to record predictions about what we would find and then to record the results of their experiments.

MATH

As a young student, I had my greatest struggles with math. I see this as an advantage in teaching math to elementary students, because I am able to empathize when students have difficulty and find alternate ways to explain difficult concepts. Students often struggle with more complex operations in math because they are not able to relate them back to a concrete example. Instead, many students memorize the steps of a process but cannot decide when to use them.

In my Elementary Mathematics Curriculum and Instruction course, I explored the use of a variety of manipulatives to help students make a mental connection between concrete items they can touch and processes done on paper. As part of the course, I successfully taught a lesson to 2nd graders on multi-step word problems involving addition and subtraction (without regrouping). I used pairs of flashcards with addition and subtraction problems on them to model writing a word problem with two steps, and then solving it. I then had my students work in pairs to write their own problems and present them to their classmates. The students were engaged in breaking down the problems both as number facts and in words, and it helped them understand and remember to do all of the steps in a story problem.

As an undergraduate, I majored in Business Administration. This major was part of the Department of Economics and Management, so I took classes on math-heavy topics such as micro- and macro-economic theory, Money & Banking, Investment Analysis, Statistics, Accounting (financial and cost accounting) and Quantitative Methods for Economics and Management (which used multiple-regression statistical analysis). I found these courses challenging but discovered, through perseverance, that I am better at math than I once gave myself credit for.

I truly enjoy helping children who are struggling with math concepts to “get it.” I regard finding the explanation that finally reaches a child as a personal challenge, and nothing gives me greater joy than watching a student go from frustration to understanding. My own experiences as a struggling student who was eventually able to succeed help me to show both patience and persistence when working with children on math.

SOCIAL STUDIES

History and other social studies have always fascinated me. In particular, I have an intense curiosity about how different groups of people live and their motivations. This extends to the present, as I love to travel and learn how life is lived in other regions and countries. I have lived in France and in the UK, as well as in several very different regions of the United States. Each time I relocate, I learn about a different culture and how to live within it. Bouncing from the skyscrapers of New York City (where I grew up) to the winding streets of Paris (where I spent a semester in high school and another before college) to wilds of rural Wisconsin (where I attended college), I learned to appreciate local customs and attractions.

I took several cultural history classes as an undergraduate, including a course called Women and Witchcraft in Early Modern Europe. These classes gave me an increased appreciation for the beliefs and superstitions of different cultures and how they reach forward through the ages to affect what we still do today.

In 2005, I graduated from William & Mary Law School with my Juris Doctor degree. I spent the next 2 years working at the law school as the Roger J. Strand Post-Graduate Fellow in Legal Technology, a position where I researched the effects on and interactions of technology and law, researched and helped teach students about Electronic Discovery, worked on designing technology instruction for lawyers at the Guantanamo Bay Military Tribunals, and taught Continuing Legal Education sessions on High Tech Trial Practice.

For my Social Studies Curriculum & Instruction course (grade: A), I worked collaboratively with a group to develop a curricular unit on the Civil War. This unit includes lessons for both primary and upper elementary grades, and includes such areas as Map & Globe skills, Art Appreciation and Analysis, real Civil War artifacts, and others.

Of all of the core areas, I have spent the most time studying Social Studies. I have earned both my Bachelor’s of Arts and my Juris Doctor degrees in fields that are part of the social sciences, and my studies have prepared me very well to teach in this area.

Arts
I have always enjoyed the arts. As a child I studied tap dancing, ceramics and piano for many years, and my favorite weekend projects always involved making something artistic. In high school, I worked as a summer camp counselor. Among other areas, I taught Arts & Crafts to children from age 7-16. Some of my favorite materials to work with and teach were tie-dye, different kinds of clay, and especially stained glass. As a senior in high school, I completed an independent study project in stained glass over several months which culminated in a large abstract piece representing the struggle in Ancient Greek culture between Dionysian and Apollonian ideals.

Health

As a child and teenager, I was a serious athlete. I played ice hockey at a very competitive level, even traveling to Russia in 1993 to compete in an international tournament where my team won a bronze medal. I have read many books about medicine and health and been exposed to many other sources of information on medicine and health, including working with a nutritionist and a personal trainer at various times to increase my general health. I have a good grounding in basic nutrition and first aid, as well as basic exercises to improve strength and flexibility. I played many different sports growing up, from soccer to softball to touch football. I try to incorporate movement into my academic lessons wherever possible because I recognize the importance of moving one's body both for general health and to increase blood flow to the brain. Many students are also kinesthetic learners who learn best through hands-on activity, and going through specific motions or exercises can help these students to absorb and retain information. Furthermore, I firmly believe children need the chance to run around and "get the sillies out." It is not healthy for adults or children to sit behind a desk all day, and as teachers it is our responsibility to get children moving both in and out of the classroom.

Test Scores:


LSAT: 162
GRE: 650 verbal, 730 math
Praxis 1: exempt with SAT scores (720 verbal, 660 math)
Praxis II: 199 (with Certificate of Excellence)
VRA: 264
VCLA: pending