2005 PDS Inquiry Conference Presentations
Secondary English Interns

Christopher Clark ckc132@psu.edu
South High School
How can we meet the needs of diverse learners in heterogeneously grouped classrooms?
As teachers, we are often charged with the responsibility of educating a classroom comprised of students of different ability levels, learning speeds, and learning styles. How can we effectively reach this wide range of students without prioritizing one group of students over another? How can we engage students who are at different academic skill levels in activities that are equally challenging and beneficial for all? In this presentation I will explore some strategies for bringing diverse learners together for cooperative and multilaterally productive learning experiences.

Alison M. Kocis amk281@psu.edu
South High School
Literary Theory as a Vehicle to Multiple Perspectives?
How can students gain multiple perspectives on texts? As English teachers we want to engage our students in literature and encourage them to create and to voice their own interpretations of texts, as well as provide them with critical literacy activities that encourage them to investigate other perspectives in terms of social, political, and cultural contexts. My inquiry explores the idea of reader-response and the impacts of various other literary theories on students’ ability to gain multiple perspectives on texts.

Josie Gildow JosieG@psu.edu
North High School/Delta
“The past isn’t dead. It isn’t even past.” Oral History in the Secondary English Classroom
Reading is about constructing meaning, not only from the written word, but also from lived experience. For that reason, we attempt to activate the extensive prior knowledge our students bring to class. But what about the prior knowledge “the collective memory” of the community in which we live? How might we help our students to access the wealth of experience possessed by family members, friends, and fellow citizens? Oral history, the act of researching and recording community remembrances, provides one way to build knowledge that is both personal and shared. This presentation seeks to describe what oral history is and how students can benefit from producing it.

Melissa Ann Glitzer mat254@psu.edu
North High School
Let’s Give Them Something to Talk About
My inquiry examines my 11th grade students’ experiences with different discussion techniques in English class. Throughout the year, my mentor and I have experimented with a variety of small group and full class discussion activities. In my presentation, I will describe these activities and share my students’ reflections by highlighting observations, surveys, and interviews.

Aaron Anthony AaronA@psu.edu
North High School
Can’t We All Just Get Along?
What does our classroom environment have to do with how our students learn? What happens to student learning when they feel comfortable and welcome in a classroom? As teachers, we are continually striving to provide an in-class atmosphere most conducive to student learning. In my presentation, I will share personal reflections and samples of student responses as I discuss the effects of classroom environment on student learning.

Kenji Darby ksd123@psu.edu
Mount Nittany Middle School
What is the relationship between in-school to non-school literacy practices?
Non-mainstream and low-income Blacks have a distinct way of learning language, which affect their integration into academic life. Students who do not fit the traditional way of schooling are left behind. I will be sharing an ethnographic study on one 7th grade Black student who comes from a low economic background. This student has been struggling academically ever since coming to State College’s predominately white middle school.

Kristin Measel kgm115@psu.edu
South High School
The Effectiveness of Reading Strategies with Literature
My inquiry focuses on the implementation of reading strategy instruction with literature, specifically the use of double-entry response journals, think-alouds, and post-it notes. I will illustrate how I taught and modeled the strategies to the students and also how the students used the strategies in their own reading practices.

Dana Zuhlke dbz105@psu.edu
North High School
Supporting Student Writers
How can I best help my students to develop as writers? What activities and assignments can I provide that will enable them to practice their communication skills? How can I better anticipate possible challenges and questions that may arise for students as I develop a writing assignment? In this session, I will share results of a student writing survey as well as my efforts to create clear meaningful writing assignments and to evaluate the resultant student work.

Danielle Carpenter dsc184@psu.edu
Mount Nittany Middle School
Productive Peer Editing: Making the Dream a Reality
Despite our endless explanations, we have all witnessed our students rush through peer editing sessions, followed by an abrupt, “I’m done! What do I do now?” In an attempt to lessen these cries, I explored seventh grade students’ experiences with the peer editing process, and their initial thought processes concerning the “how to’s” of peer editing. I then studied students’ experiences with a variety of instructional tools and the effectiveness of the tools in expanding an understanding of the peer-editing process.

Zeruth wrz106@psu.edu
South High School
Shedding Our Skin: Can Sharing Our Non-Teacher, Non-Student Identities Improve Engagement in the Classroom?
If we give our students the opportunity to open up and share their lives with both teacher and students, will they be more engaged? If we show our students that we have lives outside of the teaching world, will they become more involved with the class? Join me as I share some techniques for building classroom community, reaching students individually, and allowing students to see the various sides of their fellow students and teachers.

Nicholas Delgrego ndd114@psu.edu
North High School
“So, do you just practice English all day?” Dispelling the myths: Inside and outside the ESL classroom?
Worldwide there are more people who speak English as a non-native language than those who are native speakers. Having taught English as a second language both inside and outside a formal English as a Second Language (ESL) classroom, I have discovered that students, parents, teachers, and community members have a variety of questions and beliefs about the goals and activities of ESL instruction. My research synthesizes these beliefs and goals in order to frame effective cultural and language learning for second language learners in and out of school.

Lisa Insinger lai115@psu.edu
Park Forest Middle School
Is choice the right choice for Middle School Students?
This inquiry focuses on what happens in the middle school English Classroom when students are given a choice in literature, projects, and classroom discussion. This session will provide insight into providing choices for students and the effect it has on the classroom community and the student. I will present my observations based on interactions with the students, surveys, and assessment, and then open the floor to discussion and reflection.

Kristin Smith kjs229@psu.edu
North High School
Anti-discriminatory Teaching
As educators, how can we create classes that actively resist discriminatory values and behaviors? This project seeks to describe “anti-discriminatory” classrooms through research and field experience. Then, this inquiry investigates the teaching practices and environments that encourage students to examine their own assumptions within the context of their communities.

Martin Graff marty_graff@yahoo.com
South High School
Engaging Russian English-Language Learners
My inquiry question focuses on student engagement: how can I better engage the current group of Russian ELLs at State College High School? I have organized my inquiry into five parts: 1) A definition of engagement; 2) A description of the Russian cultural background as it relates to school and disengagement; 3) A synthesis/summary of professional literature on engagement and strategies encouraging engagement; 4) A comparison of two ESL units and their outcomes in terms of engagement; 5) Assessment of key areas to improve in my practice.

Kristin Daigle kdd123@psu.edu
North High School
Supporting student development through social and emotional learning
The purpose of my inquiry project is to explore students' reflections about positive and negative classroom experiences in an attempt to better understand what factors affect student learning and development in the classroom. I am interested in what ways and to what extent students' positive and negative classroom experiences reflect differences in teaching philosophies, specifically social and emotional learning theory versus a traditional transmission model of learning. In my presentation, I will discuss commonalities among students' experiences on certain outcomes--motivation, meaningful learning, self-efficacy, student/teacher relationships, and classroom environment in relation to social and emotional learning principles.