2008 PDS Inquiry Conference
Abstracts for Secondary English Interns

With links provided to extended inquiry papers if available.

Latrice Thompson
lct128@psu.edu
Mount Nittany Middle School, Park Forest Middle School, Grade 7/8
"Can You Help Me Up?"
What Does It Mean To Support Our Students? Do all students need the same type of support from teachers? Through case studies, research, and classroom observations, I have explored what additional support could be beneficial to particular students on my 7th/8th grade team. This presentation will suggest various type of support that can be offered to middle school students that need more assistance in and outside the classroom.

Bonnie Peters
bkp14@scasd.org
High School North & South, grade 12 & 10
I Don't Like to Read
How many times do parents or teachers hear this statement? Even students who are good readers sometimes do not enjoy it. This inquiry explores the reasons for lack of motivation and interest in reading with secondary school students, and provides teachers with possible solutions for getting all students to read.

Luke Zeller
luke.j.zeller@gmail.com
Delta (SCASD), Per Brahegymnasium (Sweden), Fenix Gymnasium (Sweden) Grades 8-12
Authority in Writing Pedagogy
As a peer-tutor in writing at Penn State and a student teacher in English through PDS, I have been trying to deconstruct authority in writing pedagogy. Would it be possible to have students be participants in the construction and purposeful use of language? Through an alternative approach to writing assignments that attempts to more genuinely value writing as a process, we may begin to imagine how that is possible and why it is so important.

Erin McDonnell
ejm5008@psu.edu
High School South, 10th grade
Mommy and Me: Not the play group it use to be
I began this year relying on my own past experiences to define parental support, and within two weeks my conceptions were turned upside down. I will focus on initial thoughts, how a year-long study and reflection led to a new definition, and how this will help teachers in their own classrooms.

Anthony Scaltz
ajs49@scasd.org
High School South, Grade 9
The Effects of Experimental, Activity-Based Learning on Student Engagement and Performance
Throughout the year, I have been implementing teaching techniques grounded in experiential pedagogy. By utilizing some of these techniques, I seek to establish a correlation between experimental, activity-based pedagogy and its subsequent effects on student engagement, achievement, and language proficiency. Through various activities and games that get my students out of their seats, I hope to show how methods that move away from a lecture-based approach using verbal cueing and stimulation into an approach that utilizes multiple modes of learning and multi-sensory stimulation have a profound effect on the learner.

Tara Sclafani
TES5000@psu.edu
High School North, grade 11
Can I See Your Hall Pass? Exploring the struggles of a young teacher
Being 22 years old and teaching students five years younger than myself was needless to say, interesting. Over the past months, I have observed my students' behavioral patterns toward me in regards to respect and authority. Through this inquiry, I will explore how to construct a strong teacher identity focused around gaining respect from students and investigate the struggles associated with new and/or young teachers.

Laura O'Connor Vernikoff
lov11@scasd.org
High School North; Grade 11
"This Feels Weird"--Talking About Race and Other Differences in a High School English Classroom
How do we, as teachers, help our students to speak openly and honestly about difficult topics? Students used a unit on the Harlem Renaissance as a stepping stone for examining race and other "differences" in American Society and in their school community. Throughout the unit, I struggled with ways to keep an open dialogue going; here are some of the strategies I found.

Anne Maddox
ach174@psu.edu
Park Forest Middle School, grades 7 & 8
Technology in the Classroom Can Increase Student Engagement!
Using technology in the classroom can be an effective means of increasing student engagement. Come and see examples of specific ways that teachers can utilize technology in projects, assessments, or just as a change of pace. Laptops, podcasts, iMovie, SCoodle, or Comic Life can be the first step to engaging your students!

Jessica DeAngelo
jld377@psu.edu
State College High School South, grade 9
"Ice Breakers Won't Cut It. "
How can we mesh together the social and academic communities of our classrooms? Join me while I attempt to connect the disjointed pieces of my classrooms' social and academic communities to form an atmosphere where every student can learn in a safe environment.

Mary Ann Brosnan
Mab625@psu.edu
High School North, College Prep 12
The Play's The Thing! Using Activities and Humor When Teaching Drama
The focus of this Inquiry Project centered on discovering the different types of resistance my College Prep 12 students had to studying Shakespeare's Macbeth. This presentation will discuss the classes' dominant objections to studying Shakespeare and ways students became engaged in the play despite their initial objections.

Mackenzie Bricker
meb5027@psu.edu
High School North, grade 11
"I don't like writing because I hate it," English 11 student
It is not a shock to learn that not all students like to write. But how do we lead students to a healthier relationship with writing? This presentation will investigate techniques and strategies developed to explore my own assumptions and how I guided my practice based on those findings.

Andrew Kurnas
Ask5017@psu.edu
Bellefonte Area Middle School, 7th grade
Writing a house!
Writing is a magical thing. It is where many of us sort out thoughts, vent, organize, plan, express and find solace. So how do you teach that to students? Through the metaphor of building a house, we will discuss the perceived tension between the resources that young writers have, and what is expected of them the by larger society.

Rachel Loeb
rbl5000@psu.edu
High School South, Grade 9 and 10
Did I Just Say That? Exploring the Formation of Teacher Identity
Through Analysis of Experiences No two teachers are alike. Despite years of similar training and schooling, each of us has carved out a unique personality and standards within teaching. What influences and shapes how we negotiate our niche in the role of teacher? If we could more completely analyze why we act the way we act in stressful, joyful or trying moments, perhaps we can feel more confident and assured in our teaching personalities. This inquiry explores my personal path to figuring out why I teach how I teach.

Lisa Harpster
Lmh32@scasd.org
High School South, ESL
ESL Students from the Inside Out
English as a Second Language students experience concerns and identity struggles that continue worlds beyond most conventional issues encountered by secondary students. What is really going on in the lives of ESL students, both inside and outside of the ESL classroom?

Robert Campbell
robertsoup@gmail.com
High School South & North, grade 9 & 12
"Theatrical Education"
This inquiry presents a student teacher's journey from a career as a professional theatre actor towards a career as a classroom teacher. It is an attempt to contextualize the teacher's experience, the English classroom, and shifting identity in theatrical terms. The presentation will be a guided tour of a personal website designed to archive past experiences in theatre, current experiences in education, and a synthesis and examination of multiple ways the two fields interrelate.

Morgan Ilgen
morgan@clccharter.org
The Centre Learning Community Charter School
Own It, Love It, Literate! Student Ownership and Literacy in a Project-Based Environment
How do students in a project-based learning environment come to take ownership in their learning and how does this ownership promote or disrupt literacy? The goal of my inquiry project is to understand student ownership in learning and literacy in a project-based classroom. Using specific examples from past projects that I have taught and student feedback, I will examine students' sense of ownership in the acquisition of knowledge and skills that have the potential to increase literacy.

Lucy Baker
ltb109@psu.edu
High School North, grade 12 / High School South, grade 10
Just Another Grade to Put in the Gradebook: Exploring Student Perceptions About Writing
This inquiry into student perceptions about the purpose of academic writing seeks to gain an understanding of factors leading to student resistance toward writing in our twelfth grade college prep English classes. This presentation will share data from students, discuss possible causes of student perceptions, and explore possibilities to break down resistance.