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Special Education Joint Doctoral Student Selected as Student Fellow
Dane Marco Di Cesare, a third-year student in the Buffalo State-University of Buffalo joint doctoral Special Education program, was selected by Chancellor Nancy Zimpher to be part of SUNY’s Class of 2013: Student Fellows in Big Data.
“Selected by their campus provosts for this designation, our student fellows have each shown an interest in and capacity for using big data to enhance their academic and professional pursuits, and we are proud to partner with them as we determine the best uses for big data in the future of higher education.” Each of the eight students chosen will work with SUNY leadership to shape the system’s use of big data and transform the student experience.
Dane Marco Di Cesare is the recipient of the Leadership Grant – Preparing Leaders of Tomorrow to Work in a Digital Age. Di Cesare’s research interests involve developing digital tools to increase writing achievement for students with learning disabilities. He is in the process of earning two advanced certificates: a statistical analysis certificate from the Department of Counseling and Educational Psychology, and a certificate of new literacies from the Department of Learning and Instruction, both in the UB Graduate School of Education. Di Cesare has presented at state and national conferences, co-authored a publication in the April 2013 issue of the Journal of Special Education Technology, co-authored two publications awaiting review and is currently preparing three manuscripts for publication.
Adapted from the October 30, 2013 University at Buffalo News Release
Awilda Ramos Zagarrigo Honored During Hispanic Heritage Month
Awilda Ramos Zagarrigo, assistant professor of Exceptional Education was honored for her work in the field of education, and for her numerous contributions to the Latino/a community, at the City of Buffalo's 2013 Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration. Each year, Mayor Byron Brown highlights the contributions made by members of the community in various fields. Dr. Ramos Zagarrigo was honored at an October 15 celebration, along with 13 other members of the area Latino/a community, including Buffalo State's associate vice president for student success, Daniel Velez.
From Buffalo to Israel, ADE Research is Making a Difference
Susan Birden, chair of Adult Education, has found that her research is making a difference in the lives of students around the world.
Recently, Eyal Ben-Ami, a special school counselor from Israel, wrote to Birden about the impact her book, Rethinking Sexual Identity in Education (2005), has on Ben-Ami's day-to-day work as an advocate for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning youth) anti-bullying activism in Israel.
“Your book is always on my desk and in my practice,” wrote Ben-Ami, “Indeed, as a young school counselor and LGBTQ activist, I have learned a lot from your important insights. Thank you for your courageous book.”
“I’m so pleased,” said Birden, “to know that a book that was published almost ten years ago is continuing to make a difference in the lives of students. It is encouraging to hear that my philosophical work is bearing fruit ‘on the ground’. There is no better reward for a scholar and a teacher.”
Thanks to Mentors Who Matter
By Mary A. Durlak - Posted: October 4, 2013 at http://newsandevents.buffalostate.edu/news/thanks-mentors-who-matter
It’s not just students who say “thank you” to teachers. With its Perks Card, the School of Education attempts to express its gratitude for the teachers who work with Buffalo State students.
“Those teachers are critical,” said Leslie Day, assistant chair of the Elementary Education and Reading Department, and director of the Professional Development School Consortium. “Without them, we wouldn’t have a program.”
Teachers who agree to take Buffalo State education students into their classrooms—and, often, under their wing—are called mentor teachers. “We used to call them cooperating teachers,” said Day, “but they do so much more than merely ‘cooperate’ with us in educating tomorrow’s teachers. Mentor teachers are involved with Buffalo State students in classes as early as sophomore year, and then every year through graduate school. “All mentoring teachers have a liaison with a faculty member, too,” said Day, “so we can work together to make sure that both our students and our mentor teachers are benefiting from the experience.”
The Perks Card provides mentor teachers with discounts at several Buffalo State venues as well as access to Buffalo State’s E. H. Butler Library. Specifically, mentor teachers receive:
- a discount to the Great Performers Series at the Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall
- buy-one-get-one-free admission to productions staged by Casting Hall
- faculty/staff discount at the Barnes and Noble at Buffalo State Bookstore
- buy-one-get-one-free admission to the Burchfield Penney Art Center
“We hope to add to this list,” said Day. “By providing our students with authentic classroom experience, our mentor teachers help our students navigate through the professional maze in an atmosphere of sharing, partnership, and collegiality. And we believe that having our students in the classroom helps our mentor teachers, too. Besides providing assistance in the classroom, our students provide new ideas and fresh enthusiasm to their mentors. Everybody wins.”
Fishing for a Solution (ADE Student Profile)
By Ben Heffner - Posted: September 30, 2013 at: http://newsandevents.buffalostate.edu/news/fishing-solution
Are the fish in Niagara River safe to eat? SUNY Buffalo State student Ba Zan Lin says they can be, if eaten in moderation. Lin, the environmental justice outreach coordinator for Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper, is in the master’s program in the Adult Education Department (ADE). Lin has been working to educate Niagara River fishermen about the dangers of eating fish from polluted waters.
Lin moved to the United States from Myanmar (also known as Burma) in 2006 to pursue an education. Lin’s father was forced to leave their native country to seek political asylum in the United States for his participation in pro-democracy activism in the late 1980s. “I was also involved in youth activities back home, and I was beginning to run into some trouble with authorities,” said Lin.
Lin began his education at the University at Buffalo where he studied environmental education. After graduating, Lin began working for People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH Buffalo) and Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper. Much of Lin’s work for these organizations has been focused on community outreach and education.
Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper is currently addressing the growing number of immigrants who are fishing in the Niagara River for food. Many of these immigrants are from Lin’s native country. “These people come from a completely different culture,” said Lin. “They come here and they don’t know anything about Buffalo’s industrial past. The water looks so much cleaner than what they are used to, so they assume the fish must be OK to eat.”
Before ADE, Lin found it difficult to effectively communicate his message to an adult audience. Lin’s involvement in ADE has helped tremendously in understanding the way adults prefer to be addressed. “Teaching adults is totally different than teaching a kid,” said Lin. “Adults have a sense of dignity or pride that can make it difficult to teach them without first demonstrating why the information is important. ADE arms me with a great deal of adult education methods and learning theories.”
Lin has found that the best approach to address this adult crowd is not to lecture directly, but to invite these anglers to participate in free programs such as kayaking lessons or educational tours. “When they get hooked into those kinds of programs, it is much easier to educate them and they listen more,” said Lin. It’s difficult to measure whether or not people are eating less of the fish they catch, but through narratives and continued interviews Lin is able to gauge his effectiveness based on the level of awareness. “About 80 percent of anglers say they have heard of the issue,” said Lin.
ADE courses are available online, which has been crucial for Lin’s work. Most outreach programs take place outside normal work hours, as do a lot of graduate classes. “My work is very demanding,” said Lin, “so the ability to focus on my classes when it fits my schedule is extremely convenient for me.”
Three Exceptional Education Faculty Members Receive President's Awards
The Exceptional Education Department is proud to announce that three faculty members have been honored with 2013 President's Awards for Excellence:
Lisa Rafferty, associate professor, received the President's Award for Excellence in Teaching.
Awilda Ramos Zagarrigo, assistant professor, received the President's Award for Excellence in Academic Advisement.
Lynne Sommerstein, lecturer, received the President's Award for Excellence in the Advancement of Equity and Campus Diversity.
All three will be honored during the Faculty and Staff Recognition Ceremony on Thursday, October 3, at 12:15 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center at Rockwell Hall.
Adult Education Student Teaches Area Immigrants
Campaign teaches NY immigrants about polluted fish- posted by The Associated Press on August 18, 2013 - 1:25 PM
BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) — Every summer afternoon, dozens of anglers line up along the Niagara River. They include many immigrants from Southeast Asia who fish not for sport but for sustenance, stowing their trout, salmon and pike into white buckets to be taken home, then curried or deep fried.
But these new immigrants, some of whom were lured to Buffalo from Myanmar and other countries in recent years to help the Rust Belt city rebuild its shrinking population, know little of the area's industrial past and legacy of toxins that could be harmful to their health.
Health officials warn of effects ranging from memory loss to cancer. Getting word out about the dangers in their native language is the goal of an outreach campaign by the Buffalo Niagara Riverkeeper group that seeks to strike a balance between culture and safety.
"We don't tell them, 'Don't eat fish.' We tell them the better way to eat fish," said Ba Zan Lin, the group's 26-year-old outreach coordinator, whose family resettled from Myanmar when he was 18.
On a recent afternoon on Squaw Island off Buffalo's west side, Lin stepped along the river's rocky shore, chatting up fishermen in their native Myanmar and offering printed guides advising how much fish is safe to eat and how best to prepare it, and describing the dangers to children and pregnant women.
New York state's official fish consumption warnings about possible fish contamination from PCBs, lead and mercury are easily lost on immigrants who have resettled in the region by the hundreds and, in many cases, are still learning English.
Riverkeeper's outreach, which began about 2 ½ years ago with a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, includes going to popular fishing spots and distributing pamphlets printed in Spanish, Nepali, French, Myanmar, low-literacy English or just pictures.
"We'd like to share this approach and methodology throughout the Great Lakes because there are a lot of other cities similar to Buffalo and Niagara Falls that have similar problems," said Jill Jedlicka, executive director at Riverkeeper. "We want to start communicating that on a much broader scale."
The U.S. government resettled more than 58,000 refugees in the United States in 2012, from Myanmar, Bhutan, Iraq, Somalia and elsewhere, U.S. State Department statistics show, including an estimated 1,000 in Buffalo.
With its population growing ever smaller, the city has rolled out a welcome mat for refugees with the hope they will breathe new life into neighborhoods struggling with vacant housing and a lack of businesses. Four resettlement agencies to help with housing and red tape have made the city a prime choice for new arrivals.
Ka Mar, who arrived five years ago, was fishing from the large rocks sloping toward the river when Lin stepped gingerly down and asked if he might talk to him. He sat and eased into the conversation with small talk about the weather, gaining Mar's trust. Not all the anglers have fishing licenses, Lin said, and may view him with suspicion.
Speaking Myanmar, Lin told Mar that the smaller fish are safer to eat because they've absorbed less pollution and that he should cut the toxin-retaining fat from the larger fish, rather than eat it.
"I've been eating the fish five years and nothing happened," Mar would tell Lin in Myanmar. It is a typical response until anglers learn the toxins can build over time.
"He thinks it's safe. He says it tastes good," Lin said as he moved on, hoping his message had gotten through.
Professors and Students Travel to Zambia
by Colleen Young - posted 08/29/13 at: http://newsandevents.buffalostate.edu/news/professors-and-students-travel-zambia
SUNY Buffalo State teacher candidates traveled to Lusaka, Zambia, this summer to work at an international professional development school site. Through observation and cultural experiences, the teacher candidates were able to see how the Zambian school system works.
This year, 12 undergraduate and three graduate students traveled under the leadership of elementary education and reading faculty Hibajene Shandomo, associate professor, and Sherri Weber, lecturer. “Providing our students with an opportunity to meaningfully experience other cultures is a fundamental cornerstone of the college’s mission and is integral to creating a strong educational foundation for academic growth,” Shandomo said.
The Elementary Education and Reading Department offers students a variety of hands-on classroom experiences. The professional development school (PDS) in Zambia, one of many such options, has been supported by the Research Foundation.
Faculty and students brought three donated laptops to Buffalo State's partner school in Lusaka; introduced pen-pal projects in the elementary classrooms; and practiced teaching math, science, and social studies. The teacher candidates had opportunities to observe and practice Zambian methods as part of the learning experience. The graduate students were also able to collect data for research projects at five Zambian schools through a partnership with the University of Zambia.
In addition to interacting with the Zambian students who were eager to learn, the teacher candidates also explored the country, visiting an orphanage and learning from cultural engagement, socialization, and conversation at a traditional market.
“As a result of this cultural immersion, teacher candidates gained invaluable social and cultural awareness and appreciation that broadened their worldview,” Shandomo said. “This helps them to become effective teachers of all children.” Shandomo plans to take a group of teacher candidates to Zambia every year.
“This is the opportunity of a lifetime,” Shandomo said. “You can’t experience this if you’re not there. Students should have some firsthand knowledge of life outside the United States.”
This experience in an international PDS site was made possible in part by the International and Exchange Programs, the Research Foundation, the Equity and Campus Diversity Office, the Graduate School, the School of the Professions, the School of Education, and the Elementary Education and Reading Department.
What Is 'Play' to a Child With Autism? Motion preferred to arts and crafts or pretending, study finds
by Amy Norton, HealthDay Reporter - posted August 27, 2013 at: http://consumer.healthday.com/cognitive-and-neurological-health-information-26/autism-news-51/what-is-play-to-a-child-with-autism-679575.html
TUESDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- When free to choose, kids with autism pick games that engage their senses and avoid games that ask them to pretend, a new study finds.
Experts said the results are not surprising. It's known, for instance, that when children do not show an interest in pretend play, such as "feeding" a doll, by about age 2, that is a potential sign of an autism spectrum disorder.
What is unique about the new study is that it went out into the real world, said lead researcher Kathy Ralabate Doody, an assistant professor of exceptional education at the State University of New York, Buffalo State.
Doody's team spent six months observing children who attended a local museum's Au-some Evenings, a monthly program designed for children with autism. The program offered 20 exhibits with different activities, including a train that children could climb on, arts and crafts and a make-believe farm where kids could pretend to pick vegetables and collect eggs.
The researchers found that children with autism were naturally drawn to activities that got them moving, or allowed them to watch moving objects. The biggest crowd pleaser was an exhibit in which kids climbed a short staircase and dropped a ball into a track to watch it travel over hills. Another favorite was a windmill that the children could spin.
On the other hand, arts and crafts, and exhibits that required pretending were the least popular, according to the findings, which were reported in a recent issue of the North American Journal of Medicine and Science.
"We know that kids on the spectrum have a fascination with things that move, and with repetition," Doody said.
In contrast, she said, pretend play requires "putting yourself in someone's shoes," and talking and acting as if you were another person. That's an ability with which children with autism spectrum disorders struggle.
The current findings are what you would expect, said Dana Levy, a clinical assistant professor of child and adolescent psychiatry at NYU Langone Medical Center, in New York City.
"I think it's a really nice idea," Levy said, referring to the museum's autism spectrum disorders program.
"We do know that kids with autism are able to practice social skills when they're doing something they enjoy," Levy said. So if an activity gets your child around other kids -- and talking or learning to take turns, for instance -- it could benefit his or her development.
"If it becomes just a solitary thing, though, it's not really helpful," Levy said.
Plus, letting children do only the things they're innately drawn to can be limiting. When young children with autism spectrum disorders are in therapy, pretend play is typically part of it, Levy said.
But if there is a social setting with activities a child with autism enjoys, parents can use that as a door, Levy said. If your child loves the museum's stair-climbing exhibit, on your next visit tell him or her that you're going to try one new thing first and then go to the stairs, Levy suggested.
It's estimated that about one in 88 children has an autism spectrum disorder -- a group of developmental disorders that hinder a person's ability to communicate and interact socially. Autism spectrum disorders range widely in severity: Some children speak very little and have an intense preoccupation with just a few things, while other kids have normal or above-normal intelligence and milder problems with socializing.
For the current study, Doody's team watched children during six Au-some Evenings events. An average of 31 children with autism spectrum disorders and 22 without (usually siblings) attended each night. One limitation of the research, Doody said, is that they had no medical information on the children, including the severity of their autism.
Doody, who has a child with an autism spectrum disorder, said it would be helpful if more public places had events like this, since parents can struggle to find activities the whole family enjoys -- particularly if they also have kids without autism.
She said the current findings could help community programs develop inclusive activities so kids with autism have more chances to interact with typically developing children.
"Being in a social environment is great for them," Levy said.
Even if your local museum doesn't have a special program, she said, it might have something that would appeal to your child. If he or she likes to look at maps, for instance, a museum or park that has maps scattered throughout might be a good place to start.
High-Tech Pens, Filmmaking Improve Reading and Writing
By Mary A. Durlak - posted August 12, 2013 at: http://newsandevents.buffalostate.edu/news/high-tech-pens-filmmaking-improve-reading-and-writing
Thanks to creative teachers and innovative technology, 80 students improved their reading skills this summer through SUNY Buffalo State’s literacy specialist program. Under the guidance of program coordinator Keli Garas-York, associate professor of elementary education and reading, 26 Buffalo State graduate students taught students at the Charter School for Applied Technologies (CSAT).
“This is our third year at CSAT, which is one of our professional development schools,” said Garas-York. “The partnership is terrific.”
The three-week program was a clinical practicum course that provided the graduate students with the opportunity to work with participants from grades 1 through 12. “Three alumni came back to mentor and guide our current students,” said Garas-York.
The CSAT students were divided by grade, and then divided up further into what Garas-York calls flexible groups.
“We practice diagnostic teaching,” said Garas-York. “Every day, our teachers assess each of their students. Depending on what the student’s needs are, he or she may be reassigned to one of the small flexible groups.”
The youngest children worked on phonics to develop their understanding of letters and the sounds they make. “But we also worked on their reading skills, including comprehension and vocabulary,” said Garas-York. Writing is also part of the curriculum.
“One of the tools we tried this year in the third-grade group was LiveScribe pens,” said Garas-York. The third-graders used the pens to draw pictures that helped them think about their story, and to keep track of their ideas by using the pen as a recorder. “When they start to write the story, they can tap on a point on the tablet to hear their original ideas,” explained Garas-York.
Another aspect of the language arts is fluency, in speech as well as in reading and writing. “Our goal is for students to speak clearly, at an appropriate pace, and expressively,” she said, “and to listen, too.”
Seven participants from grades 7 through 12 worked with four Buffalo State students—Madison Ackerman, Jenna Rocco, Jonna Fiegel, and Katie Silvestri. It wasn’t long before the teaching group discovered that their seven students had common needs, including better fluency and better writing skills.
Silvestri said, “We wanted to do something that would engage the students and also address their needs. There’s a teaching tool called Reader’s Theater, in which students read a script out loud to develop oral fluency. We decided to try that, and maybe even have the students act it out. And then we thought, ‘Why not ask them to write a movie?’ That would help their writing skills as well as help them develop their oral fluency.”
Using literacy skills such as plot diagramming, dialogue writing, and narrative writing, the students developed a 27-page script for a 12-minute murder mystery, The Unknown. As the students read the script and acted it out, they put into practice the skills involved in fluency, including expressiveness, tone of voice, and understanding how to apply both word cues—“sighed,” “exclaimed”—and punctuation cues such as exclamation points and commas.
“They really got into it,” said Rocco. “They decided they wanted to have a car chase scene, and so someone brought in a remote-controlled car.”
How did it go?
“It was fantastic,” said Rocco. “We had a great group of very motivated students who were willing to learn.”
“When the teachers put their hearts into their work, students succeed,” said Silvestri. “As corny as it sounds, that’s what happened.”
Chris Shively (EER) and Son Collect Computers for Students in Zambia
by Colleen Young - originally posted at http://newsandevents.buffalostate.edu/news/professor-and-son-collect-computers-students-zambia on August 5, 2013
Students in Zambia will have much-needed computers, thanks to the hard work of Christopher Shively, assistant professor of elementary education and reading, and his son, Bryce. The Shivelys recently obtained computers and software to be used by students in Zambia.
The idea to donate computers to the Zambian schools began when Shively heard Hibajene Shandomo, associate professor of elementary education and reading, speak. Shandomo, who works closely with the professional development schools in Zambia, told a group of Buffalo State faculty and student teachers about the need for more computers in classrooms there.
Shively suggested that his son take part in a computer-donation project to help the Zambian students. Bryce contacted his school administration to start the project, asked permission from the custodians to store the donated laptops in secure places, and began accepting donated laptops from his school community. According to the Orchard Park Bee, Bryce even created a new commercial to help get the word out.
Shively, a former technology director, knew that after they cleared the used computers, the machines would just become bricks without any software or information on them. So he installed a free educational software called Edubuntu onto the computers. Thanks to the Shivelys’ efforts, Shandomo received three working laptops to take to Lusaka, Zambia, on her annual trip with Buffalo State student teachers.
Shandomo said that although some schools in Zambia have Internet access, many don’t have computers, so the donations will support student learning. “The computers are a quick and efficient way for students to make connections,” Shandomo said. “They can connect with other students around the world.”
Anyone interested in donating should contact Nancy Chicola, chair and associate professor of elementary education and reading.
Kathy Doody (EXE) Paper Published
Kathy Doody, assistant professor of exceptional education, recently had a paper accepted and published in a special ASD issue of the North American Journal of Medicine and Science. The paper explores one component of Doody's Au-Some Evening research, preferred play activities for children with autism spectrum disorder. View the current issue on autism spectrum disorder in its entirety at http://najms.net/v06i03p128a/.
EER Students Serve 'Neighborhood House'
Adam Hurd and David Jacobs, teacher candidates in the Elementary Education & Reading childhood education (grades 1-6) program, and members of the Bengals football team, have been an influential part of the children and staff at the Neighborhood House, which offers day care and before- and after-school programming to children ages 6 weeks to 12 years, in Auburn, NY. Read the full story at: http://auburnpub.com/lifestyles/neighborhood-house-bids-farewell-to-helpful-summer-teaching-assistants/article_de935cd0-8a2f-565c-bbb9-b558feb58d7c.html
Best Buddies Highlights Video
Exceptional Education faculty and students truly live what they teach. Watch this video clip to see why our Best Buddies Chapter was awarded the Buffalo State Chapter of Best Buddies was awarded the 2012-2013 'Chapter of the Year' by Best Buddies New York - Capital Region. Vice-President Jonathan Pollino was awarded 'Officer of the Year' and Bud-dy Director, Patrick McKenna was awarded 'Buddy Director of the Year.' Advisor Lynn Somerstein also received the Dr. Muriel A. Howard Presidential Award for her lifelong commitment to the promotion of equity and diversity.
The faculty, staff, and students within the School of Education are coordinating, involved in, and sharing their experiences with many different international initiatives throughout the year. Read more about what is happening right now at: International.
On Monday, May 20th, Governor Cuomo announced the NYS Master Teacher Program, a new statewide initiative proposed in the 2013 State of the State Address, that is meant to reward the state's highest performing teachers, ensure the best and brightest to stay in education, and encourage the state's best teachers to share their expertise with peers. Read related articles at: Master Teachers
At a time when schools and families are pushing children – at very young ages – to succeed academically, the vital role of play in fostering young children's healthy development is often lost in mandated curricula, a singular focus on skills-based instruction and knowledge acquisition, and an overabundance of benchmark assessments and standardized tests. However, researchers and experts on child development agree that play is essential in the development of cognition, intelligence, creativity, problem-solving and communication skills. Engaging in open and imaginative activities helps young children cultivate mental and physical capacities, individual responsibility and social-ability, speech and language, and much more. Faculty, staff, and students in the School of Education are contributing to the growing research and promotion centered on the importance of play for healthy and appropriate child development. Find out more: Play