I’m interested in integrating meaningful technology into classrooms, and how to adequately train future teachers to navigate technologies easily. Now, what I’m truly passionate about is using technology in low stakes learning environments, and ways to create low stakes moments in classrooms to help enhance learning. My path to this goal has been anything but straight. I began my journey as an English major at the University of Colorado – Boulder. After taking some time off to work, I happened upon a program at Colorado Christian University in Curriculum and Instructional Design. I have had a passion for teaching and designing an implementing lessons since I was a kid, so the Master of Arts program was a good fit. Again, after taking some time to continue working, I decided to apply for another master’s program. I completed my second Master’s degree in English Literature at the University of Lancaster, UK. Going abroad to study proved to be a formative experience. After returning home, I worked for a couple of years before starting my PhD at UNL.
Literacy has become a dynamic word with evolving meanings and many scholars tirelessly work to develop a definition for what it means to be literate, what it means to teach literacy, and in a nation of high stakes testing, how institutions measure competency in literacy. Our focus here is perhaps more limited to science literacy, but with an eye towards a broader interpretation of what it means to be literate in a multiple literacy, global society.
This project evolved from a small presentation at the Nebraska State Fair in August, 2015. Being part of a STEAM presentation was a challenge for me because my background is in English Literature, Curriculum and Instructional Design, and Educational Technology. Still, it felt like a good opportunity to take. So, along with fellow graduate students at UNL, Brandy C. Judkins and I started planning out our first lesson plan. She brought the English Language Learner Strategies, and I brought the technology, and the only science competency I feel I truly possess – Aviation.
As a teenager, I became involved with a non-profit organization, Civil Air Patrol. Really, it was the easiest sell I think the organization had to do because the recruiter said, “You can fly airplanes.” I signed up on the spot. My grandfather flew B-17s in WWII and I’d always had an affinity for flying. It was through my involvement with the Aerospace Education area of the program that I learned science that stuck with me past the test. I could articulate the Bernoulli’s principle, tell you all about Newton’s Laws – and my all time favorite, detail exactly what was happening during a flight from boarding to landing.
It was at the NE State Fair that Brandy met our contact at the Lincoln Children’s Museum and began our larger collaboration with them as they launch a new set of STEAM related exhibits and classes. The space is perfect for my current research focus and ideas related to education, technology and low stakes learning environments. Slowly, our one lesson designed for elementary school students on the principles of flight has evolved into three lessons – one for elementary, one for middle and one for high school students with more in the works.
This is where it gets cool; the lessons focus on:
- ELL strategies
- effective technologies to engage students
- science literacy & STEAM initiatives
- hands-on, interactive activities
I have particular experiencing teaching an undergraduate introductory linguistics course and an ELL methods course. I currently teach undergraduate courses in elementary ELL methods and linguistics for teachers and supervise elementary education practica. My courses are specifically designed to reflect an applied approach to linguistics.I am an active member of UNL’s Graduate Student Association and my own department’s GSA. I have presented at a variety of conferences, including TESOL International, Georgia TESOL, American Association of Corpus Linguistics, and the Georgia IEP Mini Conference. Outside of this work, I also work on universally designed science literacy curricula and workshops with a fellow graduate student, Zoe Falls, leading workshops at area museums and developing a curriculum.
- special populations within ELL,
- learner self-correction,
- literacy, and composition.
I am currently working with corpora and corpus tools and am examining the intersections of special education and English language teaching. My professional interests include teaching English as a foreign or second language to both adults and children, here in the United States or abroad. I have additional experience in both theater and visual arts.