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Teachers as Scholars

The Teachers As Scholars (TAS) was created 14 years ago through the collaborative effort of TCNJ’s Professional Development School Network, The College of New Jersey, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation for the purpose of providing a selection of content-related seminars geared toward the particular interests of K–12 educators.

The goals of the TAS seminars are:
1. To foster and promote teachers as academic and intellectual leaders by giving them time to reflect and
discuss new ideas and recent scholarship with colleagues;
2. To give (over time) equal opportunity to all teachers in a district to examine and learn cutting-edge scholarship
as part of their work day; and
3. To encourage professional relationships between arts and science faculty and classroom teachers, while
improving articulation between K–12 schools and higher education.

Teachers as Schools Seminar Schedule – Academic Year 21 – 22
Click on seminar title to view a description and instructor biography
8×14 pdf – Seminar Schedule 
Registration: https://step.tcnj.edu/tas-registration/

Seminar 1:  Social Justice, Music, Education,  October 26 and November 2, 2021

It is imperative to increase K-12 students’ intercultural awareness and enhance their intercultural communication competence in a diverse world. What better way to achieve this goal than immersing oneself in a culture that is different from his/her own? This workshop will creatively teach participants how to use and apply the ethnographic approach to get a deep understanding of a unique culture in a relatively short period of time. The first day will focus on learning ethnographic methods through lectures, case studies, practices, and discussions. Participants will take home a small-scale ethnographic assignment to complete. When they come back on the second day, they will be guided to synthesize field notes, identify cultural patterns, draw conclusions, and share findings through presentations. These exercises, though a bit time and effort consuming will be rewarding, fulfilling, and enlightening. In addition to opening up to new cultures and improving intercultural communication skills, participants may see their own cultures in a new light. Participants taking this course should have an open-mind, a commitment to required assignments, and be willing to step out of their comfort zones. The pedagogy can be applied to advanced elementary students as well as middle and high schoolers.

Seminar Leader: Colleen Sears, EdD
Colleen Sears is an associate professor of music and the coordinator of music education. She also leads curriculum development and interdisciplinary programming for the Institute for Social Justice in the Arts at TCNJ. Sears spent 10 years as a music educator in New Jersey’s public schools and enjoys exploring her research interests through innovative collaborations with K–12 music educators and students. Her current projects engage students and educators with issues of social justice through music performance and interdisciplinary aesthetic experiences. Sears frequently guest lectures, coordinates professional development sessions for educators, and presents her work at regional and national conferences.

 

Seminar 2:  Makerspaces, November 3 and November 10, 2021

A recent infographic from the Educational Advisory Board describes the importance and role of a makerspace to “allow students to convert their ideas into physical objects, supporting hands-on learning and cross-discipline collaboration.” In this hands-on workshop, you will explore ways to incorporate digital fabrication and design thinking into your curriculum. Specifically, you will learn how to use laser cutters, 3D printers, CNC machines and other digital fabrication tools and will have ample workshop time to use these tools to build a project of your choice.

Seminar Leader: John Kuiphoff
John Kuiphoff is an Associate Professor in the Department of Interactive Multimedia at TCNJ. His research interests include digital fabrication, creative coding and design. He is a graduate of the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University. John spends a lot of his time making products for clients (and for fun) in his fabrication studio. 

 

Seminar 3: Teaching for Critical Thinking through Activities & Games, Dec. 3 & 10, 2021

We live in an era of “fake news” and increasing ideological division.  It is now common for people to rush to judge the actions of actions of strangers based on posts on social media, to see political discussion in terms of “us” and “them,” and to reduce complex social and political issues to one-sentence memes. Since the majority of people in America now get their news from social media — sources that are poorly designed for conveying information or presenting issues fairly — it is thus more critical than ever for people to know how to critically assess claims that are presented to them.

Unfortunately, the structure of news delivery today provides people with little incentive for critically engaging with the information that is presented to them, with the increasingly short news cycles pressing forward to the next outrage almost as soon as the most recent one has been introduced. In this seminar we will explore some practical techniques that could be used to assess both empirical claims (e.g., “The American middle class is shrinking”) and prescriptive claims (e.g., “We should raise tariffs on imported goods to protect the middle class”). These techniques will range from outlining and identifying informal fallacies that are often used to persuade people, to learning how to verify empirical claims by working back to the sources from which they are claimed to have originated.

Engaging in such critical thinking takes time and effort — and so does exploring how to engage in this. We’ll also explore ways to motivate students (and others) to use critical thinking techniques when they are faced with either empirical or prescriptive claims. To this end we’ll explore some methods that have proved successful in the past in motivating students to engage critically with material presented to them on social media. These will include activities and games, including “The Myth Busting Scavenger Hunt,” “Would This Be True If Your Mother Wrote It?” and “Why Believe THAT?”

 

Seminar Leader: James Stacey Taylor, PhD
James Stacey Taylor is a professor of philosophy at TCNJ. He is frequently invited to lecture both nationally and internationally on how to improve classroom teaching; he is also frequently invited by industry groups and policy think tanks to speak on critical-thinking pitfalls that should be avoided in making public policy. An Anglo-Scot, he holds an MA and MLitt degree from St. Andrews University, Scotland, and an MA and a PhD from Bowling Green State University, Ohio. He is the editor of Personal Autonomy: New Essays and The Ethics and Metaphysics of Death, and the author of Stakes and Kidneys, Practical Autonomy and Bioethics, and Death, Posthumous Harm and Bioethics. His Op-Eds have appeared in many publications ranging from USA Today to the Los Angeles Times, as well as Forbes.com. He has also been quoted in The New York Times and is a contributor to NPR.

 

Seminar 4: Understanding Recessions,  January 24 and 31, 2022


The current macroeconomic poses a challenge for our understanding of how the economy works as well as for appropriate policy interventions. In August 2019, a “liquidity crunch” signaled the New York Fed that a recession was likely within the ensuing 1-2 years, perhaps within sight of our seminar. This course will review basic macroeconomic ideas on what determines GDP, particularly the effects of government expenditure and tax policy (i.e., Fiscal Policy), and Federal Reserve Monetary Policy. We will also review macro principles of how the Fed and banks create and contract the money supply. We will use data series available from the St. Louis Federal Reserve Board to assess where the US economy was a year ago, how things have changed over the last year, and where it seems to be headed now. And we will explore the limitations and constraints on Federal-Reserve and government fiscal policies in our low-interest rate high-deficit current context. Participants will learn how to shape data supplied by the St. Louis Fed to create user-friendly, easy-to-interpret graphs of business-cycle fluctuations. They will also learn how to download the data into Excel files to share with students, or to teach students how to access directly for their own projects on the state of the US or NJ macroeconomy.

Seminar Leader: Michele I. Naples, PhD
Michele Naples is Professor of Economics in the School of Business at TCNJ. Her research interests include financialization and income inequality, and the costs and benefits of decriminalizing drug use. She has published on strategic competition and its implications for wages, profits and employment over the business cycle, the theory of the profit rate, cost and price theory, unions, labor-management conflict and productivity growth, and economics pedagogy, including for the visually-impaired.

Seminar 5:  Teaching Science Through Issues,  March 4 and 11, 2022

Science plays a critical role in society, providing us with the knowledge we need to understand the universe and to better our lives.  All persons, not just practicing scientists, need a great science education, and this education must provide students with the ability to use science in their everyday lives.  This seminar will help teacher’s structure science courses around current issues of importance to students and society to simultaneously increase student interest and meet science curricular standards. Participants will apply the issues approach to their own courses and leave the seminar with a module that they can take back to their classrooms.

Seminar Leader: Christopher Murphy, PhD
Christopher Murphy is the Associate Provost for Curriculum and Liberal Learning and a Professor of Biology at TCNJ.  He taught his first class of non-majors biology 28 years ago as a post-doctoral associate, and since then, over 95% of his teaching has been with this population.  For much of this time, he has used an issues-based approach to help non-majors become interested in science and develop as educated citizens capable of using reliable scientific information to make reasoned decisions.  He conducts research in both biology and college education.

Seminar 6: The Meaning of Life,  March 21 and 28, 2022


Do our lives have a meaning or purpose? Or are they merely meaningless or purposeless? If our lives do have a meaning, what is it and what is its source? If they do not, then why not? These are among the oldest and most profound questions humans have wrestled with for over 3000 years, questions we will explore in this seminar.

In doing so, we will critically examine seven philosophically and religiously important approaches to answering these questions: Nihilism (our lives have no meaning), Buddhism (the meaning of our lives is to seek the extinction of the self), Hinduism (the meaning of our lives is to realize our oneness with the source of all being), Epicureanism (the meaning of lives is to seek the highest forms of pleasure in this world), Stoicism (the meaning of life is to seek peace of mind) Existentialism (we create ourselves the meanings of our lives), and a Judeo-Christian perspective (the meaning of our lives is to love our Creator and to love our neighbors as ourselves).The seminar will also discuss ways of motivating students to engage with these issue and a number of learning activities related to meaning exploration.

Seminar Leader: Pierre Le Morvan, PhD
Pierre is Professor of Philosophy and Coordinator of Religious Studies in the Department of Philosophy, Religion and Classical Studies at TCNJ. He has taught epistemology, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science, aesthetics, and ethics, and has published articles on such topics as the problem of suffering, the nature of knowledge, the nature of truth, the nature of ignorance, the nature of perception, and how to distinguish healthy from unhealthy skepticism.

Seminar 7: “life sentences: Teaching the Literature of the Prison”, April 4 and 11, 2022

America has become known as the “Incarceration Nation,” imprisoning more people than any other country in the world. Interdisciplinary in nature, this seminar will explore literature by and about prisoners, and address such themes as confinement, slavery and oppression, and most importantly, the power of the written word. We will consider many disciplines as we approach these materials: gender, criminology, psychology, sociology, and, most notably, literary analysis. Together, we will turn to this groundbreaking, provocative material written by one of the most neglected, silenced, but all-too-critical sectors of our population– the incarcerate

Seminar Leader: Michele Lise Tarter, PhD
Michele is a professor of English at TCNJ. She has published and presented extensively on early American women’s writing as well as on 17th– and 18th-century transatlantic Quaker literature. She is co-editor of New Critical Studies on Early Quaker Women, 1650- 1800 (Oxford UP, 2018), Buried Lives: Incarcerated in Early America (University of Georgia Press, 2012) and “A Centre of Wonders “: The Body in Early America (Cornell UP, 2001). Her most recent research project is based on her volunteer work teaching a memoir-writing class to prisoners in the  maximum-security wing of the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women in New Jersey.

Seminar 8: Teaching LGBTQIA* Literature in Secondary School,  April 12 and 19, 2022


New Jersey public schools are now legally responsible for providing a LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum and teaching middle and high school students about the political, economic, and social contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. As a result, New Jersey teachers have a unique opportunity to explore gender and sexuality not only in history classes, but across the curriculum. This seminar will examine how teachers might invest secondary English classrooms with LGBTQ literature as well as methods for teaching it. Seminar participants will read two middle grade novels with LGBTQ content, Ashley Herring Blake’s Ivy Aberdeen’s Letter to the World and Kacen Callender’s King and the Dragonflies, as well as excerpts from other texts (fiction and nonfiction) written for children and teens. Using seminal concepts from gender and queer theory as close-reading lenses, participants will investigate how theory is experienced – as embodied, lived, and real – in the lives of the characters in these books. Participants will also explore how to make these concepts accessible to secondary students by examining models of curriculum with LGBTQ content currently in place in local schools. Approaches relevant to whole class novel, book club, or reading/writing workshop models of instruction will be discussed.

Seminar Leader: Emily S. Meixner, PhD.
Emily S. Meixner is an associate professor of English and the coordinator of the secondary English education program at TCNJ. Dr. Meixner regularly teaches undergraduate courses on English Language Arts reading and writing pedagogy as well as graduate and undergraduate courses on children’s and young adult literature. Dr. Meixner’s scholarship has been published in a variety of scholarly journals including Radical Teacher, English Leadership Quarterly, The Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, and Multicultural Perspectives. Her most recent article with co-author Rachel Scupp, “Building Community, Empathy, and Engagement through LGBTQ Book Clubs” is featured in the December 2019 volume of Voices from the Middle.

Seminar 9:  On Line Lives: Autobiography & Social Media,  April 19 and 26, 2022

The course focuses on cutting-edge theoretical approaches to the study of digital life writing. Is social media revolutionizing the way people tell the stories of their lives? No longer a novelty, digital “automedia” have become the standard of representing public personhood. This seminar explores a range of autobiographical forms as they present themselves through interactive on-line platforms. Participants become familiar with discourses and debates about digital life writing forms in the 21st century as an old genre learns new tricks. Discussions highlight questions of creative license and freedom of expression, as well as ethics and measures of security: Are online role-playing games and other seemingly ephemeral spaces for constructing online profiles as “real” as off-line spaces of lived identity? How do platforms that facilitate sharing life narratives online open doors to the construction of fake lives used for “catfishing” and other on-line deceptions? 

Seminar Leader: Lisa Ortiz-Vilarelle, PhD
Dr. Ortiz-Vilarelle is Professor of English at TCNJ. She specializes in twentieth century Inter-American literature and autobiographical studies. She has published numerous articles on life writing practice and theory and is currently completing a book on the functional life writing of everyday life. Her book, titled Overwriting the Dictator: Americanas, Autocracy and Autobiographical Innovation, is forthcoming this year at Routledge Press.  

 

Seminar 10: Cli Fi: Climate Fiction, May 2 and 9, 2022

What might cli-fi tell us about environmental change and whether we can find hope for the future? As Katy Waldman wrote in a 2018 issue of The New Yorker, cli-fi “offers ways of thinking about something we desperately do not want to think about: the incipient death of the planet.” In this seminar we will discuss one of the latest trends in literature, focusing in the first session on Paolo Bacigalupi’s 2010 young adult novel Ship Breaker (a winner of the Michael L. Printz Award), for a look at a drowned world, and in the second session on Nnedi Okorafor’s 2010 Who Fears Death (optioned as an HBO series with George R. R. Martin as executive producer) for a look at a parched world. As does much dystopian literature, both novels offer hope for the future.

Seminar Leader: Jean E. Graham, PhD
Dr. Graham is professor of English and associate chair of the Department of English. Her research interests are varied, with publications on Star Trek and the Narnian Chronicles as well as on John Milton and John Donne. She is currently working on a series of articles interpreting literature from an ecocritical perspective. She has taught more than 30 different courses at TCNJ, including a senior seminar and a graduate seminar in dystopian literature.

 

Seminar 11: Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone: Raising Cultural Awareness through Mini        Ethnography May 5 and May 12, 2022

It is imperative to increase K-12 students’ intercultural awareness and enhance their intercultural communication competence in a diverse world. What better way to achieve this goal than immersing oneself in a culture that is different from his/her own? This workshop will creatively teach participants how to use and apply the ethnographic approach to get a deep understanding of a unique culture in a relatively short period of time. The first day will focus on learning ethnographic methods through lectures, case studies, practices, and discussions. Participants will take home a small-scale ethnographic assignment to complete. When they come back on the second day, they will be guided to synthesize field notes, identify cultural patterns, draw conclusions, and share findings through presentations. These exercises, though a bit time and effort consuming will be rewarding, fulfilling, and enlightening. In addition to opening up to new cultures and improving intercultural communication skills, participants may see their own cultures in a newanew light. Participants taking this course should have an open-mind, a commitment to required assignments, and be willing to step out of their comfort zones. The pedagogy can be applied to advanced elementary students as well as middle and high school schoolers.

Seminar Leader: Yifeng Hu, PhD
Yifeng is the Chair and Associate Professor of Communication Studies at TCNJ. One of her favorite courses is Intercultural Communication. Hu believes that people can always achieve greater intercultural communication competence in a complex social world. In her class, Hu’s students conduct ethnographic studies on various cultures from a communication perspective. One project the class regularly engages in is to create intercultural communication guides and workshops for community partners, who have given great acclaim to this initiative.

 

Seminar 12: Inquiry Based Learning in the Mathematics Classroom May 11 and 18, 2022

Inquiry Based Learning, or IBL for short, is a broad range of empirically validated teaching methods which emphasize (a)deeply engaging students and (b) providing students with opportunities to authentically learn by collaborating with their peers. Students in an IBL mathematics class engage with a sequence of problems that are rich and support inquiry to the heart of big mathematical ideas. The solutions are discussed in class, with the students leading both the presentations and the questioning. The process is also deeply engaging for the teacher as she or he has a chance to learn about how students actually learn mathematics.

According to the NCTM Equity principle: Excellence in mathematics education requires equity — high expectations and strong support for all students. Students can do more than memorize, mimic, perform algorithms, and apply computational skills, if we ask them to.  In this workshop you will get a taste of the IBL experience both as a student and as a teacher as we share IBL resources, problem sets, stories, and evidence for the methods’ effectiveness. We also believe, and recent advances in Neurology have proved, that we can playfully develop mathematical ability using games. We will share some research on games and play games that foster reasoning skills, problem solving skills and other cognitive abilities connected with mathematical thinking.

Seminar Leader: Judit Karlos, PhD
Judit is an assistant professor of mathematics. She received her BA in mathematics and MS in philosophy from Eötvös University in Budapest, followed by a PhD in mathematics with a focus on Real Analysis. Her research interests as a teacher are related to teaching and learning mathematics using the Inquiry Based Learning method. Most recently, she was a panelist on IBL at Mathfest in 2019 and she presented a paper on using IBL in the Real Analysis classroom at the National IBL Conference in Denver.

 

 

Please contact Carla Varlese for any questions:
609.771.2408 Phone
609.637.5196 Fax
step@tcnj.edu

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