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Power plays, science ed, and more

Jane Kelley

Maybe you were one of those flashlight-under-the-blanket kids who understood all the dark goings-on in the twisting plot of Rumpelstiltskin. If not, your inner child may be relieved to have that confusion validated by children’s literature expert Jane Kelley. The assistant professor is author of Critical Multicultural Analysis of Folktales: Power Representation in Reconstructed Rumpelstiltskin Stories.   As she explained for a WSU Today article, the story is full of power plays, and she examined how a dozen modern authors twisted and turned to plot to make their own points about good and evil.   In an interview, Jane mentioned the Fractured Fairy Tales version of the story. And she explained that, in the French version, Rumpelstiltskin wasn’t after the miller’s daughter’s baby.  He was after her soul.  Now THAT would be a good reason to hide under the covers.

Science education showcased in Vancouver

Results of a graduate-K-12 teacher partnership will be showcased on May 29.
The Partners in Discovery GK-12 Project provides for year-long, one-on-one partnerships between WSU Vancouver Environment Science graduate students and local science teachers to bring scientific research and inquiry into the classroom. The partnership focuses on the implications of growth and change in the Columbia River watershed. Assistant Professor Tamara Nelson is among those involved in the cross-discipline project, which is led by the WSU science faculty and funded by the National Science Foundation.

Seek and ye shall find

Don’t forget that our Web pages have a search box that is specific to It’s located below the right side of the top banner. Using that can be much more efficient than using the WSU search box.   And if you’re ever looking for something on our A-Z site index and can’t find it, drop a note to Geoff Jensen and he’ll add the errant topic.  Also, FYI:  After learning of some security concerns about the software, we’ve removed the “share this” function that was briefly installed on the site.  We’ll keep an eye out for alternative ways of sharing our site’s content.

Reading matter
Sotomayor’s record on education scrutinized.
President Obama’s choice for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled on a variety of issues with implications for education during her 17 years on the federal bench, including cases relating to racial matters, students with disabilities, and the strip-search of adolescents.

Award winners brighten end of semester

Did you notice? When the Office of Undergraduate Education announced its honorees this week, the list included two elementary education majors who received Harold and Jeanne Rounds Olsen Awards for Undergraduate Excellence in Writing:  Holly Barker at WSU Vancouver and Ingrid Kraig, who is in the Honors College at WSU Pullman.

From left: Dean Judy Mitchell, Kromann Medal winner Andrea O'Brine, Assistant Professor Jane Kelley
From left: Dean Judy Mitchell, Kromann Medal winner Andrea O'Brine, Assistant Professor Jane Kelley

Ingrid also put her writing skills to work as a competitor for this year’s Inga Kromann Medal Award. The two medal winners for the annual children’s book prize were Katie Shanks and Andrea O’Brine, both of whom delved into their own childhoods for inspiration.  The  winners were announced at the annual celebration presented by the arts integration class on the Pullman patio, which explains  Andrea’s colorful dancing outfit in the accompanying  photo.  Read about the Kromann awards.

The full, impressive list of College of Education faculty, staff and student award winners for 2008-09 is online.

Striding toward a conference

Professor David Slavit reports that on May 26-27 the  WSU Vancouver STRIDE research team will host a national conference on “Research on Supported Collaborative Inquiry.” Five teacher-researchers will rub elbows with leading researchers from across the country.  Stanford University researcher Hilda Borko will give a plenary address.  The conference is funded by two National Science Foundation research grants.

Reading matter
A Cautionary Video About America’s ‘Stuff’
A short video about the effects of materialism has become a sleeper hit in classrooms across the nation.
Partnership’s First Product Aimed at Middle School Vocabulary Word Generation, which is free to schools, consists of short, engaging vocabulary-boosting lessons that are taught each day by different teachers across the middle school curriculum.
Reading Programs Found Ineffective A federal study intended to provide insight into the effectiveness of programs for reading comprehension has found that three such programs had no positive impact, while a fourth had a negative effect on student achievement.
Coaches struggle to find balance between work and family

Vacation time
Here’s a timely and not-overly-commercial idea:  an educators’ B&B network founded by two Oregon educators to help frugal travelers meet like-minded people.  

Talented teachers, future and present

Jenna Michels multi-tasks as she chats with T&L Department Chair Cori Mantle-Bromley

It’s that time of year when elementary education majors show their semester’s work of designing lesson plans, which is a prerequisite for next fall’s student teaching assignments.  Those in Pullman talked about their lesson plans, and career plans, at a poster session on Monday.  Jenna Michels of Spokane was showing off not only  her lesson plan for kindergartners, but also her daughter, who was born in March.  Suffice it to say, Jenna had an intensive spring semester.  See more photos here.

Awards for two special teachers

Delores “Dee” Baumgartner (’73 M.Ed.) is the first recipient of the Miller-Manchester Teacher Mentor Award. The longtime Pullman kindergarten teacher will be presented the honor at the College of Education’s Homecoming Scholarship and Excellence Event on Oct. 10.  Dee will receive $800, a plaque, a leaf on the Legacy Tree, tickets to the homecoming game … and a whole lot of gratitude for providing outstanding mentoring, coaching, and nurturing for many WSU practicum students and student teachers.

Megan Itani (’02 B.A.) a Pullman special education teacher, is one of two recipients of the 2009 Educating the Whole Child Award.  Megan is working on her master of education degree at WSU.  She’ll represent the dry side of the state when she picks up her award in Seattle at the Oct. 9 conference of the Washington State Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Budget woes

State budget cuts have made these times that try educators’ souls.  At the College of Education, passions are running especially high over the proposed closure of our Sport Management program.  The EduCoug would be remiss not to acknowledge the grief and controversy.  But given plenty of media attention on the subject, and college/university venues for staying informed (see Dean Mitchell’s column and the provost’s budget page), this blog will continue its focus on the ongoing good work at the COE.  Don’t forget that the provost’s page has a form for submitting input.  And there’s an old-fashioned forum known as letters to the editor…

swine-flu-21On a less serious note:
A nose for tomfoolery

Faculty member Jim Williamson went up to a pharmacy window and asked if any swine flu medication was available.  Looking like this.  (His science methods classes must be lots of fun.)

Spring in their steps

Woo-hoo, something to celebrate

dsc_01931Sunshine, lively songs, dancing, laughter and the promise of some fantastic teaching careers ahead. All were part of the 2009 spring arts celebration presented by Pauline Sameshima’s arts integration class. Every year, the creative energy of this class brightens up the patio in Pullman, leaving some of us to wish it could happen every week. For many more photos and a taste of the clever lyrics set to tunes ranging from “Hokey Pokey” to “YMCA,” click here. Among the lyrics, to the tune of “Wishin’ and Hopin'”: Show ’em that you care just for them. Do the things they like to do. Wear your smile just for them…

Golden grads

The College of Education hosted lunch and a tour for 45 of the 270 alumni and spouses from ’49 and ’59 who visited the Pullman campus for the annual Golden and Diamond Graduates Reunion. One memory told and retold was of  “the coldest football game ever,” notable for having one paying customer and a lot of frosty student fans. The colorful written memories offered for an alumni booklet included this one from Judith Bount (now Sanders): “We took Homecoming floats seriously. It never occurred to us to not build one, even with almost all the girls in the house down with the Asian flu. Barbara Doutrich and I found ourselves the only people in a barn, way out of town, stuffing purple napkins into the chicken-wire castle on our float the night before the parade. …  Frantic stuffing until the last minute, until a student came and hooked up his purple car, to match the castle, to pull the float to the stadium and along the parade route. The car and castle looked pretty darned good, we thought, as we pulled in behind and headed down the highway. The driver took off like a rocket. We were driving in a blizzard of purple napkins, with no way to catch him to slow him down. When we arrived at the stadium, the float was the skeleton of a castle, with a handful of pathetic purple napkins hanging on it. As the float was pulled through the stadium, Barbara and I ran along behind with some napkins in a box stuffing them into the chicken wire as fast as we could.”

Our expert on veterans’ issues

With the new GI Bill’s generous benefits to begin this August, thousands of additional vets are expected to be enrolling in higher education.  But fully 30 percent of them are struggling with depression, post-traumatic stress syndrome and/or traumatic brain injury.  How can universities help them succeed? Bernadette Mencke, WSU retention counselor and a Ph.D. student in higher education, shares some practical tips in the May issue of the Student Affairs Today newsletter. Among other things, she and her co-author Robert Mock advise:  Identify at least one veteran in each campus department, such as financial affairs and counseling; share the list with vets, who will feel more comfortable seeking help from other vets.  Hire a veterans affairs government liaison. Have properly trained counselors. And assign vets to the first floors of residence halls near an exit. (When vets enter a room, they’re trained to immediately identify quick exits and potential weapons, so may get anxious if they don’t see a quick way out.)

Most clever workshop promotion

“Wine Tasting as a Metaphor for Responding to Student Writing.” It’ll be held on Friday, May 8 from 2-4 PM at the 12th floor lounge of Webster Hall, Pullman. RSVP to Sharolon Carter at

Reading matter
No Child’ Law Is Not Closing a Racial Gap
Between 2004 and last year, scores for young minority students increased on a federal test, but so did those of white students.
Obama’s Long Education To-Do List Awaits Action