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Washington State University

2017 (Fall) Suwyn Family Lecture Series in Education

Megan Bang

Megan Bang (Ojibwe and Italian descent) is an associate professor of the Learning Sciences and Human Development in Educational Psychology at the University of Washington. She teaches in the Teacher Education Programs and is affiliated faculty in American Indian Studies. She is the former Director of Education at the American Indian Center (AIC), where she served in this role for 12 years. In addition she was the counselor and GED instructor at the Institute for Native American Development at Truman College, a community college. She served on the Title VII parent committee for 6+ years for Chicago Public Schools. She is a former pre-school, middle-school, high-school, and GED teacher, youth worker, and museum educator. She has directed professional development programs with in-service and pre-service teachers, and after school programs in community-based organizations. She is currently the Director of Native Education Certificate Program at the University of Washington to support in-service, pre-service and informal educators working in and with Native communities.

Megan’s research is focused on understanding culture, cognition, and development broadly with a specific focus on the complexities of navigating multiple meaning systems in creating and implementing more effective learning environments with Indigenous students, teachers, and communities both in schools and in community settings.  Her work focuses on decolonizing and indigenizing education broadly with a focus on “STEAM.” More specifically she works to create learning environments that build on Indigenous ways of knowing, attend to issues of self-determination and work towards socially and ecologically just futures.

Megan serves on several editorial boards including: Journal of American Indian education, Curriculum & Instruction, Mind, Culture, and Activity, and Curriculum Inquiry. She serves on the board of Directors for Grassroots Indigenous Multi-media and organization focused on Ojibwe language revitalization and Na’ah Illahee Fund an organization focused on empowering Indigenous women and girls.

Megan is the birth mother of three and has raised many of her nieces and nephews. She is a daughter, niece, sister, and partner as well.


From Megan Bang: “This talk will focus on the role of Indigenous science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics education in bringing about just and sustainable futures that ensure the thriving of Indigenous communities. Indigenous peoples ways of knowing are based in relations with our homelandswaters and the relational responsibilities we have. While historically science and science education had been tools of colonialism and empire,  decolonial landwater based education can transform the the pedagogical paradigms we utilize in educational spaces in ways the support thriving and resurgent Indigenous youth. In this talk I will share work in a ISTEAM programs with K-12th grade Indigenous youth that not only ensures they have opportunity to learn and continue Indigenous science – something Indigenous peoples have always done – but also achieve and appropriately utilize western science towards generative ends.”


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Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

virtual reality

The future of educational technology

Virtual reality and augmented reality. It’s a two-headed beast, set to be a $5 BILLION (with a B) industry by 2021 and almost $12 billion industry by 2025. How does that fit into education?

The college’s research on the two is taking place at WSU Pullman and WSU Tri-Cities


Don McMahon runs WSU’s Assistive Technology Research and Development Lab. It’s main focus is to create and test next generation assistive technology interventions. This includes refining the use of existing tools, such as augmented reality and virtual reality.

Murrow News 8 produced this video by reporter Kyla Emme:

The lab is high-tech. Much of the technology used in this lab was formerly part of the Neurocognitive Lab. Here’s a video from the Daily Evergreen:

Assistive Tech Lab website

Healthcare applications

Virtual and augmented reality have healthcare applications, as well. Yes, many of them deal with very serious things. But it can also just help with patient anxiety.

Young girl with VR headset on.

Read article about young Sydney Reese McMahon’s trip to the doctor and how VR helped.


Jonah Firestone runs WSU Tri-Cities’ Simulation and Integrated Media for Instruction Assessment and Neurocognition Site. For the sake of everyone, we just call it by its acronym: SIMIAN. This lab is similar to its counterpart in Pullman: research how to use technology to help students learn.

Jonah recently joined the Education Eclipse podcast to talk about the lab:

Professor researching virtual & augmented reality for special education

July 20, 2017 – By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities

RICHLAND, Wash. – Jonah Firestone, an education professor at Washington State University Tri-Cities, knows that technology is the future of education, which is why he is researching the use of virtual and augmented reality as tools for not only the general classroom, but specifically with special education in the kindergarten through 12th-grade setting.

“With regular video games, you’re looking at a flat screen,” he said. “But with virtual reality, you wear a head set and you can look all around. It’s a 360-degree view up and down and you can see this complete world around you. As kids get more used to using this type of technology and as the price goes down, schools are going to start adopting these because you can now send an entire classroom on a field trip to The Louvre without leaving the classroom.”

Firestone said for subjects like science and history, teachers rely on textbook and stationary images to give students a picture of what they’re talking about as it is expensive to take students to laboratories and settings that are referenced in those lessons. With virtual and augmented reality, however, teachers can bring those settings and projects to the students in the virtual sphere.

“We can use this technology to put children and adults into complete virtual worlds where they can be a cell in the human body, or students can do experiments in physics and chemistry that they couldn’t normally safely do in the classroom setting,” he said. “You can then repeat those over and over again.”

Overcoming learning disabilities

Firestone said virtual and augmented reality have different purposes, but both can be applied as additional tools in the classroom, which could help students who struggle with traditional learning methods.

“We used to talk about this thing called learning theories where certain people were characterized as different types of learners, but that’s not really true,” he said. “We all learn in a variety of different ways. But with the more modes in which we learn, whether it be oral, visual or tactile, the more we’re readily going to learn.”

Some students may have problems processing information that is given to them orally, or students may have visual disabilities where they have difficulty processing static information like documents with lots of text, he said. Students also may have issues holding their attention for an extended period of time.

“So what virtual and augmented reality do is reinforce learning in ways that helps from a variety of different vectors,” he said. “And realistically, strategies used in special education are good practices for any education setting. We can translate what we learn about these tools into the general classroom setting, as well.”

With virtual reality, students wear a head set where it provides them with a complete 360-degree view of a setting or project that the students can interact with. With augmented reality, students use a device like a tablet or a headset where the device projects an image into the real-world setting. Firestone said a good example of augmented reality is Pokemon Go, where the image of a Pokemon is projected through a screen into the real world.

“We’ve all taken classes where we’ve aced the class, but we have no idea what we’ve learned,” he said. “What we want to accomplish with virtual and augmented reality is a more organic method of learning. This organic method of learning is accomplished through learning by doing.”

Research results so far

Firestone worked with Don McMahon on the WSU Pullman campus to run a study with special education students at the college level who studied bones and skeletons using augmented reality with the help of iPad Minis. They compared what the students learned and absorbed with augmented reality to what they learned and observed from textbooks and the team got great results.

Firestone is now taking that research a step further by applying the same tools to kindergarten through 12th-grade classrooms.

“College kids are great, but I am very much interested in how these technologies can be applied to the k-12 setting,” he said. “What we’re currently doing is taking this same process and we’re modifying it for fifth-graders. Then, we’re going to modify it for middle school and high school.”

Firestone said he is using augmented reality to supplement different school lessons, including science where students observe and learn about the human body.

“Imagine looking at a picture of a femur, but with augmented reality, not only do you see a picture of a femur, but it has a voice that defines it for you and then shows you where it is on the human body,” he said.

Firestone is also looking into using virtual reality to immerse the kindergarten through 12th-grade students in an underwater experience called “The Blue.”

“It’s an underwater application where you see whales and you’re in a reef,” he said. “I’m then comparing that to the same information that the students glean from a text.”

Firestone said he’s had great results with the technology so far and that blending the virtual experiences with what students are presented with in a textbook is a winning combination.

“There is no one magic solution for learning, but the more things we can put together, the more kids are going to end up learning,” he said.

SIMIAN website

Diary from Japan — Day 17

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teacher Kierstin Laisne, and received no editing from the college.

Today was such an exciting day!

We started it off as per usual with going to school and teaching/observing classes. Some of us continued teaching past tense verbs through charades while others were used to help one of the most energetic teachers demonstrate the differences between “this is” and “that is”. The classes that we got to teach were actually split into half the normal size so interacting with the students went smoother than usual.

After our school day ended, we all hustled back to the hostel, grabbed a quick bite to eat, and out we** went! Today’s destination: Nara. We’ve all been fairly excited about this trip because it meant we got to see and pet deer! …Okay there were other reasons to be excited about Nara but c’mon– there was the opportunity to pet cute little deer! Lots of selfies were taken and we even saw certain people teaching the deer to bow and other random citizens combing and taking care of the deer.

Next up, we walked to the Isuien Gardens, which were by far one of the prettiest things I’ve seen in Japan. This country never ceases to amaze me and just seems to get more beautiful the longer we stay! The picture taking opportunities went on and on so don’t be so surprised when you look at how many photos are included today!

The next place we went to was Todaiji Temple: home of the Great Buddha of Nara, which was built in the early 8th century! It’s safe to say that everyone was shocked by just how huge the statue is! The Great Buddha is about 50 feet tall while also being on a platform so you can only imagine our faces when our eyes adjusted to the dark temple to find a giant in the center! While in the temple, we also learned that this temple was one of the “Seven Great Temples” of Japan! Shrines, dozens of deer, and interesting cement lanterns also surrounded the temple, which seemed to stretch on for a while.

To top off the night though was the most refreshing summer storm that could’ve possibly happened. It was the whole nine yards with thunder, lightning, and completely soaked hair! Although we typically complain whenever it pours back home, rain was a sight for sore eyes, especially after experiencing the humidity here! We all want to make the most of the rest of our trip, so hopefully the weekend will be just as fun as today!

**The “we” in this case would be our group minus one member. Sadly Jeremiah couldn’t be with us today… He’s completely fine but just stayed behind to finish the grant he’s been working super hard on! Congrats Jeremiah! We felt that he should still get to experience Nara though, which led to some interesting pictures and videos… Enjoy!

Diary from Japan — Day 16

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teacher Maria Garcia, and received no editing from the college.

Today at Imazu Junior High school we got the chance to interact with the students more by participating in class activities as well as leading our own activities that we came up with as a group.We started off the day in the second year English class. The students were divided into smaller groups so that each group had the chance to interview one of the English teachers (us!). The students were so excited to practice their English with us! They then presented each of us to th

We started off the day in the second year English class. The students were divided into smaller groups so that each group had the chance to interview one of the English teachers (us!). The students were so excited to practice their English with us! They then presented each of us to the class. The students that interviewed our professor, Tom, took some time to draw great pictures of him. It was really cute! After we were done with the interviews Kim and Gracie taught the kids how to play charades, also known as the gesture game. The kids played in their lunch groups with the help of the teachers. It was great to see the kids having a good time and enjoying themselves!

After that class was over we broke up into smaller groups and went to separate English classes. My group had the opportunity to work with the third year English students. We created a Jeopardy activity to help students practice spelling and listening, as well as to learn a bit more about American culture. It was my turn to lead todays activity, so I was pretty excited to practice my teaching skills. The students understood the rules and all the hints that we provided, and they also did a great job guessing all the trivia questions. I think it is safe to say that all the students and teachers included, had a great time teaching and learning English together!

To wrap up our day we hit it hard at the Coco Curry and afterwards hit up the Karaoke bar! It was a great way to unwind from a successful and busy day! Lets see what tomorrow brings, rest well my fellow Cougs!

Margarita Magaña: A positive equation

Margarita Magana in the classroom

A positive equation

Margarita Magaña overcame her math problems, which in turn helped her overcome much greater.

By C. Brandon Chapman
June 22, 2018

When it came to math classes growing up, Margarita Magaña totally sucked. And now she’s a math teacher.

That’s irony enough. But the story doesn’t actually end there.

It’s probably her early math struggles that helped her get through one of life’s hardest, scariest ordeals: finding out there was a huge mathematical certainty of your soon-to-be bundle of joy dying.

She didn’t die. She lived. And the math struggles probably had little to do with her baby surviving. Maybe. Maybe not.

But when a person’s joyous news turns sour, what they might need more than anything is hope. Hope… and resiliency. And, had it not been for the math struggles, self-doubt, and painstaking hours of trying to figure it all out, that resiliency simply wouldn’t have been there.

Plus, now she’s a darned good math teacher at a time when the country and state need good math teachers.

Identity crisis and math struggles

Margarita grew up in the Tri-Cities. She and her family moved there from Vancouver when she was 8 years old.

By middle school, she already knew she wanted to be a teacher – because of a teacher.

Robin Metzger retired from the Kennewick School District in June 2015. But not before he left his mark.

“Mr. Metzger really took an interest in making sure we learned,” she says. “He took us on field trips to science museums. He really inspired me to look into the sciences.”

Then came high school, which didn’t start out badly. But the first two years at Kennewick High School were not like the last two.

“I was the kid who did orchestra, had glasses, had braces, and took honors classes,” she says.

But things changed when she began attending Columbia Basin College as part of Running Start.

“I went through an identity crisis,” Margarita says. “I completely shifted, started hanging out with the wrong people, and almost got in trouble with the school for skipping so much.”

Plus, those pesky math problems.

“If you look at my transcript, from when I went to Columbia Basin College, I wasn’t doing well in math at all,” she says. “I was failing or withdrawing from math classes because I just couldn’t figure out how to study.

“I just couldn’t figure out how to make the math real for me.”

A new start on the Palouse

It would take attending WSU for things to correct themselves.

Margarita didn’t initially plan on mathematics as her major. Why would she? She had bombed during Running Start.

“When I moved to Pullman, I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, I just knew I wanted to do something in the sciences,” Margarita says. “I only narrowed it down to math because I realized I didn’t like biology.”

For a time, she tried to double major in chemistry, but says that didn’t work out too well, so she went exclusively with mathematics, with a goal of being a high school teacher.

“Even though I wasn’t receiving the best grades in math, I was loving the fact that I was learning even though I wasn’t getting A’s on every single exam,” she says. “At WSU, I was finally able to figure out how to make it all make sense. I finally started getting A’s in all my classes. But it took me some repetition of classes. I had to understand it to move on and build off things before it.”

She got it all figured out. Just in the nick of time, too. Because those struggles showed her she had guts… she had grit. And she was going to need it.

She finished her bachelor’s degree. She finished her master’s degree. She got a job teaching at Kennewick High School, her alma mater. She started working toward her Ph.D. You could say life was going along swimmingly. But that’s when life got punched in the gut. Or more precisely, the diaphragm.

The dreaded news

It was joyous news for Margarita and her husband Edwardo, married in August 2014, to find out she was pregnant in January 2015. Things seemed normal.

Until June. June 2 to be precise. Margarita’s birthday.

That’s when they got the news that their baby had a congenital diaphragmatic hernia, or CDH. For those of us who aren’t doctors, it means, in simple terms, that there is a hole in the diaphragm, which allows vital organs to move into the chest area.

That was the case with Margarita’s baby-to-be. The bowels and the liver moved up. The lungs couldn’t develop.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDH affects only one in every 3,836 babies, making it 455 percent less likely than Down syndrome. Your family practice doc isn’t going to know what to do in this case.

Because the condition is rare, Margarita says she knew she needed to study up.

“I was reading the research, and I kept seeing all this work that was coming out of the University of San Francisco. I knew that’s where I needed to go. So I got referrals, I went down there, saw a specialist, they said they’d take us, our insurance says they’d cover us, so it all kind of lined up.”

So, amid all the uncertainty, Margarita left work and school and moved to California in July 2015 while Edwardo stayed in Washington to work.

“I really wanted to focus on my unborn child, making sure I didn’t go into pre-term labor,” Margarita says. “They had an organization that took care of me while I was down there. I got to stay in a family house, which is where a bunch of families stay when their kids are in the hospital. I got to stay there the whole time, didn’t have to pay rent, utilities, or anything. I didn’t have to stress about that and was able to just focus on my daughter.”

The name makes sense

There are some people you just want to succeed. Margarita is one of those people. The first thing that strikes you is that she’s just so freakin’ positive.

Family and friends did the best they could to help Edwardo visit California as often as possible. A family friend started an account on Indiegogo, a crowdfunding site, and raised about $6,000. Margarita says that helped pay for husband’s flights, rental cars, and other associated bills.

She appreciates all that support. Yet, things were still lonely, confusing, and stressful. But, in mathematics, Margarita had dealt with these feelings before and had overcome the struggles. She knew what she had to do: stay upbeat and keep a smile on her face.

“That whole time was just a matter of being positive, and uplifting to other people who were scared, because it wasn’t just me,” she says. “I figured whatever I felt, the baby was feeling, so I didn’t want her to feel sad because I was sad. I tried to be happy so she could be happy. At least that was my mentality back then. Plus, if I was happy, then other people were less stressed out. Then that helped me in the process, because then I wasn’t stressed out by other people being stressed out.”

And here’s the part that is at the same time morbid and selfless – yet inspiring. What if little baby doesn’t make it?

“I just told myself that even if Emma didn’t make it, all the studies being done on her could help contribute to other families who would go through this in the future,” Margarita says. “They were taking my blood, my husband’s blood, her blood after she was born, amniotic fluid… they were taking everything they could to try to figure out why this happens because there was no reason for it that we know of, and there’s currently no cure for it before birth. They can’t do any of the work until after the child is born.

“I was ready for something positive to come out of it if she didn’t make it.”

She made it. In September 2015 Emma Victoria was born. True to normal procedure, when Emma was a day old, surgeons fixed the hole in her diaphragm. Then she spent about two months in the neonatal intensive care unit, connected to all manner of medical devices.

This whole time, Margarita still couldn’t hold her new baby.

“Seeing her hooked up to all that stuff, and wanting to hold her and console her, but not being able to, was tough,” she says.

“When I got to hold her for the first time, I finally broke down and cried.”

It’s not as if Emma was born, had surgery, and then was fine. It was a tough first year that included supplemental oxygen, a feeding tube, and so on and so forth.

“When we moved back home, we had to deal with balancing medical issues and stuff,” Margarita says. “But now she’s like any normal 1 year old. She eats spaghetti and everything you can imagine.”

Emma is a great name, no doubt. When asked why Margarita didn’t name her baby something like “Milagra,” as in “miracle,” she is quick to point out that Emma’s middle name is Victoria, the Latin word for “victory.” Victoria was also the goddess of victory in Roman mythology.

“With Emma’s condition, there was a very slim chance of survival, but we have her!” Margarita says. “So Victoria means ‘victorious’.”

A teacher who just “gets it”

Far more valuable than a math teacher who has always understood math is one who didn’t always understand it.

“That’s what I tell students: me failing classes and repeating classes actually helped me when I got to the higher level math,” Margarita says. “When I was struggling with this, I just had to take a step back and try to see the bigger picture before I could narrow things down to the individual steps.”

She doesn’t hide those struggles from her students. At all.

“I’ve let them know how difficult things were for me, and even if it’s a student’s second or third time taking the class, and I do have kids like that, it doesn’t matter; we’ll figure out how to move passed this and then be ready for the next step.”

Now, we know what you’re thinking. We’ve all been around teenagers, those sly, wily creatures. Surely, they’ll choose to not do the work, and fail, because “Mrs. Magana told us it was OK.”

“I tell them if they fail, they don’t simply get out of doing the work,” she says. “They still have to retake the class and redo the material.”

At that point, she says with her infectious laugh, students back down pretty quickly.

“They’re not going to play me.”

You see, she’s not just good at understanding math (now), and teaching it. She also understands the kids themselves.

“I’ve gone through the different phases that these kids go through, and I understand what they’re feeling,” Margarita says. “It’s interesting to see them go through the same things, and I truly have seen it, because some of the kids I’ve known from the time they were freshmen until they are now seniors. And I can relate.”

“I really hope I’m actually making a recognized impact, whether it’s math, or them just feeling more confident in themselves.”

It’s not a fact that’s lost on Kennewick High School principal Ron King.

“Margarita’s calm demeanor and controlled delivery of instruction allows her students to approach their learning in a comfortable and welcoming environment,” he says. “She knows how to present the material in a way that reduces student-held anxiety about learning math.  She is smart, kind, and students know that she cares about their learning.”

In one aspect, she doesn’t entirely relate to some of her students: her Spanish-speaking fluency. She doesn’t really have any.

“That was part of my identity crisis, because I couldn’t fully speak Spanish,” she says. “If I try to speak it, I definitely don’t sound like a fluent speaker. That’s still true to this day.”

But alas, those caging, cunning students who do speak Spanish don’t realize one thing: Margarita may not speak Spanish, but she understands everything.

“I have a lot of bilingual students in my class, and they think they’re pretty sly, but I catch them saying stuff.”

Margarita says she loves working at Kennewick High School. Not only is it her alma mater, but the support she has gotten has been top-notch.

“This principal I have now, Mr. King, has been the best support ever because of what’s going on with my daughter,” Margarita says. “He’s working with me, he understands my daughter has appointments. Last year was intense with her getting sick a lot and having to go to the hospital. They’ve covered my classes when I’ve had emergencies and have had to take off.

“I’ve only been teaching three years but I have no complaints about my administration because they have supported me in everything I’ve tried to do or am doing.”

And now that she’s working on her Ph.D., Margarita says the school is helping her get her research approved through WSU’s institutional review board, and helping her collect the necessary data.

“They’ve just been so fantastic.”

Back to school after time off

When Margarita attended WSU the first time, she took out a parent PLUS loan, and lived in the dorms. The harsh financial realities came pretty quickly.

“After the first year, I said there was no way I could do this again.”

So she started to work. And work. And work.

It started by becoming a student ambassador for the Future Teachers and Leaders of Color, now called the Alhadeff Future Teachers of Color.

It came with a small stipend. And it was supplemented by Margarita then getting involved as a multicultural student mentor, which was followed by a scholarship.

“I just tried to get as involved as I could, and I think the folks at the College of Education took notice, and then, after that, I was able to apply for scholarships, and continue advancing academically and see my hard work pay off.”

That work was halted by receiving Emma’s diagnosis in July 2015. All of a sudden, with the possibility of leaving school and leaving the state, would be the joint possibility of no longer having the scholarships.

Enter Amy Cox, scholarship coordinator for the college’s development team.

When the whole ordeal started, Margarita communicated with Amy and let her know she needed to leave school, and wasn’t even really sure when she’d be able to come back.

Amy helped get the scholarship deferred until Margarita knew she was heading back to WSU to resume her Ph.D.

“This year has been great because I have my school paid for, including for summer so I can work on actual dissertation writing, and next fall, when I will defend my dissertation,” Margarita says. “It’s been a lot of help. And the College of Education has been there every step of the way.”

Margarita says she’s always liked writing the essays that come with scholarship applications.

“I like updating my life in that way, and talking about my plans for the next year,” she says. “I like being able to back track the next year and say that I did what I says I was going to do, and share what I’m going to do in the next year. It keeps me accountable, and pushes me as I go forward, with new goals.”

Pushing forward against all odds is why she’s trying to earn her doctorate.

“I tell kids, I’m not getting paid more for a Ph.D.,” Margarita says. “For me, it’s more of a personal goal, and a chance to learn more. I tell them, that’s the point in going to school: to learn. So even if you don’t end up going to college, you’ve learned something that you can apply somewhere.”

Once a Coug, always a Coug

When asked about her choice to attend WSU, Margarita doesn’t skip a beat.

“WSU is the best school ever, and I miss Pullman with my whole heart.”

Being a Coug transcends simply attending the Pullman campus. But attend a Cougs football game, watch the Andy Grammer “Back Home” video that is covered by campus and Coug football clips, and then try to tell alumni that had been based in Pullman that they don’t have something totally unique… totally special.

“Seriously, when I left Pullman I was homesick,” Margarita says. “My mom was like ‘how can you be homesick? You’re home!’ But Pullman was my home for six years. And it had such a special feel to it. I had my little family in student support services. I had my little family in the College of Education with Tariq Akmal and all the other professors there. I had my little family in the CUB with the Multicultural student center there. I really missed Pullman when I left there.”

Here’s the kicker: she hasn’t been back since.

“I want to go back so badly and go to a Cougs game, it just hasn’t happened yet.”

Nevertheless, WSU is always in her heart, so with her perpetual motivation and optimism, she jokingly – or maybe not – suggests that one day, Emma Victoria will be a Coug. And one more thing.

“I’m just happy she’s with us and that she’s alive, but I also feel like there’s a Cougar spirit in there and who knows, maybe she’ll attend WSU Medical and be the one who comes up with a solution to CDH.”


At a glance

Margarita’s favorites…

Food: Ceviche

Restaurant: Anthony’s

Pullman Restaurant: Azia

Musician: Bruno Mars

Song: Anything Bruno Mars

Movie: Stand and Deliver

TV Show: Scandal

Sport: Volleyball

Holiday: Thanksgiving

Animal: Lions

Dream Vacation: Thailand



Diary from Japan — Day 14

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teachers Sandra Larios, and received no editing from the college.

It’s sad to know that our time in Japan is dwindling down. I’m sure many of us are growing to really love and appreciate this beautiful culture.

Today we had the opportunity to travel to Kobe city, if Kobe sounds familiar it may be because of Kobe Beef, which I’ve heard is both delicious and pricey!

We started out our day taking a ferry through the Osaka Bay. The sound of the ferry clashing through the water was soothing and I personally found it to be quite therapeutic. I found myself reflecting on this experience thus far and really thought how blessed and lucky I am to be here at this moment and in this place. It’s not often that first generation students from migrant farmworking homes get the chance to study abroad. The sounds and the views were beautiful and the weather was only complimenting this experience.

After our ferry ride, we headed to the Kobe Port Tower, which stands at a height of 108 meters, 80 meters shy of the Seattle Space Needle. The view was breathtakingly beautiful (please refer to images below and see for yourself).

Once lunch time approached we headed out to China Town where we ate lunch and had the chance to eat street food and explore the various shops. It was both a delicious and unique experience!

Overall today was a fun-filled day, full of over 20,000 steps, delicious food, and beautiful views. I really wish I could extend my time here in Japan, but I promise to visit again!

Diary from Japan — Day 13

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by preservice teachers Kim Moon, and received no editing from the college.

It’s Friday! It has been another great week at the junior high school, but today we spent our time at the Nishinomiya Higashi High School. I was super excited to work with the high school students today to see how much English they knew. Most of the students were able to answer basic conversational questions, which was super fun! We first met the principal and received a tour of the school. The students became distracted as we walked by their classrooms. The students at this school were equivalent to 10th-12th graders in the United States. We interacted with each grade for half a period. The 3rd year students (12th grade) were working on listening comprehension. While the teacher played the passage, we would help the students pick out the main points in the story. The 3rd year students were a joy to work with, since their English skills are a little more advanced. However, they were a little shy in the beginning. The 2nd year (11th grade) students were all preparing for their midterms and working on grammar and pronunciation. During our time with them, the teachers asked us to read their passages with them so they could hear a native speaker instead of their CD. We all felt very privileged by this offer and the students enjoyed working with us a lot. We spent the last half period with the first year (10th grade) students, who were working on reading fluency and pronunciation. We participated in an echo read, during which we really focused on pronunciation. It was sad to leave since we only got to spend one day with them. However, it has been a great opportunity to see a wide range of students from elementary school to high school to understand the English language education here in Japan.

After saying our “Good-byes” to the principal, teachers, and students at the high school, we all headed to LaLaPort mall for lunch. Finally, we found a McDonalds and a Mister Donut! Most of us got some food that tasted a little less fishy! During lunch a nice Japanese man came up to us and attempted to speak English. He was so sweet and really tried hard, but was unable to use enough English so that we knew what he was saying. He disappeared for a few minutes and came back with an orange for us, which was one of the best oranges that I have had since we have been here. He was kind enough to take a selfie with us and departed saying something in Japanese. We all enjoyed our free time this afternoon wandering around the mall, exploring the city more, and taking a little nap! A few of us found some great souvenirs for family and ran into another Japanese man with a USA hat, who acknowledged us.

This evening we were fortunate to spend some time with a few of the local teachers here. First we went to have dinner at a ramen restaurant. This was by far some of the best ramen I have ever had! It is definitely better than the top ramen all of us college students know so well. We enjoyed talking and getting to know the teachers here better. I was super excited to learn about the ALT (assistant language teacher) positions as I might come back to teach English for a year. Then we all went to participate in some Japanese karaoke! We all got to sing some classic karaoke songs and enjoy each other’s company. All in all week 2 here has been wonderful and we cannot wait to enjoy more of Japanese culture in our final week!


Add-on Endorsement: Self-Evaluation

Instructions for Completing the Self-Evaluation for Adding an Endorsement

Use the respective program endorsement worksheet to list the courses you took that you believe are equivalent to WSU’s requirements, submit a course description (from the college/university catalog), a syllabus or additional documentation with the completed self-evaluation.

Once you have completed the self-evaluation you will submit it with your add-on endorsement application to the campus you plan to attend (see contact information below).  A WSU representative will review your transcripts and supporting documentation to determine if the courses you listed are acceptable.

All courses used for endorsement purposes must be completed at a regionally accredited college/university with a “C” (2.0) or higher.  If you would like to take a required course from an institution other than WSU you will need to receive WSU approval PRIOR to taking the course.


These are the people with whom you will work during the completion of your add-on endorsement.

Pullman, or Global Campus (online)
Staci Bickelhaupt
PO Box 642114
Pullman, WA 99164-2114
(509) 335-8146
Niamh O’Leary
2710 University Dr.
Richland, WA 99352-1671
(509) 372-7394
Dan Overbay
14204 NE Salmon Creek Ave
Vancouver, WA 98686-9600
(360) 546-9673
WSU – Education
PO Box 1495
Spokane, WA 99210-1495

**If applying to Vancouver, contact Dan Overbay for additional requirements

Diary from Japan — Day 11

From time to time, participants in the college’s study abroad to Nishinomiya, Japan, led by Tom Salsbury, will be giving updates on their experiences. This one was written by Dr. Salsbury and received no editing from the college.

Today was our second day at Imazu Junior High School

We started the day by observing the boys’ and girls’ PE classes. The girls played volleyball and invited some of us (those with proper gym shoes) to play along. Meanwhile, in another gym, the boys practiced the high jump. I was struck (a) by the lack of competition among the kids, and (b) by the organization of the groups. With just a single word or phrase from the teacher, the kids formed their groups, moved to their places, and participated in the activities. Everybody participated, and the happiness in the gymnasiums was palpable.

Next, we moved to a history class. We were greeted (in English) by the history teacher whose hook for the lesson on leadership was to show on the projector (in English) the question “Who is this?” He showed a picture of Donald Trump, Barack Obama, and Jimmy Carter, turning to us (standing in the back of the room) and asking politely if we could identify them. Next, he showed several funny pictures of the Japanese Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe (eating a donut, making a funny face, and smiling). The kids loved it! After this hook, he shifted register (and language) and began his lecture on 19th Century Japanese leaders.

The other classes we observed were Industrial Arts (a class on communications technology – from cups with strings to iPhones), biology (plant roots), and music (the kids practiced a choral piece). We took notes on classroom structure (activities, groupings and student/teacher roles). In our afternoon seminar, we heard presentations from classmates on (a) the changing roles of women in Japanese society and (b) the different levels of formality in Japanese. The discussions were rich, personal, and relevant to what we’re experiencing in our relatively short time here.

We finished the afternoon with class preparation for next week. The school lent us copies of their English course texts for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd year students. They’re hoping we can prepare 2-3 activities at each grade level to supplement the lessons in the texts. It’s great to be collaborating with each other and with the Nishinomiya teachers as we prepare these lessons.