Category Archives: Elementary and Middle Grades Education (ELMID)

News from the Elementary Education and Middle Grades Education Department

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From the TRC: Reluctant Readers

It’s the third Thursday of the month and a new edition of From the TRC is published to highlight another service or resource Joyner Library’s Teaching Resources Center (TRC) has to support the College of Education’s faculty and students. Today we’ll cover one of our newest bibliographies, Reluctant Readers.

The TRC has created, and constantly updates, an extensive list of bibliographies and guides available to help students, faculty and staff easily navigate our collections. Print copies for select topics are available in the TRC while our entire catalog of bibliographies and guides are available on the TRC’s website. The reluctant readers bibliography is currently only available online, and is based on titles from the Young Adult Library Association’s (YALSA) Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers List.

But, we need to define who a reluctant reader. The umbrella term, reluctant reader, is used to describe a few different groups of students. Reluctant readers generally fall into one of three categories, those who can’t, don’t or won’t read. Students may not read because they lack the literacy and comprehension skills needed to do so which can lead to self-doubt and a fear of their secret being “found out.” The latter two categories encompass students able to read, but either dislike reading itself or their personal interests lead them to other activities they find more attractive.

So, what to do? A simple Internet search will overwhelm you. There is no shortage of parenting websites, non-profit and for-profit companies willing to share tips, tricks, and books. The Lexile Framework for Reading also offers tips and links to additional resources.

One theme you will find over and over again as you sift through all these resources is student choice. Allow your reluctant readers to choose reading material (e.g., comic book, graphic novel, popular magazine, etc.) about topics they are interested in. Of course, if a teacher knows their students’ interests, and happens to know a few books that may pique their interest, it’s a win-win. That’s why the TRC created our bibliography for reluctant readers.

Joyner Library’s subscription to Novelist Plus will also come in handy at times like this. Novelist Plus allows users to search for “Title Read-alikes” and “Author Read-alikes”. For example, if a student liked Kwame Alexander’s novel, The Crossover” A Basketball Novel, you can use that feature to find a list of similar reads:

Figure 1: The Crossover: A Basketball Novel’s entry in Novelist Plus. Read-alikes are found just above the “Find It!” button.

Figure 1: The Crossover: A Basketball Novel’s entry in Novelist Plus. Read-alikes are found just above the “Find It!” button.

Figure 2: Clicking on the “Title Read-alikes” will show a list of novels with similar themes.

Figure 2: Clicking on the “Title Read-alikes” will show a list of novels with similar themes.

Why is it important to become familiar with Novelist Plus? All K-12 educators in North Carolina have free access to either Novelist K-8 or Novelist Plus through NC WiseOwlJoyner Library’s subscription to Novelist Plus is the only way pre-service teachers can access this resource until you have your own classroom.

We hope to hear from you soon!

Until next time…Dan Z. in the TRC

Michelle Casey

NC NTSP Coach Profile: Michelle Casey, ECU Region

Michelle Casey is an Instructional Coach with the North Carolina New Teacher Support Program (NC NTSP), serving the East Carolina University (ECU) Region.  Michelle earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in special education from ECU, and considers it an honor to represent such an exemplary university through NC NTSP.

Michelle has 24 years of experience at elementary and middle school levels, serving as an exceptional children’s teacher and administrator. Her work the NC NTSP is focused in the Lenoir County and Pamlico County Public School Systems, that are part of ECU’s Latham Clinical Schools Network.

“The feedback and assistance I have received from Michelle Casey, through NC NTSP, has been extremely beneficial in helping me get through some of the growing pains of first year teaching,” said first year teacher Matthew Henderson. Henderson teaches sixth grade science at E.B. Frink Middle School in Lenoir County.

Kaitlyn Fussell, a first year sixth grade math teacher at E.B. Frink in Lenoir County Schools agreed. “I have really appreciated Michelle’s guidance,” said Fussell.

Michelle is a currently pursuing a doctorate in educational leadership. Her dissertation research focuses on sustaining novice teachers who teach in high-need educational communities beyond the first five years of teaching in the southeastern region of North Carolina. This focus transpired from serving as an Instructional Coach in high-need educational communities and witnessing the dedication of teachers to sustain their career.  She is honored to serve novice teachers in Lenoir County.

For more information about the North Carolina New Teacher Support Program go to

Pictured above: First year teachers, Kaitlyn Fussell and Matthew Henderson, work with NC NTSP Instructional Coach Michelle Casey at E.B Frink Middle School in Lenoir County. From left to right: Casey; Fussell and Henderson.


Apply Now for ECU’s Online Teacher Education Partnership

Do you want to be a part of a profession that makes all others possible?

Do you want to make a difference?

Do you want a career that is meaningful, challenging, and creative?

Are you looking for a degree program that will fit your busy lifestyle?

If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then you should become a teacher through State Employees’ Credit Union Partnership East!

East Carolina University offers four-year teaching degrees through the  State Employees’ Credit Union Partnership East (SECU PE).  Students take the first two years of specific college transfer courses at any NC Community College and enter ECU as juniors to complete – a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, Special Education – General Curriculum, or Middle Grades Education.  The online option for Middle Grades Education includes concentrations in language arts and social studies.    All SECU Partnership East coursework is offered through online instruction with classroom learning experiences in your local schools.  Students participate in a full-time internship at the culmination of the degree coursework.

Applications for 2016 cohorts are now open.  Test scores from the Praxis Core for Educators, prerequisite coursework, an interview, and a minimum GPA are required for admission to SECU PE.  Applicants must meet minimum transfer admission requirements to East Carolina University to be eligible to participate.

Degree Program Beginning Semester Application Deadline
Elementary Education (Full-time) Summer January 15
Elementary Education (Part-time) Fall February 15
Special Education (Part-time) Summer January 15
Middle Grades Language Arts and Social Studies (Part-time) Fall February 15

Graduates from SECU PE have a high rate of employment with the majority finding jobs right in their home counties. The convenience of online course delivery, field work close to home, and an opportunity to shape future generations are all reasons YOU should consider this opportunity.

For more information or to apply, contact the SECU Partnership East Coordinator for your region.  Contact information is located at


College of Education Graduate Recognition Ceremony – December 19, 2015

The College of Education Graduate Recognition Ceremony is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, December 19, 2015 in Williams Arena at Minges Coliseum. The faculty and staff of the College of Education are pleased to present a special Graduate Recognition Ceremony (GRC) for our graduates. The ceremony will feature individual recognition of College of Education students receiving degrees. Friends and families of the graduates are cordially invited to attend. It is not necessary for graduates or guests to RSVP for this event. Tickets are not required to attend the ceremony.

For University Commencement Ceremony details and information about the ECU Commencement Weekend, please visit

Montague Franklin with Jennifer Stalls

Education Graduate Leads Middle Schoolers in Conducting Nature Research

Jamaya Heath, Precious Wallace

(L to R): Jamaya Heath, Precious Wallace

By Crystal Baity
ECU News Services

Eighth-graders at C.M. Eppes Middle School hope to find out if a backyard weed actually contains some beneficial ingredients.

Their teacher, Jennifer Stalls, an East Carolina University alumna and graduate student in the College of Education, brought the real-world research question to her science classes as a participant in the Kenan Fellows Program for Curriculum and Leadership Development.

Frank Marr, Luke Daigle

(L to R): Frank Marr, Luke Daigle

Stalls is one of 42 educators from across North Carolina who completed a five-week summer research experience and two weeks of professional development as part of the annual program.

Stalls worked in the genomics and microbiology lab at the N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences with mentor Dr. Julia Stevens, who is studying the symbiotic relationship between invasive plants and bacteria in nitrogen fixing. The process is needed to convert gaseous nitrogen into forms that can be used by living organisms.

Stalls created a curriculum for her students to contribute to Stevens’ research by studying regional invasive species that could potentially replenish bacteria in crop fields.

Among the discoveries students are making is the notion that they like science.

Jason Harrell, Landen Congleton, Chad Langley

(L to R): Jason Harrell, Landen Congleton, Chad Langley

“I like that you can make so many things, so many discoveries with science. I like the medicine part of science,” said student Virginia Rahilly.

Stalls is one of six ECU alumni in the 2015-16 class of Kenan Fellows. Others and the schools where they teach are: Christopher Clark ’13, Chicod School in Pitt County; Taylar Flythe ’12, Ligon Magnet Middle School in Wake County; Denise Humphries ’93, Chinquapin Elementary School in Duplin County; Amy Kennedy ’07, Beulaville Elementary School in Duplin County; Julianna Martinez-Schultz ’10, Moore Square Magnet Middle School in Wake County.

Chloe Manning-Moore, Juliana Chaires

(L to R): Chloe Manning-Moore, Juliana Chaires

The Kenan Fellows Program was established in 2000 as the signature K-12 STEM education initiative of the Kenan Institute for Engineering, Technology & Science at N.C. State University.

Kenan Fellows are given opportunities for networking, professional growth and leadership development. For more information, visit

For the full article, please visit the ECU News Services Article Backyard Botantists

Jami Dickerson and Ann Bullock

ECU Graduate Presents at the NC New Teacher Support Eastern Institute for Beginning Teachers

Ms. Jami Dickerson, the 2014 Northeast North Carolina Teacher of the Year and an East Carolina University graduate was the keynote address for the NC New Teacher Support Program’s Institute held at NC State. Ms. Dickerson spoke about using brain-based principles to keep students active and involved in the classroom. Her use of active movements and music were great strategies to model for the beginning teachers in attendance.

Ron Clark and The North Carolina New Teacher Support Program, ECU Regional Office staff

NC New Teacher Support Project Coaches attend Ron Clark’s Presentation in Pamlico County

Ron Clark, founder of The Ron Clark Academy and ECU graduate, spoke this morning to the teachers and administrators of Pamlico County Schools. The North Carolina New Teacher Support Program, ECU Regional Office staff attended the event and enjoyed the inspiring presentation by Mr. Clark.

Clark was a Teaching Fellow at ECU and graduated in Elementary Education in 1994. In 2000, he was named Disney’s Outstanding Teacher of the Year. In 2007, Clark opened the academy in Atlanta, GA. Clark says since 2007, “We have challenged, motivated, disciplined, and inspired these students, and we have grown to love them for their amazing gifts and unique abilities. We truly believe that we have future world leaders at our school, and we are honored to teach them each and every day.”




Ron Preston Serves as President of the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics

Dr. Ron Preston, ECU Mathematics Education, began his tenure as President of the North Carolina Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCCTM), April 2015. He will convene the 45th Annual NCCTM State Conference on November 5, 2015 as well as the NCCTM Leadership Seminar on November 4. Both events are held at the Koury Conference Center in Greensboro.

NCCTM was founded approximately 50 years ago to unite all teachers, supervisors, curriculum developers, and teacher educators of mathematics in a shared goal of exceptional mathematics teaching for optimal mathematical learning for all NC students. In addition to conferences and seminars, NCCTM provides Mathematics Fairs for K-12 students, supports mathematics competitions for high school students, awards mini-grants to classroom teachers of mathematics, provides scholarships to support graduate studies for teachers, presents awards for outstanding performance and innovation in mathematics education, and publishes a journal.

Ron Preston is an Associate Professor with a joint appointment in the Department of Mathematics and the College of Education. He teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in mathematics education at ECU and serves as Mathematics, Science, and Instructional Technology Education’s Director of Students. He is the 2014-2015 ECU Faculty Advisor of the Year. He is active in funded projects and research in mathematics education. His holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics Education from Indiana University.


Teach for Changency is an Educational Community to Promote Change

Dr. Anne Ticknor (Assistant Professor in Reading Education) and Dr. Katie Schwartz (Associate Professor in Mathematics Education) led a mathematics-specific induction program, LAUNCH into Mathematics Teaching, for 20 beginning elementary teachers in eastern North Carolina. The induction program included over 60 hours of mathematics professional development and specialized mentoring across two years. The Z Smith Reynolds Foundation funded the program.

Drs. Ticknor and Schwartz collected data from the program and found that the program structure supported beginning teachers in the how-to of enacting mathematics curriculum in their particular classrooms, created an external network of educators to share ideas and frustrations, provided windows into “what’s possible” in other schools/districts, and offered opportunities for reflection about their teaching visions and pedagogical decisions.

Ticknor and Schwartz have presented these findings in a variety of venues including local, regional, and national conferences and written reports for national education journals. Currently a social media campaign, Teach for Changency, is underway to disseminate findings and provide an informational and educational community to promote teacher agency and pedagogical change. Join the community and follow @teach4changency on Twitter and like on Facebook. 


PIRATES Educators Work to Improve K-6 Science Education

GREENVILLE, N.C. (10/15/15) — On Saturday, October 10th fifteen College of Education alumni returned to East Carolina University to attend a workshop, “Systemic Science. It’s Elementary!” These teachers were among the first graduates of the newly developed Elementary Science Concentration at East Carolina University that focuses on the scientific content and knowledge needed for teaching science to K-6 students. Students enrolled in the concentration receive instructional strategies and specialized content knowledge within all domains of science.

The workshop was funded by a research start-up grant entitled PIRATES (Preparing and Inspiring Achieving Teaching Excellence in Science). The grant was awarded to Assistant Professor, Dr. Tammy D. Lee who spearheaded the development of this program in response to the need to improve STEM education in the early grades. PIRATES is designed to support the fifteen newly specialized science teachers over the course of three years. These beginning teachers will work with ECU science education faculty, ECU scientists, and North Carolina Museum of Natural Science staff to strengthen their knowledge and skills in systemic science education. The goal of the PIRATES program is to return these teachers to their classrooms and schools across North Carolina as elementary science education leaders.

Participant Ashley Barfield a teacher at Abbotts Creek Elementary School in Raleigh said, “The PIRATE grant will not only benefit me as a teacher but my teammates, students, and my school.”

“This grant will be a huge impact in my classroom because it will help my students to think critically about science in the real world by learning about systems,” added Amber Ellington a teacher at Falkland Elementary in Greenville.

Since the launch of the Elementary Science Concentration in the fall of 2012, enrollment has grown from seven students to over one hundred.

“This increased enrollment indicates the overwhelming interest of elementary pre-service teachers to become science teacher specialists,” said Lee.

For more information about East Carolina University’s Elementary Science Concentration or the PIRATES grant please contact Dr. Tammy D. Lee at

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PIRATES teachers participating in the “Systemic Science. It’s Elementary!” event on October 10. Pictured above from left to right: Kayla Sager, Christina Baik, Amber Ellington, Abby Wilkinson, Katherine Hart (red shirt), Ashley Barfield, Beth Wantz Kara Rouse, Danielle Alford, Rachel Fendrick Amanda Etheridge and Dail Berry. Kneeling: Bonnie Glass and Dr. Tammy Lee