November 2013
Outliers: Students in ACTION

Outliers: Students in ACTION is a monthly publication during the academic year highlighting the students and events in the Science and Math Education in ACTION Choose Ohio First program at BGSU. 

Note from the ACTION Director

OTES.  edTPA.  SLO.  PARCC.  OAE.  PDP.  REP.  Have you had enough alphabet soup yet? The number of acronyms, programs, and assessments in the world of education can be overwhelming for all of us. Here is a short "answer key": OTES is the Ohio Teacher Evaluation System that is being used statewide to assess teacher performance in the classroom. The edTPA is the Educator Teacher Performance Assessment developed at Stanford University and distributed by Pearson that serves as an evaluation of student teachers' ability to plan, teach, and reflect on their performance. An SLO is a Student Learning Objective that classroom teachers assess by giving pre- and post-tests in their classes with which to measure student growth. The PARCC is the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers and is the new name for exams that will be given to children from grade 3 through high school to assess their learning of the core subject areas. OAE stands for the Ohio Assessments for Educators - new content exams released in September that Ohio undergraduates must pass to qualify for methods and student teaching. A PDP is a Professional Development Plan, a document that most teachers have to complete each year to set targets for how to improve their performance. The REP is the Resident Educator Program - a relatively new program in Ohio intended to mentor and assess the effectiveness of new teachers in the field.


In these days of education, the key word is "accountability" and everyone is being assessed on performance, from 8-year-olds to teachers in the field. More importantly, these assessments and programs are moving targets - every time we think we have a system in place, a revision or a new program emerges. One of the critical roles a university plays is to keep undergraduates (and teachers in the field) apprised of changes and how to adapt to them. In the ACTION program, we take this task very seriously. It is a high priority to ensure that ACTION scholars know the "latest and greatest" information and to become aware of breaking changes - when possible, to know about the changes before they even happen.


This past year, we instituted Fall and Spring ACTION Seminars that pull all of our students together to provide some professional development and to update them on changes in the field. In October, we featured Dr. William Speer, a mathematics educator and former Dean of the College of Education at the University of Nevada 

Dr. Brahier chats with Lauren Brunswick after the Fall Seminar

Las Vegas. He dazzled our students with examples of how "productive struggle" can enhance a science or mathematics classroom. He showed how students learn more if they have to struggle to make sense of the content. After his workshop, I updated our students on breaking education news from Columbus to Washington. In February 2014, our keynote speaker will be Terry Hartman, the Vice President for Engineering at Libbey Glass in Toledo. He will be speaking to the importance of developing citizens who are scientifically literate and the need for science and math teachers to inspire in their classrooms.


As we continue through the academic year, I am constantly keeping an eye out for changes that will affect our students, both in college and as a teacher in the field. A "value added" of being part of ACTION is that our scholars are updated as changes cross my desk. I walk a fine line between overwhelming our students with detail and leaving them in the dark. But, given the choice, I would much rather that they know the alphabet that's in their soup! 

ACTION Student Profiles

Matt Lefevre - Cohort 2

Middle Childhood Education - Science & Mathematics


How did you end up in the ACTION program at BGSU?  Since BGSU has one of the best schools for teachers and was close to my hometown of Toledo, it was my first choice. My high school pre-calculus teacher told me about ACTION and I went home and immediately applied!


What helped you decide you wanted to be a teacher? My dad is a teacher so he had a huge influence on me. My sister and I used to fight over who would get to go to work with Dad on "Take Your Child to Work Day." I loved being in his classroom. At first, I wasn't sure what subject(s) to teach, but after a bad experience with a math teacher, this motivated me to teach math to make sure others don't have this type of teacher. Later I had some good math teachers who inspired me even more.


Tell us about your ACTION practicum experience sophomore year.  I had a blast creating a sensory garden with Lauren Barr and staff members from the Wood County Parks Department. Our goal was to find plants that would "work" together in the garden in specific ways for each sense, so we had many details to consider with much trial and error involved. I learned a lot about plants! We also got to see the entire process of running a greenhouse. Our sensory garden was a huge success!


You have been working at the Toledo Zoo for eight years... Yes, I was hired my freshman year in high school to work the outdoor merchandise and have been employed at the zoo ever since. I've been promoted several times and been given increased responsibilities over the years. Last year I was promoted to a supervisor position. This semester I'm on a leave of absence so I can focus on Methods. They look forward to me coming back during the school breaks.


As a senior graduating in May 2014, how have you changed since you arrived on campus nearly 4 years ago?  I came to college with the mindset of a high school student (which for me meant doing as little as possible to succeed). I quickly wised up and have taken more initiative and responsibility. One thing that hasn't changed over the years: my ACTION friends. I am still very close to those I met during the Summer Bridge.


What is the topic of your Capstone Research Project for ACTION?  I'm researching competitive-based games and their effects on test scores. I plan to use games as a form of review and then see if motivation to learn the material comes from competing to beat their classmates. I did a small "trial run" to introduce the idea to my students recently and it went over very well. I look forward to implementing more ideas next semester.


Any advice to underclassmen?  Don't be afraid to approach your professors with questions. At first, I didn't want to seem like someone who needed help and thought I should be independent in college. Instead, I've found that professors want to help and I've now taken full advantage of relationships that can be built with instructors.


Favorite place in Bowling Green? Myles Pizza is my favorite place to eat. Every time my dad comes to town we go there and get Buffalo Pizza. It's become tradition!





 Maria Nielsen - Cohort 4

AYA Mathematics


When did you know that you wanted to be a teacher?  I've always kind of thought that I wanted to be a teacher. In high school I remember helping a friend with math and was explaining the concept to her in as many ways I could. Suddenly a light bulb came on and she "got it"! She was very excited. It was so cool for me to see her finally understand. Then, senior year my decision to teach was reaffirmed. My AP Calculus teacher wrote in my reference letter for ACTION that I could explain things to my peers to help them understand in ways she could not! This was a huge compliment and convinced me I am in the right major.

As you heard about ACTION, what was the most appealing aspect to you?  I really liked the idea of getting to do undergraduate research. Obviously the money is very helpful since I am the oldest of three and trying not to spend much of our college fund money.


What has your practicum experience been like so far? Jake Musal and I just started recently, but we are analyzing data for Supplemental Staffing to look at how many hours employees are working and reviewing their application process. I am learning a lot about Excel and Google docs since I only had basic knowledge of these before this project.


What are benefits to being in both Honors and ACTION? I was chosen to be part of a small group at BGSU taking special honors classes as a cohort member of the Presidential Honors Program. Through these courses, I have learned to think critically for myself without relying on a professor to lead the way. Our classes have been discussion based and allow us to integrate classes together. My goal is to really learn material in my classes rather than just being in college to get a diploma. In both ACTION and Honors I have close friends and now we are becoming one big family as my circles of friends merge. I love it!


What's your favorite study strategy? For math, I like to find a study group. Many ACTION students will gather in the Offenhauer lounge to give each other problems. We use a dry erase board to work out answers and then explain our process to each other. This ensures we really understand and makes it fun at the same time.


Tell us about your family "zoo"... My dad owns a petting zoo in Sandusky. My great grandma started it 63 years ago and it has grown over the years. We now have over 200 animals and 4 fishing ponds. I grew up working with the animals, hanging out at our zoo. I like all the animals, but the pygmy goats are probably my favorite. They are so cute! Sometimes it is challenging because there is always work to be done with the zoo, but overall, I really like it.


Best way to blow off stress?  I like to spend time with my friends and not talk about homework; or I listen to music. Anything fun! 


Cohort Updates


Cohort 2 seniors are gaining increased exposure to the classroom where they have been placed for student teaching. Soon the majority of their time will be in this 

A group of 4160 students discuss their capstone projects

school. In preparation for writing a research paper next semester, Dr. Brahier spent time during their recent EDHD 4160 session examining and discussing a sample research paper submitted by a former ACTION student. Then, students were able to discuss the current status of their project idea, any possible problems or issues they anticipate, and what they are most excited about learning from their project.


Maggie, Megan, Cory, and Megan share ideas for a literature review

A foundation for research is being built in Cohort 3

students this semester. As an overview during one of the sessions for EDHD 3160, Dr. Brahier reviewed the "10 Steps of Action Research." Two of these important components, "The Literature Review" and "Selecting a Topic" were the focus of two October common time sessions. Samples, activities, and discussion were all used to instill the concepts into these undergraduate researchers.

Anna explains a sales calculation from her practicum

Cohort 4 members who completed practicums during the summer presented details about their projects and what they learned from this real-world experience. The goal of the presentation is to not only share details of their internship experience with the other Cohort 4 and 5 students, but to also relate it to teaching and provide some sample classroom activities. For example, Rachel Wiemken used Reese's Pieces to demonstrate a stats lesson, Anna Bailey passed out calculators for a group math problem related to 

Bailey, Jessie, Rachel, Nicole, Rachel, Sheri, & Anna are all smiles after their presentations

 sales, Jessie Wiandt had the group make paper fans and then tied that into an example of run off, and Bailey Smith gave each student a ruler while discussing a lesson she created as a result of working at an architecture company. This provides great practice at learning how to engage an audience (or classroom) with hands-on activities. 


Freshman research groups have been busy! Cohort 5 members are learning about the process of inquiry and investigation. None of their projects has one definite "answer" starting out; in fact, that is what research is all about. Instead, they are on a journey to discover. Sometimes results will appear as expected and other times a seeming "dead end" will lead the research group in a totally different direction by the end of the year. We look forward to each group's presentation of their research at the Choose Ohio First Research Symposium to be held on Friday, April 25, 2014. 

Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics Conference 
Left to right:  Corrinne Sullivan, Brittney Poling, Maggie Dowe, Dr. Brahier, Lance Kruse, Zoe Winkelman, Betsie Naylor


Six Cohort 3 ACTION students (shown above with Dr. Brahier) presented to over 200 teachers at the annual conference of the Ohio Council of Teachers of Mathematics in Dayton, Ohio, in October. Congrats to these undergraduate students for presenting to a roomful of teachers!

Maggie shares details of her practicum experience with teachers at OCTM


The title of the session was "When Will We Ever Have to Use This?" They presented their experiences serving as interns in business and industry, including the mathematics they learned and used and applications for the classroom. Participants were given classroom-ready teaching ideas that could be used by middle and secondary teachers to incorporate real-world uses of mathematics for their students to explore. This was the third year in a row that ACTION students have presented to teachers at the OCTM conference.


Zoe commented on the experience: "Attending and presenting at OCTM was a wonderful experience. We didn't know how many teachers would attend our session, and it turned out to be more than I had expected. Although it was intimidating as an undergraduate to present to such a large crowd of math professionals, it was also a huge honor to represent BGSU and ACTION alongside Dr. Brahier. I highly recommend that other ACTION students consider the opportunity to speak at OCTM in the future."


Lance agreed:  "It was really great to be able to use the time and effort I put into my practicum, not only as a means for self-reflection and guidance with my future teaching, but also to help current math teachers with their own teaching perspectives. Being able to go through this experience with the other five members of my cohort was very enjoyable and I'm thankful that ACTION gave me the opportunity to do so. I hope to return to OCTM in the future and present regarding my senior year capstone action research project."


Betsie appreciated the fact that by fielding questions from those attending their session they gained insight into some of the current issues teachers are facing in the classroom. In addition to presenting, these students also attended numerous other presentations to enhance their professional development. 

Upcoming ACTION Events:

EDHD 3160 Session #5: November 12 ... 4:30-5:50pm

Student Advisory Board Meeting:  November 19 ... 4:30-5:50pm

Student Holiday Event:  Friday, December 13 ... 5:30-7:30pm 


November 2013















Alli Brown 






NWO Symposium













Virtual Classroom #2  Fall Practicums 6:00pm


Leslie Russell & Justin Flory















Stacey Camardo






EDHD 3160 Session #5























Student Advisory Board Meeting







Megan Simon 














Megan Schlosser 















Volume 2, Issue 8
In This Issue
Student Profiles - Matt & Maria
Cohort Updates
November Calendar
Fall Seminar
Join Our Mailing List

One-on-Ones with Dr. B


As director, Dr. Brahier meets one-on-one with each first-year student during fall semester. His goal is to connect with scholars and allow them to ask questions of any sort. He also provides advice about courses and other topics associated with their majors and the education field in general.  Students in the other cohorts also had an opportunity to meet with Dr. Brahier to discuss an array of topics. 

Bekka Gresh meets with Dr. Brahier to talk about her first year and to discuss scheduling questions

ACTION Fall Seminar

As mentioned in Dr. Brahier's article, the ACTION Fall Seminar was a huge hit with the ACTION scholars. Dr. William Speer used his research-based, practice-oriented presentation to explore the nature and benefits of "desirable difficulties" while inspiring our future teachers.

Dr. Speer engages the ACTION students during the Fall Seminar


According to Kayla Miller (Cohort 2), Dr. Speer's presentation encompassed the new direction of math and science, with a focus on creating an inquiry-based learning environment for students. She went on to give more details of his talk: "The important part of the learning process is for students to wonder why, to solve their own problems, and to think critically so they will be able to succeed when faced with future problems. I really liked how Dr. Speer stated that when you have a student that says 'I don't know' it depends on the tone they use if you can work with that student or not. Since I am in methods right now, I was able to directly apply this statement to the students in my classroom. I have been faced with all three types of 'I don't know' attitudes. The student who is too cool for school is the most difficult to work with; there is no internal passion or motivation to learn the topic. The student who is extremely frustrated and shouts or makes a scene at least has passion and cares about learning the material but is angry he or she cannot master the topic. The student who doesn't know the answer, but would like to find out, and typically does at his or her own choosing, is the student who is easiest to assist and work with as a teacher."


Cohort 3 member, Amber Mathias, enjoyed his story of two kittens, Calvin and Cynthia: "He explained that Cynthia's goal was to simply pass the test. She was out to memorize rather than learn. He used the analogy that it was like eating without digesting. Calvin, on the other hand, was asking questions that showed that he was really questioning things and learning." All teachers want more Calvins in their classrooms!

Rebecca and Ray Szparagowski talk to Dr. Speer and Dr. Brahier at the conclusion of the session


Favorite Thing about BGSU


We asked Cohort 5 (freshmen) what has been their favorite thing about BGSU this fall...


Kimberly Lentz: Learning to live on my own and taking classes related to what I want to do after I graduate from college.


Allyson Grilliot: All the new people. Since coming to BGSU, I've met so many new people and made friends like I never imagined. I have friends in my classes, in my dorm, in the activities I am in, and people I have just bonded with. Even people I don't know are polite. Students and faculty at BGSU are some of the sweetest people I have met.


Mike Lipster: Getting to work on my research project in the Herpetology Lab with Dr. Underwood, getting to work with the Geckos and Axolotls is really interesting and fun at the same time. It's been really cool getting to watch one of our Axolotls go from being just hatched to having its front legs.


Devoney Miller: Walking to Myles Dairy Queen. Ice cream is my favorite and nothing beats Myles DQ!


Brittany Gates: Living on the ACTION floor and all the new people I'm meeting!


Alyssa Lustgarten: Running in the Freddie & Frieda Homecoming 5K! Going to the event with my friend from ACTION was a blast as well!


Davis Gerber: The ACTION floor in Offenhaur West. Even though I don't even live in Offenhauer, it is always so nice to go over and see all of my friends.


Jordan Truitt: Going to the hockey games. I love it! Everyone gets so into the games, and it is a great time to spend with friends.


Justin Flory: Meeting new people and the community feeling that has developed on our ACTION floor in the residence hall. Obviously I developed relationships with the people in my cohort over the course of the Summer Bridge; but this semester, I've made many new friends on my floor. It has made residence life an enjoyable experience because we are all so close. It's like we're our own little family.


Allison Bendel: The sense of community. I've had the opportunity to meet so many incredible people and to spend a significant amount of time getting to know them. It's extremely easy to get involved by joining clubs, sports, and other organizations here at BGSU. I am so thankful for the friends I have made, and I know these relationships will last a lifetime.

Getting the Word Out 

Recruiting for Cohort 6 is in full swing with multiple events over the past few weeks geared toward prospective BGSU students. In addition to several smaller events, a large number of students and their family members attended the recent Preview Day on Saturday, October 19 with information tables, sessions, and tours sponsored throughout the day.

Jess Shearer & Jordan Truitt wait for prospective students to stop by at Preview Day

On October 25, the College of Education and Human Development hosted "Education Day" geared specifically for those considering fields in education. One aspect of the Education Day program included a student panel to answer questions from those considering an education major at BGSU. Both Amber Mathias (AYA science) and Serena Newburger (MCE) from Cohort 3 served on the panel to share their experiences and respond to questions from a roomful of approximately 200 students and parents.

Amber and Serena answer questions while on a student panel at Education Day


Thanks to all who volunteered at the ACTION information table and/or gave tours of Offenhauer. Several prospective students were so impressed by their visit to BGSU and the ACTION program that they have already committed to BGSU and have applied to ACTION.


In addition to bringing students to campus, we are also reaching out. Letters have been sent to nearly 1,200 high schools in Ohio. A number of current students went back to their high schools over Fall Break to tell others about ACTION. And, phone calls are being made to admitted students with an interest in teaching science and/or mathematics to inform them of the opportunity to be considered for this Choose Ohio First program. 

Allison, Brittany, Cory, and Anna help stuff envelopes for letters sent to all Ohio high schools


As a Choose Ohio First grant program sponsored by the Ohio Board of Regents, our goal is to produce exceptional science and mathematics teachers who will impact the next generation across the state to improve in STEM areas. The need is great for good teachers in these areas.

Science and Math Education in ACTION 
308 Math Sciences Building, BGSU, Bowling Green, OH 43403 
Phone: 419-372-6562
Fax: 419-372-6092

Director: Dr. Daniel Brahier
Program Manager: Wendy Standinger
Program Secretary: Nancy Hoose