Shelli Casler-Failing
Doctoral Portfolio

Department of Educational Theory and Practice
University at Albany


Throughout my coursework in the doctoral program, in my position as a middle school mathematics educator, as an educator at various summer camps, and as a member of the LEGO Robotics curriculum development team at the Center for Initiatives in Pre-College Education (CIPCE) at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute I have had numerous opportunities to collaborate with other students and/or educators.  I truly enjoy working with other learners and educators as it allows me to see education from perspectives other than mine.  I feel that I have grown as a doctoral student through my collaborative work throughout the program and have grown as an educator by designing curricula with educators from other schools and content areas as well as members of my middle school team.

My first collaboration project in the doctoral program was during Principles of Curriculum Development (ETAP710).  This project allowed me to partner with two other students, Liza Cope and Jennifer Boisvert, who were also in their first semester of doctoral work.  Since this was our first project in our perspective programs we were nervous and able to depend on each other for support.  We were required to create a school, either secondary or post-secondary, and use the theory and literature discussed in class to guide our development of the school's mission, motto, format, and curricula.  This seemed like an overwhelming undertaking, but by breaking the project into manageable pieces and dividing the workload evenly we were able to not only complete the project, but complete it successfully.

Statement of Collaboration ETAP710
Project - The Progressive Junior College of New York

During the 2011 fall semester I had the opportunity to collaborate with Dr. Meskill, Patterson Rogers, Shannon Clegg, and Xiyao Huang on a research project.  This research project took place during Computer-Mediated Communication (ETAP723) and afforded me the opportunity to collaborate with two students I had not previously crossed paths with.  The research project Models of Mind in YouTube How-To Videos was designed to view the theories of mind of lay teachers who posted how-to videos on YouTube.  Having the opportunity to work with such a diverse and intelligent group of people was an extremely rewarding experience for me. Throughout the research project and multiple discussions I was able to gain perspective on the education system in China through Xiyao's experiences and Shannon's perspective on education from a foreign language teacher's perspective.  This type of collaborative project also allowed me to understand Dr. Meskill from the perspective of a researcher rather than solely as a professor.  Although I had worked with Patterson in other collaborative environments, this project allowed me to understand her as a researcher rather than fellow learner.  I feel that this project really helped me to feel comfortable in the role of researcher and made me realize I was capable of being a successful researcher, whether in collaboration with others or as a solo researcher.

Statement of Collaboration for ETAP 723
Models of Mind in YouTube How-to Videos

My third artifact is from a co-teaching experience.  During the 2011 fall semester I was fortunate to co-teach
Teaching High School Mathematics: Methods and Guided Field Experience (ETAP690M)  with Patterson Rogers.  I found this collaboration both challenging and rewarding as we were required to create our own curriculum for the course, but allowed me to experience teaching pre-service educators - my ultimate goal. Patterson and I had worked together in the past and from those experiences I knew this would be an excellent combination of minds and pedagogical skills.  Another asset to our pairing was Patterson's post-secondary teaching experience and my secondary teaching experience  - we knew that our experiences complemented one another and would ultimately be beneficial to our students.  Patterson and I reviewed the course requirements and discussed how we would accommodate those requirements.  We also looked into our own practices to determine what to add to the course that would be enriching for the pre-service teachers.  We chose to divide the workload weekly, each being responsible for designing the lessons, required readings, and additional materials for alternate weeks.  We also created an online component to subsidize our weekly classroom meetings.  This online component required students to post to a private journal each week (for Patterson and I to view), allowed students a discussion forum for issues that arose during teaching placements, and to submit required coursework.  Patterson and I alternated reading the student journals (we read 4 each week, but alternated the students so we were familiar with every student) and assessed all coursework together so we could discuss strengths and weaknesses in order to come to an agreement on any/all grading.

Statement of Collaboration for ETAP690M
Syllabus for ETAP690M
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