Bonnie Tai

Bonnie Tai
207-801-5703 |

bonnie taiBonnie Tai is a faculty member in Educational and Human Studies. Her primary teaching and research interests focus on the intersection between identity, power, and knowledge. Two overarching goals have driven her work over the last twenty years: to enhance access, equity, and quality in education and facilitate teaching and leadership that values individual and group differences and helps communities effectively negotiate conflict and change. As peer, advisor, teacher, and mentor, Bonnie aims to help educators put theory into practice in intercultural education as well as experiential education, elementary (kindergarten through Grade 8) math and science education, education through music, and teaching English to speakers of other languages.

Bonnie received her B.A. in Humanistic Studies from the Johns Hopkins University. At the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where she received numerous fellowships as well as a multi-year research training grant from the Spencer Foundation, Bonnie earned an Ed.M. in Technology in Education and an Ed.D. in Learning and Teaching. There she served on the editorial board of the Harvard Educational Review. In addition to teaching at Harvard, California State University in Long Beach, and COA (since Fall, 2000), Bonnie taught Math and English at Mahalapye Community Junior Secondary School in Botswana. She has enjoyed conducting program evaluations for professional development institutes and other institutional or program strengthening initiatives such as a recent evaluation of a digital media-based program for homeless youth. As a violinist, she has performed with the Maitisong Festival Orchestra in Gaborone, Botswana, and the Maryland Womenís Symphony. When she is not working, she enjoys rock climbing, pick-up soccer, making music, and exploring new places.

B.A. Johns Hopkins University, 1986
Ed.M. Technology in Education, Harvard University, 1990
Ed.D. Learning and Teaching, Harvard University, 1999

Courses Taught

ED1013Changing Schools, Changing Society

How have schools changed and how should schools change to ensure "the good life"?  This interdisciplinary, team-taught course examines the potential and limits of a human ecological education as an instrument of enlightened progress and lasting positive social, cultural, and environmental change.  It explores three essential questions about education and its relationship to human development and social progress.  Looking at the role of formal educational institutions and their relationship to government and other social institutions: What is the role of schools in development and social change?  Considering the role of teachers as agents of change: What is the role of the teacher in school/organizational change and community development?  And finally, reflecting on our subjective motives for working in the field of education:  Why do you want to become an educator?   Through course activities such as service-learning in schools and group project work on a contemporary educational phenomenon (e.g., school choice, new technologies for learning, single-sex education), students will learn how educational policy at the federal, state, and local levels impacts teaching and learning, investigate the moral dimensions of the teacher-student relationship, and reflect on the construct of teacher-learners.  Students will be introduced to a variety of educational research methods (i.e, ethnography, case study, quasi-experimental, correlational) that will allow for critical analysis of the knowledge base that strives to impact educational policy and practice. Evaluation will be based on participation, reflective writing, service learning, and group projects and presentations.

Level: Introductory.   Class limit: 15.  Offered every other year. Lab fee: $20.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS, ED

ED104Curriculum Design and Assessment

Human ecologists who educate, embrace not only the interdisciplinarity of knowledge, but also the complexity of individual student development in political school environments. This course focuses on two essential nuts and bolts of teaching: curriculum design and assessment. How can a teacher learn what students know, how they think, and what they have learned? How can a teacher use this knowledge of students and subject matter to plan learning experiences that will engage diverse interests, adapt to a wide range of learning styles and preferences, accommodate exceptional needs, and meet state-mandated curriculum standards? This course is a required course for prospective secondary school teachers that provides an introduction to the backward design process and diverse assessment strategies. Students will engage in examining theory and practice designing and implementing curricula and assessments. A service-learning component will provide students with the opportunity to observe and participate in a variety of assessment methods in the subject they aim to teach. The final project will be a collaboratively designed, integrated curriculum unit, including lesson plans and assessments. Evaluation will be based on participation, reflective writing, individually designed lesson plans and assessments, and the final project. Level: Advanced. Prerequisite: Exceptionalities. Class Limit: 12. *HS* *ED*

ED1010Experimental Education

Even before John Dewey published Experience and Education in 1938, experiential education had been practiced in various forms around the world.  This course explores the philosophy of experiential education and its diverse practices in the realms of adventure education, service learning, workplace learning, environmental education, museum education, and school reform.  Group activities and fieldtrips will provide opportunities to participate as both learner and teacher in a variety of teacher-led and student-designed experiences.  The final project involves researching an existing experiential education program, its philosophy, and its practices.  Evaluation is based on class and fieldtrip participation (including one multi-day fieldtrip), reflective logs, curriculum design, service-learning journal, an oral presentation of the service-learning, and a final essay that articulates a philosophy of experience in education.

Level: Introductory.  Offered every other year.  Lab fee: $100.  Class limit: 15.  Meets the following degree requirements: HS ED

ED085Femininity and Masculinity go to School: Gender, Power & Ed

This course pivots around two central questions: How does gender influence students learning and experiences of school, curriculum and instruction, teacher-student relationships, school culture and administration? And how do schools perpetuate, resist, and construct gendered identities and gender roles? In this course we will investigate research on gender differences and school achievement, the feminization of the teaching profession, and the effects of gender on school culture, considering evidence from and questions posed by biologists, psychologists, sociologists, anthropologists, historians, and educators. The major objective of the course is to examine how notions of femininity, masculinity, and androgyny have influenced and are influenced by schooling historically and globally. Activities include a historical case study, media critique, fieldwork in an educational setting, a literature review, and curriculum development. Students will conduct research on self-chosen topics such as gender identity development, gender differences in learning styles, sexual harassment in schools, or school sports programs, among others. Evaluation will be based on class participation, historical case, media analysis, oral presentation of fieldwork, written synthesis of literature, and two lesson plans. Level: Intermediate. Writing Focus option. Offered every other year. Class limit: 15. *HS* *ED*

ED106Integrated Methods II: Science, Math, and Social Studies

How can an integrated curriculum for elementary school students help to deepen the relationships children and young adolescents construct with the natural and social worlds in a way that promotes their capacity to know themselves and the communities in which they act? For those preparing to be elementary school educators (grades K-8), this three-credit residency provides an intensive guided apprenticeship that prepares the student-teacher with the necessary knowledge, skills, and experience to design an integrated math, science, and social studies curriculum, create and maintain a constructive learning environment, teach diverse learners using appropriate learning technologies and a variety of strategies, and assess student learning. Learning objectives include all ten of the Maine Initial Teacher Certification Standards as well as familiarity with the Maine Learning Results for Math, Science, and Social Studies. Students will participate in a ten-week service-learning practicum observing and participating in elementary classrooms as well as planning and teaching in vacation school during the local school union's spring break. Readings and discussions in a daily seminar will complement the service-learning component. Evaluation will be based on reflection on service-learning, participation in seminar discussions of readings and service-learning, curriculum and assessment design and implementation, and professional performance in vacation school and at the practicum site. Partial credit may be awarded based on completed work and demonstrated learning. Level: Advanced, 3-credit Residency. Prerequisites: Learning Theory, Exceptionalities, and Integrated Elementary Methods: Reading and Writing and permission of instructor. Class limit: 12. *HS* *ED*

ED095Intercultural Education

Educators in and outside of the U.S. teach in increasingly culturally heterogeneous classrooms, schools, and communities. This course explores some challenges and possibilities in education as a result of historical inequities in the distribution of power, knowledge, and resources, and the increasing mobility of peoples in a global economy. We will consider questions such as: What is multicultural, intercultural, and global education? How do culturally different teaching and learning styles impact notions of academic achievement, school success, and teacher quality? How can student assessments and performance standards respond effectively to cultural differences? How can educators effectively communicate and partner with parents and community members across cultural differences? What are the legal and moral obligations of teachers in providing equal educational opportunity according to federal and state laws? We will read theory and research on educating across and about cultural difference, reflect on our own cultural affiliations, and actively explore the dynamics of identity, culture, and power in the teaching-learning relationship and in educational institutions through case discussions and other group activities. Investigations of the education of self and other will take place through class activities, readings, autobiographical and fiction writing, reflective logs, media analysis, and a field research or curriculum project. Level: Intermediate. Prerequisite: An introductory sociology, anthropology, cultural psychology, or education course. Offered every other year. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: $20. *ED* *HS*

ED4011Tutorial: Research and Program Development for Ecological Ed

How do we determine what is the most effective program model for developing essential skills, concepts, or dispositions for a particular organization, community, or place? This tutorial is designed to develop students’ research, facilitation, and program development skills for those interested in ecological education. The tutorial will guide students through a focused literature review, identify two or three model sites to visit, assess potential program goals in light of existing organizational or community resources, needs, and limitations, and plan, implement, and evaluate an educational program that is site-specific. Students will be evaluated on an annotated bibliography, site studies, curriculum development, reflection on teaching practice, and program evaluation.

Level: Intermediate/Advanced. Prerequisites: Introduction to Sustainability, COA's Foodprint, Fixing Food Systems, Experiential Education, Adolescent Development, or Curriculum Design and Assessment. Class limit: 6. Lab fee: $100.

HS860Tutorial: Social Power and Identity Politics

This advanced tutorial explores the dynamics of power in relation to issues of age, class, gender, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, language, disability, sexuality, and other social identities. In this reading and discussion-based seminar, we will consider these interactions in personal, institutional, and international spheres by looking at theoretical and empirical studies. For example, do men really have a greater desire for power? Is it possible to share power within a group? How do colonial legacies impact social relations in post-colonial states? Students will read historical, psychological, and sociological theory on patriarchy, identity politics, and neo-colonialism, and apply their understanding to current problems of social justice. Weekly seminars will provide opportunities for students to critically examine key texts and collectively construct understandings about the nature of power, identity development, and "culture wars." Evaluation will be based on class discussions, written responses to readings, case study research, and an independent or collaborative project of the student's choice. This tutorial will be of particular interest to students of social and political theory as well as those seeking to examine their personal relationship to power. Level: Advanced. Prerequisites: Prior coursework or independent reading in psychological/social/political theory recommended; permission of instructor. Class limit: 6. Lab fee: $30.

ED082Understanding and Managing Group Dynamics

This course will examine essential questions about how groups function, whether the group is a committee involved in institutional governance, a class of adolescents, or a cohort of business colleagues. Readings, activities, and assignments will weigh traditional and alternative conceptions of leadership, power, authority, community, diversity, membership, and exclusion. Students will engage in case discussions, writing (including autobiography and creative writing), and research activities. A major component of the course will be the observation and analysis of a group (e.g., in a community organization, business, or school). The final paper will be the creation and analysis of a case. Evaluation will be based on class participation, responses to readings, facilitation of a case discussion, an autobiographical essay, a short story, reports of observations, and the final paper. P/F grading only. Students will be expected to take the course Pass/Fail, with special arrangement to made for those needing to take it for a grade. Level: Intermediate. Class limit: 15. Lab fee: $50. *HS* *ED*