Kassie Neumann

About Kassie Neumann

Midwest native and Adolescent English Education Major at Nyack College. I thrive on poetry, mentoring, deep conversations, and really loud laughter. I believe that Christ, community, and cups of tea can restore the world. Wonder and mystery are two of my favorite words.

How to Pass the ALST: Part 2

In my last blog post, I started sharing some tips with you guys on how to pass the ALST, the first test required for certification to teach in New York State. The last post was more about logistical concerns, scheduling the test–all that jazz. Now I want to talk about how to study for this thing. Be encouraged, my friends. It is indeed possible to pass the ALST.

  1. Practice Reading and Interpreting Graphs:

There’s a portion of the test where you’ll have to read and interpret graphs. Do some self-study and figure out how to become a pro at this. Then when you get to the test, reading those graphs will be something you’re so used to doing that it will be…easy.

  1. Read. Read. Read Some More and Practice Your Writing:

The ALST is all about testing your literacy skills. You need to be practicing and cultivating these skills in order to pass. Read books, but not just required books for school. Read books you enjoy, but start reading some nonfiction, because that’s what’s going to be on the test. Read news articles, books, and essays about subjects you might not normally be interested in, and try to tear apart the arguments the authors are using. Challenge yourself to become better at argumentative writing. Make outlines of the arguments the authors’ are using. Analyze. Think critically about what you’re reading. What works about the argument? What doesn’t work? Is there information the author is missing? Write short essays from one side of an issue, and then switch to the opposing side and write another essay.

  1. Practice and Plan:

I’m going to be real with you. If you want to pass this test, you need to practice the literacy skills that your professors have been talking about in class. Passing the ALST isn’t dumb luck or a magical formula, just ask any of the people you know who have passed it. You’re going to have to put the work in if you want to pass, so plan out when you’re going to practice. If you’re planning on taking the test next Fall then plan to study over the summer.

  1. Pray:
    Steep this test in prayer. My roommate and I often remind each other that God is sovereign even over our certification exams. He deeply cares about you passing this thing. Pray about it.

Friends, I’m not going to lie, the ALST is a difficult exam, but it is not an impossible exam. It will take time and effort, work and prayer, and patience and perseverance to pass it, but remember that the entire Education Department is cheering you on–and I am too. Be encouraged. You got this.

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How to Pass the ALST: Part 1

The ALST. It’s a test that every teaching candidate enrolled in any teacher preparatory program in New York is familiar with. ALST stands for “Academic Literacy Skills Test”, and it is the first test you have to take in the process of becoming a certified teacher in New York. I remember being a freshman and being terrified of this test, but I’m on the other side of things now, and would like to tell you that it is indeed possible to pass this test. Keep reading, because I’d like to share with you a few steps, a few specifics, for passing:

  1. Nyack Offers ALST Workshops: Go to Them

Dr. Buel, one of the professors in the Education Department at Nyack College, often holds workshops on how to pass some of the State Tests, including the ALST. This woman knows her stuff. Take advantage of these opportunities and attend her free workshops. There’s often a sign-up in the Education Lab, and watch your email for the schedule of the workshops. I can’t believe that these workshops are free too, how cool is that?

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  1. Create an Account on the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations Website:

Write down your account information for the New York State Teacher Certification Examinations, and keep it in a secure location that you can find. You will need to use this account throughout your years in the Education Program. Also, save all your score reports in a folder on your email, because you might need to look up your scores in the future.

  1. Sign Up at The Right Time:

Have a conversation with your advisor about when is the best time for you to take the test. There are many different programs offered at Nyack, but typically you need to take it before you can officially be accepted into The School of Education and take your junior level classes.

  1. Sign Up for The Right Thing:

Once you have an account, you will need to register to take your test. This is a two-part process in which you’ll be given the okay to actually sign-up for your test after one business day. Don’t make the mistake of thinking that simply registering for a test means that you’re scheduled for one. Also, double check the test code to make sure you are registering for the right one. If you don’t know your test code, ask your professors. They would love to answer your questions.

  1. Take the Practice Test:

They offer a practice test on the same website you register for the test. The test is $29.95, and a great idea to become familiar with the format of the test, which is half the battle.

These are some of the logistical concerns about successfully passing the ALST. In my next post, I’m going to share some strategies to become a pro at studying for this thing. I wish you all the best in passing this exam. The God of galaxies unknown to us thinks you’re more valuable than sparrows and fine art. He cares about you passing the ALST. Be comforted, my friends, and keep the joy. I’ve been there too.

Ready for more?  Check out Passing the ALST Part 2!

Becoming an Education Major

One of my favorite things to do during freshman orientation week is to march up to a random table in the cafeteria, and ask a group of freshmen about their stories (there are perks to being an upperclassmen. You can do that kind of stuff). Everyone comes to college with a pocketful of stories. One of the stories everyone has is how they ended up in their major. The reasons offered are as varied and interesting as the diverse student population we have at Nyack. I’d like to tell you the story of how I found myself in the Education Program.

The process of choosing a major was a bit of a task for me–I didn’t know what I wanted to do. At all. During my college search, I thought about majoring in everything from Library Science to Intercultural Studies, two very, very different majors. I especially laugh about the Library Science one–I’m far too loud to be a librarian. After I was done laughing about that, I started looking into Nyack. I remember printing off descriptions of degrees I was interested in, and laying the descriptions out on the white carpet of my room in order to think and pray about everything. I had experience teaching at church and knew I was decent at teaching, and also knew my love for all things poetic, literary, and even grammatical… I was plagued by questions about whether or not I should choose the full-time Christian ministry route or whether I should choose what I loved and where my giftings were. Someone told me once that if you are following the commandments of God, that as long as your life decisions do not go against God’s commandments in Scripture, then it is okay to follow your giftings. You don’t have to stress so much that you’re wandering outside God’s will for your life. It’s like God gives us this crazy large area to run around in, just stay in the borders and He’s set. You can’t really get outside of His will if you’re doing this. That was a freeing thought, and it was through this thought process that I submitted my application to become an Adolescent English Education Major. Looking back, that was the best decision. The years I’ve spent in college have allowed me to better understand how I’m wired as a person, and teaching English is definitely in my wiring.

There you have it. That is the story of how I ended up in the Education Program at Nyack College. Embarrassingly, I must admit that I arrived at Nyack with little idea about what the Education Program was like. I had been paying more attention to which major I would chose, than to the quality of programs offered at different schools. I had no idea how amazing the quality of the Education Program at Nyack College actually was when I walked up the steps of Shuman Hall as a wide-eyed freshman. The program has continued to be that amazing throughout my college experience. Now reader, you know the story of how I become Education Major. Stay tuned for more stories about this department I found myself in at Nyack.

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From Cornfields to Nyack College: Our New Education Blogger

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Hello world, I’d like to introduce myself. Pull up a chair, and pour a steaming cup of coffee. Let’s get to know each other. I’m from the wild cornfields of the Midwest, the kind of place where you feel like you can walk through the horizon. Ten minutes from my house you can stand in the middle of a field surrounded by nothing but plowed earth and waiting, blue, blue sky. In the Midwest you don’t feel like you’re standing on the edge of the earth–you feel like everything is just beginning there. If you can get lost in the millions of people in New York City, you can get lost in the limitless earth of the Midwest.

You might be wondering how someone raised around cornfields ended up going out to school in New York. I ended up at Nyack through a fairly humorous set of circumstances. One summer my parents “strongly suggested” that I sign up to receive college information at LIFE (a church youth conference). I followed this suggestion and dragged myself to the exhibition hall to sign up for college information. The next semester Nyack started sending me all these brightly colored flyers with the faces of English Majors, stories from students, and descriptions of life on the hillside. I noticed how Nyack’s mail focused on people, diversity, service, and how Christ seemed to be at the heart of everything. My dad and I came out to visit the school, and I fell in love with the place: the hillside, the way you can see the Hudson from campus, the way people not only believe in the importance of community but live out that belief, and the way that Christ was moving and continues to move throughout campus life. That’s how a girl raised under blurry, beautiful Midwest skies ended up at Nyack College majoring in Adolescent English Education. I love this place and the people in this place.

Now, you probably want to know a few more things about me, right? Grab another cup of coffee, and I’ll tell you some random specifics. As you possibly might guess, I love all things English. Taking me into a bookstore is a rather terrible idea. You will find yourself there for a few hours, as I thumb through pages of yellowed tomes and texts of classics, science-fiction, weird YA novels, or anything else that looks interesting. Poetry is my special love, and lately I’ve been reading a lot of poetry that’s been translated into English. There’s something about translated poetry that can be really beautiful, really haunting. Long conversations over coffee and tea about random and deep topics are also my thing too. People are really important to me. I also enjoy running, though I must admit that frigid Arctic running is not my thing. My favorite quote is by G.K. Chesterton. He writes this, “And the more I considered Christianity, the more I found that while it had established a  rule and order, the chief aim of that order was to give room for good things to run wild.”  This quote makes me grin with wild excitement every time I read it, and if you could boil down my philosophy of life into a few sentences it would be this quote. I have this quote plastered with some sticky tack to my dorm room door. It’s a reminder for me to constantly live life with the idea that there is intense joy in being a Christian.

Now, world, you know a little about me. Thank you, for listening. It is my most sincere wish that as I write, that I can show the stories of the good things running wild, the realest of real things, and the things full of grace and wonder that I have experienced while on this campus. Let’s talk again soon.

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