Category Archives: Curriculum and Instruction

C&I PhD candidate Jeanna Wieselmann receives WPLC award

Jeanna Wieselmann2

Jeanna Wieselmann, a doctoral candidate in STEM Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction was selected for the 2017 Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Award (WPLC) as a “Rising Star” graduate student.

Wieselmann’s research is focused on gender equity in STEM education at the elementary school level. She is interested in gender equity in STEM, particularly in maintaining girls’ interest in STEM in the elementary years and beyond.

Wieselmann will be traveling to Japan this fall to work with colleagues there as they begin to introduce integrated STEM instruction in the classroom.

“I’ll help with STEM curriculum development and implementation, and I’ll study student perceptions of self and STEM, likely examining differences across contexts,” she says, including both different settings within Japan and as compared to the U.S.”

“I’m fortunate be at institution where women are well represented in the STEM fields, in my department in particular,” Wieselmann says of Department of Curriculum & Instruction where both of her advisors, Gillian Roehrig and Julie Brown, are female STEM faculty. “I would like to be a professor at a research institution, so seeing women in that role has definitely inspired me.”

Find out more about the Department of Curriculum & Instruction and the doctoral program in STEM Education.

Two new books out this week in the “Expanding Literacies in Education” series edited by C&I’s Cynthia Lewis

Two new books in Routledge’s Expanding Literacies in Education series, co-edited by Professor Cynthia Lewis in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, were released this week—Reading Students’ Lives by Catherine Compton-Lilly, Literacy and Mobility by Brice Nordquist.

The Expanding Literacies in Education series features books that highlight the changing landscape and explore new directions and theoretical tools in literacy studies as it is transforming education—including material, embodied, affective, and global emphases; digital and virtual worlds; and transcultural and cosmopolitan spaces. These books engage researchers, graduate students, and teacher educators with new and emerging theoretical approaches to literacy practices in all of their complexities, challenges, and possibilities.

Reading Students’ Lives: Literacy Learning Across Time documents literacy practices as children move through school, with a focus on issues of schooling, identity construction and how students and their parents make sense of students’ lives across time. It is the final book in a series of four that track a group of low-income African American students and their parents across a decade. This is a free-standing volume that breaks new ground both theoretically and methodologically and has important implications for children, schools, and educational research.

Literacy and Mobility: Complexity, Uncertainty, and Agency at the Nexus of High School and College follows students from different tracks of high school English in a “failing” U.S. public school through their first two years after high school. The work illustrates how students help constitute and connect one scene of literacy with others in their daily lives; how their mobile literacies produce, maintain, and disrupt social relations and identities with respect to race, gender, class, language, and nationality; and how they draw upon multiple literacies and linguistic resources to accommodate, resist, and transform dominant discourses.

Lewis’s research draws on critical sociocultural theory to study the relationship between classroom discourse, social identities, and learning in English/Language Arts. She holds the Emma Birkmaier Professorship in Educational Leadership and serves as the Department Chair.

Learn more about Literacy Education programs and research in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

 

C&I student, Vanessa Goodthunder, featured in “Legacy” magazine

Vanessa Goodthunder, and M.Ed. candidate in Social Studies Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, was profiled in the University of Minnesota’s Legacy magazine for her commitment to her Native American community on the Lower Sioux Indian reservation in southwestern Minnesota.

Goodthunder was inspired to earn her initial teaching license in social studies education because she noticed that even though many of the students in her school were Native American, none of the teachers were. She ultimately hopes to teach the Dakota language, which she has been studying on campus, and high school social studies in the Twin Cities or on the Lower Sioux reservation.

“Education really helped me thrive,” says Goodthunder. She hopes to inspire the next generation of American Indian students to speak their native language in order to preserve their heritage while reaching their potential as students. Read the full story in Legacy magazine.

Learn more about the M.Ed. and Initial Teaching License program in Social Studies education.  

Consider supporting the Department of Curriculum and Instruction’s educational programs and initiatives to increase diversity in the teacher candidate pool in Minnesota.

Gao is co-investigator on NIH grant to study physical activity in older adults

Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory in the School of Kinesiology, recently collaborated with researchers from the U of M and successfully secured a 5-year NIH R21/33 research grant as a co-investigator. The project titled “Mindful Movement for Physical Activity and Wellbeing in Older Adults: A Community Based Randomized Hybrid Effectiveness-Implementation Study” (1R21AT009110-01A1) will be led by Dr. Roni Evans, Research Director of the Integrative Health & Wellbeing Research Program at the Center for Spirituality and Healing.

Physical inactivity has reached pandemic proportions and is associated with increased morbidity, mortality, and healthcare costs. Of particular concern is that most middle to older age adults fall far short of recommendations for health-enhancing physical activities. This project takes a novel approach to tackling this problem by combining mindfulness with behavioral strategies in a unique ‘Mindful Movement’ program offered through YMCA community facilities. Gao will serve as the physical activity assessment specialist in the team to lead the measurement of the primary outcome – older adults’ moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.

C&I’s Marek Oziewicz receives inaugural Award for Faculty Contribution to Honors Education

Marek Oziewicz,  Marguerite Henry Professor of Children’s and Young Adult Literature in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, has received the first annual Award for Faculty Contribution to Honors Education from the University Honors Program (UHP).

The award recognizes Oziewicz’s many and significant contributions  to Honors education at the University of Minnesota—Twin Cities. Those contributions include teaching an Honors Seminar, anchoring UHP’s first curated Honors experience, and offering samples of Honors teaching at recruitment events.

“Professor  Oziewicz’s Honors Seminar, ‘Fantasy: A Ghastly Wicked Introduction,’ has quickly become a student favorite,” says UHP Director,  Matt Bribitzer-Stull, adding that  Oziewicz anchored the program’s “Dracula in Multimedia” Honors Experience and taught mini-seminars at spring recruitment events to give prospective students a taste of what UHP has to offer.

Oziewicz studies the transformative power of literature for the young reader and teachers. He teaches several courses within the literacy education program area in the department, covering topics such as speculative fiction (especially fantasy), global and multicultural books, and literature-based cognitive modeling for moral imagination, global citizenship, environmental awareness, and justice literacy.

Learn more about literacy education programs and courses in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

 

 

 

C&I, CEHD alumnus Corey Bulman named 2017 Minnesota Teacher of the Year

Corey Bulman, a CEHD alumnus who received his M.Ed. and initial teaching license in English Education from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in 2006, recently won the prestigious Minnesota Teacher of the Year award. Bulman was selected from 132 candidates, 27 semifinalists, and 11 finalists to receive the 2017 award from Education Minnesota, an 86,000-member statewide educators union. Candidates include prekindergarten through 12th-grade teachers from public or private schools.

Bulman, who has been a language arts teacher at Mound Westonka High School in Mound, MN since earning his teaching license 17 years ago, was inspired by his high school teachers to reach his potential after years as a struggling student. He wrote in his Teacher of the Year portfolio, “This educational experience taught me an important lesson: education is a gift that is renewed every time it is shared. This fact has driven me to give to others what I was so graciously given all those years ago.”

“Even after 18 years, I still remember this outstanding student,” said Richard Beach, Professor Emeritus of English Education who advised Bulman during his time in graduate school. Beach notes that Bulman is the third graduate from the English education program to receive the Teacher of the Year award.

Bulman told the Star Tribune that his students remain a constant source of inspiration. “I’m so incredibly proud to be their teacher,” he said. “They make me think every single day, they challenge me, they keep me young, they keep ideas fresh and vibrant. I’m very fortunate to be their teacher.”

A former student of Bulman’s, Sara Strother, who is finishing her M.Ed. in Arts in Education this May from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, wrote in support of Bulman’s nomination, “When I was in high school, it mattered a great deal to me how adults treated me. Corey was an adult who showed me he believed I was smart and cared about my ideas. He was honest, funny and made me believe in myself.” She adds, “Corey doesn’t just care about the people in his classroom. He cares about how to make them better people, thinkers and leaders of thoughtful lives.”

Learn more about the teacher education programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Consider supporting the teacher preparation work in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction to help us develop future teachers of the year.

C&I student, Fadumo Mohamed, wins CEHD Multicultural Recognition Award

Lori Helman, Fadumo Mohamed and her parents, Anthony Albecker, Vichet Chhuon

Fadumo Mohamed, a senior in the Elementary Education Foundations program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction received the CEHD Student Multicultural Recognition Award this year. The award is given to a candidate who has made outstanding multicultural efforts to the CEHD community in community outreach as part of their extracurricular or professional work.

Mohamed was nominated by her McNair Scholars program advisor, Lori Helman, on the strength of her many outreach activities. She worked as a literacy mentor in Pratt Community School as part of the America Reads program where she became interested in creating an effective mentoring program for Somali-American youth in the Cedar Riverside neighborhood.

The existing government programs designed to support positive extracurricular activities were transforming into programs to monitor youth for potential future terrorist threats. This was creating a divisive and mistrustful atmosphere in the community, so Mohamed urged the community school to not take the government funding for these programs that offered tutoring and instead to let her provide tutors with the support of the Young Muslims Collaborative (YMC).

In support of that effort she trained almost 40 mentors over two years that were paired with unmotivated or disconnected students. By training mentors who have had similar life experiences, the students are given emotional and strategic support for setting life goals. This is in contrast to programs that attempt to see these youth as potential deviants.

“Fadumo shares the importance of knowing who you are- the values of dual identity, dual language, and works to develop a curriculum that highlights this,” says Helman. “It has been my great honor to work alongside her and learn from her as she gives her full effort toward ensuring equity and positive identity formation for Somali Americans.”

Mohamed will enter the Master of Education and Initial Teaching License program in Elementary Education in the fall where she plans to continue her work towards engaging youth and creating a curriculum that responds to the needs of multicultural student communities.

Learn more about the elementary education programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

 

C&I student Hannah Baxter wins Fulbright Scholarship

Hannah Baxter, an M.Ed. candidate in the Initial Teaching Licensure program in Second Language Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction received the prestigious Fulbright scholarship this year along with 12 other students from the University of Minnesota.

The Fulbright scholarship is meant to foster mutual understandings between people from the United States and other countries through the exchange of knowledge and skills. Baxter will use the Fulbright scholarship to spend a year in Bavaria working as an English teaching assistant with a local teacher. She is looking forward to the opportunity to experience ESL classes in Germany, improve her language skills, and gain a deeper understanding of the German culture after earning her teaching license in both German and English as a second language (ESL) this summer through her M.Ed. program.

“I hope that when I come back, I can bring these experiences with me and use them to be a better teacher for my future students,” said Baxter who plans to teach ESL or German classes in the States upon her return.

Find out more about the degree programs in second language education offered by the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

Sato publishes book on teacher preparation and development in China

Mistilina Sato, Associate Professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, authored the recently released book, Empowered Educators in China:  How High Performing Systems Shape Teaching Quality, part of the “Empowered Educator” series published by Jossey Bass (A Wiley imprint). This work is part of a three-year policy study that produced a series of international case studies and books based on  high performing jurisdictions that examines how provincial and national policies support teaching quality from recruitment through preparation and hiring, to ongoing career development and leadership opportunities.

Sato is also co-author of the cross-case book Empowered Educators: How High-Performing Systems Shape Teaching Quality Around the World with Linda Darling-Hammond, Dion Burns, Carol Campbell, A. Lin Goodwin, Karen Hammerness, Ee-Ling Low, Ann McIntyre, and Ken Zeichner.

The national book launch will take place in Washington D.C. on June 6, 2017 hosted by the National Center on Education and the Economy.

C&I’s Marek Oziewicz quoted in Star Tribune on Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods”

Marek Oziewicz, Professor of Children’s and Young Adult Literature in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction was quoted in the Star Tribune on Neil Gaiman’s book, American Gods, which is being adapted into a TV series on Starz.

Gaimain, who has roots in the Midwest, says “I couldn’t have written [the book] without living in Wisconsin, and Minneapolis and St. Paul being the nearest big cities. It just wouldn’t have worked.”

Oziewicz, who teaches several courses on children’s and adolescent literature says of Gaimain, “His ideas are absolutely unique when it comes to speculative fiction, adding “Asking me to describe him in two sentences is like asking me to describe J.R.R. Tolkien in two sentences,” Oziewicz said. Read the full article in the Star Tribune.

Find out more about literacy education programs offered in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

C&I’s Erin Baldinger shares strategies to prepare math teachers for success

Erin Baldinger, Assistant Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction leverages her experience as a mathematics teacher and educational researcher to prepare aspiring mathematics teachers to effectively communicate their knowledge of math to their students.

“I’ve found that most teachers come into the field with a deep background in math. The problem is that the understanding of mathematics gained through advanced university mathematics courses is not well-connected to the mathematics in the work of teaching,” Baldinger explains.

She distills her experience into five teaching strategies to effectively support all students to engage in mathematics:

Five Techniques for Better Math Teachers

Improving math education and preparation programs for math teachers is a complicated task, but through my experience and research I’ve learned some general principles and strategies that are effective in helping support all students to engage in mathematics.

  1. Believe that all students can learn math. You must believe that every one of your students – no matter their background or current level of knowledge – is capable. Look for each student’s individual strengths and how you can leverage those strengths in the classroom. To me, this is the fundamental underlying principle of being a good teacher.
  2. Use rehearsals as a preparation tool. The most important things that I do in teacher preparation classes is helping my students connect the ideas that we read about to their own practice as teachers. One of the ways I do this is through “coached rehearsals.” One student will lead a discussion while the other members of the class act as the “kids.” During the rehearsal, we have the chance to stop, ask questions, and give feedback, so the discussion leader can get an idea of the kinds of dilemmas they’ll face in a classroom – without the pressure of being in front of a classroom of kids. Later, we use the process of recording video of novice teachers in the classroom and give them the opportunity to analyze their own performance and give feedback to one another.
  3. Explore multiple solutions to math problems. Doing math with my students is critical. When I’m teaching aspiring math teachers, we’ll do math problems that I would then have them do with their own students. During this process, we analyze the problems, looking for multiple solutions strategies. This helps them gain perspective on how their students might approach a problem. It also highlights that there are often multiple mathematically valid ways to approach a task, and the teacher’s role is to help students make connections among the different solution strategies.
  4. Listen. Secondary math teachers must be committed to listening to their students and understanding what they have to say about mathematics. By valuing all student contributions and building on them, you’ll help them cultivate a deeper mathematical understanding.
  5. Understand that there’s no quick fix. With my students, I use multiple strategies to help them learn about teaching. Sometimes it’s rehearsals, sometimes it’s doing math tasks, sometimes we’re watching video or reading and analyzing various aspects of teaching. Having all those touchpoints is critical for me. It’s counterproductive to try and have a quick fix or to think that there’s one technique that will work all the time. Teaching is tough, complex work – but with the right approach I’ve seen my aspiring math teachers – and their pupils – make tremendous strides.
    Read the full article on the CEHD Vision 2020 Blog.

Learn more about the teacher licensure program in mathematics in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

C&I Ph.D. student, Joubert, receives Interdisciplinary Dissertation Development award

Ezekiel Joubert, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction received the Interdisciplinary Dissertation Development scholarship from the Institute of Advanced Studies to support his dissertation research. The program is designed to give University of Minnesota graduate students in the social science and humanities fields the opportunity to workshop, test, and begin the proposal writing process.

Joubert’s dissertation looks at the effects of economic migration on black Americans and what role educational opportunity played in altering the routes of the descendants of the Great Migration. Joubert’s family was part of the Great Migration that settled in Southeastern Michigan in a small cluster of rural and semi-rural townships and small cities forged by industrialization and transformed by black migrants in search of economic opportunities and safety from the Jim Crow South. Years later, this area experienced a wave of intrastate migration due to deindustrialization and disinvestment in cities such as Detroit.

“As a descendant of the Great Migration and a child of parents who left Detroit, I noticed a number of challenges facing these black residents: increasing concerns over contaminated land and water, a loss of economic opportunity in semi-rural or rural areas and most important to my study, public school closures and mergers and school of choice which has forced families to choose between traveling long distances to get their children to school or to uproot their families completely,” Joubert said, which helped him focus his research of understanding the effects of requiring students, particularly children of color, to involuntary and voluntary cross racial, economic, political, and regional borders.

Joubert is advised by associate professor Tim Lensmire.

Learn more about the Ph.D. program in Culture and Teaching in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

C&I’s Vichet Chhuon writes in the Star Tribune on the importance of teacher diversity in MN

Vichet Chhuon, C&I associate professor the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, wrote about the crucial need for more teachers of color and native american descent in Minnesota classrooms in an op ed in the Star Tribune, “Counterpoint: Teachers of color and American Indian descent in Minnesota are crucial.”

Chhuon underscores the reasons that  a diverse teaching force is imperative for students. “Minnesota has had some of the worst academic and opportunity gaps in the nation,” he notes. “Developing trusting and affirming relationships with diverse students and families is crucial to closing equity gaps.”

Chuuon believes that the Minnesota teaching force should reflect the population of its students and its inhabitants. He argues that research has shown that students of all races benefit from being taught by diverse teachers. In addition to simply seeing diversity of adults in professional roles, all students will receive exposure to diverse backgrounds and perspectives.

Read the full article in the Star Tribune.

Billington collaborates on NSF-funded grant to create interactive science education games

Barbara Billington, a science lecturer in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, will collaborate with University of Minnesota colleagues and educational technology company Andamio Games on a project funded by the National Science Foundation to produce a series of tablet-based lessons and challenges to help high school students master concepts related to photosynthesis and cell respiration. This project will enable students to learn difficult science concepts using a collaborative gaming approach that aims to significantly increase student engagement and understanding.

As part of the grant, Billington will partner with life science teachers from Saint Paul Public Schools to conduct a classroom study in the second year of the project. Lessons will be designed and research directed by both Billington and her colleagues Sehoya Cotner, associate professor in the College of Biological Sciences, and Christopher Desjardins, research associate at the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement.

“Science teacher feedback in Phase I of the project reconfirmed the value of our multi-player approach and also led us to the addition of a virtual biology lab,” said Andamio Games president Adam Gordon. “Teachers wanted their students to get a practical experience of scientific experimentation — including when it doesn’t go quite as expected — independent of the usual costs and time commitments for conventional lab experiments.”

Billington has a unique understanding of science classrooms after seven years teaching high school biology. She earned both her teacher licensure and Ph.D. in science education from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, where her current research focuses on training pre-service teachers and gender equity in STEM education.

Find out more about the science education programs in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

 

 

Inaugural C&I Emerging Scholars Conference highlights student research

Keynote speaker, Maria Asp of the Children’s Theatre Company, presents at the C&I Emerging Scholars Conference

On April 7, the first annual C&I Emerging Scholars Conference was held in Peik Hall to recognize undergraduate and graduate students engaged in projects and research. Organized by the C&I Graduate Student Association (CIGSA) this conference (formerly named C&I Research Day) was reimagined this year in a conference format to highlight the research scholarship of students. The theme for the conference was “examine everything” based on a call to action from our Department Head, Dr. Cynthia Lewis in the Fall to “denounce supremacy, confront hatred, and build socially just classrooms and communities”.

The event kicked off with a keynote from Maria Asp of the Children’s Theatre Company’s Neighborhood Bridges Program. Asp led the group through a critical literacy activity that allowed participants to examine a story from different perspective. After the keynote over 60 C&I students presented their work through paper, roundtable, and poster presentations. The day culminated with an ice cream social in the C&I Children’s Literature Library.

Special thanks to the organizers, Tracy Leitl, Sara Sterner, Lana Peterson, Dan Bordwell, Jeanna Wieselmann, Jeff Henning-Smith, and Ryan Oto, who serve as CIGSA leadership. To see highlights from the event search#ciesc17 on twitter.

C&I students are encouraged to get involved by serving on the planning committee for next year by emailing cigsa@umn.edu.

C&I graduate student, Kay Rosheim, wins Robert Schreiner Reading Dissertation Fellowship

Kay Rosheim, a Ph.D. candidate in Literacy Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, received the 2016-17 Robert Schreiner Reading Dissertation Fellowship. The $2,500 fellowship is designed to support the candidate’s dissertation research in reading education.   Awardees are selected based of the importance of the research, the clarity with which it is described, the potential the work has for making a significant contribution to the field, and the probability that the research will be completed in a timely manner.

Rosheim is pursuing her Ph.D. while working as a K-6 Literacy Specialist at Forest Hills Elementary in Eden Prairie, uniquely positioning her dissertation research.  Rosheim’s dissertation explores the continuum of quiet in the K-6 classroom, recognizing that the role of silence is a complex process. Through an inquiry of designing and implementing curriculum and pedagogies for an extremely quiet student, Kay aims to acquire new knowledge and practices of instruction that promotes self-efficacy in quiet learners.

Rosheim’s advisor is Associate Professor, Lori Helman.

Learn more about the Ph.D. in Literacy Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

C&I graduate, Jennifer Eik, receives 2017 Rising Alumni award

Jennifer Eik (left) and her collaborator, Jenna Cushing-Leubner.

Jennifer Eik, a graduate from the Department of Curriculum and Instruction in Second Language Education was selected for the prestigious Rising Alumni Award for 2017. The award is presented by the CEHD Alumni Society to a CEHD alum who has achieved early distinction in their career (15 years or less since graduation), demonstrated outstanding leadership or shown exceptional volunteer services in their community.

Eik is a Spanish teacher at Roosevelt High School where she has pioneered a new curriculum teaching Spanish as a heritage language, along with Ph.D. candidate in Second Language Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Jenna Cushing-Leubner. Their work has been profiled in the MinnPost and has made a huge impact for students who speak Spanish at home or come from Spanish-speaking households. Eik’s Spanish Heritage curriculum spends the first year teaching students Spanish with a different historical perspective — one that delves into Latino ancestry, culture, and historical figures – and identity exploration.

“Students of color are yearning for curriculum that they can connect to,” Eik says, noting that it helps students to think of themselves in a more positive light when they hear stories of historical accomplishment and contribution from their communities and ancestry.

Cushing-Leubner believes that Eik’s contribution to the field of teaching Spanish as a heritage language, for both pre-service and practicing teachers, is “remarkable and certainly deserving of recognition. I’m sure Minneapolis Public Schools and Roosevelt High School are very proud of the tireless efforts and powerful impacts that she, her students, and her teacher candidates/mentees are making in the area of justice-oriented language education.”

Learn more about the teacher education programs in the area of Second Language Education in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

 

 

C&I student receives collaborative research grant from the Institute for Advanced Study

Ezekiel Joubert, a Ph.D. candidate in Culture and Teaching in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, has received a grant from the Institute for Advanced Study as part of an interdisciplinary Research and Creative Collaborative, “Historical Injustices: The Working Group.”

The IAS is a University-wide interdisciplinary center, and a resource for scholars, artists, professionals, and students who are engaged in a wide variety of study and practice. It also serves as a bridge between the University and the wider community as a place where people meet and ideas are exchanged.

The Historical Injustices Working Group also includes Yuichiro Onishi from the Department of African American & African Studies, Catherine Squires from the Department of Communication Studies, Hana Maruyama from the Department of American Studies and John Matsunaga from Asian American Studies. “We are interested in tracing the University of Minnesota’s ties to both slavery and Japanese wartime resettlement,” says Joubert. “In particular, I am looking at developing a curriculum based on our research.”

Joubert also notes that the working group is hoping to tie their research findings to the movement of slaves up and down the Mississippi river. “Part of project is to increase students’ of color engagement in the river itself,” says Joubert, adding that all school-aged children in Minnesota study African American history as part of the curriculum and ethnic studies are now offered as an elective in the state of Minnesota where he sees the curriculum he is developing as a good fit.

“Almost all universities have an invisible history related to colonialism and racial injustice,” says Joubert. “Whether it was the removal of indigineous people off lands or racial injustices related to civil rights.” He adds that he hopes the Historical Injustices Working Group can shed light on some of these issues.

Find out more about the research degrees offered in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

 

 

Abdi’s research finds critical link between public school and immigrant student experience

“Public schools are the de facto experience for immigrant children to be part of this country, both to learn about and participate in the nation,” says Nimo Abdi, a faculty member in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, noting that public schools are the first place where immigrant children contact mainstream culture and learn ways to integrate.

Abdi’s research focuses on the intersectionality, or interconnected nature of social categorizations such as race, class, and gender, as they apply to the immigrant student. She is interested in how context shapes the identities of students. And what she has found is that the impact of schooling cannot but understated for students that are new to this country.

Preconceptions Hurt Immigrant Students

Abdi is studying the Somali community in Columbus, Ohio which is very similar to the one here in the Twin Cities. She sees Somali students face the obstacle of preconceived notions based on their background in the Columbus public schools. “Teachers and school administrators and students have certain concepts of what it means to be a Somali,” Abdi says.

As a science teacher in Columbus, Abdi noticed that students were treated differently based on their appearance. Russian immigrant students were mainstreamed into regular classes even if they needed the help of an ESL class. However, second-generation Somali students were still being placed in ESL classes even if they were proficient.

“Those things tend to mark and label students in a certain way—being visible, being black and Muslim, and also being Somali,” Abdi finds in her experience and research.

Caught Between Two Cultures

Somalis students deal with the dual pressure of having to fit into their schools and into their home communities by changing their identities in different contexts. “In urban settings, some Somali students appropriate hip-hop culture to be part of the black youth culture,” says Abdi, noting that they are not necessarily accepted completely not do they see themselves as such.

“One boy told me that sometimes he identified as Somali, sometimes as African-American. It all depends on the context. “

Trying to fit into the school and home community is especially difficult for girls. “Girls come to school completely covered, and in literally less than ten minutes they take everything off and look completely different,” Abdi says that “the tricky thing about the whole notion of dress code is it could have completely different meanings in different settings. Covering is appreciated in the Somali context as a show of modesty but it has the opposite effect in mainstream culture. It’s a very difficult for young children to navigate that.”

Creating Spaces for Immigrant Students

In order to help immigrant students thrive in the educational system, Abdi believes that schools need to create spaces for all children, by educating students about different religions and offering options for students who don’t conform to the majority religion. She believes that a culturally responsive pedagogy could go a long way towards helping to integrate immigrant children and their communities.

“Social categories have real-life consequences in people’s lives. Being labelled in a certain way, has real meaning for children and how they see themselves,” Abdi reveals the main finding of her research: “The context of our education shapes who we are and how we see the world.”

Find about more about teacher education programs designed to support immigrant students in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction.

 

C&I’s Gillian Roehrig appointed President of the Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE)

Professor Gillian Roehrig has been elected to the prestigious role of President of the Association for Science Teachers Education (ASTE), a non-profit professional organization composed of over 800 members from countries around the globe.

Gillian Roehrig with past ASTE president, Malcolm Butler

The mission of ASTE is to “promote excellence in science teacher education world-wide through scholarship and innovation.” Members include teacher educators, scientists, science coordinators and supervisors, and informal science educators who prepare and provide professional development for teachers of science at all grade levels.

As both a professor of science education and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, Roehrig’s professional focus is on advancing science teacher education and preparation.

She writes that her “research and teaching interests are centered on understanding how teachers translate national and state standards into their classrooms. Of particular interest is how teachers, from preservice through induction and into the inservice years, implement inquiry-based teaching and how different induction and professional development programs can influence teachers’ knowledge, beliefs, and classroom practices.”

Roehrig’s brings her considerable experience and expertise to help steer ASTE in advancing science education practice and policy through scholarship, collaboration, and innovation in science teacher education.

Learn more about the science teacher education and research programs in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction.