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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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

C&I’s Blanca Caldas Wins Outstanding Dissertation Award

The American Educational Research Association’s (AERA’s) Bilingual Education Research SIG selects the top three dissertations in the field of bilingual education research each year as outstanding dissertations. Assistant professor in Curriculum & Instruction, Blanca Caldas was honored with the second place Outstanding Dissertation Award for her doctoral thesis, “Performing the Advocate Bilingual Teacher: Drama-based Interventions for Future Story Making.”

Caldas’s doctoral dissertation focused on exploring how critical drama-based pedagogical techniques in the development of future bilingual teachers can prepare them to become leaders and advocates inside and outside the classroom. In this yearlong study, the participants—a cohort of pre-service bilingual teachers—engaged in the re-imagining of the oral narratives of experienced bilingual teachers by physically reenacting their stories and providing alternative endings.

“My research aims to study the outcomes of pedagogical practices for the preparation of future bilingual teachers that have the potential to empower themselves to not only think critically about the issues that surround bilingual education, but also to engage in leadership and advocacy inside and outside the classroom,” says Caldas.

Caldas brings her research and pedagogical expertise to the Second Language Education program area in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, working to advance the field of bilingual education and bilingual teacher preparation.

Learn more about the programs offered in second language education in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction.

 

 

Learning Technologies “Changing Earth” team tackles second Arctic expedition

The mission: Tackle an ancient path across 137 miles of Arctic wilderness from the north of Iceland to the south. Document stories en route focused on how we find strength and purpose in an increasingly fragile, interconnected, and stressed world. A team of four explorers will travel by ski and snowshoe, pulling all gear, food, and technology in large sleds called pulks. They will visit schools and talk with residents in several Icelandic communities en route, learning about the social, economic, and environmental innovations spawned on this island of fire and ice, and how people adapt and find purpose even amidst constant change.

Modern technologies, including drones and virtual reality, will enable the team to capture the expedition, land, communities, and stories in extraordinary ways, and share their journey online in real time with students, teachers, and the general public. Schools around the world have access to the Changing Earth’s free online learning environment (http://thechangingearth.com) with activities and resources focused on science, technology, geography, and culture. The site includes free collaboration and interaction tools for students, a learning zone for the general public, and a student management system for teachers.

The Changing Earth is an adventure learning series of eight expeditions over four years to remote regions of the Arctic and the Tropics. The Arctic and Tropics are facing some of the most rapid and widespread environmental and sociocultural changes on Earth.

The first Changing Earth expedition, in April 2016, took the team across the far northern end of the Baffin Island in Canada (http://thechangingearth.com/expedition1/). This second expedition will begin in late February 2017 in Akureyri, a small city in northern Iceland. From there, the team will travel out by ski and snowshoe, crossing the island from north to south. In the heart of Iceland, they’ll traverse Sprengisandur, an ancient route between the Hofsjökull and Vatnajökull glaciers – to Landmannalaugar, an area rife with geothermal activity. This journey will take the team across challenging terrain, not easily accessible in winter. Their final destination is the capital city of Reykjavik.

Team leader Aaron Doering (see http://chasingseals.com) is an adventure learning pioneer, professor, and worldwide explorer who has dogsledded and pulked throughout the circumpolar Arctic, ranging from Chukotka, Russia, to Fennoscandia, and around the globe to Greenland, Canada, and the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska. He holds a close connection to the land, having grown up on a farm in southern Minnesota, and has a passion for educating others about our planet. Doering is a fellow of the Royal Canadian Geographical Society, and the UMN Institute on the Environment. He has been honored with multiple awards and recognitions, including being a laureate of the Tech Awards (http://www.thetech.org/tech-awards-presented-applied-materials ), which pay tribute to individuals using technology to benefit humanity.

Doering will be accompanied on this journey by three fellow adventurers and education professionals: Chris Ripken, a high school geography teacher recognized for his innovative uses of technology in the classroom; Jeni Henrickson, a creative professional and researcher passionate about getting folks outdoors; and Matthew Whalen, a professional videographer and seasoned outdoorsman.

Doering notes, “In sharing adventures, educational activities, and stories of innovation from real communities around the world, we hope to engage others in discussions about the importance of these fragile regions of the planet, and inspire people to take action and choose to care about their own communities, cultures, and the environment.”

The ultimate mission of the Changing Earth is to help create an environmentally literate and socially engaged generation of learners worldwide who are able to blend traditional and 21st century scientific and cultural knowledge to generate innovative solutions to guide the Earth and its diverse inhabitants into the future.

Join in online at http://thechangingearth.com and follow on Twitter and Instagram using #choose2care. The challenge begins February 24, 2017.

The Changing Earth is a project of the Learning Technologies Media Lab (LTML). LTML is an innovative design and research center located in the College of Education and Human Development’s Centers for Interdisciplinary Research at the University of Minnesota. LTML’s mission is to inspire and create opportunities for global collaboration in addressing humanity’s most pressing educational, social, and environmental issues by designing and evaluating innovative technology-mediated solutions for learners, educators, researchers, and organizations worldwide. We are a nonprofit focused on education, educational technology, and education research, and have to date designed and developed more than two dozen free online and mobile tools and learning environments in use by over 15 million learners worldwide.

See Aaron Doering interviewed about this expedition on The Weather Channel and on a Minnesota television news program.

Learn more about the educational opportunities offered in the Learning Technologies program area in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction.

Aleixo discusses the educational needs of refugee students

Over 175,000 migrants arrived in Sweden last year alone.

The influx of refugees has posed challenges for local European schools. Educators and administrators are working to find solutions for the shortage of teachers. In addition, they must find ways to overcome language and cultural barriers for these students.

A group of 20 administrators from Sweden, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom met with officials in Washington D.C. to develop two project groups in Minnesota and Colorado to better aid national refugee resettlement.

Currently, LEAP High School in St. Paul has been serving immigrant and refugee students for the past two decades.

The dialogue continued at panel last Monday. Local administrators from Hopkins, Maplewood and St. Paul gathered to discuss strategies, one of which being a buddy program for subject matter specialists and non-native English speaking teachers to work together and pull from each others strengths.

Marina Aleixo, the International Programs Coordinator at the College of Education and Human Development was involved in the conversation. Aleixo is also assisting in a “Teach Your Former Language” project in London geared to shift attitudes towards refugees.

Dr. Aleixo leads the Global Teacher Education Program, and has hosted more than 250 preservice and inservice teachers over the past four years. Her current work in the office of International Initiatives involves development of international programs for educators and students.

“Even though they are all from European countries, they have very, very different approaches to how they deal with refugee and immigrant student,” Aleixo said to the Star Tribune.

The State Department is planning a follow-up workshop on refugees in the education system in France next January.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity to continue the conversation,” Aleixo said to the Star Tribune.  

Native Language Literacy Assessment promises better outcomes for immigrant students

handswritingStudents who are new to the United States (and often English) have a wide range of educational experience when they enter the U.S. school system, ranging from ten-plus years of high-quality, formal schooling to very few experiences with formal education. However, according to research conducted last year in the Minneapolis public school system by professors Kendall King and Martha Bigelow of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, the standard assessment given to students new to the country failed to differentiate between those who had formal schooling and those who did not; they both scored roughly the same. This creates a problem for students, who are often initially placed in classes not appropriate to their skill level, and can slow down their achievement in schools.

The research findings, which were recently accepted for publication in Educational Policy, spurred King and Bigelow to tackle the problem with a more effective assessment tool. They started a collaboration with students, faculty and staff at Wellstone International High School, the New Family Center, and the Multilingual Department of Minneapolis public schools to develop the Native Literacy Learning Assessment (NLLA). This test, which Minneapolis now administers to most newcomer adolescents, provides administrators and teachers with crucial information about students’ reading and writing skills in their first language. It is available in Spanish, Somali, Oromo, Arabic, and Amharic.

King and Bigelow hope that teachers and administrators will find this new, free tool useful in meeting the needs of their multilingual students and ensuring appropriate class placement to better educational outcomes for students new to the U.S. school system.

Download the Native Language Literacy Assessment.

Excellence in Student Research: Meet C&I’s Doctoral Dissertation Fellows

The University of Minnesota created the Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship (DDF) program to allow the “the University’s most accomplished PhD candidates an opportunity to devote full-time effort to an outstanding research project by providing time to finalize and write a dissertation during the fellowship year.”  This academic year, the Department of Curriculum & Instruction was honored to receive the award for four of its outstanding PhD candidates.

What constitutes an outanding research project? We find out more about the four DDF recipients and their dissertation projects, career interests, and how they are planning to create change and promote knowledge for learners of all ages:

Melissa Engman

Revitalizing language, reframing expertise:  An ecological study of language in one teacher-learner’s Ojibwe classroom

Melissa Engman conducts research in an Ojibwe classroom.

When Melissa Engman was a graduate student in applied linguistics, she worked with associate professor Mary Hermes transcribing Ojibwe videos. The work led her to take a class in language revitalization—the process of reviving declining, often indigenous languages—and there she found resonance in the inherent social justice issues that arose with cultures who have seen their native language use dwindle. “I became aware that I’m a white person living here on land that was once Ojibwe and Dakota land. I began to think about assumptions and power that come with speaking a dominant language,” Engman says.

Engman’s work focuses on a classroom in the Lac Courte Oreilles reservation in Northwest Wisconsin where Ojibwe language is part of the curriculum. Due to the fact that Ojibwe language instruction materials are very few and many of the teachers have varying experiences with formal language training, Engman is trying to understand how to model the language revitalization program to be effective.

Engman attributes her research success partially to an atmosphere of collaborative support in her with her peers in Second Language Education. “Our cohort has very different research areas, but critical thinking is what unites our work,” Engman says. “We’re not afraid to challenge and push each other. That’s created a real sense of camaraderie and support. The faculty have done a really good job of fostering those relationships.”

Jenna Cushing-Leubner

Recuperating heritage languages, becoming transformative educators: Multilingual teachers and students of color transforming schools

Jenna Cushing-Leubner is developing and implementing a "heritage language" curriculum with the help of participating teachers. (Photo by Erin Hinrichs)
Jenna Cushing-Leubner is developing and implementing a “heritage language” curriculum with the help of participating teachers. (Photo by Erin Hinrichs)

After completing a Fulbright Scholarship teaching German to Turkish students in Austria, Cushing-Leubner realized that the non-native language learners in the schools were being left behind. She found a similar situation for Spanish-speaking students in the United States, which led her to focus her dissertation on developing a “heritage language” curriculum for students who speak Spanish at home. These students can use their home language as a springboard to learning more about their history, heritage and be included more effectively in a classroom setting.

“Multilingual kids are not represented in the current curriculum at all. They don’t see school as a space that’s designed for them,” Cushing-Leubner explains the problem with current foreign language classrooms. “Heritage language classes can reverse the trend of excluding home-language speakers.”

Cushing-Leubner is working with new teachers in high schools and middle schools across the Twin Cities metro.  They have already successfully implemented heritage language classes in Spanish that use Latino-American history as a way for students to practice reading and writing the language they already speak proficiently. For these students, “keeping ties to their heritage languages is a point of strength and hope, and helps create community with one another,” says Cushing-Leubner.

Emily Midkiff

Enabling Space Cadets: Quality Science Fiction for Children under 12 Years Old

Emily Midkiff got sidetracked while working on a class project to analyze a library’s circulation data.  She noticed how little children’s science fiction existed compared to children’s fantasy literature, though the check-out rates were the same. This led Midkiff to create her dissertation to examine science fiction for children under 12, an area that is largely neglected but important to the development of interest in the STEM education fields.

Emily Midkiff is conducting a case study of children's science fiction.
Emily Midkiff is conducting a case study of children’s science fiction.

“There are all these interview on how engineers, scientists and people at NASA read sci-fi when they were little. It shaped how they view science; Not a lot of people make that connection,” Midkiff says. She plans to look for strong girl characters and diverse heroines in children’s science fiction to better understand the lack of women and minorities in the STEM fields as part of her research.

Jenifer Vanek

Migrant Adult Learners and Digital Literacy: Collaborative Study for Sustainable Change

Jen Vanek has been working in the field of adult literacy and second-language learning for 20 years, the last 10 of which she has focused on digital literacy. Her dissertation is aimed at helping adult ESL teachers integrate online learning into teaching. She is working closely with four community-based organizations to to design digital homerooms stocked with learning resources for adult English-language learners to use in their computer learning labs.

Jenifer Vanek is working in the to advance digital literacy for adult second-language learners.
Jenifer Vanek is workingto advance digital literacy for adult second-language learners.

“I hope that what emerges at the end are not only instructional resources that solve local problems, but also observations on how learning happens that can be applied to other learning environments,” says Vanek.

Learn more about the Ph.D. programs in Second Language Education and Literacy or other doctoral programs in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction.

Nominations are open for next year’s DDF fellowship.