Category Archives: Curriculum and Instruction

C&I Graduate Triples Elementary Test Scores in One Year, Closes Achievement Gap

Bonnie Laabs
Courtesy of City Pages

Reporter Susan Du of City Pages recently reported that after just one year as the science teacher in struggling Hamline Elementary school, Bonnie Laabs raised the science proficiency rate from 17 percent to 61 percent, meeting the statewide average. According to Jodie Wilson, Hamline’s testing coordinator, this tremendous jump is “extremely unheard of” in St. Paul Schools.

Laabs uses a combination of extra-academic advice and mentoring, along with creative explanations of difficult science terminology with the help of classroom pets to help students overcome hurdles in scientific understanding.

She is also open about her own past in which she struggled with abuse at an early age, spent time in foster care, and got thrown out of school. She uses her redemption through education as an example to her students, allowing them to open up about their own fears and problems. Laabs also tells her story to underscore the importance of completing homework and getting a good education.

Bonnie Laabs graduated with a Ph.D. from the Department of Curriculum & Instruction with a focus on family, youth, and community. To read the entire article visit the CityPages website.

Lori Helman named Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading

[left to right]: Diane Barone, Outgoing ILA President Jerry Johns, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and award donor, Lori Helman, William Teale, Incoming ILA President
[left to right]: Diane Barone, Outgoing ILA President; Jerry Johns, Distinguished Professor Emeritus and award donor; Lori Helman; William Teale, Incoming ILA President
Lori Helman, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, was named the Jerry Johns Outstanding Teacher Educator in Reading at the International Literacy Association’s annual conference in July.

The award honors an exceptional college or university professor in the field of reading education and is given annually to a member of ILA who is currently teaching preparation in reading to prospective educators at the undergraduate or graduate level. “An ideal recipient is considered to be a knowledgeable professional, an innovative teacher, a leader in the field of reading, a role model, and a disseminator,” according to the association.

Helman’s work in literacy in reading includes several endeavors. Most recently, she launched PRESS, a website featuring videos and tutorials that supports educators in implementing a framework for schoolwide literacy improvement. Helman also completed a a six-year longitudinal study of immigrant, bilingual students’ language and literacy journeys and co-wrote Inclusive Literacy Teaching on her findings and the implications for education. She is currently working with bilingual and dual immersion schools to implement Spanish word study curriculum and serves as a member of the International Literacy Association’s Standards 2017 Committee revising national standards for reading teachers and literacy professionals.

Helman’s research and teaching at the University centers on topics such as literacy development in the elementary grades, effective instructional practices with multilingual learners, teacher development and leadership, and assessment and instruction to support aspiring readers K-6.

Learn more about the graduate programs and professional development opportunities offered in literacy education in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction.

 

 

 

Minor in TESL Helps Students Build Communities While Furthering Their Career

teslminorarticle“One of my main goals coming into college was to gain new perspectives, which the minor in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) has done for me,” says English literature major, Ellie McCabe. “It’s provided me a really good look into what it’s like to be learning a new language, and in doing so gave me a lot more empathy towards those who are trying to learn English.” The 4-course minor (or post-baccalaureate certificate) offered by the Department of Curriculum & Instruction is geared at preparing students to teach English abroad or in community ESL programs to non-native speakers or as a springboard to further graduate study.

Early childhood education student, Chloe Imhoff, became interested in the minor as a way to further her teaching skills and job prospects. “The TESL minor allowed me a different perspective on education and a deeper look into how can I better assist my future ESL students. It gave me some strategies and allowed me experience working with ESL students through service learning opportunities,” she notes.

Erika Diaz, who recently completed her bachelor’s degree in child psychology, was drawn to the program in order to help ESL learners become active members of the community. “I took it for granted knowing English,” Diaz admits. By helping new English-language learners she aims to strengthen diverse communities.

Diaz also appreciated the individualized attention and close ties created during the TESL program. “The small classrooms and knowledgeable instructors have made this experience make me feel like a part of a community. “

Many of the program’s graduates plan to teach abroad, including Virge Klatt, who is completed the TESL program as a post-baccalaureate certificate and plans to go back to her native Estonia one day to teach English. Spanish major, Whitley Lubeck, would like to teach English abroad for a year before teaching at home. “The TESL minor gives me the option to teach here or abroad and goes hand-in-hand with my major,” says Lubeck.

The participants of the program keep coming back to one specific aspect of the program that engaged them, and that’s the ability to create ties and build bridges through language. “The minor is only four courses, and so worth it!” says McCabe. “If you want to build relationships with people from different communities and make a difference while doing so, I can’t recommend it enough.”

To learn more about the TESL minor/certificate visit the program’s webpage or contact Martha Bigelow. Priority deadline for Spring admission is December 15.

 

 

 

SciGirls Code project highlights girls’ computational thinking and coding skills

The SciGirls Code project, led by co-principal investigator Cassie Scharber, kicked off with a session and advisory board meeting at the Computer Science Teachers Association conference in San Diego, July 11-14. The project, funded by the National Science Foundation’s STEM + Computing Partnerships (STEM + C) program, is a two-year project that uses the principles of connected learning with STEM outreach partners to provide 160+ girls and their educators with computational thinking and coding skills.

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Cassie Scharber

Scharber, associate professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, leads development of curricula centering on three tracks—e-textiles and wearable tech, robotics, and mobile geospatial technologies; role model training for female technology professionals; professional development for STEM educators; and a research component that investigates the ways computational learning experiences impact the development of computational thinking as well as interest and attitudes toward computer science.

For more information, visit the SciGirls website, produced by Twin Cities Public Television.

circle training restorative justice

C&I Faculty Cynthia Zwicky Fosters Restorative Practices in Schools

Cynthia Zwicky, a lecturer in the elementary education program in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, is presenting an Advanced Circle Keeper’s Training  as part of the annual Restorative Practices in Schools trainings. The trainings are a collaboration between the Legal Rights Center and the Minnesota Department of Education School Safety Technical Assistance Center.

A restorative school is centered on relationships, building community and repairing harm. Multiple practices provide multi-tiered levels of support for students, staff and family. The Advanced Circle Keeper training is designed for people who already practice restorative justice, typically in a school setting. ”I have found the practice to be a key component of interrupting the school to prison pipeline and in reducing racial disproportionality in suspension,” says Zwicky.

Zwicky and her co-presenter, Michael Stanefski, were two of the first people in Minnesota (and in the United States) to adopt the circle process in their work as a teacher and a social worker in the schools, respectively.  They developed the Advanced Circle Keeper’s Training as an opportunity for circle keepers to observe each other’s practice in repairing harm.

Read more about restorative justice and the elementary education program in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction.

 

Ph.D. Student in STEM Education Receives NSF Graduate Research Fellowship

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Ph.D. student in STEM education, Jeanna Wieselmann

Jeanna Wieselmann, a doctoral candidate in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Education in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction was awarded a prestigious National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Fellowship based on her “demonstrated potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the U.S. science and engineering enterprise.”

Wieselmann’s research is focused on gender equity in STEM education at the elementary school level. She wants to find ways to get girls more interested in the STEM fields while examining their identities related to science and math and how those are affected by immersive STEM educational experiences.

Before entering the Ph.D. program in STEM Education, Wieselmann received her teaching license and master’s of education in elementary education in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction then moved onto a position with STARBASE, an educational non-profit that provides hands-on, interactive experiences in STEM education for students as a complement to their classroom education. Wieselmann’s work at STARBASE spurred her interested in the STEM fields, especially when she saw that girls were just as engaged as boys in the Mars exploration storyline and robotics and rocketry activities. The five-day immersive experience that involved the entire class really “levelled the playing field,” Wieselmann noted. “Interest was high across the board.”

Wieselmann’s research will examine the activities at STARBASE to understand their impact on female students’ interest in science and technology. She hopes to tease out activities that can be translated into the classroom and continue to engage students. She will also conduct interviews with 4th-and 5th-grade girls to find out if the immersive experience is helping them identify more as scientists and mathematicians. She believes that exposure to STEM fields and women in STEM may help girls see themselves as future scientists.

“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.

 

 

 

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Professor Lori Helman Publishes Book on “Inclusive Literacy Teaching”

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Lori Helman, associate professor of Literacy Education

Responding to the need to prepare elementary teachers for the increasing linguistic diversity in schools, associate professor in Literacy Education in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction and the director of the Minnesota Center for Reading Research, Lori Helman, co-authored Inclusive Literacy Teaching: Differentiating Approaches in Multilingual Elementary Classrooms, just out from the Teachers College Press. The book presents key foundational principles in language and literacy development for linguistically diverse students, providing access to a broad range of research-based approaches in teacher-friendly language.

Readers see these ideas enacted through the journeys of real students as they progress from 1st through 6th grade. What emerges is both a “big picture” and an “up-close and personal” look at the successes, obstacles, and developmental nuances for students learning to read and write in a new language in inclusive classrooms. Throughout, the authors provide crucial guidance to educators that will support them in taking conscious steps toward creating educational equity for linguistically diverse students.

To read the book visit tcpress.com. Find out more about the Department of Curriculum & Instruction’s programs in Literacy Education.

Professor Lesa Clarkson receives award for inspiring women in STEM education

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Lesa Clarkson, associate professor in mathematics education

Lesa Clarkson, associate professor of mathematics education in the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, was honored with the INSIGHT into Diversity 2016 Inspiring Women in STEM Award and will be featured in the September issue of INSIGHT into Diversity magazine. The award honors “remarkable women in STEM professions who continue to make a significant difference through mentoring and teaching, research, successful programs and initiatives, and other efforts worthy of national recognition.”

Clarkson’s research agenda focuses on mathematics in the urban classroom, specifically identifying successful strategies that increase student achievement primarily among underrepresented student groups. She focuses on African-American students, specifically, because this group of students historically has the lowest scores on the national and state assessments. Clarkson believes, “The color of a student’s skin is not correlated to their achievement in mathematics.”

Clarkson’s research aims to find best practices that will provide all students with engaging mathematics experiences in addition to the basic “tools” that are essential for students.

CEHD praised for work in educational technology at national Teacher Preparation Innovation Summit

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Jean Quam and Cassie Scharber

The College of Education and Human Development was recently recognized for its leadership in the innovative use of technology to support learning of pre-service teachers by the U.S. Department of Education and ASCD at the Teacher Preparation Innovation Summit in Washington, D.C.

Dean Jean Quam and Cassie Scharber, associate professor of learning technologies, represented the University of Minnesota and CEHD at the event, where Joseph South, director of the U.S. Office of Educational Technology, praised CEHD’s ongoing work to improve teaching with educational technology.

“America’s pre-service teachers must be prepared to use technology effectively in the classroom,” he said. “We are excited by the innovations we’re seeing at CEHD to ensure their pre-service teachers have opportunities to actively use technology to support learning and teaching through creation, collaboration, and problem solving.”

The summit brought together researchers, schools of education, district leaders, accreditors, and support organizations to advance four goals for educational technology in teacher preparation programs outlined in the 2016 National Education Technology Plan, Future Ready Learning: Reimagining the Role of Technology in Education.

“We are excited about the future of educational technology as a tool to enhance student success in a variety of teaching and learning environments,” said Quam. “It’s part of our core mission in CEHD to prepare all of our graduates to develop and use new technologies.”

Learn more about educational technology research and applications in CEHD’s Learning Technologies Media Lab and in the Office of Digital Education & Innovation.

The summit cosponsor, ASCD, is a global community of 125,000 members— including superintendents, principals, teachers, and advocates from more than 128 countries—dedicated to excellence in learning, teaching, and leading.

J.B. Mayo, Jr. Receives Research Award for “Uncovering Queer Spaces in the Harlem Renaissance”

Jazz singer, Ethel Waters
Jazz singer, Ethel Waters

Each year, the  Institute on Diversity, Equity and Advocacy grants Multicultural Research Awards that “transform the University by enhancing the visibility and advancing the productivity of an interdisciplinary group of faculty and community scholars whose expertise in equity, diversity, and underrepresented populations will lead to innovative scholarship and teaching that addresses urgent social issues.”  Associate Professor in Curriculum & Instruction, J.B. Mayo, Jr., received one of the prestigious grants for his proposal to integrate LGBTQ history into the social studies curriculum that covers the Harlem Renaissance.

The research project entitled “Uncovering Queer Spaces During the Harlem Renaissance” is aimed at breaking the silence within social studies education about LGBT people, themes, and histories. Mayo plans to engage intersectional realities that include race, gender, and sexual orientation while helping teachers to be more inclusive of LGBT people, themes, and histories within their social studies classes.

Another goal of Mayo’s research is to allow LGBT students, and particularly queer students of color, to see themselves positively represented. He plans to conduct intensive archival research this summer in Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Black Culture to find the stories of gay artists of color working during the Harlem Renaissance. He will then co-create an LGBTQ-inclusive curriculum with local social studies teachers that center on the chosen artists’ work and identities. The finished curriculum will be field tested in area social studies classes. Mayo plans to observe the lessons as they are taught and follow-up with interviews with the participating teachers and selected students to discuss their impressions and to gather their perceptions of the impact of these lessons, which are aimed at not only changing young people’s views of history, but diminishing homophobia within communities of color and in society more generally.

Find out more about the Department of Curriculum & Instruction’s commitment to diversity and social justice and the research degree in social studies education.

 

 

 

 

Second Language Education Student Receives Graduate School Summer Research Internship Grant

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Corinne Mathieu, Ph.D. candiate in Second Language Education.

Corinne Mathieu, an MA/Ph.D. student in Second Language Education has been awarded the Graduate School Summer Research Internship Grant for summer 2016. 

Congratulations on your Graduate School Summer Research Internship Grant. Tell me a little about what you’ll be doing.
I’ll be working with an organization called add.a.lingua, a social impact education organization based in Holland, MI. They work with school districts to develop immersion programs. I’m helping them develop assessments on students’ language proficiency. With the internship grant, I’ll also be doing the study of my own, interviewing middle school immersion teachers to find out more about the materials they use in their classrooms.

How did you become interested in the field of Second Language Education?
Spanish was always my favorite class. I became very interested in linguistics and how languages are learned during my undergraduate education. But, I didn’t realize I wanted to be a teacher at that point.  I had wanted to be a bilingual librarian, initially. I went to the Peruvian Amazon during a summer break in college. I saw people who spoke indigenous language learning Spanish and English and was very interested in how they learned languages. Then, a job to teach English at a Quaker boarding school in Ohio came up and I decided to take it and put off my graduate studies for awhile. That’s when I became interested in teaching.

What do you hope to do after finishing your Ph.D. in Second Language Education?
I’m hoping to work in curriculum development with content-based instruction in immersion and foreign language programs. I don’t know if I want to be an education specialist or consultant with a school district. It’s just my first year in the program. I am very interested in how materials can reinforce positive pedagogy versus. one textbook for all.

How has your experience in the Ph.D. program in Second Language Education shaped your views on teaching?
After learning more about teaching in the program, there is definitely a lot I wish I could’ve done differently, but it’s also confirmed that I was on the right track in terms of content-based instruction. It’s very easy to get in one pattern as a teacher, but there are so many more nuances to teaching languages.

Read more about the Second Language Education program.

Literacy Ph.D. Student Wins Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle award

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Anne Crampton, Ph.D. candidate in Curriculum & Instruction wins WPLC award.

Anne Crampton, a fourth-year Ph.D. student in Literacy Education received the Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle (WPLC) award for graduate students. The award is for women graduate students to recognize their achievements and successes in their field of interest. The criteria for the award includes academic achievements, community involvement, leadership, and passion for the academic and professional career of choice. 

Crampton’s research focus is in secondary critical literacy where she is currently looking at the student experience in both a large, urban high school and a small, urban charter school. “I think it is significant that we have such different experiences in schools, within and certainly across districts. I’m not comparing them, just trying to notice some of the plurality of schooling. Also, there can be negative stereotypes assigned to large, urban schools because people often don’t see the strengths of the students,” Crampton says.

After 15 years as a classroom teacher, Crampton pursued her Ph.D. in Literacy Education to have a better understanding of what shapes the education system and the root of inequity in the classroom. “Certain things kept me awake at night about what I didn’t think was fair or right. I wanted to understand it and be a part of the conversation in order to change it,” she noted.

Crampton’s Ph.D. studies have helped her make more sense of some of the arguments in public education and the urgency around them. She feels there are very positive and effective education techniques that offer the chance for a transformative learning experience. “I’d like other people to know that effective education does happen and it’s possible. People want to hear about successful education techniques in three words, but it’s complicated. Implementing new techniques takes support, an excellent teacher, flexibility, and the support of the school district.“

Crampton is particularly focused on the value of “aesthetic experiences” in the classroom, referring to big projects that students have a creative stake in that allow an aspect of performance, be it a podcast or a play. Citing the need for opportunities to engage emotionally and critically with ideas: “I think you can do all those things in many different disciplines,” Crampton believes these types of experiences in the classroom support the growth of the students as humans and honors their abilities.

Crampton plans to use her award to disseminate ideas and learn from her peers through conference travel and potentially support the purchase of additional Garage Band apps for classrooms in her research.

David and Roger Johnson honored with lifetime achievement awards

David & Roger JohnsonDavid Johnson, emeritus professor in the Department of Educational Psychology, and Roger Johnson, emeritus professor in Curriculum & Instruction, are being honored with a lifetime achievement award by the International Association for the Study of Cooperation in Education (IASCE). The two will receive their awards during an Oct. 1 ceremony in Odense, Denmark.

Brothers and professional collaborators for over 45 years, David (pictured left) and Roger (pictured right) will be recognized with their colleague Morton Deutsch. According to IASCE, Dr. Deutsch was a doctoral student of Kurt Lewin, the credited founder of social psychology, and conceptualized and pioneered social interdependence theory. David and Roger further extended and refined the theory by examining and validating the five basic elements of effective teams. IASCE says the trio set the foundation for cooperative learning, creative controversy, and constructive conflict applied in education and many other disciplines.

Established in 1979, IASCE is the only international, non-profit organization for educators who research and practice cooperative learning to promote student academic improvement and democratic, social processes.

Boulanger, C+I alum, selected World Language Teacher of the Year

Grant Boulanger, a Spanish teacher at Skyview Middle School in the North Saint Paul, Maplewood, Oakdale District (ISD 622), was recently selected as the recipient of the Minnesota World Language Teacher of the Year Award for 2015 from the MN Council on the Teaching of Languages and Cultures.

This is one of the organization’s highest awards and recognizes outstanding all-around work in the field of world languages and cultures education. Boulanger will be recognized at MCTLC’s annual conference in October. The award represents the first step toward the National Teacher of the Year Award, sponsored by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages.

Numerous colleagues, parents, and students submitted letters of support on his behalf. Patty Phillips, former Superintendent of ISD 622, wrote, “Grant Boulanger lights up students’ minds and faces. It’s such a professional treat to observe him teaching, and I always leave his classroom feeling I’ve been to a very special place, a place where students are having so much fun they don’t realize they’re learning, as well as a place where doors are opened that will change the trajectory of their lives.”

Kay Edberg, MCTLC’s president, had this to say about Boulanger, “Grant embodies best practices in world language teaching; he believes all students can be successful language learners, he engages his students and pushes them to be the best they can be in the classroom.  He is a truly deserving recipient of this award.”

ISD 622 Hosts International Forum on Language Teaching at Tartan High School

320 world language teachers from 6 countries attended the 4th annual International Forum on Language Teaching this summer held at Tartan High School in Oakdale, MN. The iFLT Conference is a progressive language teaching conference inspired by Dr. Stephen Krashen, which focuses on best-practices in second language teaching methodologies.

Training sessions for world language teachers were led by nationally recognized teacher-trainers who are experts in Teaching with Comprehensible Input (TCI). Teachers observed, experienced and practiced progressive, cutting-edge Comprehensible Input-based approaches that align with National Standards and result in unprecedented levels of proficiency.

131 MN language educators, including 13 from North Saint Paul, Maplewood, Oakdale District (ISD 622) attended. Skyview Middle School’s Spanish teacher, Grant Boulanger, co-directed the conference with Carol Gaab, President of TPRS Publishing, Inc. He was also one of the Master Teachers tapped to teach one of five Learning Lab demonstration classes. More than 75 ISD 622 students aged 8 to 18 received free language instruction in the French, Spanish or Chinese Learning Labs.

One 622 parent said, “The TPRS conference was a great way to reengage my kids in language learning over the summer. Each day they came home excited about their day and ready to show off what they had learned.”

Robbinsdale Area Schools teacher, Cari Johnson, said, “The 2015 iFLT was the most significant training in language instruction and teaching practices I have had in my 18 years of teaching.”

The MN Council on the Teaching of Languages and Cultures (MCTLC) co-sponsored the event.

Chhuon receives National Association for Multicultural Education’s 2015 Carl A. Grant Presidential Research Award

Vichet Chhuon was recently named as the recipient of the National Association for Multicultural Education’s 2015 Carl A. Grant Presidential Research Award. This honor is awarded to an exemplary multicultural educator who has demonstrated a long-term scholarly commitment to multicultural education; whose research addresses the multiple facets of human diversity, and the ways by which complex multicultural issues manifest themselves in U.S. schools and society; and whose scholarship breaks new ground in our thinking about multiculturalism.

Previous winners of this prestigious award include Thomas Philips, H. Richard Milner IV, Luis Moll, and Gloria Ladson-Billings.

C+I faculty receive the Journal of Geography Award

Dr. Aaron Doering (C+I faculty), Suzan Koseoglu (LT PhD Candidate), Dr. Cassandra Scharber (C+I faculty), Jeni Henrickson (LT PhD Candidate), and Dr. David Lanegran (Macalester College) are recipients of the Journal of Geography Award from the National Council for Geographic Education (NCGE) for their journal article titled “Technology integration in K-12 geography education using TPACK as a conceptual model.”
Their article was chosen as the Best Article for Program Development amongst those published in volume 113, published in 2014. The recipients will be recognized at a special ceremony during the U.S. National Conference on Geography Education in Washington D.C. in August of 2015. Read the abstract and full citation.

Cushing-Leubner, C+I PhD candidate, receives award from the Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle

Jenna Cushing-Leubner, C+I PhD candidate, receives award from the Women’s Philanthropic Leadership Circle in recognition of her academic achievements, community involvement, and leadership. She will receive $2,000 to attend the Critical Participatory Action Research (CPAR) Summer Institute. Read more on Cushing-Leubner’s work tapping into multilingual students’ language resources.