Kersten alleges the new plan shifts the district leaders’ educational philosophy from “academic excellence for all” to ensuring “that students think correctly on social and political issues.” She argues that the new racial justice-geared agenda creates a hostile environment for students with “nonconforming views,” and does nothing to improve test scores or foster high academic performance in the district.
Mason challenged these ideas in her op-ed, ” Counterpoint: Edina schools: why it’s crucial to unlearn racism.” She discusses the way white privilege has shaped our country’s education system since its conception, the learning limitations placed on students of all races, and the importance of maintaining a dialogue about race in our schools. “[Students] know that to change the future, we have to reckon with the past,” Mason writes. “To unlearn racism, we have to be willing to face what it is, what it has created and how we are all implicated in it.”
The summer institute is a community event hosted by the University of Minnesota’s Center for Spirituality and Healing. The 3-day event aimed to bring together teachers, researchers, clinicians, and practitioners to discuss mindfulness research and ways to promote practices that support wellbeing in school communities.
For the event, Zelazo delivered a keynote address that focused on how mindfulness practice has been shown to promote reflection and executive functions in children and adults.
Semenov’s presentation highlighted findings from curriculum evaluation conducted this past year. The novel curriculum, developed in collaboration with the Center for Spirituality and Healing, introduced mindfulness practice to a cohort of elementary school teachers in an effort to improve teacher wellbeing and promote mindful approaches to student-teacher interactions.
On June 20 and 21, roughly 500 of Minnesota’s education leaders, researchers, policy makers, and nonprofit organizations gathered at Educational Equity in Action II. This was the second convening hosted by the University of Minnesota. Its focus: improving educational equity by “Working across schools and communities to enhance social emotional learning.”
Dr. Martin Brokenleg, Co-author of the book Reclaiming Youth at Risk: Our Hope for the Future and co-developer of the Circle of Courage model,explained that trauma from oppression, like that experienced by the American Indian community, can span generations.
“Our culture is plagued by intergenerational trauma,” said Brokenleg, whose mother’s family was among those imprisoned at Fort Snelling. He cited the incredibly high suicide rate among Native people, especially in the 18-30 age group, and among people in Ireland and Scotland after generations of oppression by the British, whose methods not coincidentally were adopted by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. “We’ve had a normal human reaction to an abnormal history.”
Brokenleg described his Circle of Courage model which supports character building or “teaching the heart” through generosity, belonging, independence, and mastery. Brokenleg finished his talk with practical strategies from Circle of Courage attendees could take back to their schools and communities to help young people—especially those suffering from intergenerational trauma—learn and grow.
Dr. Michael Rodriguez, professor of educational psychology at the University of Minnesota, Jim and Carmen Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development, and co-director of the Educational Equity Resource Center and the covening, led a plenary discussion on the results of the Minnesota Student Survey (MSS).
Rodriguez explained, although at a high-level the MSS tells a positive story about the developmental skills and supports of Minnesota youth, a closer look at the data demonstrates the reality of the inequities some students experience in Minnesota’s education system. This is particularly apparent for students identifying as lesbian, gay, or bisexual (LGB); students who skip school; students who receive disciplinary action in school; and students who have experienced trauma.
“Ninety-nine percent of our youth say their goal is to graduate from high school—and 65 to 85 percent across demographic groups also want to go to college,” said Rodriguez. “That’s a lot higher than our state’s high school graduation goal for them, which is now about 90 percent by 2020!”
He emphasized that students’ own goals are higher than those we’ve set as a state.
Following the plenary, students in Rodriguez’s Minnesota Youth Development Research Group (MYDRG) led detailed discussions on the MSS results for some of these groups, including: American Indian students, Hmong students, students in special education, LGB students, and students experiencing trauma.
Throughout the convening, participants selected from 28 smaller group breakout sessions on social-emotional learning led by University of Minnesota researchers, youth engagement groups, school districts, the Minneapolis Department of Education, and more. Several sessions included youth as presenters and/or focused on youth participatory action research projects.
Small group discussions
Before the final keynote, attendees participated in a process called TRIZ. They met in small groups—dividing themselves up based on the different developmental skills and supports students need to be successful (identified in Rodriguez’s work). Participants started with the unusual task of listing actions communities might take to destroy the skill being discussed in youth. Then, they shared opportunities they had to remove some of these destructive activities and developed action plans for their schools, communities, and organizations.
Dr. Muhammad Khalifa, associate professor in Organizational Leadership, Policy, and Development, closed out the convening by challenging the group to practice culturally responsive school leadership (CRSL). He asked that school leaders promote schooling that addresses the specific cultural and learning needs of students by focusing on the perspectives of parents, students, and community members.
“Change in schools can be promoted and fostered by ‘leaders,’ but culturally responsive school leadership is practiced by all stakeholders,” said Khalifa. “Community-based based knowledge informs good leadership practice.”
In this statement, Khalifa connected his keynote to Rodriguez’ and Brokenleg’s work. Each of the speakers stressed the importance of listening to all members of our community to improve educational equity.
Khalifa ended his talk by sharing strategies to help attendees to achieve CRSL in their own schools, organizations, and communities.
The group was hosted by Professor Yoshisuke Kumano and Dr. Tomoki Saito of Shizuoka University. Dr. Saito spent time as a Ph.D. student in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction as a visiting scholar last year. Professor Kumano’s team had recently visited the STEM education center to learn about K12 integrated STEM curriculum and research. This visit cemented the partnership, as the STEM education experts from the department presented research on integrated K-12 STEM education and provided a K-12 STEM workshop for principals and teachers from local schools.
The UMN STEM delegation also visited the RuKuRu STEM student camp at the Shizuoka Children’s Musuem, the Shizuoka Prefectural High School of Science & Technology, and Sagano Super Science and Global High School Kyoto to explore possible exchange opportunities for STEM high schools students and teachers.
This fall, Wieselmann will spend three months studying at Shizuoka University as a visiting scholar, where she will be extending her research on gender issues related to STEM teaching and learning at the elementary level in Japan. Roehrig will also be returning in August to present with the Shizuoka STEM group at the Japan Society for Science Education. In addition, a research project has been established with Dr. Takahiro Kayano that explores argumentation in K-12 STEM classrooms in Shizuoka and Owatonna, cementing the fruitful partnership between the two the STEM education area in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction and their colleagues in Japan.
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.”
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.”
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.
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 Worldwith Linda Darling-Hammond, Dion Burns, Carol Campbell, A. Lin Goodwin, Karen Hammerness, Ee-Ling Low, Ann McIntyre, and Ken Zeichner.
C&NN aims to connect children, families, and communities to nature through innovative ideas and evidence-based resources. The theme for the 2017 conference was, “Kids Need Nature, Nature Needs Kids.”
During the conference, Williams Ridge spoke about tailoring outdoor learning opportunities to children’s specific developmental needs, depending on their age. She also moderated a panel about best practices for nature-based learning in the early childhood field.
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.
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.
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.
Theodore J. Christ, professor (Educational Psychology) and director of the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement; Michael Rodriguez, professor (Educational Psychology) and Campbell Leadership Chair in Education and Human Development; and Mistilina Sato, associate professor (Curriculum & Instruction) and Campbell Chair for Innovation in Teacher Development were recently featured in the MinnPost article, “Minnesota is really good at collecting student data, but not the best at using it.”
The article discusses a recent report released by the Minnesota State Office of the Legislative Auditor which found “significant time and resources” were used to administer the tests but more than half of the principals and teachers surveyed said they felt “unprepared to interpret key test score data.”
“I mean, they’re just drowning in [data],” Christ told MinnPost. “It’s all over the place. And if they don’t have the capacity to use it, they just turn away from it.”
“Schools that get useful information from those MCAs are the ones that do the deeper dives,” Rodriguez explained in the article. “They look at the variability. They look at the group differences. They look at: How are students with these kinds of experiences doing versus students who don’t have those experiences, and which kinds of experiences are we giving a kid that helps them perform better? And that requires someone who can go in and breakdown those numbers and do some analysis. Not many schools have staff that can do that.”
“Every school seems to have its own assessment culture,” Sato explained to MinnPost. “Once you enter into the school, you have to first learn about how that school is using [data].”
The article mentions a class Rodriguez and Sato are developing for all students in Curriculum & Instruction’s teacher prep program. The course will help teacher candidates interpret the data available to them to better educate their students.
MinnPost ends the piece with an important question from Christ.
“We need to make a decision: Are we going to be a state who simply has decided data is not important? And then let’s stop collecting it, because we’re spending tens of millions of dollars collecting it, but we don’t know how to use it,” Christ told MinnPost. “Or are we going to be a state who values data and research? And [then] we’re both going to collect that data and support the use of it.”
NAAEE is a membership organization that aims to accelerate environmental literacy and civic engagement through education. The Director’s Award recognizes an individual or organization that has made a significant contribution to the field of environmental education.
Williams Ridge was recognized for her work chairing the 2016 Nature-based Preschool Conference, the annual conference of NAAEE’s early childhood environmental education initiative, the Natural Start Alliance.
In addition, Williams-Ridge is on the advisory team for the Natural Start Alliance and the National Science Foundation-funded Science of Nature-Based Learning Collaborative Research Network. She also serves on the leadership team for the Council of Nature and Forest Preschools.
Maria D. Sera, Ph.D., professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Institute of Child Development, contributed to a recent National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on promoting the educational success of children and youth who are learning English.
Sera served on a National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine committee that examined how research on the development of English learners could inform policy and improve educational outcomes. Sera’s research focuses on the relation between language and cognitive development and on the learning of second languages by children and adults.
The committee’s report, which was released on Feb. 28, highlighted key research, identified effective practices for educators, and made recommendations for how policymakers can support children and youth who are learning English. It looked at two groups of children and youth: dual language learners, or children ages birth to 5 who are learning two languages and are not enrolled in school, and English learners, who are enrolled in the pre-K-12 education system and are learning English as a second language. Most English learners are born in the U.S. and are U.S. citizens.
The report found that English learners, who account for more than 9 percent of K-12 enrollment in the U.S., face barriers to academic success, as schools often do not provide adequate instruction or resources to support acquiring English proficiency. According to the report, early care and education providers, teachers, and administrators do not receive appropriate training to foster desired educational outcomes for children and youth learning English.
The report also discussed capacities and influences on language development, including that children have the capacity to learn two languages from birth if they are given adequate input in each. It noted that speaking to children in a different language at home will not hurt a child’s ability to learn English and that having strong skills in a home language can help children learn a second language.
Overall, the report made 10 recommendations to government agencies at all levels to improve educational outcomes. For example, the report recommended that agencies that oversee early care and education programs provide specific evidence-based program guidance for serving dual language learners and their families. The report also recommended that agencies conduct marketing campaigns to provide information about the capacity of children to learn more than one language.
The study was sponsored by the U.S. departments of Education and Health and Human Services, the Foundation for Child Development, the Heising-Simons Foundation, and the McKnight Foundation.
“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.
The MEFS is a testing app that early educators can use to measure executive function (EF) and early learning readiness in children. It is the only early learning readiness assessment measuring executive function that can be used with children as young as two years old. The MEFS was developed by Institute of Child Development Professors Stephanie Carlson, Ph.D., and Philip Zelazo, Ph.D., who started Reflection Sciences.
“Executive function skills are vital for children’s school readiness and later achievement, and we now have a way to quickly and validly measure EF against national and local norms,” Carlson says. “We are delighted to be collaborating with CEED, the state’s premier training organization for public and private early education providers, to help others learn to use the MEFS in their organizations.”
“Early educators who are looking for new, effective ways to promote children’s learning and social skills will appreciate the ease of using the MEFS,” says Amy Susman-Stillman, Ph.D., a research associate at CEED. “It provides information about children’s development that no other assessment tool does and makes it simpler to understand a child’s individual needs.”
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.
Panayiota Kendeou, associate professor in the Department of Educational Psychology’s Psychological Foundations of Education program, recently traveled to Sydney, Australia, to present her work on the 12th biennial meeting of the Society for Applied Research in Memory and Cognition (SARMAC). Kendeou was part of a featured symposium–organized by two world-renowned experts on misinformation, Ullrich Ecker (The University of Western Australia) and Stephan Lewandowsky (University of Bristol)–on research advances that reduce the impact of misinformation and fake news. At the event, Kendeou presented her work on the conditions that promote successful change of pre-existing beliefs in the context of her Knowledge Revision Components framework (KReC; Kendeou & O’Brien, 2014).
Dedicated to encouraging and promoting quality scientific research in applied domains, the SARMAC’s purpose is to enhance collaboration and co-operation between basic and applied researchers in memory and cognition.