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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

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The IDRA Newsletter is published 10 times a year. Each edition focuses on issues in education, striving to provide many different perspectives on the topics covered and to define its significance in the state and national dialogue. The IDRA Newsletter can only be mailed to U.S.addresses, but pdf and web copies are available online.

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April 2015 Issue ~ Articles


Current Issue:
April 2015

Focus ~ Early Learning

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Newsletter Executive Editor
María "Cuca" Robledo Montecel, Ph.D.

ISSN 1069-5672

Recalibrating Readiness and Instruction Based on Strengths of English Learners – Implications for Early Childhood Education Research and Practice
Much of the current research on early education of poor and minority children – although well intentioned – is biased and focused on family and children’s deficits and maladaptations as the causes for the lack of academic readiness and underperformance of a significant number of children in this country. In this article, Abelardo Villarreal, Ph.D., emphasizes the need to redefine readiness to integrate the strengths bilingual children bring to the classroom, and detail the need to adjust instruction to enhance their academic engagement and performance.

Margarita’s Necklace – Beads, Patterns and Algebraic Thinking for English Learners: The Path to “Equity Literacy”
Children as early as kindergarten benefit from practicing the skills and building comprehension and knowledge that lead to mastery in algebra.

In this article, Juanita C. García, Ph.D., and Rosana Rodríguez, Ph.D., describe how stories like El Collar de Margarita ~ Margarita’s Necklace can lead children to explore and analyze patterns, count and make predictions that are essential skills in developing math literacy, thereby increasing their ability to identify, describe and foster algebraic reasoning in the early elementary grades. El Collar de Margarita ~ Margarita’s Necklace is one of a number of stories that comprise IDRA’s comprehensive Semillitas de aprendizaje bilingual supplemental early childhood.

See our new Semillitas de Aprendizaje website with

  • Info on the 10 stories
  • Details about the curricular materials
  • Sample lesson plan
  • Tools for teachers
  • Key facts about bilingual education
  • Resources for engaging famlies
  • Video clips

Early Childhood Literacy Connections When Using Cognates
Teachers of English language learners use a variety of instructional strategies and tools to guide their students in learning the content while also building English language proficiency. One key strategy uses cognates, words in two languages that are common in meaning, spelling and even pronunciation. In this article, Sulema Carreón-Sánchez, Ph.D., discusses how the use of cognates in early grades helps students begin to make connections to math, science, social studies and reading and can continue the connections as they progress through school.


Meet Abelardo Villarreal, Ph.D., IDRA Chief of Operations
This year, the IDRA Newsletter is highlighting our staff’s varied and diverse talents and backgrounds. Abelardo Villarreal, Ph.D., is IDRA’s Chief of Operations. In addition to his impressive work in education spanning pre-K through higher education, Dr. Villarreal has always been drawn to public and community service, a family legacy left by his parents, who were restaurant business owners. They instilled a strong work ethic and sense of collaboration, community, cooperation and leadership, as they encouraged their children to become engaged in their family business and in civic engagement.



April 2015 Issue ~ Newsletter Plus    

Classnotes podcasts on early learningA

Early Childhood Classrooms of Excellence – April 4, 2007

Good Schools for Children Learning English – June 20, 2007

Early Literacy Development for English Language Learners – April 17, 2008

Supporting Parents of Preschoolers – May 25, 2010

Bilingual Stories for Young Learners – November 16, 2010

Geometry in Early Childhood – May 7, 2014

Semillitas de Aprendizaje Bilingual Classroom Materials!
Semillitas de Aprendizaje is a bilingual (Spanish/English) supplemental early childhood curriculum, developed by IDRA, based on the art of storytelling. The materials are designed for literacy development with beautifully illustrated and culturally-relevant materials for 3- and 4-year-old children and include: A set of 10 Big Books, 10 corresponding unabridged storybooks, 15 Math Books focusing on numeracy and social-emotional development, 20 Cartitas – Letters Home (10 English, 10 Spanish) with family activities for teachers to send home for parents, a Teacher Guide (Manual de Maestro) with 10 units in 196 pages to lead your students through the Semillitas de aprendizaje stories (Each unit has a set of classroom activities that include a morning song, storytelling, literacy connection with STEM explorations, center activities, phonemic awareness, writing and alphabet knowledge, English transition, family connections and informal assessment), and – now available for pre-order – Storytelling-Storyreading Video DVD that brings the stories to life through engaging storytelling in Spanish and storyreading in English.

Video: Early Childhood Education is a Good Investment
Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel talks how quality early childhood education is a good investment in children and the larger community. [00:48 min]

Creating Centers of Learning – Home and School
This bilingual guide helps parents and teachers value their inter-related roles and work together to create effective preschool programs in the home and at school. It provides tailored checklists and planning tools to help parents and teachers set goals, plan together, and evaluate their progress. It is designed to help create excellent centers of learning where all children are valued and can experience success, and where accountability is shared between school and home. The elements in this guide are taken from research on best practices as well as from performance standards set at the national level.

8 Components to the IDRA Early Childhood Centers of Excellence Model
An IDRA Center of Excellence is a place where all young children thrive and are ready for school. It ensures reading, cognitive and emotional success for all preschool children through a print-rich environment with appropriate accommodations for English language learners and children with disabilities. IDRA’s Reading Early for Academic Development (READ) project, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, established in preschool classrooms of excellence in specific Head Start centers in San Antonio. IDRA used a research-based classroom-based professional development initiative involving Head Start and public school teachers to form a seamlessly-integrated instructional program to prevent children from encountering reading difficulties when they enter school.

Good Schools and Classrooms for Children Learning English: A Guide
IDRA rigorously studied exemplary bilingual education programs in schools across the nation. See the 25 common characteristics that contribute to high academic performance of students served by bilingual education programs.   


IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework™



 Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework
At a time when public education makes a world of difference to our students, communities and economic success, many are looking for strategies that will work for them and that will last. Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework shows how communities and schools can work together to strengthen their capacity to be successful with all of their students.


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