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Monday, 22 September 2014

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Classnotes is IDRA’s free award-winning podcast series for teachers and administrators that explores issues facing U.S. education today and strategies to better serve every student. See an index of shows by topic. Listen from your computer or from an MP3 player, like your phone or iPod. Subscribe for free through iTunes. Or get updates through our newsfeed (RSS).And if you like our show, please leave a short review for us in iTunes!

Don’t have a Smartphone or iPod? You can always listen to the latest episode by calling 1-612- 234-4186 (sorry, this is not a toll-free number).

PTA Comunitarios are Born in their Communities

Featuring Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., Frances Guzmán, M.Ed., and Hector Bojorquez

(August 25, 2014) The national PTA president, Otha Thornton, recently visited several PTA Comunitarios in the Texas Rio Grande Valley and then, at the PTA national convention, presented an award to them for their work to improve schools in their communities. As this new model of parent engagement is sweeping across South Texas, others around the country are curious. In an earlier Classnotes podcast episode on how to start a PTA Comunitario, we outlined the three main phases. In this episode, Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA senior education associate, and IDRA education associates Frances Guzmán, M.Ed., Hector Bojorquez, explore the first phase of establishing in a community base. Send comments to podcast@idra.org. Sign up to receive free e-mail notices when new episodes are available.

 

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More Classnotes Podcast Episodes

A Valuing Professional Development Model – Episode 143
(July 28, 2014) Teaching is a learning process. Teachers are constantly learning about their students and how they respond to each instructional strategy used in the classroom. With the powerful impact quality teaching has on the success of students, teachers need access to quality professional development. But traditional styles of teacher training have been weak. They often are attempts at quick fixes that in theory are designed to work across the board. But, as IDRA education associate, Paula Johnson, M.A., explains, IDRA has found that professional development works best when it is ongoing, when it values the teachers themselves and when it is designed for each school’s unique context. Paul gives an overview of how IDRA provides professional development on site and with technology tools to tailor content and sustain successes. IDRA also has built a private online professional network of teachers who share feedback, innovations and peer support. 

An Elementary Teacher on Having Tutors in Her Classroom – Episode 142
(June 30,  2014) Skepticism is often the first reaction elementary teachers to the idea of having students from the nearby middle school or high school come into their classrooms as tutors. But once they give it a try, they become some of the loudest advocates for Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program tutors. Dr. Laurie Walters, a first grade teacher at the NOW Academy in the Los Angeles Unified School District, talks about the two tutors who spent a semester in her classroom this year for one class period almost daily and the impact they had on the tutees they worked with. She describes how she observed the tutors gain self-confidence, build a relationship with their tutees and help them improve dramatically in both behavior and achievement. The IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program is a research-based, internationally-recognized dropout prevention program that has kept 98 percent of its tutors in school. It works by identifying junior high and high school students who are in at-risk situations and enlisting them as tutors for elementary school youngsters who are also struggling in school. Valued Youth tutors learn self-discipline and develop self-esteem; schools shift to the philosophy and practices of valuing students considered at-risk. Results show that tutors stay in school, have increased academic performance, improved school attendance and advanced to higher education.

College Readiness Competencies – Episode 141
(June 3, 2014) Building college readiness involves more than focusing on cognitive learning. The affective domain also must be cultivated to enhance teaching and learning. In this episode Nilka Avilés, Ed.D., an IDRA senior education associate, discusses the importance of creating a school-wide culture of college readiness. She outlines a number of key competencies that educators can cultivate to prepare students not just for entering college but also for successfully graduating from college.

Building Critical Thinking through Visual Literacy – Episode 140
(May 19, 2014) In most classrooms, the days of memorization-focused teaching are gone. Though, we are still in the midst of a transition to building students’ critical thinking skills. Critical thinking leads students to understand and apply information instead of just remembering facts. Paula Johnson, M.A., an IDRA education associate, describes how teachers can foster critical thinking through the integrated use of: substantive student conversations, visual literacy and higher-order questioning. She also gives examples of how teachers can lead structured and unstructured conversations and how to use graphic organizers and foldables to draw more out of students so that they learn to apply what they are learning to their lives.

Geometry in Early Childhood – Episode 139
(May 7, 2014) Often, we think of preschool children learning their shapes rather than learning geometry. But of course that is what they are doing. But we can make that learning of geometry so much deeper through the use of storytelling. In this podcast episode, Nilka Avilés, Ed.D., an IDRA senior education associate, describes how storytelling can help students make observations, apply that knowledge to real-world experiences and build critical thinking skills. She uses one of IDRA’s bilingual Semillitas de Aprendizaje stories, Dos Pollitas Listas ~ Two Smart Chicks, as a model to show how the stories go beyond literacy development to make connections to STEM learning. 

The Role of Bilingual Ed and ESL in Our Schools – Episode 138
(April 28, 2014) Bilingual education and English as a second language programs have been in place in U.S. schools for several decades, but for some there is still a bit of a mystery about their purpose. And while the Civil Rights Act and the U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Lau vs. Nichols case require schools to appropriately serve English language learners, educators and parents are sometimes unclear about their role and the rights of students. IDRA education associate, Kristin Grayson, Ph.D., talks about why we need bilingual education and English as a second language programs, what these programs do and how parents can work with educators to make sure their children learn English while also learning their other subjects.

The Art of Writing – Tips for Teachers Part 2 – Episode 137
(March 31, 2014) During many of the IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program’s 30 years, students have written essays about how the program has affected their lives and their tutees. For this year’s anniversary celebration, we invited three distinguished authors – San Antonio Poet Laureate, Dr. Carmen Tafolla, Texas State Poet Laureate, Rosemary Catacalos and author, historian, and retired educator, J. Gilberto Quezada – to read the essays and share their impressions. In this podcast episode, we bring you Part 2 of a panel discussion led by Dr. Tafolla and Mr. Quezada who share their own journey in becoming writers and offer tips to teachers working with students to improve their own writing. The panel was moderated by Laurie Posner, MPA an IDRA senior education associate. 

The Art of Writing – Tips for Teachers Part 1 – Episode 136
(March 17, 2014) During many of the IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program’s 30 years, students have written essays about how the program has affected their lives and their tutees. For this year’s anniversary celebration, we invited three distinguished authors – San Antonio Poet Laureate, Dr. Carmen Tafolla, Texas State Poet Laureate, Rosemary Catacalos and author, historian, and retired educator, J. Gilberto Quezada – to read the essays and share their impressions. In this podcast episode, Dr. Tafolla and Mr. Quezada lead a panel discussion reflecting on the essays and how they describe an experience that is transformative for students. The panel was moderated by Laurie Posner, MPA an IDRA senior education associate. 

They start calling my name (on being a Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program tutor) – Episode 135
(February 27, 2014) As the struggle to keep many young people in school continues to face educators, parents and communities around the country, one successful initiative, the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, celebrates its 30th anniversary this year as a leader in dropout prevention. Educators from across the country joined us for a two-day National Teacher Coordinator Institute where they reviewed the impact of the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program on tutors, tutees, parents, families and campuses, as well as share challenges, learnings, highlights, and look to future innovations that will positively shape the program and its outcomes. In this podcast episode, we share with you highlights from presentations by former tutors during the anniversary reception. First in a dramatic presentation called, “When the kids see us coming, they start calling my name,” recent tutors read excerpts from essays written by other tutors over the years about how the program has affected them and their tutees. The excerpts were selected by distinguished authors San Antonio Poet Laureate, Carmen Tafolla, Texas State Poet Laureate, Rosemary Catacalos and author, historian, and retired educator, J. Gilberto Quezada. This is followed by Mr. Pablo Lopez, who was a Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program tutor 20 years ago, as he poignantly shares the impact the program has had on him and his life. A brief intro is provided by Bradley Scott, Ph.D. director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity, and master of ceremonies for the reception.

Readers Theatre in Early Childhood Ed – Episode 134
(February 6, 2014) It’s never too early to engage children in exploring science and math. And in bilingual classrooms where children are learning English, science and math can be deliberately integrated to support language learning. In this Classnotes episode, Rosana G. Rodríguez, Ph.D., IDRA director of development, and Juanita García, Ph.D., an IDRA education associate, talk about how early childhood teachers can weave activities grounded in inquiry that develop bilingual skills and oral language in bilingual classrooms by simultaneously introducing mathematics concepts at very young ages. Using a story from IDRA’s Semillitas de aprendizaje supplemental curriculum Rosana and Juanita demonstrate how teachers can use Readers Theatre to engage students in developing oral fluency, a critical factor necessary for reading comprehension. Rosana and Juanita are interviewed by Laurie Posner, MPA, an IDRA senior education associate.

Why Algebra II? – Episode 133
(January 30, 2014) Following a trend over the last decade or so of pushing for higher math education among high school students, some areas are getting push back. With veiled arguments about students needing “choices” and not being “college material,” curriculum requirements are being weakened. Most visible is Texas where the State Board of Education has voted to remove Algebra II as a required course. Math educator, Paula Martin Johnson, M.A., talks about why Algebra II is critical for all students and, particularly, for low-income and minority students who will undoubtedly suffer the consequences of being sidelined into watered-down, non college prep courses.

Six Generations of Civil Rights in Education – Episode 132
(December 2, 2013) Last year in Classnotes Podcast episode 113, Bradley Scott, Ph.D. director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity, introduced the concept of a sixth generation of civil rights and educational equity. In this episode, Bradley describes the five previous generations that have led us to this sixth generation that is currently being shaped to guarantee excellent schools for all students. The 10 federally-funded equity assistance centers, including the SCCE, identified these six phases of civil rights in education as they engage with others in profound conversations about what it will take for our public schools really to educate all children to excellence.

How to Start a PTA Comunitario – Episode 131
(November 11, 2013) A new model of parent engagement is sweeping the Texas Rio Grande Valley. Evolving out of IDRA’s Family Leadership in Education Model, several PTA Comunitarios are uniting poor, minority families to improve the education of the children in their neighborhoods. The results to date are powerful. PTA Comunitario meetings are bringing families together to examine Texas education policies and their implications for children’s access to advanced placement, dual credit and pre-algebra courses; Texas’ education budget; and college readiness strategies. In this Classnotes podcast episode, Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA senior education associate, and Frances Guzmán, M.Ed., IDRA education associate, describe the unique aspects of PTA Comunitarios and how to start one in your community.

Substantive Conversation in the Classroom – Episode 130
(October 17, 2013) Most of us can remember a time when students were expected to be silent in the classroom. Noise was a sign of trouble or at least inattention. But as the field has learned about the importance of student engagement in effective teaching and learning, educators and researchers have explored new strategies.IDRA education associates, Veronica Betancourt, M.A., and Paula Martin Johnson, M.A., describe how introducing substantive conversation techniques can develop a deeper understanding in the content and academic vocabulary while stretching student’s thinking and connecting with their interests, explorations and questions. They give examples of using substantive conversation in the math and science classrooms.

Leading with iPads for Diverse Students – Episode 129
(October 1, 2013) There is a lot of attention on how students and teachers can use iPads and other tablets in and outside the classroom. But school administrators too can use these technologies in creating an equitable teaching and learning environment that maximizes student achievement. IDRA education associates, Veronica Betancourt, M.A., and Paula Martin Johnson, M.A., continue our series of conversations on seven research-based strategies IDRA has developed for delivering instruction differently for secondary students. In this episode, Veronica and Paula focus on Strategy #4: Maximize use of technology in delivery of effective science and EL instruction and use Internet resources to supplement and enrich instruction of English learners. This episode is the third in our three-part series on using iPads and other tablets in the educational arena. But, Veronica and Paula focus here on capitalizing on what can be done on any tablet without the need to download or purchase any apps. They describe how iPads can be used for online data collection for evaluative purposes and for capturing ongoing “snapshots” of classroom life for value-based professional development that includes student voice as a means of reciprocal learning. This is especially critical for traditionally marginalized student groups, such as English learners who already face the challenges of finding their social identity and learning a new language while discovering their academic identity as well. 

A Principal on Supporting Teachers for Student College Readiness – Episode 128
(September 6, 2013) School transformation doesn’t just happen by decree from a superintendent or principal. Systems and support for teachers and other staff must be deliberate and sustainable. This is how, the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district has become a leader in connecting high school students to college. For example, at the district’s College, Career & Technology Academy, two-thirds of high school students last year were in college credit-bearing classes. And the school is aiming for 100 percent. In this third and final part of our interview, Linda Carrillo, CCTA principal, describes types of college credit students are earning, teacher support and how the teachers feel about what they are doing. 

A Principal on the Core Elements of School Transformation – Episode 127
(August 21, 2013) The Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district is demonstrating dramatic school transformation. After looking at the data, the district wanted to bring back students who had dropped out, many of them in their senior year. But rather than bringing them back to something that hadn’t worked, the district created the College, Career and Technology Academy in partnership with South Texas College. The students were then encouraged to come back and finish high school and at the same time begin college coursework. The students responded. In this second part of our interview, Linda Carrillo, principal at the district’s College, Career & Technology Academy, talks about expectations for staff, three core elements of the transformation that is happening at PSJA and parent engagement for students who are young adults.

A Principal on Setting Expectations for College – Episode 126
(August 12, 2013) Deep in the heart of the Texas Rio Grande Valley, something amazing is happening. Many in our nation don’t expect much of economically disadvantaged minority students who are in under resourced schools in depressed areas like those near the Mexico border. But the leaders in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district expect a lot. Linda Carrillo, principal at the district’s College, Career & Technology Academy, asks how often do teenagers hear, “You didn’t finish high school, start college today”? She describes how, rather than giving up on students who fall through the cracks, PSJA supports them to come to a new high school to graduate with college hours.

The Power of Student Voices in Dropout Prevention – Episode 125
(June 26, 2013) Six students received prizes in a national competition among participants in the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, a nationally-recognized cross-age tutoring program of IDRA. In this annual contest, tutors write about how the program helped them do better in school and how they had helped their tutees to do better. IDRA’s dropout prevention program, the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, has a 98 percent success rate among students who were considered at risk of dropping out. Linda Cantú, Ph.D., director of the program, reads examples from some of the winning essays and shares her passion for the program. 

Tracking vs. High Quality Education for All Students – Episode 124
(June 13, 2013) Policies that encourage schools to funnel students into different high school tracks are making resurgence. This, after decades of research and experience showing the detrimental effects of tracking on students and communities. Students who are low-income or minority endure the worst as they are pushed into watered-down curricula that take away their option to choose college after high school. IDRA director of policy, Dr. Albert Cortez gives an overview of what tracking looks like today across the country and how these policies ignore the fact that “higher expectations produce higher results.” Albert is interviewed by Bradley Scott, Ph.D., director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity. 

Sylvia Mendez on Civil Rights in the 1940s and Today – Episode 123
(May 20, 2013) Sylvia Mendez remembers vividly the day in March of 1945 when her family was told she and the other children had to go to the "Mexican school." Her father knew it wasn’t right. So, along with other families and with the help of LULAC, the Mendez sued four local school districts for segregating their children. Thurgood Marshall co-authored an amicus brief filed by the NAACP. The subsequent 1946 ruling in Mendez vs. Westminster and the California Board of Education ended segregation in California school districts. In this interview, Sylvia Mendez tells her story and describes how the Mendez case foreshadowed Brown vs. Board of Education less than a decade later. She cautions that schools are more segregated today then in the 1940s. She is interviewed by Kristin Grayson, M.Ed., an IDRA education associate and Bradley Scott, Ph.D., director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity, provides and introduction.

Teaching with iPads for Diverse Students (Science for English Learners #6) – Episode 122
(April 15, 2013) More than regular computers and basic access to the Internet, iPads and other tablets present many possibilities for student learning when applied to real-world circumstances. These tools are particularly powerful for students who are learning English at the same time. IDRA education associates, Veronica Betancourt, M.A., and Paula Martin Johnson, M.A., continue our series of conversations on seven research-based strategies IDRA has developed for delivering instruction differently for secondary students. In this episode, Veronica and Paula focus on Strategy #4: Maximize use of technology in delivery of effective science and el instruction and use Internet resources to supplement and enrich instruction of English learners. They describe how iPads can be used to enhance learning by engaging students in analyzing situations and applying critical and creative thinking to find reasonable solutions.

Building Levels of Leadership to Support ELL Success – Episode 121
(March 28, 2013) The demographic profile of students have always been in a state of change. But today, that change is much quicker and more dramatic. Schools must be equipped to adapt to be able to serve their student population while it is changing. This means equipping school leadership at all levels, from central office staff to principals, from administrators to classroom teachers. And where the population change includes English language learners with varied first languages, leaders need a special skill set. Kristin Grayson, M.Ed., an IDRA education associate, describes technical assistance in leadership development that she has been providing to two school districts in Oklahoma, one of which has more than 60 languages represented. She points out, “English language learners are becoming the mainstream learner,” and educators need the background knowledge to ensure ELLs are successful. 

Learning While Teaching (A Conversation with New Teachers) – Episode 120
(March 7, 2013) The decision to change careers is a big one. Hundreds of Texans have done just that to become teachers in high-need school districts. IDRA has helped them through accelerated teacher certification projects funded by the U.S. Department of Education. Now in their third year of teaching, Martha Alonso, MBA, and her sister Marlene Alonso, MBA, energetically share their experiences in the classroom and how they are constantly learning in order to provide high-quality instruction to their students. A fourth grade bilingual teacher, Marlene talks about the bilingual strategies she’s learned to use her students. Martha teaches middle school ESL and talks about the importance of building relationships with students. Martha and Marlene are interviewed by Linda Cantú, Ph.D., an IDRA senior education associate and director of IDRA’s federally-funded Transitions to Teaching projects. Send comments to podcast@idra.org. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Sign up to receive free e-mail notices when new episodes are available.

Affective Lessons are Effective Lessons (Science for English Learners) – Episode 119
(February 25, 2013) As students get older and move into middle school and high school, some lose their positive attitude for certain subjects like science. Brain research indicates that emotion shapes cognition which naturally affects learners’ cognitive engagement. But teachers can lower students’ affective filter by valuing students’ perspectives and knowledge of science as they plan and deliver their lessons. Veronica Betancourt , M.A., continues our series of conversations on seven research-based strategies IDRA has developed for delivering instruction differently for secondary students. In this episode, she focuses on Strategy #2: Design asset-based science lessons for culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms. She describes why value-driven lessons are particularly important for English language learners and how to design asset-based science lessons. 

Promotora Model for Family Leadership in Education – Episode 118
(February 15, 2013) The promotora model of community outreach evolved in neighborhoods in Mexico and Latin American countries to provide medical treatment often in marginalized communities. Community-based organizations in South Texas adopted the model naturally as women volunteer leaders from the community serve and inspire other women and families to leadership. In this Classnotes podcast episode, Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA senior education associate; Frances Guzmán, M.Ed., IDRA education associate; and Hector Bojorquez, IDRA education associate, discuss how schools can use this model for outreach to families. They share examples from PTA Comunitarios in South Texas who have used the promotora model to build family leadership in education to great effect.

A Civil Rights Look at the Common Core – Episode 117
(December 11, 2012) In many states across the country, school districts began implementing the Common Core State Standards developed through the work of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and the Council of Chief State School Officers. With the goal of creating consistent standards for preparing students for college and tomorrow’s workplace, the initiative holds great promise. However, there are some critical elements that have not been addressed sufficiently. The nation’s network of equity assistance centers are in the process of outlining several civil rights concerns with the Common Core State Standards and their implementation. Bradley Scott, Ph.D., director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity, gives you a preview of those concerns, including lack of support for English language learners and low performing students.   

What Parents Need to Know about Bilingual Education – Episode 116
(November 26, 2012) Schools are required to provide instruction in a language that students understand. Parents serve an integral role as children’s first teachers and as they connect with the school to ensure their children are being served appropriately. Bilingual education is designed to teach English to children and give them a chance to use it while they also learn core subjects like math and science. Frances Guzmán, M.Ed., highlights what parents of children learning English need to know about this program.

Rosie Castro on Parent Engagement – Episode 115
(November 5, 2012) IDRA led the bilingual parent institute at the Texas Association for Bilingual Education with a focus on: “Bilingual Ed Paves the Road to College.” Rosie Castro presented the keynote and talked about the value of bilingual education in schools today, how she emphasized to her young sons (San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and Texas Rep. Joaquin Castro) that they were going to go to college. Ms. Castro directs the Center for Academic Transitions at Palo Alto College in San Antonio. IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework emphasizes the role of community and families to strengthening public schools to work for all children. Ms. Castro has a powerful legacy of community advocacy and, during her keynote, gave suggestions for finding partners to help parents support their children’s education. You can also see a video of her keynote presentation at: http://vzaar.com/videos/1110170.

Learning with iPads for Diverse Students (Science for English Learners #6) – Episode 114
(October 1, 2012) More than regular computers and basic access to the Internet, iPads and other tablets present many possibilities for student learning when applied to real-world circumstances. These tools are particularly powerful for students who are learning English at the same time. IDRA education associates, Veronica Betancourt, M.A., and Paula Martin Johnson, M.A., continue our series of conversations on seven research-based strategies IDRA has developed for delivering instruction differently for secondary students. In this episode, Veronica and Paula focus on Strategy #4: Maximize use of technology in delivery of effective science and el instruction and use Internet resources to supplement and enrich instruction of English learners. They describe how iPads can be used to enhance learning by engaging students in analyzing situations and applying critical and creative thinking to find reasonable solutions.

Sixth Generation of Civil Rights and Educational Equity – Episode 113
(September 21, 2012) Beginning with the Brown vs. the Board of Education Supreme Court ruling in 1954, this nation has passed through several phases – or generations – of tending to civil rights in education. We have moved from focusing on desegregation to equitable access for all students and later to systemic equity and accountability. Bradley Scott, Ph.D., director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity, describes how we are now entering into a sixth phase that is challenging us to be more focused on rigorous curriculum being presented by highly qualified teachers under the supervision of dynamic leadership. He says that this new sixth generation is calling us to examine the quality, correctness and suitability of the inputs to produce different outcomes for all learners regardless of their differences. Bradley is interviewed by Aurelio Montemayor, M.Ed., an IDRA senior education associate. Send comments to podcast@idra.org. This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Sign up to receive free e-mail notices when new episodes are available.

Visual Literacy in Math and Science (Science for English Learners #2) – Episode 112
(August 29, 2012) Visual development in math and science requires students to interpret all types of information from images, charts, graphs, pictures and scenes. Students who also are learning English depend on their visual knowledge to understand math and science concepts. IDRA education associates, Paula Martin Johnson, M.A., and Veronica Betancourt, M.A., continue our series of conversations on seven research-based strategies IDRA has developed for delivering instruction differently for secondary students. In this episode, Paula and Veronica focus on Strategy #4: Scaffold and spiral language and science instruction for increased comprehension and literacy development. They describe how teachers can use visual tools to assess students’ background knowledge and cultural influences to help students connect to the language of the lesson. In the process, teachers can observe how students use content-related language in peer interactions.

Creating a STEM Focused School Part 4 – Episode 111
(August 20, 2012) How can a school district transform itself to create STEM-focused schools? David C. Boggio, who directs career and technology education for a low-wealth high minority school district, tells how he helped his district start this transformation by setting up 12 STEM related clubs. The students have done amazing work and are beginning to see themselves in STEM careers that they once thought were closed to them. Not all the teachers who lead the clubs are math or science experts, but they are seeing how they can support a STEM focus in their work. David says he has found STEM-focused activities to be an intriguing way to engage students.

Transforming Schools through Parent Engagement – Episode 110
(July 16, 2012) There is a difference between “parent involvement” and “parent engagement.” Involvement tends to imply participation in school activities and helping to fundraise. But engagement has more to do with the school’s partnership with parents to strengthen the school academically for the success of all students. Dr. Rogelio López recently worked with a high school in Houston to transform how it engages with parents starting with the understanding that the responsibility lies with everyone in the school, not a single staff member. He describes how the school led in-depth discussions with parents about the new graduation requirements and worked together to prepare students for college and seek scholarships. They also focused on how to create a safe school environment by addressing bullying.

Creating a STEM Focused School Part 3 – Episode 109
(June 15, 2012) It’s naturally hard for students to see themselves in STEM careers that they don’t know exist. And low-income and minority students, in particular, may worry that they don’t have the background knowledge and tools they would need to be successful in a STEM field. Carole Henry is a Pre-AP chemistry teacher and runs a chemistry club for students in a low-wealth high minority high school. She describes the kinds of activities her students are doing to explore their curiosity in chemistry and see new options for their future.

How Does it All Add Up? – Episode 108
(May 31, 2012) Possibly more than ever before, math touches our lives in a variety of ways to help us function in today’s society. We need math to think critically and solve problems. Paula Martin Johnson, M.A., an IDRA education associate, discusses how math instruction can be made to be accessible and engaging for all students by equipping teachers with best practices and strategies that work in diverse classrooms of all grade levels. 

Creating a STEM Focused School Part 2 – Episode 107
(May 14, 2012) Does a teacher have to be a science whiz to be a leader in transforming a campus to be STEM focused? Apparently not. Meet Robert Dingenary, a ninth grade English teacher in a low-wealth, high minority school, who volunteered to lead a STEM club when no one else wanted to take it on. And with strong administrative support, his ninth-graders are building a model solar airplane. In this interview, Robert talks how he got this program started, the support he’s getting from the community and how his students have latched on.

Building Opportunity through Dual Language – Episode 106
(April 30, 2012) Public schools have an obligation to provide an equitable and excellent education to students who speak a language other than English. Several decades of research and experience have shown that bilingual education is the best way to teach a student English while also teaching other subjects, like math and science. Dual language programs are a powerful type of bilingual education that serves English learners and English speakers with the goal of biliteracy. Adela Solís, Ph.D., discusses the growth of dual language programs across the country and important factors that must be in place.

Creating a STEM Focused School Part 1 – Episode 105
(April 13, 2012) Once seen as the cradle of knowledge for scientists and engineers around the world, the United States has fallen behind other first world countries in science and technology education. Schools today face the challenge of preparing students in the STEM areas of science, technology, engineering and math. The challenge is even greater as minority, low-income and female student populations grow – students who schools have traditionally underserved. Rodolfo Andres Urby is one teacher who has seen a transformation. A high school physics teacher and robotics club coach at a high-poverty, high minority school, he shares the story of how his school is becoming STEM focused.

Science for English Learners #1 – Episode 104
(March 30, 2012) Teachers can structure their instruction in ways that support both the learning of science and the language of English in dynamic ways. Veronica Betancourt, M.A., an IDRA education associate, describes the first of seven research-based strategies IDRA has developed for delivering science instruction differently for secondary students. The first strategy is: Building upon English learner language proficiency for effective science instruction.

Data and Vocabulary in Math and Science – Episode 103
(March 9, 2012) In math and science both, students struggle with academic vocabulary, interpreting charts and graphs in different contexts, and transferring data. One likely issue is a tendency in instruction to isolate classroom activities to the point that students don’t experience the concepts in different contexts. Paula Johnson, M.A., and Veronica Betancourt, M.A., share examples of how teachers can be intentional about modeling and creating opportunities for students to use academic language in practice and transfer knowledge across the curriculum at all grade levels.

Fair Funding Now! for Excellent Schooling – Episode 102
(February 22, 2012) In the context of education budget cuts across the country, Aurelio Montemayor, M.Ed., and Laurie Posner, MPA, profile an IDRA initiative in Texas called Fair Funding Now! that is mobilizing statewide grassroots leadership to present the case for equitable, appropriate school funding and to develop local, regional and statewide strategies for securing equity for all children. They also describe some online tools the initiative is using that can serve as a model for groups in other states.

Advancing American Indian Education – Episode 101
(February 13, 2012) Following the President’s executive order on improving American Indian and Alaska Native educational opportunities, four IDRA leaders share insights about providing technical assistance to improve education of American Indian students.

Expressions of Effective Parent and Community Engagement – Episode 100
(January 24, 2012) For this 100th episode of Classnotes, Aurelio Montemayor, M.Ed., Linda Cantu, Ph.D., Josie Cortez, M.A., and Bradley Scott, Ph.D., give examples of effective parent and community engagement and share important insights that lead to successful engagement.

Community PTAs Growing in South Texas – Episode 99
(December 22, 2011) Aurelio Montemayor, M.Ed., an IDRA senior education associate, describes how groups in three communities have formed their own community PTAs (or PTA Comunitarios) to transform education in their neighborhoods.

Teacher Perspectives of the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program – Episode 98
(November 14, 2011) Ludi Ortega, a middle school teacher, shares stories of the dramatic changes she has seen in her own students through the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program.

Diversity in Education – Episode 97
(October 31, 2011) Anne Foster, executive director of Parents for Public Schools, describes how PPS is helping groups of parents as they work to improve their schools on behalf of all children rather than just for their own. She also speaks to the challenges of policies that discourage immigrant children from attending school when federal law forbids such policies and there is great value to communities when all children receive a high quality education.

Engaging Parents through Powerful Coalition Building – Episode 96
(October 11, 2011) José Medrano, of the START Center in South Texas, describes how, in the Texas Rio Grande Valley several local community-based groups are working together to focus attention on education, particularly local dropout rates, through the Equal Voice Network.

Parents Modeling Math in Everyday Life – Episode 95
(September 30, 2011) IDRA education associates Paula Martin Johnson, M.A., and Hector Bojorquez describe an activity they led with parents to help them see how they use higher math concepts regularly. They also outline questions families can ask to help children move from finding the right answer to using higher order thinking to determine why an answer may be right.

Immigrant Children’s Rights to Attend Public Schools – Episode 94
(September 13, 2011) IDRA’s director of policy, Albert Cortez, Ph.D., whose work has influenced landmark education litigation, clarifies that the education of undocumented students is guaranteed by the Plyler vs. Doe decision. He also reviews the certain procedures that must be followed when registering immigrant children in school to avoid violation of their civil rights.

Science Success for English Learners – Episode 93
(August 26, 2011) Veronica Betancourt, M.A., and Kristin Grayson, M.Ed., IDRA education associates, give an overview of seven strategies for delivering instruction that lead to science success for secondary English learners.

Parents Using Data to Improve Schools – Episode 92
(August 9, 2011) Anne Foster, executive director of Parents for Public Schools, describes how PPS is training parents to interpret data and to better understand how schools and school boards function. She gives examples of transformations that have occurred as a result.

A New Model for Community Engagement in Education – Episode 91
(June 27, 2011) After decades of working with schools to integrate IDRA’s family leadership model, we added a twist. In this interview, four leaders of the nation’s first PTA Comunitario talk about their experience and their passion for community engagement in education (interview is in Spanish).

A Discussion about Diversity Training – Episode 90
(May 31, 2011) Bradley Scott, Ph.D., director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity, describes how today’s diversity training – that helps schools take stock and learn how to prepare themselves and their students for a diverse world – is so far removed from yesterday’s typical surface-level sensitivity training.

Parent Institutes for Education – Episode 89
(May 20, 2011) Aurelio Montemayor, M.Ed., director of IDRA’s Texas Parent Information & Resource Center, gives highlights from our recent Annual IDRA La Semana del Niño Parent Institute, where parents and school leaders shared stories and ideas about quality education.

The Civil Rights Issue of Our Generation – Episode 88
(April 29, 2011) In a speech, IDRA President, Dr. Robledo Montecel, describes the Quality Schools Action Framework that shows how we can transform schools into places of excellence and equity. And she gives examples of schools and communities that have done just that.

Higher Math for All – Episode 87
(April 18, 2011) Paula Martin Johnson, M.A., an IDRA education associate, says that in order to launch today’s student into the expanding digital generation, math curriculum must adopt a new format and method of delivery for instruction.

Principal on Creating a College Going Culture – Episode 86
(March 29, 2011) Principal Roland Toscano, M.S., describes how this high school has developed a college-going culture for all of its students rather than for a select few with great teaching, curriculum, support systems and effective communication with parents.

Connecting Every Student to a Meaningful Future – Episode 85
(March 10, 2011) Superintendent Dr. Daniel King shares how his district has cut the number of dropouts by 85 percent and is well on its way to reaching its ambitious goal of having every student earning dual credit by the time they graduate.

Valuing Students and Children – Episode 84
(February 25, 2011) In the midst of a national debate about how strict we should be with children, Dr. Linda Cantu, an IDRA senior education associate, presents IDRA’s valuing approach that has turned conventional thinking on its head.

Principal on Dramatic School Transformation – Episode 83
(February 11, 2011) Dr. Lucious Brown, principal of John F. Kennedy Middle School in Atlanta, talks about how partnering in the community, engaging students and building teacher effectiveness has led to dramatic school transformation.

Teacher Communities of Practice – Episode 82
(January 31, 2011) Josie D. Cortez, M.A., an IDRA senior education associate, outlines four key elements that are critical to successful teacher communities of practice.

Tool for Building Quality Schools – Episode 81
(December 9, 2010) IDRA senior education associates, Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., and Bradley Scott, Ph.D., talk about new book, Courage to Connect: A Quality Schools Action Framework and how it is being used by schools and communities.

Bilingual Stories for Young Learners – Episode 80
(November 16, 2010) Dr. Juanita García and Dr. Nilka Avilés describe IDRA’s new Semillitas de aprendizaje early childhood materials and how they’ve been used with teachers to align with Head Start competencies and Galinsky’s seven life skills every child needs.

Pitfalls and Promises of Interactive Science Notebooks – Episode 79
(October 15, 2010) Veronica Betancourt, M.A., an IDRA education associate and developer of IDRA’s Science Smart! model, discusses the power of interactive science notebooks in the classroom, how to integrate the strategy, and ways administrators can support their success.

Learning Content Learning English – Episode 78
(September 30, 2010) Kristin Grayson, M.Ed., an IDRA education associate, describes how English language proficiency standards are a valuable guide for content teachers to plan lessons that engage English learners and increase achievement fro the whole class.

Creating Dynamic Math Classrooms – Episode 77
(September 8, 2010) Paula Johnson, M.A., IDRA education associate and former high school math department coordinator, describes how the classroom environment, instructional strategies and use of technology can help students develop critical thinking skills while learning math content.

The Power of Real Conversation – Episode 76
(August 23, 2010) Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., director of the IDRA Texas Parent Information and Resource Center, tells how participants at the ¡YA! Es Tiempo event demonstrated how people in different sectors of a community can come together to talk meaningfully about education and create strategies for improving their own neighborhood public schools to ensure all students graduate ready for college and career.

College for All – Episode 75
(August 3, 2010) Nilka Avilés, Ed.D., tells about an effort that built relationships between high schools and a local university to remove barriers of school-level low expectations, student academic preparation and college-level instruction.

High School Youth Tekies on College Access – Episode 74
(June 16, 2010) Aurelio Montemayor, M.Ed., director of the IDRA Texas Parent Information and Resource Center, interviews four high school students about how they engaged with 600 of their peers to help them apply for college.

Supporting Parents of Preschoolers – Episode 73
(May 25, 2010) Frances Guzmán, M.Ed., an IDRA education associate, describes how HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) prepares young children for the classroom and strengthens connections between parents and their children’s school.

Parents as Leaders in Education – Episode 72
(May 14, 2010) Frances Guzmán, M.Ed., an IDRA education associate, shares examples of this parent leadership in action from IDRA’s recent parent institute, where groups of parents from several school districts led sessions for each other on multiple education topics.

Learning and Mentoring with Teachers and Students – Episode 71
(April 30, 2010) Aurelio Montemayor, M.Ed., director of the IDRA Texas Parent Information and Resource Center, describes how IDRA successfully combined a professional learning community of middle school content teachers with mentoring of students at risk of dropping out.

Youth, Technology and College Access – Episode 70
(April 12, 2010) Hector Bojorquez, an IDRA education associate, shares an inspiring story of a group of high school students took leadership in helping their peers access to college information through community technology centers in San Antonio.

Youth as Technology Bridges – Episode 69
(March 29, 2010) Hector Bojorquez, an IDRA education associate, tells the story of how two youth groups in south Texas overcame obstacles in their distressed communities by providing leadership and technology expertise for parents and community members.

Implications of Inequitable School Funding – Episode 68
(March 12, 2010) Encarnación Garza, Jr., assistant professor at UTSA, shares his perspective of inequitable school funding as an issue of social justice through the eyes of a former school principal and superintendent.

Using Social Media to Build Better Schools – Episode 67
(February 26, 2010) Laurie Posner, MPA, an IDRA education associate, and Christie Goodman, APR, IDRA’s communications manager, talk about how the dramatic growth of social media presents a great opportunity for schools and families to engage with each other in powerful ways and particularly to provide access to those who have been historically left out of school conversations.

What Parents Should Know about Their Schools – Episode 66
(February 17, 2010) IDRA senior education associate, Rogelio López del Bosque, Ed.D., lists four questions he asks parents to explore to move from the theoretical to the practical work of supporting their school’s teaching and learning.

Reflections on Bilingual Education Today and Beyond – Episode 65
(January 29, 2010) IDRA senior education associate, Adela Solís Ph.D., provides an overview of bilingual education and dual language programs and discusses what we need to be doing in the future to effectively serve English language learners.

Latino and African-American Communities Leading School Reform – Episode 64
(January 20. 2010) Rosana Rodríguez, Ph.D., director of development at IDRA, and Bradley Scott, Ph.D., director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity, discuss an online launch kit that IDRA is developing to help communities take on a process of local cross-sector, multicultural dialogue and action to improve their own neighborhood public schools for all children.

Continuities with Lessons in Dropout Prevention – Episode 63
(December 17, 2009) IDRA president and CEO, María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, Ph.D., describes how seven lessons presented in IDRA’s new publication, Continuities – Lessons for the Future of Education from the IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, can serve as a guide and catalyst for future actions to transform education in this country.

Counting Dropouts – Episode 62
(November 24, 2009) Roy L. Johnson, M.S., director of Support Services at IDRA and author of the study for a number of years, discusses why counting dropouts is important and how the data can be used to strengthen school holding power.

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