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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!
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Equity-Centered Capacity Building for Stronger Schools
Featuring Sheryl Petty, Ed.D.
(July 15, 2016) Seeing the fragmentation of school reform efforts across the country, a group of experts came together to pull together capacity-building approaches for school and system change. This network offers a lens, skills and specific strategies to support school systems, communities and states to address issues of power, race, poverty, special education status, gender and other dynamics of difference, as well as historical community, cultural and political tensions as they relate to the healthy functioning of school systems. Sheryl Petty, Ed.D., of the Movement Tapestries and Management Assistance Group, gives an overview of this new network and the journal that was published earlier this year, Essential Approaches for Excellence & Sustainable School System Transformation. She also describes three capacity building communities of practice that need to be connected in this work. Sheryl is interviewed by Bradley Scott, Ph.D., former director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity, who also contributed a chapter in the ECCBN journal.. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Sign up to receive free e-mail notices when new episodes are available.
How Principals Can Support their Teachers – Episode 164 (June 6, 2016) We have high expectations for our teachers. IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework points to teaching quality as one of the four critical components that must be addressed in any comprehensive school reform effort that will be sustained over time. But teaching quality cannot happen in isolation. The structure of the school, the school leadership and valuing climate also are essential to teaching quality. Former teacher Judith Urdiales describes how her principal, Nilka Avilés, Ed.D. (now an IDRA senior education associate) built a system of support for teachers in their school that resulted in dramatic success for students. Judith is interviewed by Nilka Avilés, Ed.D., an IDRA senior education associate.
English Learners and the New ESSA Law – Episode 163 (May 10, 2016) Just a few months ago, the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) became law, succeeding the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). The new federal education law has significant implications for the education of English language learners. The implications range from entry and exit procedures, to accountability requirements and parent communication. Kristin Grayson, Ph.D., IDRA education associate, discusses implications for schools and resources educators can use to ensure ELs receive an excellent education. Kristin is interviewed David Hinojosa, J.D., IDRA’s national director of policy and director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity.
TEDx Speaker on Maker Education – Esposide 162 (April 19, 2016) Mark Barnett, IDRA’s new chief IT strategist, was a presented a TEDx talk at TEDx San Antonio on “Everyone is a Maker, but Not Everyone has Access.” Mark is a STEM and Maker education expert who is passionate about equal opportunity technology education. In his time as a teacher and consulting with schools and other youth serving organizations he has been committed to showing that hands-on learning and project-based learning improves education outcomes and excites students. He also served almost 30,000 students in low-income and rural schools with the high-tech makerspace on wheels called the Geekbus, which has received national recognition and awards. In this podcast episode, he shares highlights from his TEDx talk including the development of “Maker Education” and his early days as a teen building a 3-D printer from a rudimentary kit from the Ukraine before most people had ever heard of 3-D printers. Mark is interviewed by Laurie Posner, MPA, IDRA senior education associate
Texas Higher Ed Commissioner on College Access – Episode 161 (April 4, 2016) IDRA recently brought together researchers, K-12 educators, policymakers, family and community leaders, higher education faculty, and students to give input on the future of post-secondary education in Texas and the study of HB5 implementation. House Bill 5 was passed in 2013, setting new graduation requirements and removing the more rigorous courses from the standard curriculum. In contrast, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s plan, 60x30TX, sets a goal that 60 percent of the 25- to 34- year-old workforce in Texas will hold a post-secondary credential by 2030. At IDRA’s Ready Texas: Stakeholder Convening event, Dr. Raymund A. Paredes, Texas Commissioner of Higher Education, shares insights about how Texas students were faring under the previous curriculum plan compared to other states and what stakeholders need to examine now to assure the state is preparing all students for post-secondary success. He is interviewed by Christie L. Goodman, APR, IDRA communication manager with an introducation by Laurie Posner, MPA, IDRA senior education associate and director for the Ready Texas project. The Ready Texas: Stakeholder Convening is a project of IDRA, hosted in collaboration with the UTeach Program, College of Natural Sciences, the University of Texas at Austin. This project was made possible through a grant from Greater Texas Foundation.
3 ELL Scaffolding Strategies – Episode 160 (February 16, 2016) Each content area in middle school and high school has its own vocabulary and language. So teachers working with English learners are balancing multiple instructional goals with each lesson. Using the sheltered instruction approach, teachers are able to integrate language and content instruction. And by scaffolding instruction, teachers promote a deeper level of learning. Paula Johnson, M.A., an IDRA education associate and former high school math teacher, shares three scaffolding strategies that teachers can use right away in their classrooms.
How the Fisher Case Relates to Equity in Public Schooling – Episode 159 (December 17, 2015) The U.S. Supreme Court has twice heard arguments in the Fisher v. University of Texas at Austin court case focusing on use of race as one of many factors in college admissions. In 2015, IDRA filed a friend of the court, or amicus, brief in the case encouraging the court to consider the context for minority students in preK to 12th grade in Texas. In this episode, David Hinojosa, J.D., IDRA’s national director of policy and director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity, gives a quick background of the case and outlines IDRA’s amicus brief, which presents research on several challenges facing Latino and African American students in Texas public schools, including under-resourced schools, under-preparation for college entrance exams, disparate student discipline referrals, student mobility, and the importance of diverse experiences. David is interviewed by Laurie Posner, MPA, IDRA’s Director of Civic Engagement.
Civil Rights in Student Discipline – Episode 158 (November 30, 2015) Stories of school discipline going too far circulate social media and the news cycle pretty regularly these days, such as the video from Spring Valley High School in South Carolina. Millions of children are being removed from classrooms for increasingly minor behavioral issues. While school officials have a responsibility to keep the school learning environment safe, the data show widespread discrimination in school discipline that puts student civil rights and learning at risk. According to the Office for Civil Rights, Black students are suspended and expelled at a rate three times greater than white students. Harsh punishments are disproportionately used on children of color, low-income children, children with disabilities, and LGBT youth. These practices discourage children from attending school and increase the risk of students dropping out. David Hinojosa, J.D., director of the federally-funded IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity, gives an overview of the civil rights protections that are in place, the negative impact of many school discipline practices and points to resources available to schools and teachers. David is interviewed by Laurie Posner, MPA, IDRA’s Director of Civic Engagement.
Building Numeracy Skills in Early Childhood – Episode 157 (November 9, 2015) Numeracy is the ABCs of math. It is a critical foundation for using math in everyday life. We need numeracy skills to solve problems and make sense of time, numbers, patterns and shapes for activities, like baking, reading a bill or map, and playing games and sports. And just as families help young children learn their ABCs on the path to reading literacy, everyday counting and grouping activities help children their numeracy skills. Math educator, Paula Martin Johnson, M.A., an IDRA education associate, discusses the importance of supporting numeracy development in early childhood using the home language and everyday activities. She gives several examples and points to resources as well. Paula is interviewed by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA senior education associate.
Community Expects College Prep for All – Episode 156 (September 14, 2015) Community groups, parents and students came together recently with 16 school superintendents from across the Rio Grande Valley to affirm their expectation that all students be put on a path to graduate highly prepared for college. At this second annual Mesa Comunitaria event, community leaders of the RGV Equal Voice Network Education Working Group presented results from their survey of more than 1,600 parents about their knowledge about Texas’ curriculum tracking policies and new graduation requirements. The survey found that few parents across 24 school districts and 30 cities in the RGV have received information from their children’s schools. IDRA analyzed the survey data and developed a report with the survey’s key findings, implications, and recommended next action steps for communities. In this episode, Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA senior education associate, Sofia Bahena, Ed.D., senior education associate, and Hector Bojorquez, IDRA education associate, describe how at this unique event, parents shared personal stories about barriers and successes in getting their children into college prep courses. Then participants met in cross-sector teams (families, educators, etc.) to develop action plans to work together to set college-readiness as the standard graduation plan for all students.
Key Issues in the Texas School Funding Trial – Episode 155
(August 31, 2015) Texas in the midst of the largest school finance lawsuit in the state’s history. Over 500 school districts enrolling three-fourths of Texas school children, as well as parents, students, the Texas Charter School Association and others, sued the State for failing to ensure a quality education for all students. On the eve of oral arguments before the Texas Supreme Court, David Hinojosa, J.D., IDRA national director of policy, gives a quick outline of key issues facing the court and the state. The hearing comes 369 days after the Texas District Court ruled that the state’s funding system is “constitutionally inadequate, unsuitable and financially inefficient.” Much is at stake as the court decides whether or not to ensure that the state provides equal educational opportunity not for just some, but for all, of its children. David is interviewed by Laurie Posner, MPA, IDRA’s Director of Civic Engagement.
Education Civil Rights Challenges – Episode 154 (August 18, 2015) The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Brown vs. Board of Education declaring segregated schools unconstitutional was an important point in the long battle that had preceded it. IDRA senior education associate, Dr. Bradley Scott, has been engaged in the struggle for several decades and has been able to track the successes and challenges from the 1970s to the present through IDRA’s programmatic work and his leadership. In this episode, Bradley sits down with IDRA senior education associate, Aurelio Montemayor, M.Ed., to talk about some critical learnings from Bradley’s experience and his counsel today to those who want children’s rights in public education to be respected, protected and valued.
STEAM Education for Every Child Part 2 – Episode 153 (July 16, 2015) Bringing more females, minorities and low-income students into STEM fields requires building an environment of not just access, but inspiration. Students need to feel free to ask questions and test their creativity. Math educator, Paula Martin Johnson, M.A., an IDRA education associate, continues our discussion of how schools can use art within STEM strategies (“STEAM”) to give students an opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and learning. She gives several examples of STEAM activities that incorporate on an equal level the content and creative. Paula is interviewed by Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA senior education associate.
STEAM Education for Every Child Part 1 – Episode 152 (June 30, 2015) Despite efforts across the nation over the last decade to increase STEM education for girls and minority students, the data show we’re not succeeding. Reports last year revealed that, in two states, not even one female student took the AP computer science test, for example. In 11 states, there were no African American students who took the test, and no Hispanic students took it in eight states. One initiative that is showing promise is to move from STEM to STEAM by integrating the arts into STEM work. Math educator, Paula Martin Johnson, M.A., an IDRA education associate discusses how STEAM strategies combine a content standard and an art standard, side-by-side. This gives students an opportunity to analyze and express the content learning, while drawing on their experience, making the abstract STEM concept concreate and real.
A School District Vision for Biliteracy – Episode 151 (April 21, 2015) While many bilingual education programs across the country are designed to build students’ fluency in English, some dual language programs provide opportunities for students to grow academically in two languages. But one school district has taken this to a whole new level by encouraging students across the district become bilingual, bicultural and biliterate. In this podcast episode, dual language coordinator Rosalva Silva describes how the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district is supporting students to meet biliteracy graduation requirements. This is the second part of our conversation with Ms. Silva and her sister Rosario Lucero, a retired educator from the Raymondville school district, following IDRA’s inaugural IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellows Program symposium. They discuss the support and resources needed for a high quality education for English language learners and what it means to students to have their first language so valued and respected.
Civil Rights Update for English Learners – Episode 150 (March 31, 2015) The U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Justice recently published new guidance regarding education of English language learner students. The January 2015 statement was designed to remind states, school districts and schools of their “obligations under federal law to ensure that English learner students have equal access to a high-quality education and the opportunity to achieve their full academic potential.” Kristin Grayson, Ph.D., an IDRA education associate who works with schools to improve EL student achievement, discusses steps schools and school districts need to take to make sure they are serving ELL students and their families in ways that protect their civil rights as required by law. Kristin is interviewed by Bradley Scott, Ph.D. director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity.
A School District Vision for ELL Education – Episode 149 (March 6, 2015)
In an environment where the pressure on educators is to push English and show results on English-language tests has been an excuse for side-stepping research and best practices, the effect has been dismal academic performance among English language learners. IDRA’s 2015 inaugural IDRA José A. Cárdenas School Finance Fellows Program symposium highlighted research for Texas showing that ELLs are among the lowest academically performing groups of students, particularly in middle school and high school. In this podcast episode, dual language coordinator Rosalva Silva, however, describes her vision for her school district that ELL children have the opportunity to become bilingual, bicultural and biliterate. With her leadership in the Pharr-San Juan-Alamo school district, Ms. Silva is making sure teachers and administrators understand and use effective strategies for educating ELLs that give students a strong academic foundation in their native language, which catalyzes their learning of English. Ms. Silva and her sister Rosario Lucero, a retired educator from the Raymondville school district, are interviewed by Laurie Posner, MPA, director of civic engagement at IDRA.
Education Civil Rights for Today and Beyond – Episode 147 (October 30, 2014) Federal law and court rulings have taken steps to protect the civil rights of students in our public schools. What that looks like has changed over the decades as Bradley Scott, Ph.D. director of the IDRA South Central Collaborative for Equity, has described in previous Classnotes podcast episodes. Today, he gives an overview of what civil rights in education means for our schools today. In particular, he outlines five priorities that the U.S. Department of Education has for the nation’s network of equity assistance centers: My Brother’s Keeper initiative, teacher equity plans, parent involvement, discipline guidance and dropout prevention.
Building Parent Voice for Action – Episode 146 (October 14, 2014) Families need to know how schools are doing, and they can use available data to give them a big picture view of their neighborhood public school. But parents can also dig deeper by surveying each other. In this episode, Aurelio M. Montemayor, M.Ed., IDRA senior education associate, describes how some family groups have conducted parent-to-parent surveys, finding common goals and concerns. The process is helping their schools listen to families and more importantly is helping families and schools partner together to meet the challenge.
Tutor’s Success Surprises Elementary Teacher – Episode 145 (September 29, 2014) Karen Leahy knew that having a Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program tutor work with students in her elementary classroom would help the tutors strengthen self-esteem. And she welcomed that opportunity. But she was surprised to see how they genuinely helped her first grade tutees get up to grade level in reading. Ms. Leahy is first grade teacher at the NOW Academy in the Los Angeles Unified School District and describes how she selected the students the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program tutors would be assigned to and how the tutors were embraced by not just her two charges, but by the whole class. 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. Ms. Leahy is interviewed by Dr. Sulema Carreón-Sánchez, a senior education associate.
PTA Comunitarios are Born in their Communities – Episode 144 (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.
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.
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
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 sta