January 2014 Issue 

See PDF of this issue.
See IDRA Newsletter eLetter for this issue.

Building Interest in STEM through Language Development and Storytelling
In an increasingly interconnected world, fostering early interest in STEM areas is critical to addressing the underrepresentation of girls and minorities in these critical fields. Teachers in dual language classrooms can help ignite and inspire this interest through IDRA’s Semillitas de Aprendizaje early childhood supplemental curriculum. Designed for children in prekindergarten

through fifth grade, these tools use storytelling and dramatic presentations that lead to language development, oral language proficiency and scientific thinking. In this article, Rosana G. Rodríguez, Ph.D., and Juanita C. García, Ph.D., describe how to use Semillitas de Aprendizaje stories with Readers’ Theatre to further engage students in developing oral fluency, a critical factor necessary for reading comprehension.

See our new Semillitas de Aprendizaje website with

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

The Philosophy Behind Semillitas de Aprendizaje™
Since the early 1970s, when IDRA designed one of the nation’s first bilingual curricula for children who are English language learners, we have been dedicated to making sure that every child has the best possible start in school. With Semillitas de Aprendizaje, IDRA has launched a new professional development series for preschool teachers, early childhood centers, families and the field. The materials and training were developed based upon effective research-based principles of early childhood education and in the spirit of valuing each child for the unique gifts he or she possesses. This article, excerpted from Semillitas de aprendizaje Teacher Guide (Manual del maestro), outlines what we believe about diversity, the literacy connection, family involvement, effective teaching in early childhood education, children, assessment and essential life skills.

Listen to our podcast episode on using Semillitas de Aprendizaje in the classroom: Bilingual Stories for Young Learners

IDRA Study Finds Children of AVANCE Families Are More Likely to Stay in School
In an impact evaluation of the AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PCEP), IDRA found that AVANCE family’s students had a lower high school attrition rate than the rest of Hispanic students in

</place /> </state />. AVANCE is a non-profit parent-child education and family support organization that provides innovative education and family support services to predominantly Hispanic families in disadvantaged communities. In this article, Felix Montes, Ph.D., shares highlights from the evaluation conducted by IDRA about AVANCE’s PCEP two-generation program. This evaluation is the first to follow the participants 10 years after their graduation from AVANCE. It demonstrated that families in challenging socio-economic conditions can effectively help their children succeed in school, when the appropriate support is provided.

See Highlights from IDRA’s External Impact Evaluation of the AVANCE Parent-Child Education Program (PDF

IDRA Research for Quality Early Education
As we begin yet another year of working to assure equal educational opportunities for every child, it is the “Research” in our name that we are purposefully and with profound intent spotlighting in the IDRA Newsletter. And we are doing so by increasing visibility and awareness of IDRA’s research and the impact it has had for children. Each newsletter this year will feature our research contributions to particular topic. This month, the spotlight is on IDRA’s research for quality early education and its influence on the development of effective models and curricula for the youngest English learners.


Video: Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel talks the vital importance of quality bilingual early childhood education is a good investment in children and the larger community. [01:21]

Along Came a Spider: Exploring the Tangled Web! – Exciting Interest in STEM via Language Development
PowerPoint presentation by Dr. Juanita C. García & Dr. Rosana  G. Rodríguez

Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program Introductory Seminar, February 12, 2014 – San Antonio
At this one-day event, you will meet Valued Youth tutors, meet teachers who are using the Coca‑Cola Valued Youth Program, learn who to get funding from federal and other sources, and see the program in action by visiting a school that is successfully implementing the program. Designed particularly for school and district administrators, teachers and community members.

Classnotes podcast episodes on Governance Efficacy

Website Resource for Turning to One Another: Simple Conversations to Restore Hope to the Future, by Margaret Wheatley

Website Resource for Mind in the Making: The Seven Essential Life Skills Every Child Needs, by Ellen Galinsky

IDRA OurSchool portal – designed to help you – educators and community members – find out how well your high school campus is preparing and graduating students, what factors may be weakening school holding power, and what you can do together to address them.

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