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January 2014 IDRA Newsletter

This month’s focus: Early Childhood Student Engagement

“Investment in quality early childhood education is not only an investment in the young people who participate or even in their families, it is in fact an investment in all of us.” – Dr. María “Cuca” Robledo Montecel, IDRA President and CEO

Published 10 times a year, each edition explores issues facing U.S. education today and strategies to better serve every student. This newsletter is published in print and on the IDRA website, in addition to this eLetter format.

Building Interest in STEM through Language Development and Storytelling

by Rosana G. Rodríguez, Ph.D., and Juanita C. García, Ph.D.

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.

Educators from across the country recently learned how to use Semillitas de Aprendizaje for this purpose at the annual La Cosecha Dual Language conference in Albuquerque. We used leadership connectivity to the world around us as a backdrop to integrate national science standards into their presentation on using Semillitas de Aprendizaje. This early childhood supplemental curriculum was developed by IDRA through funding by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation in response to the need for high quality, culturally and linguistically responsive educational materials for school and home use.

At the conference, we stressed rigor and relevance for igniting the interest and engaging our youngest learners as emerging young scientists and mathematicians though bilingual storytelling. Hands-on demonstration and interactive presentations connect students with the world around them to further explore scientific and mathematical principles through culturally and linguistically relevant stories, poems, theatre, music and the arts. We also demonstrated how to connect content with experiential learning in the STEM areas, linking literacy and dual language learning. – Keep reading

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 We Believe…About Diversity
We believe that diversity of language, race, culture and human expression is both a strength and a gift for all of humanity to cherish. Through the use of the Semillitas de Aprendizaje materials, we encourage teachers and parents to celebrate, honor and encourage respect for the diversity of learners in our classrooms. As we integrate the assets of each individual child into the lessons, we also celebrate the collective success of the group because of the very diversity contained within. – Keep reading

IDRA Study Finds Children of AVANCE Families Are More Likely to Stay in School

by Felix Montes, Ph.D.

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 Texas. The AVANCE attrition rate was 10.5 percent, compared to 33 percent for Hispanic students in Texas reported by the 2012-13 IDRA Texas public school attrition study (Johnson, 2013). Moreover, the AVANCE attrition rate (10.5 percent) was lower than the 25 percent Texas attrition rate for all students.

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. AVANCE PCEP is a two-generation program that seeks to advance young mothers and their infants, zero to 3 years of age, so that mothers increase their knowledge and confidence about their child-rearing skills and in their own achievement, and their infants attain optimal development and are ready for school. – Keep reading

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. - Keep Reading

Classnotes Podcasts on Bilingual Early Childhood Education

Bilingual Stories for Young Learners – IDRA Classnotes Podcast Episode 80

Building Critical Thought through Children’s Literature – Episode 106

Reflections on Bilingual Education Today and Beyond – Episode 65

Good Schools for Children Learning English – Episode 14

Early Childhood Classrooms of Excellence – Episode 10