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Spotlight on STEM • www.idra.org • September 2012

Field Notes

Throughout the past year, IDRA has been partnering with teachers, principals, parents and students across states and school districts to improve teaching and learning. Work to address access, equity and achievement gaps in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) have been focal points of this work. In these areas, joint efforts are bringing the excitement of science learning to bilingual preK classrooms, building K-12 teaching capacity; strengthening science instruction for English language learners; and introducing STEM career options to students who are under-represented in these fields. With the 2012 school year now in full swing, this issue of Graduation for All offers a “field notes” guide to our collective progress, sharing with you an array of new materials, resources, and stories from teachers. We wish you a great school year and, as always, welcome your comments, questions and suggestions at gradforall@idra.org

View this issue in Spanish. Share it on Facebook or Twitter.

An Integrated Action Framework
Consistent with IDRA’s Quality Schools Action Framework™, an empirically-based model for strengthening schools, we are focusing on intensive work on STEM at the classroom level that strengthens teaching quality, curriculum quality, family involvement and student engagement--and at the school level, that is informed by actionable data; promotes effective leadership; and engages school, family and community partners. Drawing on the framework, our approach is to work on STEM subjects, not in a vacuum or as stand-alone strategies, but via powerful linkages across curricula and among educators, families, and community members. Here are some examples of the work that is underway, with resources to support your work.

Effective Classroom Strategies
IDRA’s recently-published Science Instructional Strategies for English Learners ~ A Guide for Elementary and Secondary Grades captures and distills research and our experience with elementary and secondary teachers, who are determined to meet the needs of the diverse populations of students they serve. Designed as a practical resource to teachers, the guide presents seven research-based strategies for instruction of English learners in science. It is divided into four sections – teaching learning premises (theoretical underpinnings for each strategy); research support; essential teacher competencies (pedagogical skills necessary for effective implementation of each strategy); steps for strategy implementation – along with a matrix of techniques for implementation.

Rubber, meet road: to see how these instructional practices are impacting K-12 classrooms, visit these IDRA Classnotes podcasts:

You may also want to visit:

Creating a STEM-focused School

Successful K-12 STEM Education, a recent report by the National Research Council examines what schools, districts and policymakers can do to support effective K-12 instruction. It recommends that school districts devote adequate instructional time to science in grades K-5, ensure that STEM curricula are focused on the most important topics in each discipline, are rigorous and articulated as a sequence, enhance the capacity of K-12 teachers, and provide instructional leaders with professional development to create contexts that are conducive to all students’ learning. The findings are consonant with IDRA’s work with school leaders and teachers, captured in a series of recent articles and resources on creating STEM-focused preK-12 schools. (For example, see: The Need for Minority High Schools with a STEM Focus by Nilka Avilés, Ed.D.) and a four-part Classnotes podcast series featuring conversations with the chemistry, physics, English and career and technology teachers who are inspiring change at their schools.

Teacher Leadership: Creating a STEM Focused School, four-part series hosted by IDRA’s Dr. Nilka Avilés:

Opportunity Matters

Seeking to expand opportunities for under-represented students in STEM in your school? Visit: Diversifying the STEM Pool – Revisiting the Recruitment of Underrepresented Students in STEM Careers by  Paula Martin Johnson, M.A. 

Through our Transitions to Teaching Projects, funded by the U.S. Department of Education, and in partnership with over 20 K-12 schools and university partners across Texas, IDRA is helping to recruit, prepare, train and place hundreds of skilled, effective, bilingual teachers to work in high need schools across Texas. STEM preparation is a key part of our most recent Teachers for Today and Tomorrow (T3) project, which is uses a “grow your own model” to prepare teachers in bilingual/ESL and STEM subjects. To learn more about T3.

Recent IDRA Publications on STEM Teaching and Learning for Your Classroom, Campus or District

Science Instructional Strategies for English Learners ~ A Guide for Elementary and Secondary Grades

Helping Your Child Discover Science

Minority Women in Science: Forging the Way

Semillitas de Aprendizaje Preschool Math Books

Quick fact: According to NCES, just three out of five U.S. 12th graders score at or above basic achievement levels in science.

“When I was in lower grades, it was pretty fun to do activities in science. When I got to sixth grade, we just had to do book work and questions. Science wasn’t my favorite anymore." – pre-teen girl, Wilmington, Delaware

“I love science and I like seeing how things work. I think I did a lot of engineering on my own when I was little. I love to take things apart and see if I can get them back together. I always try to figure out how thins work." – pre-teen girl, Austin, Texas

These quotes are from Generation STEM, What Girls Say about Science, Technology Engineering and Math, a 2012 report from the Girls Scout Research Institute that points out that even as women are faring better academically than before, women still account for “only about 20 percent of the bachelor’s degrees in engineering, computer science, and physics.” Outdated as they may be, negative stereotypes about girls’ success in STEM, persist and are still holding girls back, the report finds; it’s high time that they were debunked and discarded. 

Thanks for reading!

Laurie Posner

Graduation for All Coordinator
Intercultural Development Research Association
5815 Callaghan Road, Suite 101
San Antonio, Texas 78228

Visit us on the web! http://www.idra.org

Check out IDRA Classnotes Podcasts at http://www.idra.org/Podcasts/

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