Morgridge Blog

Morgridge Blog

Kaplan Early Learning Company and the Leon & Renee Kaplan Foundation for the Health and Well-being of Children announced the winners of the 2015 Innovator Award on Thursday evening at a special reception held during the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) Annual Conference in Orlando, FL.

The 2015 Innovator Award was presented to Dr. Douglas H. Clements and Dr. Julie Sarama. Most recently known for their contributions to Connect4Learning: The Pre-K Curriculum, these recipients were recognized by the Leon & Renee Kaplan Foundation for their innovative approach to teaching mathematics in early childhood education.

“It’s exciting to see the results from the years of piloting this curriculum in classrooms,” says Kyra Ostendorf, Vice President, Curriculum, Assessment, and Professional Development at Kaplan Early Learning Company. “Connect4Learning flips the curriculum, putting math and science at the forefront with literacy and social-emotional development woven throughout. Doug and Julie’s vision is that all children can excel. This curriculum supports that focus.”

In addition, the Leon & Renee Kaplan Foundation made a donation to the Fisher Early Learning Center at the University of Denver. The Fisher Early Learning Center was instrumental in the research of both awardees.

Doug Clements 150x150Douglas H. Clements, PhD – Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning; Co-Executive Director, Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy; and Professor, University of Denver.

Julie SaramaJulie Sarama, PhD – Kennedy Endowed Chair in Innovative Learning Technologies; Co-Executive Director, Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy; and Professor, University of Denver

The Leon & Renee Kaplan Foundation Innovator Award is given annually to a person, program, product or organization that positively impacts the health and well-being of children. Previous Innovator Award winners include the Devereux Center for Resilient Children (2012); Linda Smith, the Deputy Assistant Secretary and Inter-Departmental Liaison for Early Childhood Development for the Administration for Children and Families (2013); Dr. Thelma Harms, Dr. Debby Cryer and Dr. Richard M. Clifford, best known for their collective work on Environment Rating Scales (2014).

Established in honor of Kaplan Early Learning Company’s founders, Leon and Renee Kaplan, the Leon & Renee Kaplan Foundation focuses on finding and supporting individuals, businesses and organizations that support the health and well-being of young children. Since 1997, the foundation has gifted more than 2 million dollars in support of programs affecting children and families across the United States.

Kaplan Early Learning Company is based in Lewisville, North Carolina, and provides products and services that enhance children’s learning. Since 1968, the company has delivered innovative products and services that support educators and caregivers worldwide in the creation of quality learning environments.

For the original version of this story visit PRWeb.

The 6th annual Students of Color Reception held on November 11, 2015 had its biggest turnout ever with over 100 community members, students, and educators in attendance. The reception, which is held every year and is moderated by Dr. Frank Tuitt, is designed to give MCE students of color a forum to discuss their experiences in the College and on campus.

The panel this year consisted of students across a range of programs, and included:

The panelists described their experiences as first-generation and underrepresented students and stressed the value of the cohort model used at MCE. Richard Maize, who is in his last year of the Dual Degree Program in Teacher Education, explained that the cohorts create a feeling of belonging and community.

Panelists described how faculty members’ embrace all students into the academic community going as far as to provide customized research opportunities tailored to the student interests and background. Research Methods and Statistics Ph.D student, Kawana Bright, explained that the flexibility of her degree enabled her to focus on a very specific and unique topic of interest for her dissertation.

During the Q&A session, panelists discussed scholarship opportunities for students and the funding of graduate degrees, work life balance, and the need for commitment to your degree.

The evening’s discussion was made particularly poignant by the current events happening at the University of Missouri. The experiences of students of color on campuses across the nation is a topic of much conversation among MCE students and faculty who care deeply about providing an inclusive college environment and strive to support a diverse community where all students feel they belong.

The Association for the Study of Higher Education (ASHE) held their 40th Annual Conference right here in the mile high city from November 5-7. We are excited to announce that 12 University of Denver faculty and students participated and shared their research on institutional change. These movers and shakers’ research covered a broad range of important issues that are sure to advance the conversation of inequality in Higher Education and stimulate collaboration among researchers and decision makers. We took some time this month to visit with these individuals and discover what their scholarship is all about.

Post Doctoral Fellow

Dian Squire

Dian Squire

Dian Squire, PhD Loyola University, Higher Education: Dian Squire is the postdoctoral fellow in the Interdisciplinary Research Incubator for the Study of (in)Equality. His research examines diversity, equity, and justice in higher education.  His current research focuses on the experiences of graduate students of color.


  • Graduate Student Session: Conversations with Newly Minted PhD’s.  
Doctoral Students

Meseret Hailu

Meseret Hailu

Meseret Hailu, PhD student, Higher Education: Meseret’s research interests are grounded in comparative international education, with a special emphasis on gender issues in STEM programs in Ethiopian higher education. Methodologically, she aims to craft a mixed-methods research agenda.


  • Examining the role of Girl Hub in Shaping College-­‐going Culture for Women in Ethiopia
  • Understanding Diaspora women’s Experiences in Ethiopian STEM Higher Education


Delma Ramos

Delma Ramos, PhD student, Higher Education: Delma’s research interests include access, retention, and graduation from higher education institutions, with an emphasis on underserved populations. Additionally, she focuses on the evaluation and assessment of programs with similar foci and on issues pertaining to educational quality in postsecondary education.


  • The Uphill Battle: An Analysis of Race and Gender Struggles in the Academic Pathways of Doctoral Women of Color
  • Limiting Levels of Involvement of Low-Income, First-Generation, Families of Color through Controlling Images
  •  Inequity in Workforce Outcomes of College-­educated Immigrants of Color: Human Capital Transferability and Job Mismatch

MSarubbi headshot

Molly Sarubbi

Molly Sarubbi, PhD student, Higher Education: Molly crafted a 3-day, embedded conference experience for local Indigenous practitioners and Tribal College Presidents in which they could have participated in various conference presentations, events, and community building sessions. In an effort to further celebrate the Indigenous cultures of expression, she also scheduled local spirit leaders to lead the group in opening and closing ceremonies. Local artists also were invited to showcase their cultural works.

Raquel Headshot

Raquel Wright-Mair

Raquel Wright-Mair, PhD student, Higher Education: 
Raquel’s research is grounded in social justice and focuses on issues of access and equity, as well as the identification of ways to create inclusive campus environments for underrepresented populations. Her research agenda includes looking at the experiences of students, faculty, and administrators of color on college campuses and examining structures, policies, and systems necessary for their growth, development, and success.

Bryan Hubain

Bryan Hubain

Bryan Hubain, PhD candidate, Higher Education: Bryan’s research is multifaceted and mutually informing. He focuses on the intersections of identities and how specific intersections of marginalized identities influence someone’s personal experiences and perceptions. His current dissertation research agenda focuses on a queer and intersectional analysis of the narratives of Black gay international students and racism in LGBTQ communities.


  • Dialoguing the improvisation of risk: Critically addressing racial inequality and racial incidents in higher education 


Varaxy Yi-Borromeo

Varaxy Yi-Borromeo, PhD student, Higher Education: Varaxy’s research focuses on historically underrepresented and marginalized populations in higher education. Specifically, she is interested in Southeast Asian American college student success.  Varaxy is also interested in graduate student support, especially for graduate students of color.


  • The Uphill Battle: An Analysis of Race and Gender Struggles in the Academic Pathways of Doctoral Women of Color
  • Understanding the Experiences of Faculty Engaging in Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Curriculum in the Classroom
  • The Impact of Culturally Engaging Campus Environments on Sense of
    Belonging among White Students and Students of Color
  • Navigating Two Worlds: Educational Resilience of Burmese and Bhutanese Refugee Youth
Master’s Students

Jeffrey Mariano

Jeffrey Mariano

Jeffrey Mariano, Master’s student, Higher Education : Jeff’s research uses the Culturally Engaging Campus Environments (CECE) model as a means to explore how faculty members across various disciplines (STEM, professional fields, arts and humanities, and social sciences) incorporate culturally relevant pedagogy and curriculum into their classrooms. Specifically, this study highlights the ways these faculty engage the cultural backgrounds and knowledge of their students and the barriers and challenges they face.


  • Understanding the Experiences of Faculty Engaging in Culturally Relevant Pedagogy and Curriculum in the Classroom


Dr. Nick Cutforth

Dr. Nick Cutforth, Research Methods and Statistics: Dr. Cutforth’s research and teaching interests include school health and physical activity environments, qualitative research, physical activity and youth development, university/community partnerships, and community-based research. His current research involves school-based intervention studies related to physical activity and healthy eating among K-12 students in the San Luis Valley in rural Colorado.


  • The Civic Engagement Movement: A Symposium and Participatory History
  • Exploring the Power and Potential of Community-Based Research to Address Educational Inequality

Ryan Gildersleeve

Dr. Ryan Everly Gildersleeve

Dr. Ryan Everly Gildersleeve, Higher Education: Dr. Gildersleeve’s research agenda critically investigates the social and political contexts of educational opportunity for historically marginalized communities. He pursues this agenda in three inter-related braided lines of inquiry: critical policy studies, cultural analyses of higher education institutions, and poststructural philosophy/critical qualitative inquiry. Cumulatively, he hopes to contribute new tools for the study of inequality and the role(s) of postsecondary education in affirming social opportunities for non-dominant youth.


  • Ritual Culture and Latino Students in American Higher Education
  • Exploring Posthumanism in Higher Education: Methods, Contexts, and Implications

Judy Kiyama

Judy Marquez Kiyama

Dr. Judy Marquez Kiyama, Higher Education: Dr. Kiyama’s research examines the structures that shape educational opportunities for underserved groups through an asset-based lens to better understand the collective knowledge and resources drawn upon to confront, negotiate, and (re)shape such structures. Dr. Kiyama’s current projects focus on the high school to college transition experiences of first-generation, and low-income, and families of color and their role in serving as sources of cultural support for their college-aged students.


  • Limiting Levels of Involvement of Low-­‐Income, First-­Generation, Families of Color through Controlling Images
  • Presidential Session: Reflections on Connecting Research and Practice in College Access and Success Programs
  • Presidential Session: Culturally Relevant Research in Higher Education
  • Exploring the Power and Potential of Community-Based Research to Address Educational Inequality

Frank Tuitt

Dr. Frank Tuitt

Dr. Frank Tuitt, Center for Multicultural Excellence: Dr. Tuitt’s research explores topics related to access and equity in higher education; teaching and learning in racially diverse college classrooms; and diversity and organizational transformation. Dr. Tuitt is a co-editor and contributing author of the books Race and Higher Education: Rethinking Pedagogy in Diverse College Classrooms, and Contesting the myth of a post-racial era: The continued significance of race in U.S. education.


  • Dialoguing the improvisation of risk: Critically addressing racial inequality and racial incidents in higher education
  • The (un)intended consequences of campus racial climate on university faculty
  •  The Black Womanist Manifesto: Navigating Media Influences in Higher Education

NOTE: This blog post is being featured from the official blog of the University of Denver’s Office of Graduate Studies. View the original post here.

Brinda Prabhakar-Gippert, a PhD candidate in the Counseling Psychology program at the Morgridge College of Education (MCE), has been selected as one of the two graduate student winners for the November 2015 Distinguished Graduate Community Leader Award.

The award reflects Prabhakar-Gippert’s demonstration of excellent work ethic, dedication to her research, good character, and inclusivity. Her doctoral dissertation, an embodiment of her commitment to improving services for underrepresented groups, explores mental health-seeking behaviors of international college students with the hope of uncovering ways to provide them with better resources and services. Additionally, she has published work on parental support and underrepresented students’ math and science interests. She is a dedicated researcher who is committed to thoughtfully integrating scientific findings into her clinical work.

Prabhakar-Gippert also works at Denver Health Medical Center as a pre-doctoral intern in the APA accredited psychology internship program, spending more than 40 hours each week providing counseling services to the community. She is an involved community member at DU actively participating as a student leader and serving as past representative of doctoral students at MCE. Colleagues and peers look up to her, stating that she is consistently warm, respectful, attuned to issues of power and privilege, punctual, and funny.

DGCLA winners are selected through a peer-nomination process. To nominate a colleague, email with a 250-500 word statement describing why the nominee deserves to be an DGCLA winner.

LEWISVILLE, N.C. – Kaplan Early Learning Company announced today the launch of an innovative approach to early childhood education that puts math and science at the forefront of learning. Connect4Learning: The Pre-K Curriculum is a research-based, interdisciplinary approach to learning that was developed by nationally recognized experts in early childhood education and through funding from the National Science Foundation.

The Connect4Learning (C4L) curriculum, available January, is exclusively sold throughKaplan Early Learning Company. A preview of the curriculum and its components will be revealed at the National Association for the Education of Young Children conference on November 18. Curriculum principal investigators are Julie Sarama, PhD, University of Denver; Kimberly Brenneman, PhD, Heising-Simons Foundation; Douglas H. Clements, PhD, University of Denver; Nell K. Duke, EdD, University of Michigan; and Mary Louise Hemmeter, PhD, Vanderbilt University.

After years of research and classroom testing, C4L’s principal investigators designed the curriculum to address growing concerns that the majority of Pre-K instructional time is not balanced among literacy, science, math, and social-emotional domains. One study found that a literacy-based curriculum teaches only 58 seconds of mathematics instruction in a 6-hour day.* Limited opportunities for early math and science learning are factors that can contribute to the United States falling behind other countries in math and science proficiency**.

The C4L prekindergarten curriculum includes 6 units that address 140 measurable learning objectives and support children’s development of 10 fundamental cognitive processes. The learning objectives are fully aligned with the new Head Start Outcomes Framework and state early learning standards. C4L seamlessly integrates child-centered activities with teacher-led instruction. With its project-based approach and rich vocabulary use, C4L aligns with recommended practices to support dual-language learners and children from under-resourced communities. Fundamental to the curriculum is the importance of play-based learning:

Research tells us that children naturally explore and engage with content areas such as mathematics during free play,” says Clements. “So we know that, when they are playing, they are acting out the foundations of their lessons from the classroom.”

Results from pilot programs report that children achieve their learning goals beyond expectations, and teachers and parents have been surprised at how effectively the curriculum improves the children’s performances across all domains.

The C4L curriculum also includes:

  • Pre-K Teacher’s Handbook
  • Director’s Handbook for Pre-K or Principal’s Handbook for Pre-K
  • Pre-K Kit
  • Classroom Book Set
  • Formative Assessments
  • Online Portal, including how-to videos, professional development offerings, classroom management tools, and math games

*Farran, Lipsey, Watson, & Hurley, 2007.

** Ginsburg, Cooke, Leinwand, Noell, & Pollock, 2005


About Kaplan Early Learning Company

Kaplan Early Learning Company is based in Lewisville, North Carolina, and provides products and services that enhance children’s learning. Since 1968, the company has delivered innovative products and services that support educators and caregivers worldwide in the creation of quality learning environments.

Suzanne Morris-Sherer is the current principal of Thomas Jefferson High school in the Denver Public School district. Morris-Sherer spent six years working as the principal of Side Creek Elementary in the Aurora Public School district after receiving her Principal Licensure from the Morgridge College of Education’s Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) Ritchie Program.

In her three years at Thomas Jefferson, Morris-Sherer has drastically raised the status of the school. She tells her students that they “need to aspire to achieve”. By changing expectations placed upon the students and staff, she has been able to create an environment that gives the support and inspiration needed for success. “I just love seeing their potential… [Thomas Jefferson High] is truly the hidden jewel I always say it is”, stated Morris-Sherer, who has worked with the students and staff to incorporate curriculum aimed at developing life skills.

Watch the video below to experience the change at Thomas Jefferson High School.

This post is part of a series of stories recognizing MCE graduates during National Principals Month.

Adams 12 - Skyview Elementary

Adams 12 – Skyview Elementary

Stephanie Auday is in her 3rd year as principal of the Adams 12 Five Star Schools District Skyview Elementary School. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education from Minnesota State University at Mankato before moving to Colorado to further her career in teaching. Auday spent several years as a classroom educator in the Adams 12 school district before receiving her Master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies through the Ritchie Program for School Leaderships in the Adams County Cohort.

Soon after graduating, Stephanie began leading in her community through three Assistant principal positions in the Adam 12 Elementary Schools. “The Ritchie program developed who I am as a leader, it focuses on beliefs and values that drive your day-to-day work”.

Auday attributes her successful career in leadership to the application of systems thinking. “Good systems allow people to be creative and successful… clear organization is key”. At Skyview Elementary, Auday has applied this principle by analyzing the school system and implementing a plan for teachers to stay an hour and a half longer together every Monday. During these Monday sessions, teachers collaborate with one another and walk away with something accomplished. “The complex nature of schooling means we (teachers) need to support each other professionally and emotionally.” This community effort continues into the rest of the week where teachers will stop in the hall or meet up in a classroom to touch base.

Auday wears her learner’s hat with her staff and is open to dialog, discussion, and pushback. She aims to empower her teachers to have the capacity to solve complex problems. “This isn’t a job you can do on your own…the goal is to live in a professional learning community,” Auday explained.

This post is part of a series of stories recognizing MCE graduates during National Principals Month.

Morgridge College of Education (MCE) Alumni and Community members gathered at Katherine Ruffatto Hall (KRH) on October 15, 2015 for the final Alumni Signature Event sponsored byt the MCE Alumni Board. The event included an interview with Mark Twarogowski, MCE Alumni, PhD candidate, and current Headmaster of Denver Academy. Mark was interviewed by Robert Sheets, MCE Alumni and the first Director for the Colorado Council on the Arts and Humanities. The spirited interview included a conversation on the role a school’s architecture plays in fostering culture and how it affects student’s ability to learn which is the focus of Twarogowski’s current doctoral research.

The event concluded with the unveiling and dedication of the MCE Alumni Board Signature Event Honoree wall which features photos of the 17 individuals whom have presented at Alumni Signature events between 2007 and 2015. The Honoree wall is located on the 2nd floor of KRH and MCE invites anyone to stop by while visiting the college. The creation of this wall of portraits was inspired by the generosity of alumni Berwyn and Gail Davies.

MCE would like to extend a special thank you to all of our Alumni Signature Event Honored Guests.

Dr. Jerry Wartgow

Dr. Marion Downs

Dr. Camila Alire

John & Carrie Morgridge

Dr. Carolyn Mears

Dr. Gregory Anderson

Dr. Mary Gomez

Mindy Adair

Dr. Kristin Waters

Dr. Lucy Miller

Dr. Donna Shavlik

Senator Michael Johnston

Barth Quenzar

Wendy H. Davenson

Dr. Karen Riley

Mark Twarogowski


Crystal River Elementary School

Matthew Koenigsknecht is the newly appointed principal at Crystal River Elementary in the Roaring Forks School District. Inspired by six years of teaching in Denver Public Schools (DPS), he began his pursuit of a Principal licensure and Masters in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the Morgridge College of Education. Koenigsknecht completed a year as a Ritchie Principal Intern at Harrington elementary School in DPS, and has already begun applying his education at Crystal River Elementary. Aspiring leaders in the central mountain region can access the same principal preparation experience through the Mountain Cohort of the Masters in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies program.

Koenigsknecht has developed three strategic priorities for his school: to identify and have fidelity to a mission and vision for the school; to implement high-quality instruction driven by data and supported by professional development and coaching; and, to develop a strong culture for students and staff by increasing their capacity.

Crystal River has successfully implemented the first initiative through Matthew’s leadership. He attributes a great deal of his success to the rich environment and support that the Richie program provided him. “Everything I learned at Ritchie was applicable and really great preparation for the work we are now doing… They taught me to have a vision and every day they stressed the importance of values-based leadership” stated Koenigsknecht.

This post is part of a series of stories recognizing MCE graduates during National Principals Month.

Trevista at Horace Mann

Trevista at Horace Mann

Jesús Rodriguez is the current elementary school principal of Trevista at Horace Mann in Denver Public Schools. Trevista is a school with turnaround status that met the expectations of the Colorado Department of Education’s school performance framework for the first time last spring under the leadership of previous principal LaDawn Baity. Baity, along with Rodriguez, is a graduate of the Morgridge College of Education’s (MCE) Educational Leadership and Policy Studies (ELPS) Ritchie Program for School Leaders. Rodriguez, who is also a current ELPS Ed.D. candidate at MCE, became principal of  Trevista at the end of the 2014-2015 school year, having  worked as the assistant principal at Trevista prior.

Rodriguez is dedicated to improving student performance at Trevista, and was recently featured in Chalkbeat Colorado (“Opening a new chapter, a Denver elementary school on the rebound changes its look and feel.”) The article illustrates the dramatic changes that have occurred under the leadership of Rodriguez and how these affect student culture.

This post is part of a series of stories recognizing MCE graduates during National Principals Month.

The University of Denver’s Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy is one of six partners with lead agency  ZERO TO THREE who have been awarded a federal grant to administer the National Center on Early Childhood Development, Teaching and Learning (NC ECDTL).

The grant, awarded by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Administration for Children and Families, the Office of Head Start, and the Office of Child Care, provides $70 million over five years to fund the creation of the NC ECDTL.

A scientific framework will be used to ensure the NC ECDTL’s work will enhance best practices for implementing programs in real-world settings. “The new Center will integrate a developmental perspective in all of its activities reflecting how human brains are built – from the bottom up,” said Matthew Melmed, executive director of ZERO TO THREE. The Center will also develop resources and offer training and technical assistance to Head Start programs, Early Head Start programs, early childhood specialists, and child care lead agencies in order to strengthen their capacity to provide extensive and high quality early care and education from birth to age five.

The prestigious team includes Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, WestEd, Institute for Learning and Brain Sciences at the University of Washington, Child Care Aware of America, and AEM Corporation.

The Center will be supported by a Research to Practice Consortium made up of 18 leading researchers in early childhood, development, teaching, and learning to ensure that its work is based on the latest early childhood research. The NC ECDTL is expected to begin operating in October 2015.

ZERO TO THREE is a national nonprofit that provides parents, professionals and policymakers the knowledge and know-how to nurture development. Founded in 1977, ZERO TO THREE is a leader in the field of infants, toddlers and families – reaching more than 2 million parents each year. The organization brings together experts on parenting, child behavior and development, care and education, and public policymakers to help ensure every child from birth to three years old gets a strong start in life.

On September 25, 2015 Douglas H. Clements, Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning, Executive Director for the Marsico Institute for Early Learning and Literacy, and Professor of Curriculum Studies and Teaching at the Morgridge College of Education, testified before members of Congress about early math education policy. Dr. Clements was invited by The Friends of the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) to present the research that he and Dr. Julie Sarama, Kennedy Endowed Chair in Innovative Learning Technologies and Professor of Curriculum Instruction at the Morgridge College of Education, have been compiling.

The briefing shed light on the role of IES and the important research it funds. The goal of the briefing was to inform policy makers on early math education so that they can make informed decisions when creating legislation related to early education and STEM learning. Topics included how young learners acquire mathematical knowledge, the impact of curricula and teaching approaches, and the effect of socio-economic background on math literacy. Other presenters included Hirokazu Yoshikawa, Ph.D from New York University, and Prentice Starkey, Ph.D from WestEd. The briefing’s principal Co-Sponsors included the American Educational Research Association, the American Psychological Association, the Society for Research in Child Development, and WestED.

Photo credit to National Science Foundation Education & Human Resources

On Saturday, September 26, Share Fair Nation (SFN) hadShare Fair Nation another successful year with more than 500 teachers and education leaders and hundreds of families in attendance. This annual event brought together innovators in STEM education and offered engaging, hands-on teaching strategies designed to ignite the imaginations of today’s diverse PreK-12 students.

SFN which began in Denver in 2009 was created by John and Carrie Morgridge, philanthropists leading the Morgridge Fami
ly Foundation (MFF) and longtime ambassadors for the University of Denver. It was designed to provide PreK-12 educators the opportunity to discover emergent technologies and discover firsthand the most effective approaches to delivering 21st Century education.

The morning kicked off with an exciting art performance and presentation by key note speaker, Erik Wahl, an internationally renowned graffiti artist and best-selling author. Erik encouraged audience members to tap into their passion for lifelong learning by exploring the power of creativity to achieve superior performance.

The remainder of the day was filled with engaging interactive sessions for families and educators. At the Ritchie Center Magness Arena, STEMosphere was at full capacity as exhibitors showcased innovation and creativity and guests participated in STEM-oriented interactive exhibits that were hands-on, minds-on adventures for all. With more than 15 exhibitions on the floor, exhibitors ranged from The Denver Zoo to SeaPearch, The Denver Museum of Nature and Science to KEVA Planks.

At the Morgridge College of Education, teachers and education leaders had an opportunity to participate in 20+ hands-on Classroom Intensives. These sessions were filled with thought provoking and interactive activities and discussions on topics such as Design Thinking, Heart Lab, Game-Based Learning, and Problem-Based Learning. Attendees were able to receive University of Denver Certificates of Completion for Contact Hours for sessions they attended.

Lessons learned at SFN extend beyond the event as attendees carry back to their schools, fellow teachers, and classrooms the new and creative education methods they learned, propelling schools across the country toward even greater 21st Century learning opportunities. “Share Fair Nation exemplifies Morgridge College of Education’s commitment to life-long learning through professional development. We believe that as a College, our responsibility to teachers extends beyond pre-service to ongoing teacher development and support through innovative, hands-on learning.” Said Karen Riley, Dean of the Morgridge College of Education.

The exciting day came to a close at the Morgridge College of Education with attendees joining Share fair Nation founder, Carrie Morgridge, outside for prizes, which included Ipads, Chromebooks, Kindles, STEM kits, subscriptions, and much more.

Dr. Julie Sarama, the Morgridge College of Education’s Kennedy Endowed Chair and Curriculum and Instruction professor, will be joining the Design for Impact in Early Childhood Education Initiative, funded by New Profit and its Early Learning Fund. Led by Yvette Sanchez Fuentes, former director of the Office of Head Start, this project brings together a network of scholars, program and policy leaders, communities, and support organizations to develop, implement, and evaluate variants of a comprehensive design for an early education program for three to four year olds. The goal of this initiative is to develop and test effective, adaptable, and holistic support models for early education programs that are based on contemporary evidence. The pilot program is scheduled to launch in 2016.

Dr. Sarama is a leading curriculum designer for early childhood education, particularly for mathematics instruction. She is the co-creator of the pre-K math curriculum, Building Blocks, Building Blocks Learning Trajectories (BBLT)—a teaching tool for early math educators—and the forthcoming Learning and Teaching with Learning Trajectories (LT2), a web application that updates BBLT to reach an even wider audience.

nick cutforthDr. Nick Cutforth, Department Chair and Professor of Research Methods and Statistics, is helping to improve physical education practices in underserved, rural, and low-income Colorado schools through a community-engaged research project, Healthy Eaters, Lifelong Movers (HELM). Obesity has been identified as the biggest health threat to U.S. children according to the Institute of Medicine. Alongside Dr. Elaine Belansky from the University of Colorado’s School of Public Health, Dr. Cutforth aims to turn this around with HELM, partnering with K-12 schools to implement evidence-based, school-level environment and policy changes. HELM has two proven approaches: AIM (Assess, Investigate, Make it Happen), which promotes healthy eating and physical activity in students; and the Physical Education Academy, a professional development program for teachers that increases the quality of physical education. Initially funded by the Colorado Health Foundation in 2010, HELM provides participating schools with the training, equipment, and monetary resources needed to implement healthy changes.

While AIM encourages healthy behavior for the entire day, the Physical Education Academy focuses on P.E. class and introduces teachers to the SPARK program, an evidenced-based P.E. curriculum, which involves teaching traditional games and sports in innovative ways, and more small-sized games and activities that cater to the individualized abilities of students. “We’ve introduced a new kind of P.E.,” says Dr. Cutforth, “which engages all the children, not just the athletes.” As a result P.E. classes provide more opportunities to increase moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA) among students.

Currently in his fifth year with the project, Dr. Cutforth’s work has shown significant improvements in the quality of physical education programs and teachers’ instructional practices. For example, in the 17 San Luis Valley elementary schools that participated in the P.E. Academy, the quantity of MVPA in P.E. class increased from 51.1% to 67.3% over a two-year intervention period, resulting in approximately 14.6 additional hours of physical activity over a school year. He says, “PE teachers are disguising fitness in the form of fun activities, so the kids are much more engaged, and the teachers are spending less time on classroom management.”

In 2013, HELM was refunded by the Colorado Health Foundation and has expanded to schools in southeast Colorado. HELM’s reach now extends to more than 15,000 kids in some of the poorest counties in the state.

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