On Tuesday, November 7, Morgridge College of Education alumna Dr. Carrie Olson (PhD, ’16) was elected to represent district 3 on the school board for Denver Public Schools. Olson beat out incumbent Mike Johnson 52% to 48%. Olson graduated from Morgridge in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.
11 Jan 2017
December 20th, 2016 – I frequently start my higher education classes with a poem, typically a poem that has little direct connection to teaching, my primary area of expertise and interest. Why and toward what end? What if anything does poetry contribute to an understanding of history, philosophy, or social context of schooling?
The poet Emily Dickinson in her poem Tell all the truth but tell it slant opens with the line “Tell all the truth but tell it slant” and she ends with the explanation “The truth must dazzle gradually or every man be blind”. T.S. Eliot, when asked about the value of poetry replied, “The chief use of the “meaning” of a poem, in the ordinary sense, may be to satisfy one habit of the reader, to keep his mind diverted and quiet, while the poem does its work upon him: much as the imaginary burglar is always provided with a bit of nice meat for the house-dog”. I find that poetry is an effective way to introduce core ideas and concepts about teaching and schooling but in a way that is less direct, thus increasing the chance that students will incorporate or at least strongly consider the main points of the class. Poetry allows for the introduction of controversial or strong ideas but at a “slant” or like the burglar who brings a “bit of nice meat for the house-dog”. The poem opens up the learning heart of my students while temporarily distracting their academic mind. By starting class this way I find that my students are more likely to express their understanding of the text through fresh critical eyes instead of the voice of well-trained students trying to impress the professor.
How do I introduce poetry to my students? I initially tell them that poems are like a Rorschach test where the psychiatrist asks a patient to interpret an ink blot on a piece of folded paper. In my case, the poem invites their inner teacher to see or hear what they most need to understand about the poem as it connects with the text for the day. I make it clear that like a Rorschach test each student will likely hear or see something different in the poem. In a subtle but direct way this conveys the message that intellectual diversity is valued in our community of scholars. I pass out the poem and read it out loud (there is something about hearing a poem read by someone else that goes deeper into the space of meaning than reading a poem in silence). I hold a few minutes of silence for the deep meaning of the poem to sink into the deep learning spaces of my students. I break the silence with an invitation to share a word, image, or phrase that speaks to them about the link between the poem and the essence of the texts we read for the class.
For the next 10-15 minutes at least three things happen. One, I get a real time sense of how my students understood, in a truly personal and intellectual sense, the readings for the class session. Two, students get a chance, in a non-threatening way, to hear the different ways that their classmates connected to or made sense of the readings. Three, all of us (teacher and students) slow down and settle into the class period. In no way does poetry provide an escape from the rigor of engaging critical ideas but as Emily Dickinson argues: “The truth must dazzle gradually or every man be blind”.
25 Nov 2016
November 25th, 2016 – This picture of a blackbird perched on a branch singing over a marsh of cattail reeds in the early morning hours of a new day is one my favorite images of teaching. I invite you to take some time and look closely. What are the signs of good teaching evident in this image? What are the conditions of the environment that allow for the presence of good teaching to present itself for examination? How would you begin to compare this male blackbird and his song to all the other males singing that day? How might we use this image of a singing bird to talk about the ineffable or hidden qualities of good teaching?
First let me make an argument for the ineffable, that which we know exists but frequently can’t see; courage, passion and grit for instance. One way bird lovers make distinctions between birds are their songs, each species has a signature melody. But a song, like many aspects of good teaching can be heard but not seen, except when the right conditions bring the ineffable forward for examination. In this image we can actually see the song of the blackbird in the exhaled breath. Each curl, curve and break makes the unseen elements of the song present for inspection.
An important lesson in this image for anyone interested in the unseen aspects of teaching is the importance of the right conditions for the ineffable to materialize. Externally, there must be a rising sun that back lights the scene, the temperature must be cold enough for the breath to condense into visible droplets, and the wind must be perfectly still or the notes will be distorted. Internally, the bird must exhibit a certain confidence in his song, head back and throat full of commitment. Additionally, without a compelling urge to sing the marsh will be quiet and the song of the blackbird will remain invisible.
What are some of the essential learnings that might help with ways of making the unseen or ineffable elements of teaching more evident and available for examination? The first learning is that the right conditions, externally and internally, must be present. Only a teacher who is encouraged or supported by colleagues or school leaders will take the risk of singing while perched on an exposed branch. Only a teacher with strong internal sense of calling to teach will throw her head back and in a full-throated way announce with authenticity her particular teaching style.
What might be at stake if we stop paying attention to the ineffable qualities of teaching? The graphic novel “Watchman” by DC Comics (2014) warns of the dangers of becoming too analytic in our studies of nature or teaching. The narrator, whose superhero persona is an owl, muses on the danger of narrowing the investigative eye to only technical qualities when describing what makes a bird a bird:
“Looking at a hawk, we see the minute differences in width of the shaft lines on the under-feathers where the Egyptians once saw Horus and the burning eye of holy vengeance incarnate. Until we transform our mere sightings into genuine visions; until our ear is mature enough to order a symphony from the shrill pandemonium of the aviary; until then we may have a hobby, but we shall not have a passion. When I was a boy, my passion was for owls. Somewhere over the years; some-place along the line my passion got lost, unwittingly refined from the original gleaming ore down to a banal and lusterless filing system.”
When it comes to describing good teaching we must look past the external qualities of “best practices” as defined by standards and accountability rubrics. We must learn to un-see the world of teaching as solely a technical process that has the potential of de-evolving into “a banal and lusterless filing system”. We must regain the passion and vision to see the mystery and magic of teaching that is only visible, although always present, on certain cold mornings in the face of a rising sun.
Kate Newburgh, a Ph.D. student in the Morgridge College of Education Curriculum and Instruction Program, is working with Eagle Valley Schools to design and implement curricula that reflect the skills needed in today’s world. Newburgh, who joined Eagle Valley Schools earlier this year, supports the district’s middle and high school English and Language Arts departments. Her curriculum development incorporates “performance tasks” supplementing traditional content to develop “global-ready skills,” a concept created by Harvard University professor Tony Wagner.
The performance tasks prompt students to create projects that have a real-life impact in their communities; elementary-school students are working to research and install “buddy benches” on their playground to address bullying. Additionally, a ninth-grade class creates podcasts to tell the story of a local hero. Projects still in the works include one seventh-grade class working on a lesson in identifying and examining stereotypes by studying slam poetry and writing their own, with the intent of sharing their work with the community.
Eagle Valley Schools will measure student engagement in the performance-oriented curriculum to continually assess how to improve and expand upon a system designed to prepare students for a modern, global, and connected society. Her work in the district is particularly important in regards to people development because of the need to support the region’s growing immigrant and refugee population in an area that is isolated from the rest of the state.
Curriculum and Instruction alumna Juli Kramer, Ph.D. (‘10), has begun working with the Multicultural Division of the Soong Ching Ling School (SLCS) in Shanghai, China, where she will serve as the Director of Curriculum for grades 6-8 and develop curricula for the new high school, which will open in 2017. Her role supports the middle school as it strives for higher levels of academic excellence and care, and works to facilitate consistency in teacher flow. Furthermore, the high school will allow students to continue their education in the multicultural environment.
SCLS opened in 2008, and devotes its mission to “providing children the opportunity to explore and gain valuable opportunities and experiences in education and life.” The school incorporates Western educational principles into the curriculum, and has an International Division for students from outside of China and a Multicultural Division for Shanghai residents. The school utilizes care theory, or creating a learning environment that adapts to needs and interests. Working at SCLS appealed to Dr. Kramer because she identifies with the mission and its commitment to providing an environment of care.
Dr. Kramer has worked in a wide range of roles supporting curriculum design and implementation. Her most recent positions include supporting the design and implementation of an online educational resource for teachers at the Denver Art Museum; developing a citizen awareness program to give individuals ownership over their security at The Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab; and founding the high-achieving Denver Academy of Torah’s high school, raising it to academic excellence at a national level. Dr. Kramer attributes her professional achievements in part to a strong working relationship with “tremendous mentor” and Morgridge College of Education faculty member Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D.
Choose2Matter (C2M) is a national movement created by Angela Maiers to inspire K-12 students to take ownership over their educational experience. Courtney Collins—a Curriculum and Instruction (CI) student—is working with Maiers to further promote C2M and establish a partnership between the movement and the University of Denver. Collins met Maiers in the fall of 2015 and invited her to speak at the students’ Practice of Teaching course taught by Clinical Professor Paul Michalec, PhD.
The goal of C2M is to empower students—by themselves, their peers, and their teachers—to practice passion-based learning, including exploring “heartbreaks”— issues that affect students on a local, national, or international level — and to identify their genius, or unique strengths, as individual learners and contributors to the classroom. Schools participate in the movement by hosting C2M workshops.
Collins describes C2M’s approach to identifying “heartbreaks” and connecting them with passion projects as “taking problem solving to the next level” by motivating students to identify and explore issues in order to create solutions. At a recent workshop that Collins attended in Saskatchewan, Canada, students from the third grade through high school collaborated on exploring and identifying solutions for a range of heartbreaks, including mental health, loss of family members, bullying, and feelings of invisibility.
Collins said the premise of the movement “hits a fundamental nerve”, a sentiment shared by Morgridge College of Education students Tess Golding, Alicia Saxe, and Sarah Wilkins, who became interested in C2M after hearing Maiers’ presentation. Saxe and Wilkins support C2M through advocacy and workshop facilitation while Golding is starting a position as C2M’s website and social media intern. All of the students are pursuing involvement with C2M outside of course and program requirements because they consider the mission of the movement critical to their career plans and aspirations as future educators.
Aesthetic learning and arts curricula are a key component in the development of young minds. The Morgridge College of Education (MCE) and its faculty, students, and alumni are making an impact across the nation in the world of arts education.
P. Bruce Uhrmacher, Ph.D and MCE faculty member, leads teachers in incorporating the arts in their daily lives and work. Dr. Uhrmacher is a proponent for aesthetic learning experiences and advocates that all educators can enhance their teaching by bringing creativity in to the classroom. Dr. Uhrmacher has been working with Think 360 Arts since 1993 to promote the creative arts in Colorado.
MCE and Think 360 Arts recently co-sponsored a training program where teachers engaged in art-making projects designed to teach them creative problem solving and inspire them to use similar practices in the classroom. In a Rocky Mountain Public Broadcasting (RMPBS) feature documenting the event, Program Director Caitlin Lindquist states that the organization brings in “artists that are really adept at working with a wide variety of student populations and skilled in developing curriculum.” The artists inspire teachers to bring art to life in their teaching and classrooms.
MCE Alumni Make an Impact in Art Education
MCE alumni are also making an impact in education as they utilize skills learned at MCE to implement the arts and aesthetics in their own work.
Curriculum and Instruction (CI) alumna Michelle Mandico is a practicing artist who incorporates her love of art into her teaching. Her art includes influences from her work in early childhood education, higher education, and residential education.
David Kennedy is a CI alumnus who taught middle and high school prior to enrolling at MCE. He recently developed a series of videos as a student addressing the use of arts—in particular, music—as a way for minority students to engage with curricula
MCE Faculty, students, and alumni create and participate in projects that support creativity in effective learning. Our programs aim to empower graduates to make a lasting impact in their communities.
RMPBS Feature on Think 360 Art
CRISPA is a six-dimensional Perceptual Teaching and Learning model that provides approaches to enrich learning beyond outcome-based standards. P. Bruce Uhrmacher, PhD, faculty of the Research Methods and Statistics, Curriculum and Instruction, and Teacher Education Programs, was inspired to create CRISPA based on interactions between artists and educators as well as the views of philosopher John Dewey; in particular, his view that aesthetic experiences can exist outside of the arts.
The six dimensions – Connections, Risk-Taking, Imagination, Sensory experiences, Perceptivity, and Active engagement – support research-based strategies that serve as a common ground for educators, enable teachers to enrich lessons, and allow students to explore their creativity. CRISPA is growing in popularity and is used by many educators nationwide – including many of Dr. Uhrmacher’s former students – to create better experiences for students and teachers alike.
MCE alumna Kristina Mahoney works at the Denver Art Museum (DAM) where she used CRISPA to co-develop and implement a tour program for young children this past year. Mahoney worked with DAM while completing her dissertation regarding the role of CRISPA’s elements in art museum education and recognized how the model can be applied in practice. The tour program was created to help children make connections to artists by using their imaginations to relate to the artmaking process. The tour program launched in 2015, providing children with opportunities to have hands-on experiences as well as to engage with art and artmaking materials.
Bradley Conrad, a former student of Dr. Uhrmacher’s and current Assistant Professor of Education at Capital University in Columbus, OH, frequently uses CRISPA in his teaching and has written about and presented on the model. He conducted a one-day lesson planning workshop utilizing CRISPA in Denver with K-12 teachers as part of a study recently published on curriculum disruption. The teachers’ perceptions changed noticeably after the workshop – those who had not considered themselves to be creative realized that CRISPA gave them the tools to design creative lessons and provide meaningful experiences for their students. One participant said that it was “important for us to be creative as educators. We are teaching the future doctors, the future scientists, people who are going to create the world that we live in”.
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.
29 Sep 2015
Dr. Richard Kitchen, Kennedy Endowed Chair and Professor in the Curriculum & Instruction program at Morgridge College of Education (MCE), aims to advance equity and diversity in education through Access in Mathematics for All (AMA), a project funded by the National Science Foundation’s Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program. “The goal of the program,” says Dr. Kitchen, “is to recruit talented students of color and low-income students to come to DU to study mathematics, to encourage them to become mathematics teachers and return to their communities to serve as educators.”
Dr. Kitchen and his fellow researchers—Dr. Nicole Joseph and Dr. Alvaro Arias, also from DU, and James Gray from the Community College of Aurora (CCA)—are developing an infrastructure that will provide academic and social support for future students in AMA. The team has built relationships with CCA and Aurora Public Schools to recruit potential students through a pilot tutoring program, host math talks focused on the importance of mathematics and mathematics education, and integrate existing services at DU to better serve future AMA students.
To augment the impact of AMA, Dr. Kitchen and his team have submitted a second proposal to the Robert Noyce Teacher Scholarship Program for $1.45 million to fully fund five students in MCE’s Teacher Education Program each year for five years.
AMA addresses a critical need for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) teachers, as identified in the National Science Foundation Authorization Act and the America COMPETES Act. The program also supports the National Science Foundation goal to “Prepare and engage a diverse STEM workforce motivated to participate at the frontiers.”
Doctors Julie Sarama and Doug Clements, the Morgridge College of Education’s Kennedy Endowed Chairs and Curriculum and Instruction professors, as well as Dr. Heather Ryan, Library and Information Science assistant professor, will present at the University of Denver’s Pioneer Symposium on September 25-26. During this two-day event, DU accomplished alumni and distinguished professors will present lectures and host panels and keynote speakers who will discuss a range of critical issues.
Doctors Sarama and Clements will lead a session entitled “The Surprising Importance of Early Math,” where they will discuss five research findings about early mathematics: its predictive power, children’s math potential, educators’ understanding of that potential, the need for interventions, and what we know about effective interventions.
Dr. Ryan’s session, “Preserving Our Digital Cultural Heritage” will address new challenges in maintaining access to our digital cultural heritage over the long term, and the “digital dark age.”
The Pioneer Symposium features a wide array of topics, including “The Right to Health in Practice: Lessons and Challenges,” “Film as Religion,” “Mental Illness and the Courts: Myths, Challenges, and… Hope?” among many others. DU’s Chancellor Rebecca Chopp will kick off the event during a welcome luncheon and panel discussion on September 25. View the full event schedule here.
The Pioneer Symposium is in its eighth year and open to everyone–alumni, parents, friends, and students of the University.
Date: Friday, September 25 through Saturday, September 26, 2015
Time: 10 am to 6pm on Friday and 8 am to 2 pm on Saturday
The University of Denver
2199 S. University Boulevard
Denver, CO 80208
Cost: $40 fee covers all sessions and lunches on Friday and Saturday
Morgridge Curriculum and Instruction professors and Kennedy Institute staff, Dr. Julie Sarama and Dr. Doug Clements, are a part of a team working to advance math and science skills in early childhood learning. With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF), Dr. Sarama and Dr. Clements have developed the Connect4Learning (C4L) curriculum. Through C4L, preschool students are getting the opportunity to spend more time engaging in fun activities that promote science and math. C4L aims to educate pre-K students with a holistic approach that integrates academics, social and emotional development, and play in the classroom. A key element to their research is video analysis of the program in action; this allows for program growth and provides ways to create better support for diverse student bodies.
Dr. Sarama and Dr. Clement’s work on C4L has been showcased in a new Science Nation video created by NSF. The video features their work at the All Souls School in Englewood, CO, which has adopted the C4L project. Through the use of sea creatures, pre-K students at All Souls School are learning their numbers and shapes. The highly engaging activities not only promote science and math-based learning, but are also fun for the students.
The C4L author team includes experts in all four domains. Nell K. Duke is a professor of literacy, language, and culture and a faculty affiliate in the combined program in education and psychology at the University of Michigan. She studies early literacy development, particularly among children living in poverty. Kimberly Brenneman is Program Officer for Education at the Heising-Simons Foundation. Prior to joining the Foundation, Kimberly was research faculty at Rutgers University’s National Institute for Early Education Research where she led projects focused on curricular and instructional practices to foster science, technology, engineering, and mathematics learning for young children in school and home settings. Mary Louise Hemmeter is a professor in the Department of Special Education at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University and is a co-faculty director of the Susan Gray School for Children. She studies professional development, strategies for preventing and addressing challenging behavior, and instructional approaches for young children with disabilities.
#iwishmyteacherknew (I Wish My Teacher Knew) has become a nationally trending hashtag on twitter and other social media platforms. Kyle Schwartz (@kylemschwartz), a graduate of the Morgridge College of Education’s Denver Teacher Residency program, and third grade teacher, started the Twitter sensation. What began as a simple assignment where students were asked to finish the sentence “I wish my teacher knew…” has garnered the attention of both educators and the national media.
Schwartz’s students at Doull Elementary in Denver wrote such insightful and heartbreaking responses to her question that she began sharing some of them on Twitter. Since the initial posts the hashtag has gone viral and enormous support has been pouring into Denver area schools. The phenomenon has been featured on ABC News, The Today Show, The Washington Post, and many other major media outlets.
There are a number of ways you can help support Denver area schools. Please check out Schwartz’s DonorsChoose.org page, below. You can also visit Denver area Goodwill locations and drop off books for 7News’ Books for Kids initiative.
Morgridge’s Dr. Douglas H. Clements, Professor in Curriculum Studies and Teaching and Kennedy Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Learning at the Kennedy Institute, co-authored the report, Transforming the Workforce for Children Birth to Age Eight: A Unifying Foundation. The report, released through The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and The National Research Council (NRC), explores the science of child development, focusing specifically on the implications for professionals that work with children birth through age eight. Dr. Clements and his colleagues offer recommendations with a goal of developing a workforce unified through the foundations of the science of child development and early learning. Their research and recommendations promote shared knowledge and skills that are needed to provide consistent, high-quality support for the development and early learning of children from birth through age eight.
Since joining the Morgridge College of Education faculty in 2011, Dr. Nicole M. Joseph, Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction, advances Inclusive Excellence research and practice around issues related to access, equity and achievement for underrepresented students. Her work focuses particularly on social justice for African American females in math education. In addition to her research, Dr. Joseph is strongly committed to teaching, employing transformative practice to co-construct deep learning experiences for her students. Congratulations are in order; Dr. Joseph was recently awarded the 2014-2015 National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship.
Dr. Joseph is currently working on a number of research projects. She is the lead co-author of a book with MCE alumna Dr. Chayla Haynes Davison and Dr. Floyd Cobb entitled, Interrogating Whiteness and Relinquishing Power: White Faculty’s Commitment to Racial Consciousness in STEM Classrooms, which seeks to link issues of inclusion to teacher excellence by illuminating the critical influence that racial consciousness has on the behaviors of white faculty in the classroom (Haynes, 2013). The important work specifically examines STEM classrooms because of the over saturation of white faculty teaching in STEM, in addition to the STEM system being a white institutional space that perpetuates hegemony, thereby negatively influencing racially minoritized students’ equitable outcomes. The book is scheduled for release in the spring of 2015.
In addition to finishing her book, Dr. Joseph continues her work on the mathematics education of Blacks during segregation from 1854 to 1954 through a University of Denver funded PROF grant. This study focuses on archival data collected from 25 Historically Black Colleges and Universities across 11 states from sources such as mathematics textbooks, mathematics faculty papers, institution catalogs, yearbooks, and school newspapers. This history project is now being funded by her National Academy of Education/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship. Additionally, Dr. Joseph recently submitted an article to the Journal of Negro Education based on this work and is also working on turning this research into a book manuscript.
In the Fall 2014, Dr. Joseph began working with a University of Denver Interdisciplinary Research Incubator for the Study of (In) Equality (IRISE) post-doctoral fellow, Subini Annamma, to study race, class and gender inequalities in K-12 schools. Over the next two years, she and Dr. Annamma will be working together on research that focuses on these important areas. Additionally, Dr. Annamma will offer a graduate course that will be cross-listed in education, social work, and law.
As the founder of the Sistah Network, Dr. Joseph is committed to the experiences of Black women at DU. She is currently partnering with Kate Crowe, the Special Collections and Archives Curator to conduct oral histories of Black women alums from the University of Denver from the early 1950s to the present. These oral histories are important because they help to reconstruct a more complete picture of the student experience at the University of Denver’s rich history. Dr. Joseph and Ms. Crowe will create a repository of these oral histories for future researchers who would like to study this area. TaRhonda Thomas, from Channel 9 news recently did a story on this project, DU seeking out diverse history.