TEA Announcements

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UNT offers local teachers summer science institute

The Univesity of North Texas recently gave three local teachers the opportunity to go back to school.

Syed Hussain Rizvi, far left, and doctoral candidate Kayode Oluwabunmi, center, both from the Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering, give teachers participating in the Summer Science Institute ─ Mary Batalla, second from left, Jesus Sanchez Ontiveros, third from left, and Ladys Contreras, far right ─ a tour of the facilities in the College of Engineering at Discovery Park. 

The university hosted the teachers last month during the Summer Science Institute with the aim of helping them develop lesson plans in English and Spanish.

“The goal of the Summer Institute is for teachers to inspire their Hispanic students to engage more in the field of science especially given the shortage of Hispanic scientists in the U.S.,” said Ana Figueras, a graduate assistant in the Office of Bilingual/ESL Teacher Education in the UNT College of Education’s Department of Teacher Education and Administration.

This is the second year of the three-year interdisciplinary project funded by the National Science Foundation. In the final year next summer, the teachers who participated the first two years will be invited to spend a week on campus with some of their English learners for a summer science academy, said Rossana Boyd, a co-principal investigator of the project.

This year’s teachers, Ladys Contreras and Jesus Sanchez Ontiveros from Fort Worth ISD and Mary Batalla from Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, learned about new research in the area of C-Lignin from doctoral fellows from  the BioDiscovery Institute in the College of Science and from the Department of Mechanical and Energy Engineering in the College of Engineering.

“The Science Teachers’ Summer Institute provides the participating teachers a unique opportunity to learn first-hand about current research that is helping to shape our world,” said Richard Dixon, director of the BioDiscovery Institute and distinguished research professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

“This enables them to better engage with their students about how science impacts people’s lives, and to develop lesson plans that open the students’ eyes to possibilities beyond simply learning the science curriculum,” he said. “Conversely, the experience of working with top class teachers has provided my postdocs and graduate students valuable lessons in the importance of communicating their science to the next generation.”

COE teaching fellow receives award from State Bar of Texas

FeltsMark Felts, a graduate assistant and teaching fellow in the Department of Teacher Education and Administration, will receive the Honorary Leon Jaworski Award for Teaching Excellence from the State Bar of Texas Law-Related Education Department.

Felts is in the last year of his doctoral studies and will graduate in spring 2018. He is a Teacher Education and Administration student majoring in curriculum and instruction. The award from the State Bar of Texas was made in recognition of Felts’ passion for becoming a future educator in law-related concepts and civic responsibility.

In 2016, Felts was chosen as a 2016-17 recipient for The Doris and Forrest Herold Scholarship, The College of Education Scholarship and The Furr Endowed Scholarship. Felts is a member of the Doctoral Student Association within the College of Education as well as a member of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education.

UNT and Jalisco partners present at NABE conference


UNT College of Education faculty members continue their partnership with educators and administrators from the state of Jalisco, Mexico. In spring 2017, scholars from both countries collaborated to present papers about critical issues facing students and their teachers at the annual conference of the National Association for Bilingual Education in Dallas.

The Jalisco delegation comprised eight members representing the Secretariat of Education Jalisco and different universities in Jalisco that focus on educational research and the preparation of teachers. They were there representing the Mexico Association for Bilingual Education (MEXABE), a new international affiliate of the National Association for Bilingual Education. They presented during NABE’s ESL and Bilingual Education Special Interest Group Institute co-chaired by UNT Teacher Education and Administration faculty members Ricardo González and Rossana Boyd.  The emphasis of the presentations was on institutional efforts to promote bilingualism; bilingual teachers’ preparation for the early childhood and elementary grades; and redefinitions of curriculum and practices in order to embrace culturally, linguistically and socially diverse learners’ historical and sociopolitical stances.

The collaboration between UNT and the Secretariat of Education Jalisco was sponsored by NABE, UNT’s Meadows Chair for Excellence in Education, the Velma Schmidt Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Education, UNT’s College of Education and the Department of Teacher Education and Administration.

Nancy Nelson, Meadows Chair for Excellence in Education at UNT, provided a global perspective on matters of language and culture, including bilingualism and plurilingualism. She pointed to the importance of language in connections between Mexico and the United States. Following this further, Jalisco educators Ruth Perales and Lya Sañudo Guerra provided the Mexican point of view in terms of overall pedagogical approach to the teaching of English as a second language and the actual status of bilingualism in Mexico and their future goals.

Dina Castro, UNT’s Velma E. Schmidt Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Education, addressed the preparation of early childhood teachers in bilingual and intercultural contexts in the United States. She took the group for a visit to a dual-language preschool in Grand Prairie ISD.

Martha Vergara, professor from the University of Guadalajara described the preparation of teachers in indigenous contexts in Mexico and the characteristics of the courses in the teacher education programs helping educators teach Spanish to indigenous populations. Lastly, Luz Celina Ramírez, director of the Teachers College of Arandas, described the influence of migratory trends to and from the United States and the south of Mexico and how those are taken into consideration to educate teachers.

The knowledge shared during these presentations allowed both UNT and the Jalisco delegation to engage in a constructive discussion about different methods of teaching and professional development for teachers. Boyd described the trajectory of the collaboration: “Future collaboration will allow both parties to be a part of common research projects that can be implemented both in the United States and Mexico”

The collaboration between the Jalisco delegation and UNT was the continuation of a 10-year relationship dedicated to research, student and teacher professional development, and building professional bonds.

 

Top photo, members of the Jalisco delegation with Rossana Boyd, far right, principal lecturer in UNT's Department of Teacher Education and Administration.

Bottom photo, Jalisco representatives make plans with Nancy Nelson, left, Meadows Chair for Excellence in Education at UNT.

Teachers discuss lessons learned in UNT bilingual/ESL science institute

Denton ISD middle school science teachers Jonathan Hernandez and Sabrina Estrada presented at the National Association of Bilingual Education Conference in Dallas this spring about their experience at last year’s science teacher summer institute on the UNT campus. The institute was sponsored by the UNT Department of Teacher Education and Administration's Bilingual/ESL Education Office, the Department of Biological Sciences and the College of Engineering and funded by the National Science Foundation.

Hernandez and Estrada, both Latino science teachers working with English Language Learners, discussed what they learned from senior scientists at UNT regarding the advances in the research of biosynthesis and engineering of c-lignin and relating it to instruction for English Language Learners in secondary grades. Their presentation focused specifically on the biochemistry of cell walls, cell wall anatomy, gene expression and the engineering of carbon fibers.

The UNT summer institute allowed bilingual/ESL teachers to attend classes with research scientists, conduct experiments and develop instructional objectives to create lesson plans that will help pass on their new knowledge to English Language Learners. The goal is to engage more Hispanic students in scientific fields, said Rossana Boyd, principal lecturer in UNT’s Department of Teacher Education and Administration, part of the College of Education.

During the NABE presentation, Hernandez and Estrada shared with fellow teachers, student teachers and administrators some of the lesson plans and in-class activities they developed — in English and Spanish — during the summer institute and that they implemented with their students earlier this year. Replicating the experiments observed in the laboratories of UNT scientists, the lesson plans were designed to engage bilingual students through the visualization of concepts and processes with hands-on activities while including state content standards and English Language Proficiency standards.

Read more about the summer institute here

 

Above, Jonathan Hernandez and Sabrina Estrada point out a picture of a laboratory experiment provided by Aaron Harkleroad, graduate assistant and doctoral student in UNT's Department of Biological Sciences, during their presentation on laboratory experiments performed with UNT scientists.

COE’s Castro elected to NAEYC Governing Board

Dina Castro, professor and current Velma E. Schmidt Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Education in UNT's College of Edcuation, was recently elected to the Governing Board of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.

Castro has worked in the field of early childhood development and education for 35 years, conducting research and offering professional development programs for early educators both in her native country, Peru, and in the United States.

“The force driving my professional work has always been how to help children living in poverty, including those from diverse cultural and language backgrounds, have access to high-quality early childhood experiences,” Castro said. “Through rich interactions with families, early childhood educators, administrators, researchers and policy makers, I have gained a deep understanding of the early education field. This will certainly help me in making meaningful contributions to advancing NAEYC’s mission and goals.”

NAEYC focuses on promoting high-quality early learning for young children, from birth through age 8, by connecting early childhood practice, policy and research. The association comprises nearly 60,000 individual members of the early childhood community and more than 300 regional affiliate chapters.

 

Above, Dina Castro speaks at a conference in Lima, Peru.

UNT names Elizabeth Murakami Mike Moses Endowed Chair

Elizabeth Murakami, professor and director of programs in Educational Leadership in the College of Education and Human Development at Texas A&M-San Antonio, has been selected to serve as the Mike Moses Endowed Chair in Educational Leadership in the UNT College of Education. She will begin her role as professor of educational leadership and endowed chair in August. The position was left vacant following the retirement of faculty member Jane Huffman last year.

“It is a distinguished honor to join students, faculty and administrators at UNT in enhancing its visibility as the most significant contributor in the preparation of quality educators,” said Murakami. “The department’s strong generation of research, commitment to students and efforts in joining several national and state organizations in order to deliver the best preparation programs was a big factor in accepting this role.”

Murakami is a distinguished national educator and research fellow, having received national and international recognition for her research contributions. She earned her master’s degree and doctorate in educational administration at Michigan State University. Murakami has been dedicated to the improvement of Texas schools for more than a decade and has numerous published works that include academic journals, book chapters, creative works and edited books.

The endowed chair position was funded by Donald A. Buchholz, a UNT alumnus and member of the UNT Board of Regents. Buchholz also is the founder of Southwest Securities Inc., which established a scholarship endowment to benefit students in UNT's superintendent certification program last year.

The chair position is designed to reward an exceptional faculty member for his or her scholarship. In addition, the funding provides resources to build UNT's educational administration programs and bring increased recognition to the graduate programs in this area. The chair position is named for Mike Moses, who has served as a Texas educator for more than 30 years. Moses was the Commissioner of Education for the state of Texas from 1995 through 1999, deputy chancellor for Systems Operations at the Texas Tech University System from 1999 to 2001 and general superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District from 2001 until 2004. 

Teacher Education and Administration earns inaugural equity and diversity award

The University of North Texas’ College of Education’s Department of Teacher Education and Administration earned the inaugural Inclusive Excellence Award from UNT’s Division of Institutional Equity and Diversity.

The award was presented to Jim Laney, department chair, and Miriam Ezzani, Educational Leadership Program coordinator in the department, at the Equity and Diversity Conference last month.

Laney said that several years ago his department recognized the need for professional development and took action. Faculty representatives began pursuing external professional development opportunities to increase their cultural proficiency. They also created a professional development plan for all of their faculty and graduate assistants to become proficient in culturally responsive instruction.

Laney said the $5,000 prize will be used on a faculty retreat at the end of this semester at which they will revise course syllabi as needed to remain culturally responsive. Faculty are also working on identifying a topic and guest speaker for the fall.

“Our efforts are ongoing,” Laney said.

The Division of Institutional Equity and Diversity supports and affirms efforts across the university that demonstrate a commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion. The Inclusive Excellence Award was created to recognize units who exemplify these qualities. 

Apply to be a student ambassador for the College of Education for 2017-2018!

The purpose of the College of Education (COE) Ambassador Program is to promote and represent the College of Education and the University by assisting the COE Recruiter with outreach, working with the COE development office, and providing leadership and support for all education majors.

Why should I apply to be a COE Ambassador?

How does a $500 stipend per semester sound? In addition to the monetary rewards, COE Ambassadors get to meet new people, share their knowledge and love of UNT and the College of Education as well as help current and prospective students every day! They also build connections throughout campus by working closely with the college's Recruiter and Student Advising Office (SAO), Development and External Relations Office (DERO) and the Dean's Office.

What will the COE Ambassador program do for my future?

Students chosen to be part of this elite group receive valuable training and develop skills in problem solving, team building, interpersonal communication, promoting diversity and public speaking, making them more marketable in today's workforce.

What is being a COE Ambassador all about?

The COE Ambassador program is an amazing opportunity for students who desire to help others and promote the College of Education. We are looking for outgoing, friendly students who possess a genuine love for UNT and the COE, and are willing to provide excellent customer service, recruit new students, and be positive role models. Being a COE Ambassador is a prestigious honor and a unique opportunity for personal and professional growth.

Applications are available through the COE Ambassadors page, and are due April 7, 2017.

For additional information, please contact Renee Foster at (940) 565-4577 or Renee.Foster@unt.edu

 

Students, faculty gain insight at bilingual education conference

By Raquel Talamantes

A group of UNT students interested in bilingual learning got a chance to expand their education beyond the classroom by attending the Texas Association for Bilingual Education (TABE) conference in Galveston in October. UNT College of Education and other faculty members also attended.

“TABE is a gathering of dedicated education professionals and is important because it provides a broader perspective of serving bilingual and ESL students in all content areas,” said Cindy Watson, a UNT Teach North Texas master teacher who attended the conference sponsored by Project NEXUS: A Title III National Professional Development Project. “Being present at the TABE conference provides a window into the world of being bilingual and its inherent opportunities and obstacles.”

In addition to Watson, UNT attendees included Dayton Ryden and Esmeralda Sheran, students in the Teach North Texas program; Dina Castro, the Velma Schmidt Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Education; Rossana Boyd, director of the Bilingual/English as a Second Language (ESL) Teacher Education programs; Keylee Slough, a post-baccalaureate student seeking certification in EC-6 ESL education; and Laura Cardenas, president of the Bilingual/ESL Student Organization (BESO).

The TABE conference presented sessions directed toward teaching others ways to best serve bilingual students. According to Cardenas, topics ranged from the importance of dual language education and how to advocate for bilingual education to how to grow as a BESO organization.

“We had the opportunity to explore the Gifted and Talented gap in identifying English Language Learner (ELL) students, how to differentiate for different English proficiency levels with a vast number of effective instructional strategies, how to incorporate more literacy into all content areas that included math and science,” Watson said. “We even had an opportunity to see how current research is conducted in the bilingual community, where it is published, and how articles are selected to be published.”

Attendees also heard testimonials from people who have had to overcome obstacles in life pertaining to being bilingual, Cardenas said.

“My biggest take away was knowing that I’m not alone in this journey,” she said. “We are the voices of those kids who don’t have one and we need to use it. I hope others want to share what they learned - that being there has shown them how important their voice is and how incredible bilingual education is and the importance of it.”

Curriculum & Instruction master's student ready for second career in the classroom

Sue Dinaro always loved being an elementary school teacher, and after four years, she was on her way to becoming a master teacher. But when she moved from New Mexico to Texas when her husband’s job wasSusan Dinaro relocated, she had trouble finding a teaching position and knew she’d have to look for something else. Wanting to stay in education, she came across an opportunity at the University of North Texas that tapped into her first career in law enforcement.

Little did she know that accepting the position five years ago at UNT – plus a special scholarship for faculty and staff members – would put her one step closer to going back to the classroom.

In the meantime, her UNT job seemed a perfect match.

“This was coming back home for me,” says Dinaro, who landed in the UNT Police Department as a support specialist in charge of property and evidence. “Everything fit.”

Dinaro thrived in her role at UNT, and this year, she was named “Property Technician of the Year” for the entire state by the Texas Association of Property and Evidence Inventory Technicians.

Still, that itch for teaching kids never left. Dinaro decided to get recertified in Texas – unsure whether she’d ever have the chance to teach again.

“There are so many kids out there who struggle,” Dinaro says. “You have to learn to read before you can get anywhere. So many kids, and even adults, don’t have that love of reading, but a good teacher can inspire them and create in them a fire and interest to want to read.”

After learning about her past in teaching, several of Dinaro’s police colleagues, as well as her family, encouraged her to enroll in the Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction degree program through the UNT College of Education. Then, co-workers informed her about UNT’s Faculty/Staff/Retiree/Dependent Educational Scholarship – which pays the UNT Board of Regents-designated tuition and mandatory fees for qualifying individuals who are pursuing secondary degrees. 

“There is nothing holding you back if you apply yourself,” says Dinaro, noting that the excuses she had for not getting her master’s degree were gone. “It’s an excellent scholarship.”

Now in her first year as a UNT student, the former teacher is going back to school – for the third time – to pursue a teaching career.

Dinaro first started her bachelor’s degree in the 1980s. However, she chose work over school after receiving a job offer from a police station. The first of her four children came along shortly thereafter, and school was put on the back burner. She finally completed her bachelor’s degree in 2004 and taught until her family moved to Texas seven years ago.

Now, Dinaro, 53, says the curriculum and instruction program has been a perfect fit for her post-retirement career plans, giving her the ability to eventually return to teaching in a new, expanded role.

“This isn’t the typical college path people choose to take,” she admits. “It’s not the easiest thing, but you have to think that ‘maybe I can do it.’”

Working with her supervisors in the police department, she has been able to adjust her schedule to fit in classes and coursework. The ability to take online courses will help, too.

“I see the future of UNT involving online courses,” Dinaro says. “UNT has come full circle from a small teachers college to now offering classes in education that are fully online. It meets the needs of today’s students.”

She’s not entirely sure where the degree will take her, but she hopes to eventually pursue an instructional post that allows her to lead the charge for curriculum decision-making and mapping for a team of teachers.

“Someone needs to give you a push sometimes,” she says. “My co-workers at UNT kept me encouraged in my pursuit of an excellent education.”

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