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20 states join UF’s sweeping reform effort to boost teaching of students with disabilities

Mary Brownell

Mary Brownell

The recent addition of five new states rounds out a 20-state roster for a federally funded effort, led by the University of Florida, to help states vastly improve the effectiveness of teachers and public school principals who serve students with disabilities.

Supported by $25 million from the U.S. Department of Education, the UF College of Education has created a national center that is in the midst of a five-year, project to lead major reforms in policy and educator preparation. Their mission: to help states increase academic success for students with disabilities by improving the training and practices of their teachers and school leaders.

A team of faculty scholars from UF’s nationally ranked special education program heads the CEEDAR Center, based at the College of Education. CEEDAR is short for Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform.

Guidelines to meet needs of all students

The UF CEEDAR Center’s reach and scope extends beyond its 20 member states. Center leaders hope teaching strategies and standards proven successful in its federally supported project will be considered for adoption by all states.

Last year, the CEEDAR team joined forces with the Council of Chief State School Officers to distribute a nationwide report on “clear policy actions” and guidelines that education department leaders in every state can take to meet the needs of all their students, especially those with disabilities.

The CEEDAR Center was charged to partner with education leaders, groups and agencies, and university teacher prep programs from five states each year, from 2013 through 2016.

The latest and final five states to join—the “class of 2016”—are Kentucky, Mississippi, Colorado, Nevada and Rhode Island.

“We are thrilled to be part of the cutting-edge CEEDAR consortium and the technical assistance it offers,” said Ann Elisabeth Larson, dean of education and human development at the University of Kentucky. “Thls is an opportunity for the state of Kentucky to ensure that our teachers and school leaders are well prepared to provide the highest-quality instruction for all learners.”

Florida, the CEEDAR Center’s home state, was one of the first five states to join in the first-year cycle, along with California, Connecticut, Illinois and South Dakota. Year Two in 2014 saw Georgia, Montana, New Hampsire, Ohio and Utah come in. Last year, Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon and Tennessee were added.

“It is our intention that the 20 partnering state teams will benefit from the successes and lessons learned from each of the five-state cohorts before them,” said CEEDAR Center Director Mary Brownell, a UF special education professor. “The state teams will strengthen and initiate reform efforts to  significantly improve the preparation, licensing and evaluation of teachers and administrators who educate students with disabilities, from kindergarten through high school.”

Brownell said between 60 to 80 percent of students with disabilities spend time in general education classrooms, underlying the need to improve teaching and leadership in all schools.

The CEEDAR leadership team (clockwise from bottom left), : Erica McCray, Mary Brownell, Paul Sindelar, Meg Kamman (center coordinator)

The CEEDAR leadership team (clockwise from bottom left): Erica McCray, Mary Brownell, Paul Sindelar, Meg Kamman (center coordinator)

Brownell’s co-directors of CEEDAR are fellow UF special education professors Paul Sindelar and Erica McCray.

Each state CEEDAR team comprises general and special education faculty experts and administrators from state universities and teacher prep programs, and state education agency leaders and regulatory officials. The teams each have a designated leader and facilitator chosen from one of four participating national groups—the UF CEEDAR Center, the American Institutes for Research, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and the University of Kansas.

CEEDAR faculty and staff used a comprehensive vetting process to select the 20 partnering states, based on their needs and goals, level of commitment and engagement, collaborative spirit, level of support from state education officials, and other factors.

“Each state has their unique needs and solutions for raising the standard of teacher and principal preparation to advance inclusive education for students with disabilities,” Brownell said. “Connections and communication among the network of states and with the CEEDAR team are crucial to developing an effective, comprehensive course of action for each state.”

She said the CEEDAR strategy places heightened emphasis on exposing all students to high-quality instruction in reading, writing and mathematics. Instruction is based on two teaching frameworks that provide increasing levels of academic and behavioral support to any students who need it.

Brownell said educators in the 20 CEEDAR states gain access to a host of resources, including the consulting services of the CEEDAR faculty and staff and the center’s partnering support organizations. Those include the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the Council for Exceptional Children, the Council for the Accreditation for Educator Preparation, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education and the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps.

CEEDAR also stages webinars and workshops and has created a website with a Facebook-style “wall” for member-networking and sharing ideas. The site also offers numerous multi-media resources to help state teams bolster their knowledge of best teaching practices, teacher prep regulations, program licensure requirements, and other pertinent topics.

Brownell said many states are already developing detailed action plans, strengthening collaborations between state education interests, expanding professional development programs for teachers, redesigning their teacher prep programs, and enacting new standards so all teachers and principals can work successfully with students with special needs.

With 20 states enrolling five at a time at one-year intervals, she said their progress varies from state to state, but “we’re seeing very encouraging results.”

 


CONTACTS
   SOURCE: Mary Brownell, UF College of Education; 352-273-4261
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137

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New school director Holly Lane embraces tradition of ‘vigorous research’

Holly Lane

Holly Lane

The University of Florida College of Education has appointed one of its own—associate professor of special education Holly Lane—as the new director of the college’s School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies (SESPECS).

Lane, an accomplished scholar in literacy education, has served as associate director of the school since 2012 and also coordinates its doctoral program in special education. She succeeds Jean Crockett, who is leaving the post after seven years to resume her teaching and research responsibilities as a professor of special education.

Lane and Crockett will share director duties during the summer transition until Lane assumes sole leadership on Aug. 16.

Lane said her most important role as school director will be to ascertain how she can best support faculty in their work —“and then keep everything else out of their way.”

“We have an exceptional group of scholars and teachers, so supporting their outstanding work will be my top priority. With several retirements coming over the next few years, I also expect new faculty recruitment, development, and mentoring to be a large part of the job,” she said.

Currently, Lane also directs the University of Florida Literacy Initiative (UFLI), a joint program of the College of Education and its affiliated P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School—with several outreach and public-school projects designed to help students who struggle to read or write.

Her research interests include literacy intervention and prevention of reading difficulties through effective early literacy instruction and teacher education. She has published a multitude of peer-reviewed journal articles, book chapters and a book.

In her 22 years at UF, Lane has served as the lead or co-principal investigator on contracts and grants totaling more than $8 million. She and faculty colleague Nicholas Gage were recently awarded a $1.25 million grant from the federal Office of Special Education Programs to support a doctoral leadership training program focusing on special education.

She also leads the evaluation of a intensive reading improvement effort called “Winning Reading Boost,” developed by the college’s Lastinger Center for Learning. The program, funded in March with $400,000 from the Florida Legislature, is being used to help five failing elementary schools in south St. Petersburg improve the reading of their most struggling students.

Lane said sustaining the school’s strong research program is an ongoing priority for SESPECS.

“A vigorous program of funded research allows for more flexibility in what we do as a school,” she said.

Lane also is strong on teaching and academics. In 2014, she was instrumental in helping the college’s dual certification program—in elementary and special education—become one of the first teacher preparation programs in the nation to receive accreditation from the International Dyslexia Association.

She earned her bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees in special education from UF and is previous winner of the college’s Outstanding Graduate Teacher Award. She is the 2016 vice president of the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children and is on track for the group’s presidency in 2018.

Lane taught special education in public schools for eight years in three North Florida counties before joining UF’s education faculty in 1994.

Her predecessor as school director, Jean Crockett, has headed SESPECS for the past seven years.

Jean Crockett

Jean Crockett

CROCKETT’S TENURE AS DIRECTOR NOTED FOR MILESTONES

During Crockett’s tenure:

  • Two major centers for research and professional development were established: the interdisciplinary Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, and CEEDAR, the Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform. The latter center was created with the aid of a $25 million federal grant, the largest award in College of Education history;
  • Federal research and training funds generated by SESPECS faculty more than tripled from $15 million to $52 million;
  • The school added seven faculty members, including two as part of UF’s top-10 Preeminence initiative;
  • Crockett’s program, special education, consistently ranked among the top five in its specialty area in the U.S.. News and World Report rankings.
  • Seven Ph.D. graduates captured prestigious national dissertation research awards.

Students in UF’s special education program will benefit from Crockett’s return to teaching and research. She is an acknowledged leader in the field, previously serving as president of the Division for Research of the international Council for Exceptional Children from 2007-2011.

Crockett, who has a doctorate in special education from the University of Virginia (1997), has served as special education editor of the Journal of Law and Education for 15 years. She has published five books and multiple book chapters and peer-reviewed journal articles. Since 2008, she has designed and produce the “Doctoral Student Seminars in Special Education Research,” an online seminar series engaging 10 doctoral students scholars selected annually through a national competition sponsored by the Council for Exceptional Children.

“I have had the opportunity to support programs and scholars who are nationally and internationally recognized for the strength of their research and influence on public policy,” Crockett said. “I am confident that Dr. Lane will build on these impressive strengths with innovative and creative leadership. I wish her all the very best.”


CONTACTS
   SOURCEHolly Lane, PhD. UF College of Education; 352-273-4273
   SOURCEJean Crockett, UF College of Education; 352-273-4292
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137

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Nepali PhD candidate cited for promoting global engagement

uttam-giving-speech

Uttam Gaulee speaks at Turlington Plaza during a vigil to commemorate the earthquake victims in Nepal.

Nepal native Uttam Gaulee has scaled some impressive peaks as he has pursued a doctorate in higher education administration at the UF College of Education.

Earlier this year, he was one of 10 scholars nationwide chosen by the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) to receive the 2016 K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award, which recognizes leadership ability in teaching and learning.

The AACU was impressed with Gaulee’s academic work and contributions to the university and the community. He represents “the finest in the new generation of faculty who will be leading higher education in the next decades,” AACU President Carol Geary Schneider wrote in a letter announcing Gaulee’s award.

In May, Gaulee defended his dissertation for a doctorate in Higher Education Administration with a research paper titled “American Students’ Experiences with their International Peers on Campus: Understanding Roadblocks, Enhancing Pathways of Global Engagement.”

He used surveys, interviews and focus groups to uncover roadblocks to improving global engagement among U.S. students. Despite the professed importance of “global competency” in an increasingly interconnected world, he found that most domestic students largely missed opportunities to create rich meaningful relationships with foreign students.

Gaulee’s interest in international learning stems from his personal journey, which began on the other side of the globe, in a valley not far from the world’s tallest mountains.

He grew up as the eldest boy of eight children in a poor family in the small city of Surkhet. His parents were subsistence farmers. No relatives had ever attended college. But Gaulee showed academic promise, became a star student and pursued a college degree while working as a high school English teacher.

In an interview, Gaulee laughed about how naïve he was and how limited his worldview had been.

“In Nepali, my name means the best,” Gaulee said. “And I grew up thinking my family is the best, my country is the best, my language is the best, and so on.  It wasn’t until I was able to cross those hills and was exposed to other parts of the world that I learned from people from many different countries.”

In time, he traveled to Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, where he earned a master’s in education from Tribhuvan University and then to England for an international academic conference. This led him to apply for and receive a Fulbright Scholarship to earn another master’s degree, in education administration and policy studies, at the University of Pittsburgh.

In 2012, Gaulee came to UF, where he has worked closely with Dale Campbell, professor and coordinator of higher education administration, who chaired of his dissertation committee, and with David Miller, his committee co-chair and director of the School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education.

Gaulee’s interest in improving global relationships has stretched across UF’s campus. He served as a graduate student senator to the Student Government and spearheaded the effort to rename the campus’ North Lawn the “Global Garden” to serve as a social space where U.S. and international students can gather and learn about each other’s cultures. The space also would display artifacts from around the world, highlighting UF’s commitment to creating a globalized community of scholars and students. The Student Government passed a resolution calling on the university to create the garden.

Miller said he first met Gaulee when he directed a task force that formulated the Learning without Borders: Internationalizing the Gator Nation initiative, a plan designed to improve student engagement in international learning experiences.

“Uttam has shown remarkable passion and leadership in creating opportunities for students to heighten their international awareness,” Miller said. “I expect he will continue to be a driving force in internationalizing student experiences at whatever institute of higher education he ends up in.”

Gaulee is on track to receive his doctorate in August and then he and his wife plan to return to Nepal. He is considering an opportunity to serve as a leader at a new university in his hometown in hopes of improving Nepalese and international higher education at large.

“I’m grateful for all the opportunities I have had to keep learning,” Gaulee said. “I want to help others to do the same, and inspire them to learn about different cultures and societies.”


Source: Uttam Gaulee, 412-805-4745
Writer: Charles Boisseau, news and communications, UF College of Education; 352-273-4449

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Acclaimed scholars to participate in UF’s first International Teacher Leadership Conference

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Globally recognized speakers and researchers are beginning to line up to participate in the University of Florida College of Education’s first international academic conference to explore the crucial role a new generation of “teacher leaders” can have in improving public schools and student achievement.

The International Teacher Leadership Conference, scheduled March 2-3 in Miami, is designed to bring together scholars and practitioners from across Florida, the country and the world to examine the emerging field of teacher leadership.

The conference is being organized by the Lastinger Center for Learning, the College of Education’s R&D arm that spearheads professional development programs to improve teaching and learning in schools and districts across Florida and beyond.

Conference organizers have already begun receiving proposals for research papers and presentations, and they hope to get hundreds by the June 30 submission deadline. They also have confirmed keynote speakers who are widely known for their methods of teaching and scholarship to improve education from the inside out.

Registration for the conference opens Sept. 1. The registration fee is $250. There are 150 scholarships available for teachers who will make presentations at the conference. Scholarships will cover registration fee and lodging.

The formal title of the conference is “Co-constructing a New Vision for Teacher Leadership: A Conversation Among Scholars and Practitioners About Teacher Leadership.”

Among other things, conference goers will discuss what educators mean by teacher leadership, which in the broadest terms refers teachers who lead school improvements in and outside of their classrooms.

“The field still lacks a common conception of the meaning of teacher leaders,” said Philip Poekert, assistant director of the Lastinger Center. “Our hope is the conference will create a framework for conversations and research about effective teacher leadership.”

Many educators increasingly view teacher leadership as a way to drive school improvement and enhance educational outcomes. For many years, scholars have been examining teacher leadership and have explored aspects such as the influence teacher leaders can have and how they can spark student achievement.

“Teacher leadership has become a central part of school reform efforts across the world,” said Tom Dana, associate dean of the UF College of Education. “This is an ideal time to create an exchange of ideas among scholars and practitioners to better understand teacher leadership and to advance the theory and practice in the field.”

The upcoming conference is the latest element of a new UF College of Education program to develop leadership skills among kindergarten-to-high school teachers. In February, the Lastinger Center selected 40 teachers for a new Florida Teacher Leader Fellows program to build a statewide teacher leadership network, improve the quality of classroom teaching and enhance outcomes for students.

The 18-month professional development program will conclude at the Miami conference, where these practicing teacher leaders will interact with education scholars from around the world. Below are confirmed speakers for the conference.

  • Gloria Ladson-Billings’ research examines the practices of teachers who are successful in multicultural classrooms. She is the author of critically acclaimed books, including “The Dreamkeepers: Successful Teachers of African American Children.” She holds the Kellner Family Distinguished Chair in Urban Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She also is past president of American Educational Research Association.
  • Nancy Fichtman Dana is a best-selling author and expert in the study of practitioner inquiry. She serves as a professor of education in the School of Teaching and Learning at UF’s College of Education. Author of 10 books and over 60 articles, she has coached numerous teachers across the country and abroad in the study of their own teaching and leadership practice.
  • John MacBeath is professor emeritus at the University of Cambridge and has authored or co-authored 20 books on education. He serves as director of Leadership for Learning at the Cambridge Network and projects director for the Centre for Commonwealth Education. His research focuses on educational leadership, and he also has worked with schools, education authorities and national governments on school self-evaluation.

See the conference website to learn more about the event, submission guidelines, and other details.


Writer: Charles Boisseau, 352-273-4449
Media Liaison: Larry Lansford, director of News and Communications, 352-273-4137

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Q & A with Kara Dawson on closing the ‘digital divide’

Kara Dawson

Kara Dawson is the College of Education’s newest Irving and Rose Fien Professor.

It was in 1990 when Kara Dawson gained an insight that was to become the central focus of her research career as a professor of educational technology.

Back then she was teaching 5th, 6th and 7th graders in Virginia Beach, Virginia, at a time when personal computers were just catching on and the invention of the first internet browser was three years away. Dawson attended a workshop on authoring software and began experimenting with using technology in her classroom as a way to engage struggling students.

Fien Professorship boosts Dawson’s research and teaching

Kara Dawson received the College of Education’s Irving and Rose Fien Professorship for 2015-2018.

The professorship provides:

  • $15,000 annual research fund
  • A half-time research assistant
  • $15,000 annual salary supplement

The grant is helping to advance Dawson’s research to promote technology use for all students, including:

  • Creating a network of teacher fellows to engage in a study of technology practices in classrooms.
  • Coordinating an annual interactive lecture series on the topic to connect a community of interested individuals.
  • Supporting doctoral students interested in this area through travel funds and other opportunities.

She soon came to see that educational technologies could improve the learning outcomes for virtually all students. She became her school’s technology integration specialist and in 1994 she returned to college to earn a doctorate in the emerging field of instructional technology from the University of Virginia.

In 1999, she came to the University of Florida’s College of Education and has served as coordinator for the educational technology program and co-developed five advanced degree programs, both online and for the classroom. Her many research projects have included:

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of multimedia and mobile apps for dyslexic schoolchildren
  • Studying how students with different cognitive profiles learn in multimedia environments
  • Investigating a growing “digital divide” whereby middle-school students’ socioeconomic status, gender and ethnic background affect their computer savvy

Last year, the College of Education’s Research Advisory Committee selected Dawson as its Irving and Rose Fien Professor. The three-year post supports veteran faculty members with a track record of successful research aimed at helping at-risk learners in kindergarten-through-high school, mainly at high-poverty schools.

Recently, Dawson took time to discuss her research and the ways incorporating technology and digital tools into traditional classrooms can help all types of learners to flourish. Below are excerpts.

Q: Can technology help students who struggle in traditional schools?

A: Yes, particularly if they are bored, not engaged or struggling to learn content. In schools, we are very limited in how we think about success and the way that students can access content and show what they know. We are also limited in the ways we think about how we teach. These limitations are very real and exist for many reasons often outside the direct control of individual teachers and administrators. But we should keep thinking about how to make school better for all students. Technology is not going to be the end-all-be-all solution, but it can help a lot more than it is helping.

Q: These multimedia tools may get them more engaged?

A: Yes, but we need to figure out how to match technologies to students. And how to match students to technologies. More importantly, students have to be empowered to think about what works for them and to seek alternatives to support their learning now and in the future.

Q: Can you provide examples of how technology can be useful in a classroom?

A: Well, there are a lot of ways technology can be useful in the classroom. I have done quite a bit of work with whole class projects that help students become digital communicators, creators and collaborators. But these uses are different from thinking about how technology can meet individual needs. Two simple, readily available tools are: text-to-speech and speech-to-text apps.

Q: With speech-to-text, you mean there is a web page or a textbook that is enabled to read the text to a student?

A: Yes. For example, for a student struggling to get through a 40-page chapter on U.S. history, text-to-speech could be the difference between accessing the content or not. For another student listening to the chapter may simply be a preference rather than a necessity. But, the types and quality of the technologies available to these students as well as the mindset of their teachers determine whether they can use this feature. Unfortunately, many digital resources created for K-12 education are poorly designed (especially some digital textbooks) and some educators still view reading as the only way to access content. So, the apps may be simple but the context in which they need to be used is quite complex.

Two other examples are speech-to-text and word prediction. I once taught a student who was very articulate but with horrible handwriting. Why not let him communicate his ideas through speech-to-text apps? Why not teach students who struggle with spelling (or really all students) how to use word prediction? Once again, these are simple apps, but the challenge is how do you bring them to the complex world of K-12 education.

Q: Let me take a devil’s advocate position. How do you respond to those who say kids need to learn how to spell, that we shouldn’t have a tool to do it for them?

A: Don’t get me wrong, it’s important that students to learn to spell. But not everyone is going to be good at it and this shouldn’t deter students from being able to communicate their ideas. It shouldn’t continually hinder them from succeeding in school, especially when the goal of a particular learning task may not be focused on spelling.

“There needs to be some empathy and understanding that being smart is not equivalent to being able to read and write. Imagine if we gauged how smart you were based on whether you could communicate through song. Technology can level the playing field.”

Q: Is this a big debate in education, one with parents and others, that there is work to do to get this message out?

A: There needs to be some empathy and understanding that being smart is not equivalent to being able to read and write. Think about it, students who struggle with reading, writing and spelling are essentially doomed in a school environment if learning every subject is predicated on these three skills.

Imagine if we gauged how smart you were based whether you could communicate through song. And so everyone who had a good voice and was gifted in that way would shine. Or what if we communicated everything through drawing? So it’s just a very limited way we think about things.

If a student cannot read well (or quickly) and all content is provided through a textbook then she will struggle to learn science and history even if she has innate strengths in other areas, such as the visuospatial strengths needed to succeed in science. Technology can level the playing field for these students.

Q: As far as the Fien Professorship, what do you hope to accomplish over these three years?

A: I really hope to make progress on the ways we can use technology to support the needs of all learners.

I am involved with two studies about how nontraditional college students learn in multimedia environments. We hope to find out how multimedia and online environments can be modified to meet the needs of different kinds of learners and extend our work to K-12 students. One of the most exciting things is that these studies require interdisciplinary collaboration. We need the expertise of special educators, psychologists, computer scientists and neuroscientists. And, I get to work with closely the exceptionally smart colleagues in my own program as well — Albert Ritzhaupt, Pasha Antonenko, Carole Beal and Swapna Kumar.

I also want to make an impact people’s awareness about how technology can meet the needs of all learners. In particular, I plan to work with and learn from teachers who are trying to figure out how to use technology to help their students and with preservice teachers. They have the chance to be leaders in their schools after graduation.

And I’m working with a grassroots group of parents led by Blake Beckett (from P.K. Yonge, the College of Education’s developmental research school) to find ways parents can use technology to support their children.

There are several potential funding sources to further this work and I’m looking forward to see where these ideas and conversations go.

Q: Does it feel daunting with such a big subject? There seems so much to learn.

A: I know I’m not going to solve it; there are so many folks from so many areas trying to make a difference for students. I want to do what I can do and try to make things better and connect with other people who are doing interesting work. I don’t consider it daunting because I’m not naïve enough to think it’s going to ever be completely solved but I want to make progress and be part of the solution.


Source: Kara Dawson, 352-273-4177
Writer: Charles Boisseau, 352-273-4449

 

Gainesville Sun: HIgh-achieving teachers

Gainesville Sun: P.K. Yonge teachers noted ‘achievers’
The Gainesville Sun
May 16, 2016
Five P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School teachers were highlighted in the newspaper’s Achievers blog: Jon Mundorf for receiving the Outstanding Young Alumni Award from the College of Education, and Cody Miller, George Pringle, Bill Steffens and Kate Yurko for being among the Florida public school teachers ranked as having the highest impact on student achievement.

‘Global classrooms create worldly connections for future teachers

COE preservice teachers interact on Skype with alumna Luz Delfin, currently teaching at the American School in Bolivia.

COE preservice teachers interact on Skype with alumna Luz Delfin, currently teaching at the American School in Bolivia.

University of Florida education students are using technology to connect with educators and classrooms worldwide to learn about other cultures and education systems first-hand thanks to a new Global Classroom Initiative (GCI) developed by UF researchers.

Swapna Kumar, a clinical associate professor of educational technology in the College of Education, said the program prepares preservice teachers to use technology to develop global awareness for themselves and their future students. It also provides opportunities for students to participate in virtual conferences and interact with innovative global educators.

The program is funded by a grant from the Longview Foundation for World Affairs and International Understanding, an organization that promotes the teaching of global competence and intercultural skills in schools throughout the United States.

Swapna Kumar

Swapna Kumar

Seventy UF education students have benefited from the initiative since it was launched last fall through online modules in the college’s course on Integrating Technology into the Elementary Classroom.

Skype and Adobe Connect are two programs used by the future teachers to connect classrooms across borders. They will have access to Skype in their future classrooms, both stateside and in other countries.

“Communication technologies today make it much easier to provide students with authentic experiences of other cultures,” Kumar said.

Elementary education senior Heather Brown said the program has helped her understand the importance of global education.

“The Global Classroom Initiative is educating me further and giving me invaluable experiences that will help me grow as a teacher so that I can have a lasting impact on my students,” said Brown, who will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in May.

UF Global Classroom students also joined their instructor at the Florida Connected Global Education Conference held recently in Gainesville as another form of future teacher professional development.

UF Global Classroom students also joined their instructor at the Florida Connected Global Education Conference held recently in Gainesville as another form of future teacher professional development.

Kumar is co-principal investigator on the program with Mary Risner, associate director of outreach at the UF Center for Latin American Studies. They said they hope the global classroom instruction will prepare UF’s education students to possibly work with the Alachua County school district’s first global magnet program planned for Fall 2017 and in other districts some students will teach after graduation.

“In today’s society, teachers need to be prepared to understand a diverse student body and to help their students better understand the world with an open mind,” said Risner, a 2011 COE doctoral graduate in curriculum and instruction.

She said UF students explore global themes in the GCI modules, connect with educators in Bolivia and Japan, prepare a lesson plan for elementary students about foreign nations and learn about job and study opportunities abroad.


CONTACTS/CREDITS
    SOURCE: Swapna Kumar, UF College of Education; 352-273-4175; swapnakumar@coe.ufl.edu;
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, news & communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu;
    WRITER: Katelin Mariner, news-communications intern, UF College of Education

Gainesville Sun, WCJB-TV: P.K. Yonge celebrates former teacher Toy Whitley

P.K. Yonge celebrates former teacher Toy Whitley
WCJB-TV, The Gainesville Sun
May 2016

P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School dedicated a reading chair to honor long-time teacher Toy Whitley, who passed away last year at the age of 95.

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School finance leader named 2016 Distinguished Alumnus

Henry Boekhoff

Henry Boekhoff

Henry R. Boekhoff (MEd ’70, PhD ’78, ed. leadership) is widely recognized as a leader in the field of school finance and for his dedication to improve the quality of public education across Florida. Now, after four decades working behind the scenes at many Florida school districts, Boekhoff is in the spotlight.

He is the 2016 winner of the University of Florida College of Education’s Distinguished Alumni Award. UF President Kent Fuchs and education Dean Glenn Good presented the award to Boekhoff Saturday evening at UF’s commencement ceremony for undergraduate degrees at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Boekhoff, 73, said he was surprised to learn he would receive the award considering he has worked mostly out of public view during his long career.

“Most likely I am being given the award because of the sheer longevity of my career, and part of that is the opportunity I have had at a relatively early age to make a mark in the area of school finance,” he said.

Humble beginnings

The honor comes to a man who rose from humble beginnings.

Born in New York City in 1943, Boekhoff grew up in Nassau County, Florida, on a would-be chicken farm. His family was poor, especially after his father died suddenly of a heart attack when Henry was 7 years old.

His mother never remarried and the family didn’t have money for college. After graduating high school, Boekhoff found a job cleaning barnacles from vessels at a shipyard in Jacksonville. Soon enough he enlisted in the Army, where he earned college credits toward an accounting degree. After his discharge, he transferred to the University of Florida and in 1966 earned a bachelor’s in business.

Boekhoff’s career in school finance started by chance not long after he discovered he disliked working as an auditor for an accounting firm. He took a job as director of finance for the Nassau County School District in Fernandina Beach.

He quickly made a name for himself and went on to serve as deputy superintendent and chief financial officer for many of the state’s largest school districts, including Miami-Dade, Palm Beach and Orange counties, where he displayed a passion for education and commitment to schools and communities.

More recently, Boekhoff has served as co-CFO of Florida Virtual School, the country’s first, statewide internet-based public high school and a provider of online K-12 education programs. Boekhoff still works full-time for the virtual school as a special assistant to the chief financial officer.

Life-long learner

Along the way, Boekhoff continued his own education and returned to the University of Florida to receive a master’s in education in 1970 and a doctorate in Education Leadership in 1978.

He said his career has been guided by an understanding that financial considerations are at the heart of creating a well-functioning public school system.

“It’s crass to say in a way, but if you don’t have the funds you can’t keep hold of good employees and if you don’t have good employees the children are going to suffer,” he said.

Often referred to as the “dean” of school finance officers in Florida, Boekhoff helped shape the formulas that determine how funds are distributed to public schools and advocated for fair and equitable school funding. He coined the phrase “adequacy and equity” to highlight the inequitable distribution of education funding caused by the wide disparity in property values between rich and poor counties in Florida.

Boekhoff’s leadership helped Florida craft one of the most equitable education funding formulas in the nation.

“I have always been an idealist,” Boekhoff said, citing Thomas Jefferson as an inspiration. He paraphrased the founding father: “An educated citizenry is a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”


Writer: Charles Boisseau, Office of News and Communications, UF College of Education; 352-273-4449
Media liasion/Director of News and Communications: Larry Lansford, 352-273-4137

 

 

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UF Anderson Scholars program honors 17 ProTeach students–most ever!–plus 2 faculty mentors

Seventeen COE ProTeach elementary education students have been named UF Anderson Scholars for their outstanding academic performances during their first two years at UF—the most education students to receive the award in recent memory.

Two education faculty members—Mary Ann Nelson and Caitlin Gallingane—also were recognized for the second year in a row for mentoring or inspiring several of the honored students.

Anderson Scholars awarded with highest distinction are, from left, Katelyn Mayer, Caley Rappa and Krista Steele.

Anderson Scholars awarded with highest distinction are, from left, Katelyn Mayer, Caley Rappa and Krista Steele.

The Anderson award is the highest recognition bestowed on undergraduate students for their academic excellence. Anderson Scholar certificates are given campuswide by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to students who have earned cumulative grade point averages of at least 3.90 (with distinction); 3.95 (high distinction); and 4.0 (highest distinction) during their freshman and sophomore years.

College of Education students receiving the Anderson Scholar award with highest distinction are Katelyn Mayer, Caley Rappa and Krista Steele.

Education students awarded with high distinction are Simona Blanarikova, Lindsay Burn, Lauren Cassell, Autumn Finke, Felica Hanley, Margaret Kelly, Abby Newman, Caley Rappa and Alexandra Smart.

Scholars honored with distinction are Shannan Campbell, Sicily Guarisco, Cassandra Lussier, Tori Rubloff and Sydney Vail.

“Being recognized as an Anderson Scholar is a huge honor. It also reaffirms that our school takes pride in our accomplishments and that they recognize us for doing so,” said Krista Steele of Orlando. She said she hopes to teach first or second grade after graduation “and make a difference in students’ lives and the education field.”

NELSON, Mary Ann 2014 resized

Mary Ann Nelson

Anderson Scholars faculty honoree Mary Ann Nelson is a special education lecturer; her colleague Caitlin Gallingane is a clinical assistant professor in the School of Teaching and Learning. Each student honoree can anonymously nominate one instructor for the faculty honor. Nelson actually has been selected three times overall for the faculty award.

“You go into teaching with the hope of inspiring students. It is always an honor when a student acknowledges any contribution you might have made in that direction,” Nelson said. “I love what I teach and who I teach and it is such a privilege to be a part of their professional training.  I think of them as junior colleagues and it pleases me to be able to share my knowledge and experience with them.”

Student winner Caley Rappa, also from Orlando, described faculty honoree Gallingane as “the teacher we all want to be when we grow up, not just as a professor but especially an elementary school teacher. I believe Dr. Gallingane is the heart and soul of the College of Education.”

GALLINGANE, Caitie (2013)

Caitlin Gallingane

Gallingane said she and other COE professors work as closely as they can with undergraduate students because they identify with students’ concerns as they prepare for careers in a constantly evolving profession.

“I try to see things from their perspective and give them the support they need to be successful,” Gallingane said. “I act as an advocate because I care about their experience at UF.”

The Scholars award program is named in honor of James N. Anderson, who served as the first dean of the College of Arts and Sciences from 1910 until 1930. Anderson Hall bears his name.


WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, news and communications, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

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Anita Zucker Center co-director honored for leadership, impact on behavioral disorders

Maureen Conroy

Maureen Conroy

Maureen Conroy, co-director of the University of Florida Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, has received the 2016 Outstanding Leadership Award from the Council for Children with Behavioral Disorders.

CCBD, a division of the Council for Exceptional Children, presents the award to an individual who has made significant contributions to the field of behavioral disorders in the areas of research, leadership, teacher education and policy. Conroy was recognized April 14 at the CEC’s annual conference in St. Louis.

Conroy, the Anita Zucker Professor in Early Childhood Studies, has advanced research and practice in the field of behavioral disorders through her work in early identification, prevention and intervention. For 35 years, she garnered more than $15 million in research and training grants, produced 90 peer-reviewed publications and trained the next generation of leaders. A member of CCBD since 1981, Conroy has served in a number of leadership roles, including co-editor of its flagship journal, Behavioral Disorders.

Brian Boyd, who received a doctoral degree at UF under Conroy’s mentorship, nominated her for the award, citing her years of research, practice and teaching.

“I can attest to the importance she feels in ensuring her students acquire the ability to conduct sound research that contributes to the field, and importantly, educators, families and children,” said Boyd, now an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Boyd, also recognized at the conference, received the CEC’s 2016 Distinguished Early Career Research Award. The honor recognizes scholars who have made outstanding scientific contributions in basic or applied research in special education within 10 years after receiving their doctoral degree.

Independent of her award selection, Conroy was invited by the Institute of Education Sciences to present her research at the conference. She and her colleague, Professor Kevin Sutherland of Virginia Commonwealth University, shared findings from their recent investigation of an early childhood classroom-based intervention. Developed to support early childhood teachers’ use of effective practices, the intervention is designed to improve the social, emotional and behavioral competence of young children at risk for behavioral disorders. Their large-scale, four-year study was funded by the institute, which is the research arm of the U.S. Department of Education.

The CEC is an international professional association of educators dedicated to advancing the success of children with exceptionalities through advocacy, standards and professional development. The mission of the CCBD is to improve the educational practices and outcomes for children and youth with emotional and behavior disorders.


Source: Maureen Conroy, 352-273-4382
Writer: Linda Homewood, 352-273-4284

 

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PKY instructor cited nationally as outstanding teacher-researcher

Ross Van Boven

Ross Van Boven

Practitioner Scholars

Ross Van Boven received his doctorate in curriculum and instruction, a program designed to prepare practitioner scholars.

What is a practitioner scholar? A professional who brings theoretical, pedagogical and research expertise to help identify, frame and study educational problems as a way to continually improve the learning conditions in their schools and districts.

Middle school teacher Ross Van Boven has received a prestigious national award presented by the American Education Research Association for outstanding research by examining what he does every school day.

Van Boven specializes in working with sixth and seventh graders at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School who are on the margins — whether because they are struggling or high-achieving. His study at the public school affiliated with the University of Florida’s College of Education examined his experience in teaching a gifted sixth-grade student during the 2014-2015 school year.

The Teacher as Researcher Award recognizes a pre-kindergarten to 12th-grade teacher for research conducted in their schools. Van Boven received the award at the association’s annual meeting, held this year in Washington, D.C., April 8-12. AERA says its teacher-as-researcher special interest group is the only one like it: dedicated to recognizing high quality research done in schools by preK-12 instructors on their own practice.

Van Boven is a “learning community leader” at P.K. Yonge, which is UF’s special school district created to develop innovative solutions to educational challenges.

His training and experience is notable for his teaching as well as his scholarship. He has earned three degrees from UF’s College of Education: a bachelor’s (’06) and master’s (‘07) in elementary education and, in December, a doctorate in curriculum and instruction.

Van Boven’s doctorate was in a program tailor-made by faculty in the Curriculum, Teaching, and Teacher Education program area to focus on the unique needs of practitioners who wish to become scholars of practice, leading change and improvement from within their local districts, schools and classrooms, said Nancy Fichtman Dana, a UF education professor and a leading international authority and researcher on teacher professional development and school improvement. Dana served as the chair of Van Boven’s dissertation committee.

Van Boven in his classroom.

Van Boven’s award-winning project, the capstone for his dissertation, took a close look at how best to teach gifted and talented students.

VanBoven-600

Ross Van Boven teaches his students at UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School.

Van Boven’s award-winning project, the capstone for his dissertation, took a close look at how best to teach gifted and talented students at a time P.K. Yonge is transforming its approach to a “push-in” teaching model from a “pull-out.” In the push-in approach, general education and special education teachers work within the regular classrooms to serve all learners; in the pull-out approach, teachers work with these students in separate classrooms.

“It’s a real challenge to provide the time and services to all the students in the program,” Van Boven says. With a caseload of 41 students, he bounces from classroom to classroom to help learners in subjects ranging from math to social studies. Not only does he have to know the content, he must collaborate closely with the content-area teachers, which sometimes is problematic because of contrasting styles and time schedules. He also closely consults with parents to better understand their child’s needs and to personalizes lessons.

Van Boven tracked his experience of teaching one of his students by using a variety of tools, including his cell phone’s voice-to-text feature to capture episodes in near real time and digital recording of interviews so he could transcribe them later for analysis.

He says his research helped to improve his teaching in a variety of ways, such as more closely working with content-area teachers to rework the timing of his push-in to classrooms and planning periods with other teachers. “This allowed for ongoing collaboration and hopefully continues to remove some of the pressures teachers felt for planning to meet student enrichment needs,” he wrote in a report of the study.

He has shared his P.K. Yonge findings with the school’s administration and teachers, including the school’s five other learning community leaders. The study informed their perennial challenge: How best to provide in-classroom lessons to gifted students without disrupting the heterogeneity of classrooms.

Dana says Van Boven’s research “provided a rich accounting of how one middle school child was experiencing the program, and these insights led to specific actions Ross and his colleagues took to improve this new model.”

The school has launched a pilot program to cluster some gifted-and-talented students in the same classes to help learning community leaders and core teachers improve efficiency and coordination.

Despite the challenges, Van Boven says the collaboration required in the push-in model is helping teachers – including him – grow in their own practice. The award highlights the power of practitioner research to improve education for students – and provides Van Boven an opportunity to broaden his impact by sharing his experiences with other teachers.

“I am hopeful that my advocacy for students and collaboration with content-area teachers will result in sustained opportunities to provide content enrichment for students on my caseload,” Van Boven wrote.


Source: Ross Van Boven, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School; 352-392-1554
Media Relations: Julie Henderson, P.K. Yonge DRS; 352-392-1554
Writer: Charles Boisseau, UF College of Education, news and communications office

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How Outstanding Young Alum saved his teaching career

Meet Jon Mundorf

Winner of UF College of Education’s 2016 Outstanding Young Alumni Award.

Jon Mundorf

By Charles Boisseau

Jon Mundorf was considering quitting the profession after three years of teaching elementary school in Naples, Florida.

He felt frustrated and ineffective despite doing his best to follow the top teaching methods, curriculum, and steps laid out in educator manuals.

“Only a small number of kids really got it when I would teach,” Mundorf says.

Some did not speak English, others had behavior problems or any number of learning disabilities. He came to realize: The standardized teaching methods he was using were ineffective because his students weren’t standardized.

In the summer of 2006, Mundorf decided to look for a better way to teach and give his career a spark.

He found it. He learned new teaching methods that are designed for educators to more effectively reach all their students, and he has gone on to become an award-winning teacher, and an internationally recognized practitioner of teaching to meet the needs of all learners.

Young Alumni Award

Jon Mundorf works with a student in his classroom.

Jon Mundorf works with a student in his classroom.

Today (April 8), Mundorf, 36, received the UF College of Education’s Outstanding Young Alumni Award, one of 23 Gator alumni across campus who will be honored as leaders in their professions at a ceremony at Emerson Alumni Hall.

Mundorf’s story surely holds lessons for other teachers who are early in their careers, when research shows a high percentage leave the profession.

Mundorf, Ed.D., is a 2014 graduate of UF’s online doctorate in curriculum and instruction program, which is designed to strengthen the skills of practicing educators. His dissertation was about his experience of using universal learning methods to teach a blind student to read in his integrated classroom.

This school year, he joined UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, where he teaches seventh grade language arts.

“Dr. Mundorf brings to our classrooms extensive knowledge and many years of experience in leveraging technology and non-tech strategies for supporting the needs of each learner,” P.K. Yonge Director Lynda Hayes says. “He is a dedicated practitioner scholar committed to providing the best possible seventh grade English language arts experience for our diverse students.”

Universal Design for Learning

Mundorf credits his transformation to a decade ago when he entered Harvard Graduate School of Education’s summer institute on universal design for learning (UDL), a partnership with the nonprofit Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), which now includes Mundorf among its teaching cadre. UDL is a method of using inclusive teaching methods to meet the needs of all learners.

“Upon returning from Harvard, I reinvented myself as a teacher,” Mundorf wrote in his UF dissertation. “Instead of focusing and complaining about the disability I saw in my students, I chose to target the disability in our curriculum. The barriers within the curriculum were minimized because I had developed a student-centered stance for exploring the curriculum with my students.”

Mundorf’s ability to engage an audience with his love of teaching is striking, and he can turn a brief interview into a lively hour-and-half discussion of his teaching philosophy, education research findings and lessons he has learned along the way.

A native of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, Mundorf often wears a jacket bearing the logo for Bowling Green State University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in education. He also has a master’s degree from Florida Gulf Coast University and joined the small ranks of teachers certified by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, a nonprofit that aims to advance accomplished teaching for all students.

In an example of his inclusive teaching methods, Mundorf says he provides choices in how a student engages with reading materials, providing audio-visual, text-to-speech, captioning, and, if necessary, Braille formats. His students also have choice in how they express their grasp of the subject, such as writing an essay, making a speech or giving a visual presentation.

This way, students with high-incidence disabilities, such as dyslexia – by some estimates up to 20 percent of students – as well as less common disabilities like blindness are given a better opportunity to succeed.

“We allow students multiple ways to learn, engage, and demonstrate mastery,” Mundorf says. “If I only give them one way, it leaves some out.”

Mundorf is in demand to teach not only students but other educators. He has consulted with schools and organizations on inclusive teaching practices, accessibility, technology integration and other ways to improve teaching and learning. In the fall of 2015, he traveled to Fukuoka, Japan, to provide the keynote speech and lead a workshop on inclusive classroom instruction at the National Conference of the Japanese Academy of Learning Disabilities.

Mundorf says students will succeed in the 21st Century not by memorizing all the prepositions in the English language. They will succeed by becoming expert learners. And the same goes for teachers.

“Teaching can be extremely challenging and there is no one right way to do it,” he says. “You have to constantly work at it to reach all the learners. When you feel like you have figured it all out, the next day things change. Teachers have to be the lead learners in this effort.”


Source: Jon Mundorf, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School; 352-392-1554
Writer: Charles Boisseau, UF College of Education, news and communications office

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COE well represented at world’s largest education research meeting

Some 55 University of Florida College of Education faculty and graduate students were among the 14,000 scholars from around the world who converged on Washington, D.C., April 8-12 for the 2016 Centennial Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association to examine critical issues of education research and public policy.

Pasha Antonenko

Pasha Antonenko

The AERA meeting, featuring some 2,600 sessions, is the largest gathering of international scholars in the field of education research. More UF education faculty and graduate students, from multiple disciplines, attend AERA’s annual meeting than any other professional gathering. This year’s UF contingent included 25 faculty members and 30 graduate students in education.

The massive AERA gathering is a showcase for groundbreaking, innovative studies in a diverse array of education issues and trends. This year’s conference theme is “Public Scholarship to Educate Diverse Democracies.”

UF presentations included pertinent topics such as:

  • Corrine Huggins-Manley

    Corrine Huggins-Manley

    Educating the captive audience: inmates in state correctional facilities

  • Studying the digital divide in Florida schools
  • Exploring the outcomes of persistently disciplined students assigned to alternative schools
  • How elementary principals relate teacher appraisals to student achievement
  • Measuring charter schools’ effect on student achievement
  • Self-regulatory intervention for middle schoolers with emotional and behavioral disorders
  • Struggles facing novice black female teacher educators
  • Aha! Exploring problem-solving insight using electroencephalography?
  • Adding technology to help students with visual impairments
  • Using instructional coaching to boost preservice teacher development
  • How online resources for mathematics support student learning
  • Principals as instructional leadership coaches
Albert Ritzhaupt

Albert Ritzhaupt

The busiest COE faculty attendees were Pasha Antonenko (education technology), Corinne Huggins-Manley (research and evaluation methods) and Albert Ritzhaupt (ed tech) with each involved in five research presentations. Among doctoral student participants, Zachary Collier (REM) was involved in four presentations, and Stephanie Schroeder (curriculum, teaching, and teacher education) in three.

complete listing of participating UF education faculty and advanced-degree students, along with their respective presentation topics, is available on the COE website.


HOW LISTING WAS COMPILED: Data was retrieved directly from AERA’s online annual conference schedule and organized alphabetically by participants’ names. Listing does not distinguish between presenters and non-presenting participants and co-investigators. AERA’s complete listing and schedule of conference presentations and participants’ roles is available at www.aera.net. Click on “Events & Meetings” and navigate to the 2016 annual meeting portals.


WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, News & Communications, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137

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College of Education Symposium wrap up

College of Education Symposium wrap up: View photo slideshow

The COE student-led Education College Council and Student Alliance of Graduates in Education (SAGE) presented the inaugural COE Research Symposium March 31 at Norman Hall. See photos on our Facebook page.

If you missed the symposium: Watch keynote address

Keynote speaker Benjamin Justice, education historian at Rutgers University, spoke Thursday on “The Hidden Curriculum of Justice: How the American Criminal Justice System Educates, and Miseducates, Citizens.”

If you missed it, watch the keynote: Watch the live stream.

His presentation was part of the inaugural research symposium hosted by two COE student organizations –the Education College Council (ECC) and the Student Alliance of Graduates in Education (SAGE).

Check back later today for photos. 

Student groups host inaugural Research Symposium

March 29
Two COE student organizations–the Education College Council (ECC) and the Student Alliance of Graduates in Education (SAGE)–are hosting the college’s inaugural Research Symposium this Thursday, March 31, at Norman Hall. The event is open to all COE students, faculty and staff, and the general public. See details in flier below.

The complete 2016 Research Symposium Program will include workshops, research sessions, roundtable discussions and keynote speaker Benjamin Justice, education historian at Rutgers University. Dr. Justice will speak on “The Hidden Curriculum of Justice: How the American Criminal Justice System Educates, and Miseducates, Citizens.” For more information, contact ECC president Stephanie Schroeder at stephyuf@ufl.edu.

symposium flyer JPG2

Gainesville Sun: Making black lives matter in Alachua County

Brianna L. Kennedy-Lewis: Making black lives matter in Alachua County
The Gainesville Sun
March 29, 2016
Brianna L. Kennedy-Lewis, an assistant professor of education in the School of Teaching and Learning, writes about how the community can improve the education and outcomes for students in the wake of the recent tragic police shooting of a suicidal, black 16-year-old.

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Upgrades to historic Norman Hall being fast-tracked

Norman Hall has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1989

Norman Hall has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1989.

The University of Florida’s College of Education is moving quickly to finalize plans to renovate its aging, historic home.

The state’s $82.3 billion fiscal budget, signed by Gov. Rick Scott March 18, includes $14.1 million to pay for the first-ever major improvement project in Norman Hall’s 84-year history.

The renovations and repairs include an overhaul of the stately building’s “envelope,” meaning its infrastructure, including new roof, windows, plumbing, electrical system, heating, ventilation and air conditioning, and removal of asbestos and lead paint.

The improvements also include adding many student-centered features, such as configurable classrooms and meeting spaces, more space to boost research capacity, and even installing electrical outlets to support student technology needs.

“We are very grateful to the state for the funding to pay for these badly needed improvements,” said College of Education Dean Glenn Good. “The renovations will make the building more suitable for preparing the educators and educational leaders who will address the educational opportunities and challenges of the future.”

Dean Good and the college staff members will soon meet with the officials of UF’s Planning, Design and Construction Division to finalize the time lines and priorities.

The funds will pay for the first phase of what is estimated to be a $24.4 million project. UF will request the $10.3 million balance in future years.

Importantly, the project will address a backlog of critical deferred building maintenance issues, including damaged electrical wiring because of vermin invasion, failing plumbing, mold in floor tiles and carpet, water damage, and elevators that cannot pass inspection.

The renovation and repairs involve logistical challenges, such as temporarily moving the classrooms and offices to another location during construction.

The college’s staff first began planning improvements to Norman Hall in the 1980s and securing state funding has been one of UF’s capital improvement and maintenance priorities.

The L-shaped red-brick building was built in 1931-1934 as the P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School to closely resemble the university’s original academic buildings constructed starting in 1905.

Norman Hall includes embellishments such as the north façade’s monumental plaque honoring the great educators of the past.

Norman Hall includes embellishments such as the north façade’s monumental plaque honoring the great educators of the past.

Located across Southwest 13th Street from the main campus, the building has a steeply pitched roof punctuated with dormers, decorative brick work and architectural embellishments. These include arched doorways and carvings, such as the north façade’s monumental plaque honoring the great educators of the past, from Plato, Socrates and Aristotle to McGuffy and Froebel.

In 1957, the building was renamed for long-time Education Dean James W. Norman when P.K. Yonge moved to its own campus a few blocks away. In 1989, it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The College of Education is rated among America’s top-ranked education schools. The college has 2,800 students enrolled in 28 undergraduate and graduate academic programs and projects to increase enrollment 20 percent during the next five years.


Sources: Dean Glenn Good, 512-273-4135, Associate Dean Tom Dana, 352-273-4134
Writer: Charles Boisseau, 352-273-4449

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US News ranks UF College of Education 20th; 2 programs in top 10

College of Education ranked among America's bestGAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida College of Education maintained its Top 20 rating among the nation’s public education schools, according to U.S. News & World Report’s 2017 Best Graduate Education Schools survey, released today (March 16, 2016).

The rankings continued to place UF as No. 1 among education colleges in Florida and first among public universities in the Southeast.

Two College of Education academic programs remained in the top 10 specialty areas: special education at No. 5 and counselor education, which moved up three spots to No. 6. Two programs made the second top 10, with curriculum and instruction at No. 17 and elementary teacher education at No. 19.

For these rankings of on-campus programs, U.S. News surveyed 376 graduate education schools granting doctoral degrees, with 225 providing the necessary data to be calculated in 10 key quality measures. Counting all educational institutions — private and public — the college ranked No. 30.

The college registered gains in several of the survey’s key metrics—its ratio of doctoral students per faculty instructor and its funded research activity.

During 2015, education faculty members were awarded $20.8 million in external funding, a 5 percent increase from the prior year, the U.S. News report showed.

“These rankings provide further evidence that the College of Education is emerging as one of the nation’s very best in preparing educators and creating innovations in 21st century education,” said Glenn Good, the college’s dean.

“Our college plays a leading role in advancing the University of Florida toward its goal of becoming one of the nation’s preeminent research universities.”

US NEWS LOGO (2016)These ratings for on-campus graduate programs come only two months after U.S. News rated the College of Education’s distance education offerings No. 1 — America’s best online graduate education program. The e-learning program also earned the nation’s highest score for student admissions selectivity, considered a metric for the high quality of students enrolled in the program.

Below are highlights of notable developments and research at the College of Education that are gaining notice.

  • The new UF Coaching Academy is re-imagining teacher professional development to improve classroom teaching, school leadership and student achievement.
  • The Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies is increasing its influence and impact with its interdisciplinary approach on children’s development and learning from birth to age 5.
  • The college’s new Center of Excellence in Elementary Teacher Preparation is allowing education professors to work with the local school district to pioneer new strategies and best practices for transforming elementary teacher preparation statewide.
  • The UFTeach program, a collaboration between the colleges of Education and of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is recruiting top math and science majors on campus to prepare them to become effective instructors to teach these vital subjects to middle and high schoolers.
  • Aided by $25 million in federal support, UF special education faculty are helping multiple states strengthen their professional standards and methods for preparing teachers and leaders serving students with disabilities.
  • The college’s “education innovation incubator,” the UF Lastinger Center for Learning, is developing and field-testing novel learning system models to transform teaching and learning, and promote healthy child development across the state and beyond.

“The top rankings are a testament to the dedication and commitment of the entire College of Education community,” Dean Good said. “But the most important way we measure our success is how well we are helping to solve educational challenges and strengthen our society.”

View the complete U.S. News Best Graduate Education Schools rankings.


SOURCES: Glenn Good, 352-273-4135; Tom Dana, associate dean, UF College of Education, 352-273-4134
WRITER: Charles Boisseau, news and communications office, UF College of Education, 352-273-4449

Orlando Sentinel: 40 fellows selected for teacher-leader program

Teachers tapped to help boost classroom performance
Orlando Sentinel
Feb. 29, 2016
A group of 40 educators were selected for a new UF College of Education leadership program to improve their classroom skills and student learning. The Florida Teacher Leader Fellowship is funded by a $764,553 grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The story cited Philip Poekert, assistant director of the college’s Lastinger Center for Learning.

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School names corridor after former principal to honor daughter’s gift

SCALES-HOLLOWAY, Leslie (PKY donor)Leslie Eggert Scales-Holloway (BAE ’68) was visibly moved as she reflected on her late father’s role as the beloved principal at P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School from 1947 to 1952. “He strongly believed in the connection between school and community,” she said in a recent interview. “That was Daddy.”

Scales-Holloway of Orlando, and a P.K. Yonge “lifer” (attending kindergarten through high school there), has pledged a $100,000 gift in support of the school’s proposed state-of-the-art secondary building. Like P.K. Yonge’s ultramodern elementary building, which opened in 2012, the 21st century design of the secondary building will “transform the educational experience for today’s and tomorrow’s students,” according to school Director Lynda Hayes.

While the secondary building project is still in the fundraising stage before construction can start, school officials have honored Scales-Holloway for her generosity by naming a key portion of the new elementary wing as the Dr. C. Lee Eggert Learning Corridor, in honor of her father, the former principal.

“The (learning corridor) space is flexible and can be used in so many different ways. Daddy would have loved this space and seeing the potential for a wide variety of learning activities and community events taking place here,” Scales-Holloway said.

After Dr. Eggert’s time at P.K. Yonge, which has served as UF’s K-12 laboratory school since 1934, he joined the faculty at the UF College of Education where he was a professor of secondary administration. His work with the Florida Parent-Teacher Association and chairmanship of the Florida Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools endeared him to students, parents, teachers and administrators statewide.

After graduating from P.K. Yonge, Scales-Holloway went on to earn her bachelor’s degree in education in 1968 from the UF College of Education. She taught school in Alachua and Marion counties and served for several years as a member of the Marion County School Board.

She was recently joined in celebrating the naming of the Dr. C. Lee Eggert Learning Corridor by her husband Rufus (who also goes by “Dick”), three siblings (also P.K. Yonge “lifers”), extended family, P.K. Yonge faculty and staff.

The prevailing sentiment at the school may best be summed up in the words of Ashley Pennypacker-Hill, P.K. Yonge program and outreach specialist and a P.K. Yonge alumna (class of ‘99): “We are delighted that this beautiful space will now remind us of P.K. Yonge’s past and will continue to support P.K. Yonge’s future.”

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Early learning ‘action network’ taps Lastinger Center specialist for national fellowship

Valerie Mendez-Farinas

Valerie Mendez-Fariñas

Valerie Mendez-Fariñas of the University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning didn’t have to think twice about joining a vibrant national movement over the next three years to improve early learning opportunities and resources for our youngest children.

Mendez-Fariñas, a professional development specialist, is one of 38 American leaders in the early-childhood arena recently selected to fellowship posts with the newly formed Equity Leaders Action Network (ELAN). The network brings together state, county and national experts who seek to reduce racial disparities in early learning systems.

The ELAN group evolved from a program called BUILD, created over a decade ago by the national Early Childhood Funders Collaborative. The BUILD program’s purpose: to support states’ efforts to build high-quality early-childhood systems that ensure all children have an opportunity to develop and reach their full potential without discrimination or bias.

Mendez-Fariñas will work with other ELAN fellows to help states identify and eliminate inequities based on race, ethnicity, language and culture in our early childhood state systems. They also will help build support and influence states’ policies in the areas of health, early learning and family support.

“I’ve always believed in the power of collaboration, and now I have 37 new critical-thinking friends in the network who will help strengthen my work, fuel my passion and push my thinking,” Mendez-Fariñas said.

She has worked for more than 23 years in education, including positions as a special education teacher, adjunct professor and quality improvement specialist.

Part of her work as an ELAN fellow will involve studying data from the UF Lastinger Center’s groundbreaking Early Learning Florida program, which blends online and face-to-face professional development for thousands of early childhood practitioners who work with infants, toddlers and preschoolers in Florida centers, schools and family child care homes.

Her main focus, though, will be on training certified early learning coaches in Florida’s 30 early learning coalition districts, working through Early Learning Florida. The eight-month, job-embedded process equips the coaches-in-training with new skills for helping fellow practitioners learn and implement new, equitable teaching methods.

“Coaching creates opportunities for reflective discourse that may include conversations about key issues, practices and policies that create disparities between groups of children,” Mendez-Fariñas said.

Since 2014, the Lastinger Center, the R&D innovation hub for the College of Education, has built a statewide network of over 200 certified Early Childhood Coaches and 280 Community of Practice facilitators who are improving the quality of early learning programs throughout Florida.


CONTACTS
SOURCE: Valerie Mendez-Fariñas, (c) 305-490-7825
WRITER: Katelin Mariner, communications intern, 352-273-4449
MEDIA RELATIONS: Larry Lansford, director, news & communications, UF College of Education,   352-273-4137

EduGator Talk on standardized testing coming to Tampa March 8

Join the UF College of Education and Tampa Gator Club to connect with fellow Gators and gain insight into one of the most hotly debated topics in public education: standardized testing.

In addition to hors d’oeuvres and genuine camaraderie, 30 minutes of the evening will be set aside for representatives from the UF College of Education and Hillsborough County Public Schools to weigh-in on the circumstances surrounding, and consequences of, standardized testing in schools.

UF College of Education Faculty: Dorene Ross and Sevan Terzian

Gator Alumnae and Hillsborough County Public Schools Representatives: Melissa Snively (board member) and Angelique Xenick (supervisor, high school guidance services)

When: Tuesday, March 8, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Where: The Rusty Pelican, 2425 N. Rocky Point Drive, Tampa, FL 33607
RSVP: Register online before March 4.

Here is more to know about the UF faculty speakers:

Ross, Dorene 081 (cropped mug_'06)

Dorene Ross

Dorene Ross is a professor emerita from the School of Teaching and Learning, where she also served as interim director from 2000-2003. She also consults as a professional development specialist for UF’s Lastinger Center for Learning and has collaborated with Lastinger specialists to develop an Instructional Coaching Professional Development sequence used with coaches, instructional leaders and building administrators. She has a long history of work in schools and teacher education with emphasis on preparing teachers to work with diverse student populations.

 

Sevan Terzian

Sevan Terzian

Sevan Terzian is an associate professor of social foundations of education and associate director for graduate studies in the School of Teaching and Learning. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on the history of U.S. education and the philosophical foundations of education. His scholarship has focused on the history of science education, popular media and education, and the history of technology and education. He has published two books, Science Education and Citizenship: Fairs, Clubs, and Talent Searches for American Youth (2013), and American Education in Popular Media: From the Blackboard to the Silver Screen (2015). He is researching a book about the history of gifted education.

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40 educators chosen for UF’s new leadership network

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida’s College of Education today named 40 public school educators to a new program to develop leadership skills and share their expertise with teachers across Florida. The selected teachers are the first Florida Teacher Leader Fellows and will participate in an 18-month program designed to build a statewide teacher leadership network, improve the quality of classroom teaching and enhance outcomes for students.

Don Pemberton

Don Pemberton

“These teachers are all passionate about leading their schools and districts to improve student learning,” said Don Pemberton, director of UF’s Lastinger Center for Learning. The center is the College of Education’s R&D innovation hub that spearheads novel professional development programs to improve teaching and learning.

The idea: Nurture a crop of teachers who can inspire and empower others to better the teaching and learning at their schools, districts and, ultimately, across the state. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation invested in this idea to get the program off the ground.

The 40 fellows, selected from 217 applicants, are practicing classroom teachers, school counselors, media specialists and instructional coaches at pre-kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high schools across Florida.

Educators selected for the program said they want to become better teachers and inspire others.

  • “By participating in the Florida Teacher Leader Fellowship I hope to improve my teacher leader skills and ignite those skills in the amazing teachers I am surrounded by at Matanzas High School,” said Amanda Kraverotis, an instructional coach in Flagler County.
  • “I chose to apply to this fellowship to challenge myself personally and professionally and to grow as a teacher, learner, mentor and leader,” said Adrienne Reeder, a reading teacher at Dr. Edward Whigham Elementary School in Miami. “I hope to gain an adaptive perspective on how to provide meaningful instruction through inspiring leadership.”
  • “Since I teach the middle school population, I know that there are specifics about their lives I will never know in detail. I have only a small amount of time to make a difference in their lives, so I better be impactful,” Daryl W. Pauling Sr., a math teacher at Carver Middle School in Delray Beach. “I want to be a part of the transition of working for a better understanding to expand a person’s knowledge to make them better.”

UF’s Lastinger Center created the program in partnership with the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ), a national nonprofit organization. CTQ will support fellows by facilitating virtual collaborations with project staff and other fellows, measuring the impact of the work they lead, and engaging educators and influencers across the state as their leadership efforts expand.

“There are so many teacher leaders across the state who are seeking to have a greater voice and impact in their schools,” said Barnett Berry, CEO of CTQ. “The goal of this fellowship is to help these leaders share their expert practices across schools and districts.”

Phil Poekert

Phil Poekert

The teacher-leader program will formally begin March 1, when the fellows come to Tallahassee for two days to learn about creating a fellowship community and engaging in educational policymaking. In June, the fellows will come to UF’s main campus in Gainesville to launch their personal leadership projects. The fellowship will continue with an international teacher leadership conference in Miami next year.

UF education researchers say they will closely follow the fellows and document the impacts of professional learning on teacher and student growth as a way to continually refine and improve the program.

“Through developing and researching the fellowship, we want to better understand what teacher leadership looks like in schools and districts across the state. And we want to know how to cultivate a group of teacher leaders who, in their support of individual schools and districts, advance the state’s education system for the benefit of Florida’s students,” said Philip Poekert, assistant director of the Lastinger Center.

Below are the 40 educators selected for the inaugural Florida Teacher Leader Fellows program:

County and/or District

School

Educator

Alachua

W.W. Irby Elementary

Lorena Sanchez

Brevard

Meadowlane Primary

Sarah Brown

Broward

District-based

Pembroke Pines Charter Elementary

Tropical Elementary

Isabel Nodarse

Donald Nicolas

Amy DeCelle

Duval

Paxon

Mai Keisling

Flagler

Matanzas High

Amanda Kraverotis

Florida Virtual

Florida Virtual School

Charles Cummings

Hillsborough

Bloomingdale High

Heather Hanks

Lake

Grassy Lake Elementary

Kelly Dodd

Lee

Riverdale High

Tortuga Preserve Elementary

Deneen Kozielski

Jennifer Grida

Leon

John G. Riley Elementary

Bridgette McCloud

Levy

Yankeetown

Cara Dunford

Martin

Crystal Lake Elementary

Christina Kennard

Miami-Dade

Charles D. Wyche Jr. Elementary

Dr. Edward L. Whigham Elementary

Eneida M. Hartner Elementary

Gulfstream Elementary

Kendale Lakes Elementary

Rockway Middle

William H. Turner Technical Arts High

Maria Silva

Adrienne Reeder

Nicole Fernandez

Osmany Hurtado

Lianna Saenz

Michael Windisch

Treesey Weaver

Orange

Wyndham Lakes Elementary

Deborah Carmona

Palm Beach

Carver Community Middle

Del Prado Elementary

Forest Hill Community High

Forest Hill Community High

Royal Palm Beach High

Suncoast Community High

Daryl Pauling

Tyler Montgomery

Jillian Gregory

Allison Hammill

Daniella Suarez

Stephen Kaplan

Sarasota

Imagine School at North Port Upper Campus

Tiffany Bailey

Seminole

District office

Lyman High

Pam Ferrante

Martha Ladd

St. Johns

John A. Crookshank Elementary

Timberlin Creek Elementary

Jacqueline Zahralban

Andrea Dieckman

St. Lucie

Frances K. Sweet Elementary

Lincoln Park Academy

Palm Pointe Educational Research

Nardi Routten

Makeda-Ione Brome

Glenna Sigmon

UF Lab School

P.K. Yonge Developmental Research

Jon Mundorf

Volusia

Deltona High

Dylan Emerick-Brown

Walton

Walton High

Deena Martin


CONTACTS
  Sources
   — Rebekah Cordova, professional development coordinator, (c) 303-246-4331; (w) 352-273-4105
   — Don Pemberton, 352-273-4103
   — Phil Poekert, 305-586-8665, UF Lastinger Center (Miami office)
  WriterCharles Boisseau, news and communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4449 

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40 Florida educators chosen for new UF leadership network

See the complete list of educators
selected for the program

“These teachers are all passionate about leading their schools and districts to improve student learning.”
— Dr. Don Pemberton, director of UF’s Lastinger Center for Learning

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida’s College of Education today named 40 public school educators to a new program to develop leadership skills and share their expertise with teachers across Florida. The selected teachers are the first Florida Teacher Leader Fellows and will participate in an 18-month program designed to build a statewide teacher leadership network, improve the quality of classroom teaching and enhance outcomes for students.

“These teachers are all passionate about leading their schools and districts to improve student learning,” said Dr. Don Pemberton, director of UF’s Lastinger Center for Learning. The center is the College of Education’s R&D arm that spearheads professional development programs to improve teaching and learning.

The idea: Nurture a crop of teachers who can inspire and empower others to better the teaching and learning at their schools, districts and, ultimately, across the state. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation invested in this idea to get the program off the ground.

The 40 fellows, selected from 217 applicants, are practicing classroom teachers, school counselors, media specialists and instructional coaches at pre-kindergarten, elementary, middle, and high schools across Florida.

Educators selected for the program said they want to become better teachers and inspire others.

  • “By participating in the Florida Teacher Leader Fellowship I hope to improve my teacher leader skills and ignite those skills in the amazing teachers I am surrounded by at Matanzas High School,” said Amanda Kraverotis, an instructional coach in Flagler County.
  • “I chose to apply to this fellowship to challenge myself personally and professionally and to grow as a teacher, learner, mentor and leader,” said Adrienne Reeder, a reading teacher at Dr. Edward Whigham Elementary School in Miami. “I hope to gain an adaptive perspective on how to provide meaningful instruction through inspiring leadership.”
  • “Since I teach the middle school population, I know that there are specifics about their lives I will never know in detail. I have only a small amount of time to make a difference in their lives, so I better be impactful,” Daryl W. Pauling Sr., a math teacher at Carver Middle School in Delray Beach. “I want to be a part of the transition of working for a better understanding to expand a person’s knowledge to make them better.”

UF’s Lastinger Center created the program in partnership with the Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ), a national nonprofit organization. CTQ will support fellows by facilitating virtual collaborations with project staff and other fellows, measuring the impact of the work they lead, and engaging educators and influencers across the state as their leadership efforts expand.

“There are so many teacher leaders across the state who are seeking to have a greater voice and impact in their schools,” said Barnett Berry, CEO of CTQ. “The goal of this fellowship is to help these leaders share their expert practices across schools and districts.”

The teacher-leader program will formally begin March 1, when the fellows come to Tallahassee for two days to learn about creating a fellowship community and engaging in educational policymaking. In June, the fellows will come to UF’s main campus in Gainesville to launch their personal leadership projects. The fellowship will continue with an international teacher leadership conference in Miami next year.

UF education researchers say they will closely follow the fellows and document the impacts of professional learning on teacher and student growth as a way to continually refine and improve the program.

“Through developing and researching the fellowship, we want to better understand what teacher leadership looks like in schools and districts across the state. And we want to know how to cultivate a group of teacher leaders who, in their support of individual schools and districts, advance the state’s education system for the benefit of Florida’s students,” said Dr. Philip Poekert, assistant director of the Lastinger Center.

Below are the 40 educators selected for the inaugural Florida Teacher Leader Fellows program:

County and/or District School Educator
Alachua W.W. Irby Elementary Lorena Sanchez
Brevard Meadowlane Primary Sarah Brown
Broward District-based

Pembroke Pines Charter Elementary

Tropical Elementary

Isabel Nodarse

Donald Nicolas
Amy DeCelle

Duval Paxon Mai Keisling
Flagler Matanzas High Amanda Kraverotis
Florida Virtual Florida Virtual School Charles Cummings
Hillsborough Bloomingdale High Heather Hanks
Lake Grassy Lake Elementary Kelly Dodd
Lee Riverdale High

Tortuga Preserve Elementary

Deneen Kozielski

Jennifer Grida

Leon John G. Riley Elementary Bridgette McCloud
Levy Yankeetown Cara Dunford
Martin Crystal Lake Elementary Christina Kennard
Miami-Dade Charles D. Wyche Jr. Elementary

Dr. Edward L. Whigham Elementary

Eneida M. Hartner Elementary

Gulfstream Elementary

Kendale Lakes Elementary

Rockway Middle

William H. Turner Technical Arts High

Maria Silva

Adrienne Reeder

Nicole Fernandez

Osmany Hurtado

Lianna Saenz

Michael Windisch

Treesey Weaver

Orange Wyndham Lakes Elementary Deborah Carmona
Palm Beach Carver Community Middle

Del Prado Elementary

Forest Hill Community High

Forest Hill Community High

Royal Palm Beach High

Suncoast Community High

Daryl Pauling

Tyler Montgomery

Jillian Gregory

Allison Hammill

Daniella Suarez

Stephen Kaplan

Sarasota Imagine School at North Port Upper Campus Tiffany Bailey
Seminole District office

Lyman High

Pam Ferrante

Martha Ladd

St. Johns John A. Crookshank Elementary

Timberlin Creek Elementary

Jacqueline Zahralban

Andrea Dieckman

St. Lucie Frances K. Sweet Elementary

Lincoln Park Academy

Palm Pointe Educational Research

Nardi Routten

Makeda-Ione Brome

Glenna Sigmon

UF Lab School P.K. Yonge Developmental Research Jon Mundorf
Volusia Deltona High Dylan Emerick-Brown
Walton Walton High Deena Martin

 

Sources (UF Lastinger Center):
— Rebekah Cordova, professional development coordinator, (c) 303-246-4331; (w) 352-273-4103
— Phil Poekert, 305-586-8665;
— Don Pemberton, 352-273-4103;
WriterCharles Boisseau, news and communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4449 

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Ed. tech’s Ritzhaupt named distinguished alumnus by alma mater

Albert Ritzhaupt

Albert Ritzhaupt

Award-winning UF education technology researcher Albert Ritzhaupt received the Valencia College Distinguished Alumni Award for his contributions to the ed. tech field.

Ritzhaupt, who received his associate’s degree from Valencia in 2001, is an associate professor and coordinator of the College of Education’s ed. tech program.

He said the award motivates him to continually set high goals.

“Both hard work and persistence can payoff,” said Ritzhaupt, a COE faculty member since 2010. “I hope to expand on certain avenues of research and continue to contribute to my field.”

Ritzhaupt has his Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction with a specialization in instructional technology, and an MBA degree focusing on computer and information sciences.

He was nominated for the award by his former professor and mentor Colin Archibald, who teaches computer science at Valencia. He said Ritzhaupt’s unusual combination of graduate degrees gives him an advantage in his field.

“I don’t know of anyone else who studied computing only to later study education,” Archibald said. “This makes his work very important and his perspective very rare.”

A large portion of Ritzhaupt’s research encompasses the design and development of technology-enhanced learning environments. His research has reported in more than 80 publications and conference proceedings. He is the editor of the Florida Journal of Educational Research and associate editor of the Journal of Educational Computing Research.

Ritzhaupt has won best research paper awards from several national and international professional organizations.

Funding sources for his studies include the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and the Florida Department of Education.

Ritzhaupt has also played an important role in advancing the COE’s online master’s degree program in education technology.

Last year, the program went from being unranked to ninth in the nation by TheBestSchools.org, a higher education website for college information seekers.

The excellence of the ed. tech online program played a role in advancing the COE’s overall online master’s degree program to the No. 1 spot in the 2016 rankings of America’s Best Online Programs in Graduate Education by U.S. News and World Report magazine this year.


CONTACTS
    SOURCEAlbert Ritzhaupt, UF College of Education; 352-273-4180
    WRITERKatelin Mariner, UF College of Education; 352-273-4449
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137

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Education professor wins $1.2 million grant to lead UF team on 3-D paleontology technology project

Pasha Antonenko

Pasha Antonenko secures fifth NSF grant

University of Florida educational technology researcher Pasha Antonenko is leading a team of UF scientists from multiple disciplines to create a novel curriculum for the middle and high school grades and assist paleontologists working on projects worldwide.

The three-year, $1.2 million project will help students develop their skills in real-world science technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Antonenko said. It is a collaboration with teachers and students in 10 public schools in California and Florida. Among the participating schools is UF’s P.K. Yonge Development Research School. The other schools are yet to be determined.

Workshop participants visit the University of Florida's Fab Lab to print a model of a fossil horse tooth.

Workshop participants visit the University of Florida’s Fab Lab to print a model of a fossil horse tooth.

A comparison of the fossil tooth (top) with the scaled printed version (center).The printed 3D model was enlarged to twice the size of the original fossil to demonstrate how scan data can be manipulated to facilitate specific lesson plans. In this case, the differences in the teeth of two fossil horses (another shown at bottom) of very different sizes could be compared after scaling the small horse to the size of the larger horse, potentially serving as a lesson in critical observation skills.

A comparison of the fossil tooth (top) with the scaled printed version (center).The printed 3D model was enlarged to twice the size of the original fossil to demonstrate how scan data can be manipulated to facilitate specific lesson plans. In this case, the differences in the teeth of two fossil horses (another shown at bottom) of very different sizes could be compared after scaling the small horse to the size of the larger horse, potentially serving as a lesson in critical observation skills.

The NSF grant is one of five that the Ukraine-born Antonenko has won in recent months.

Called “iDigFossils,” the project will allow middle- and high-school students who are studying bones to scan them in three dimensions and upload them to virtual collections that paleontologists and others can access worldwide and reproduce using 3-D printers.

Antonenko is an associate professor of educational technology in UF’s College of Education.

He said the team is seeking to address an ongoing problem in 21st century education: how to integrate STEM lessons across multiple disciplines. For example, how do you take what lessons students are learning in math classes and apply them to other fields of study, such as biology?

“The problem that we are addressing is to integrate STEM in the classroom in effective ways without overloading the mathematics teacher or the science teacher,” he said.

More specifically the project will use 3-D scanning and printing activities in the context of paleontology as an integrative STEM discipline, he said. “It will provide a good way to integrate STEM in K-12 education. It’s a very meaningful way to also contribute to actual science, that’s the other angle of it.”

About $100,000 of the funding will pay for 3-D scanning and printing carts and five laptops for each of 10 participating school districts.

Antonenko is serving as principal investigator on the project. Co-principal investigators are: Bruce McFadden, curator and professor at UF’s Florida Museum of Natural History; Aaron Wood, research assistant at the museum; and Corey Toler-Franklin, an assistant professor in UF’s Computer & Information Science & Engineering Department and director of its Graphics, Imaging & Light Measurement Laboratory.

More information can be found on the NSF website: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/showAward?AWD_ID=1510410&HistoricalAwards=false.


Source: Pasha Antonenko, (352) 273-4176
Writer: Charles Boisseau, (352) 273-4449
Media Liaison: Larry Lansford, (352) 273-4137

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UF doctoral student leads Florida elementary school with nation’s top-rated STEM program

Kristy Moody, principal of Jamerson Elementary

Kristy Moody

A UF College of Education Ph.D. candidate is in the national education spotlight for leading a Pinellas County elementary school honored for having the nation’s top U.S. STEM program.

Kristy Moody, principal of Jamerson Elementary in Pinellas County, accepted the STEM Elementary School of the Year for 2016 award on behalf the school. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. The award was presented last week in Orlando at the Future of Education Technology Conference, an annual gathering of education leaders and technology experts from across country.

Moody is a graduate student in the University of Florida’s College of Education Leadership in Educational Administration Doctorate (LEAD) program, which caterers to working professionals seeking to earn a doctorate in four years of part-time study. The cohort program offers classes online, with periodic weekends at UF and other locations across the state.

Conference organizers said STEM awards are given to the nation’s top elementary, middle and high schools based on an evaluation of the use of interdisciplinary curriculum, collaboration, design, problem solving and the STEM experiences offered.

For more see:

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International group recognizes UF professor as year’s outstanding science teacher educator

Rose Pringle2

International spotlight shines on Rose Pringle

University of Florida education scholar Rose Pringle has been recognized as one of the world’s top science teacher educators after receiving an international award as 2015 Outstanding Science Teacher Educator of the Year.

The Association for Science Teacher Education (ASTE), an international professional organization dedicated to promoting excellence in science teacher education worldwide, awarded Pringle its top honor at the group’s recent annual conference in Reno, Nev.

Along with the accolade, Pringle, an associate professor in science education at the UF College of Education, received a $500 stipend, plaque and a tribute in the awards issue of the Journal of Science Teacher Education.

Pringle, who has garnered more than $7 million in federal and state grants during her 15 years at UF to support her research of science teacher education, said the award validates her mantra that all teachers-in-training should also act as researchers.

“Increasing science achievement among all K-12 learners will only occur when science educators truly become engaged with and demonstrate an understanding of the complexity of the science of teaching,” Pringle said.

Her research includes the exploration of future teachers as science learners, the development of science-specific teaching methods for prospective and practicing teachers, and translating these practices into engaging science experiences for all learners. Pringle also is determined to increase the participation of minorities, especially girls of African descent, in science and mathematics.

Working with Lynda Hayes, director of UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, Pringle is a co-principal investigator on a $5 million grant, awarded by the National Science Foundation, designed to transform middle-school science education in Florida. The project, known as U-FUTuRES (University of Florida Unites Teachers to Reform Education in Science), involves creating cadres of highly trained science teacher leaders around the state who will educate and energize other teachers in their school districts with a new kind of science teaching.

The effort, started in 2011, so far has resulted in 35 Florida teachers earning advanced degrees in science education and currently applying their skills as highly trained Science Teacher Leaders in their own schools and districts.

The UF researchers have received a follow-up NSF grant to scale up the science education reform program for schools and districts throughout Florida and in other states.

“My goal is to have every student in Florida be engaged in science learning in ways that are meaningful and equitable for all learners,” Pringle said. “The College of Education is impacting and making a difference in science education throughout Florida and beyond.”

Jennifer Mesa, who was mentored by Pringle throughout her time as a doctoral student at UF, nominated Pringle for the award based on her dedication to helping other teachers improve the quality of science education.

“Dr. Pringle is a gentle soul, but a fierce teacher educator,” said Mesa, who now works as an assistant professor in education at the University of West Florida. “She will not let any teacher leave her presence without learning something new that can benefit student learning.”

Pringle, who has led the development of a new master’s degree and certificate program in science education at UF, is no stranger to professional accolades. Last year, she received three state and regional honors for excellence in teacher education or outstanding student mentoring – from the Florida Association of Teacher Educators, the Florida Education Fund and the Southeastern region of ASTE. She also is a two-time winner of the College of Education’s Teacher of the Year Award.


CONTACTS
    SOURCE: Rose Pringle, UF College of Education; 352-273-4190
    WRITER: Katelin Mariner, UF College of Education; 352-273-4449
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137

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Study explores impact of ‘active learning classroom’ design

PKY--Steelcase active classrm study (1)Inspired by the early impact of P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School’s new, state-of-the-art elementary wing, faculty researchers from PKY and the University of Florida are teaming up on pioneering studies into how school building design can influence and improve schooling for both teachers and students.

P.K. Yonge faculty researchers, led by school Director Lynda Hayes, are partnering with UF’s College of Design, Construction and Planning on a two-year study funded by Steelcase, Inc., the world’s largest office furniture manufacturer. The team also includes UF education technology Professor Kara Dawson.

Steelcase has refurbished and furnished a designated “active learning classroom” in the school’s older high school building with up to $50,000 worth of furniture and integrated technology and is training school instructors in the use of the active-learning tools.

“This project will provide a better understanding of how learning best takes place and how smarter, active learning spaces can help,” Hayes said. “Our intent is to create the most effective, engaging and inspiring learning environments to meet the evolving needs of students and teachers in the 21st century.”

P.K. Yonge has been the UF College of Education’s laboratory school since 1934, serving as a center of innovative educational program development and dissemination for kindergarten-through-high-school students throughout Florida and beyond.


SOURCE: Lynda Hayes, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, lhayes@pky.ufl.edu, 352-392-1554, ext. 223
MEDIA RELATIONS: Julie Henderson, communications coordinator, P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, jhenderson@pky.ufl.edu352-392-1554
WRITER: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education,llansford@coe.ufl.edu, 352-273-4137

 

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UF online graduate education rated best in nation

Online Grad Ed rankings (2016, top 5)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – The distance education program at the University of Florida College of Education, already recognized for having some of the nation’s best e-learning students, now can stake a claim as America’s best online graduate education degree program overall, according to the latest national rankings announced Jan. 12 by U.S. News and World Report magazine.

UF was tied for first with the University of Houston in the new 2016 rankings of America’s Best Online Graduate Education Programs, improving by 12 spots over last year. For the second year in a row, UF also received the survey’s highest score for “admissions selectivity”—considered an indicator of the high quality of its students.

UF now is the top-ranked education college in Florida and among public education schools in the Southeast in both online and on-campus graduate degree programs. The College of Education also was UF’s highest-rated online program in the survey.

This is the fifth year that U.S. News has numerically ranked online learning programs in higher education. Education is one of seven disciplines at the master’s degree level that were rated. Programs were ranked based on five weighted factors: student engagement (35%), student services and technology (20%), admissions selectivity (15%), faculty credentials and training (15%), and peer reputation (15%).

“Our distance ed courses are designed by top-flight faculty using the latest knowledge about best practices in web-based learning environments,” UF education Associate Dean Tom Dana said. “Our goal is to develop master educators who can lead transformations in practice.”

COE online instructors work with the college’s instructional design creative teams to produce high-quality videos, both for on-screen lessons and “virtual field trips” (Photo courtesty of Matt Stamey/Gainesville Sun)

COE online instructors work with the college’s instructional design creative teams to produce high-quality videos, both for on-screen lessons and “virtual field trips” (Photo courtesy of Matt Stamey/The Gainesville Sun)

Dana said a key distinction of the UF online program is its cohort instructional approach, meaning the students start and complete the degree coursework together, which Dana said creates more opportunities for students to interact with each other and with their instructors.

“The cohort model has been shown to increase student retention and the graduation rate,” he said.

Dana has steered the development of the college’s e-learning program since its inception in 2004, when 57 students enrolled in three online graduate courses. In 2015, more than 1,750 students were enrolled in 160 online courses.

The College of Education offers eight Web-based degree programs, geared mainly to working teachers and school administrators seeking additional certifications, career advancement or professional development. The five online graduate education programs considered in the U.S. News rankings were: curriculum and instruction; educational leadership; educational technology; reading, language and literacy; and special education.

“Many of our online instructors are full-time college faculty members and nationally recognized as experts in their field,” Dana said. “All online instructors receive training in the technology and best practices of online learning.”

Many instructors have worked with the college’s instructional design team and digital creative staff to produce high-quality videos, both for on-screen lessons and for “virtual field trips” that allow students to see and hear some of Florida’s most inspiring teachers and school administrators in action and discussing best practices and professional insights.

best-online-programs-grad-education-2016“The videos link to a specific assignment or learning activity,” said Bruce Mousa, coordinator of UF’s educational leadership online degree program. Mousa also has been known to upload videos from his personal computer to provide feedback to individual students.

Education Professor Sevan Terzian even incorporates some Ken Burns-like production techniques to deliver engaging content in his Education and American Culture online course, such as inserting historical images accompanied by captions and his voice-over narration.

“I wouldn’t be the first to say there is a small element of performance in everything we do,” Terzian said with a smile.

For more information, visit the college’s distance learning website at https://education.ufl.edu/distance-learning/.

The full rankings and rankings data for Best Online Programs in Graduate Education are publicly posted on the U.S. News website at http://www.usnews.com/education/online-education/education.


SOURCE: Tom Dana, associate dean, UF College of Education; tdana@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4134
SOURCE: Jason Arnold, associate direct of e-learning, technology and creative services, UF College of Education; jda@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4442
WRITER / MEDIA RELATIONS: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; 352-273-4137

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UF researchers find high teacher attrition rates at charter schools

Teacher Attrition

UF College of Education researchers found that the in-year rate of teacher attrition is substantially higher at Florida charter schools than traditional public schools.

Line chart showing teacher attrition at charter and traditional schools.

Teachers at state charter schools have more than twice the within-year attrition rate of those at traditional public schools, which could have a negative impact on student academic achievement, a new University of Florida College of Education study finds.

Florida charter schools on average lost roughly 10 percent of their teachers each school year from 2011-2012 to 2014-2015, the study shows. In contrast, the teacher turnover rate at traditional public schools was about 4 percent during the same period.

“We think that over the long-term high attrition rates negatively impact student learning at the charter schools,” said M. David Miller, director of the college’s Collaborative Assessment and Program Evaluation Services. CAPES is a unit of the COE that provides consulting services and collaborates with researchers across UF’s campus and outside organizations on projects with an educational component.

College of Education Professor M. David Miller led the research team.

College of Education Professor M. David Miller leads the research team. 

Charter school principals and administrators interviewed as part of the study cited teacher turnover as among their biggest challenges. High teacher within-year attrition – meaning during the school year – typically results in the hiring of less experienced teachers, which can negatively impede student academic achievement. Also, recruiting and hiring replacements costs valuable academic time and money.

Specifically, the state’s charter schools lost 3,406 teachers between 2011-12 and 2014-2015. There were 9,409 teachers at charter schools in the most recent school year studied. In contrast, traditional public schools lost a total of 24,581 teachers during the same period out of the far larger pool of roughly 150,000 teachers.

The UF researchers found that school administrators commonly cited three likely contributing factors for the high turnover rates at charter schools:

  • Salaries of teachers are almost always lower than their counterparts at traditional schools.
  • Charter-school teachers typically do not have access to the state teacher retirement system.
  • The vast majority of charter schools have no formal teacher mentoring programs to support new teachers.

The scholars said more research is necessary to determine definitive reasons for the high attrition rates.

In addition to Miller, the UF research project team includes Tom Dana, associate dean for the college; educational leadership researcher and project manager Nancy Thornqvist; and research methods graduate student Wei Xu. Miller also directs the college’s School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education.

State education officials said the report’s findings raise concerns.

“The high attrition is worrisome to me as a teacher educator,” said Chris Muire, education policy director at the Florida Department of Education. He said state education officials are reviewing the report.

The scholars’ findings are included in a semi-annual report to the Florida Department of Education, which contracted with UF to assess the effect charter schools have on student achievement as part of a federal grant.

This ongoing research project is the first independent look at Florida’s charter schools since the U.S. Department of Education awarded the state a five-year, $104 million grant in 2011 to support the creation of charter schools, especially in high-need neighborhoods and rural and low-income school districts.

In recent years, the number of charter schools statewide has more than doubled from roughly 300 to about 700, Muire said. The UF study showed 582 in 2014-2015, up 33 percent from 436 at the start of the 2011-2012 school year. Charter schools are publicly funded and privately run schools created through agreements or “charters” with local district school boards. They are designed to increase parental options and provide schools more freedom to create innovative learning opportunities.

For the evaluation, the UF researchers studied a number of variables, including: data on charter and traditional schools collected by the state, a comparison of academic achievements at comparable charter and traditional schools, and surveys of hundreds of teachers, administrators, school board members and parents. Plus, Thornqvist conducted 25 visits each year to charter schools across the state and interviewed administrators.

The study comes at a time of increased scrutiny of Florida charter schools, which some observers have criticized for siphoning off precious state funds and high-demand teachers. A recent analysis by the Associated Press of Florida Department of Education records found that charter schools in 30 districts have closed after receiving as much as $70 million in state funding since 2000.

The numbers in the UF study excluded teacher attrition caused by the closing of schools, whether charter or traditional, Thornqvist said.

In terms of academics, UF researchers found generally only small differences in the achievement of students at a sample of comparable traditional schools vs. charter schools, though there was a slight drop in reading achievement among students at charter schools in grades 6.

For this part of the study, the scholars compared the statewide reading and math assessment scores of students in grades 3-8 and in high schools at 10 charter schools and 10 comparable traditional schools, Thornqvist said.

While the differences in assessment scores are small they run counter to annual Florida Department of Education reports that show students who attend charter schools generally outpace their traditional public school counterparts on state assessments.

Importantly, UF researchers looked at schools with similar socioeconomic characteristics, for example ones with similar percentages of students by ethnicities and those qualifying for the federal free- and reduced-price lunch program.

Previous state surveys did not account for these differences, which could affect overall results, Thornqvist said.

See the full study.


 

Sources: Dr. M David Miller, (352) 273-4306; Dr. Nancy Thornqvist, (352) 273-4352
Writer: Charles Boisseau, (352) 273-4449 (office), (512) 431-2269 (mobile)

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Preaching the power of Teacher Inquiry

‘Inquiring’ minds are finding answers in Nancy Dana’s passion

Nancy Dana has published10 books on teacher inquiry and professional development.

Nancy Dana has published 10 books on teacher inquiry and professional development.

The photocopied sign taped to a cabinet drawer in Professor Nancy Fichtman Dana’s office at the UF College of Education employs just one word to arrive at the heart of the matter: Inquiry.”

Dana is a leading international authority on teacher inquiry – a powerful form of educator professional development that’s helping teachers design and deliver engaging ways to help all students learn to their maximum potential.

“Teacher inquiry is systematic, intentional study by educators of their own practice,” Dana says. “So, rather than research being done to teachers or school leaders, practitioner inquiry empowers teachers and leaders to engage in action research on their own practice, wrapping their professional learning around the learning of students.”

Her influence in the research and growing practice of teacher inquiry is evident in UF’s modernized teacher preparation curriculum, and in the UF Lastinger Center for Learning’s extensive outreach professional learning initiatives and educator coaching programs, which so far have reached over 10,000 teachers. Dana has worked with numerous schools and districts across Florida, the United States and abroad to help them craft professional development programs of inquiry for their teachers, principals and district administrators.

She embraced the inquiry concept while collaborating with a group of teachers and their principal at a Tallahassee elementary school as part of her doctoral dissertation studies during the late 1980s.

“The practice of inquiry was a transformational and empowering experience for all of us at that elementary school,” she says. “Over and over again I’ve seen what an incredibly powerful form of professional development inquiry can be.”

Dana has studied and written about practitioner inquiry for over 20 years, publishing 10 books on the topic, including three best sellers. Her latest book—on Professional Learning Communities and titled, simply, “The PLC Book”—was  published in November by Corwin Press.

Dana has turned globetrotter, leading workshops on inquiry and professional learning communities in several countries.

Dana has turned globetrotter of late, leading educator workshops  on teacher inquiry and professional learning communities in several countries.

Dana has been racking up the frequent flyer miles of late, traversing the nation and globe making keynote presentations and leading workshops for educators hungry for professional learning models that focus on examining evidence from practice. Over the past few years her work has taken her to China, South Korea, the Netherlands and Belgium. In January 2015 she led a weeklong course on inquiry in Lisbon, Portugal, for education leaders from nine countries in the European Union. Next October she is headed to Estonia.

Born and raised in New York, Dana has a doctorate in elementary education from the Florida State University College of Education, which recently honored Dana with its 2015 Distinguished Alumni Award. She also served on the Penn State University education faculty for 11 years. She arrived at UF in 2003, around the time the UF Lastinger Center for Learning was created as the College of Education’s innovation hub for education reform. Dana immediately identified with the center’s progressive philosophy and objectives and was instrumental in infusing inquiry into the center’s outreach professional development programs for practicing educators.

“I had always been passionate about raising teachers’ voices in educational reform and helping educators improve their practice, and the Lastinger Center was emerging as a place that kept practicing professionals’ voices at the core,” she says.

Lastinger director Don Pemberton describes the center’s emergence and Dana’s arrival at UF as “perfect timing.”

“Nancy’s work is particularly relevant because it takes research-based practices and translates them into helping educators improve the quality of their teaching through an accessible, scientific process,” Pemberton says. “That is a key distinction of practitioner inquiry and Nancy’s scholarship.”

Dana doesn’t focus singularly on inquiry, although her signature focal point seeps into her other interests. She and co-researchers Cynthia Griffin (UF special education) and Stephen Pape (Johns Hopkins mathematics education) secured a $1.5 million grant from the federal Institute of Education Sciences to develop and study an extensive online professional development program for third-through-fifth-grade general and special education teachers focused on the teaching of struggling math learners. Teachers’ engagement in inquiry was the program’s core feature.

She also is deeply involved in the college’s new, professional practice doctoral program in curriculum, teaching and teacher education. The Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) program is an online, on-the-job degree program designed specifically for practicing K-12 educators who aspire to lead change, school improvement and education reform efforts in their schools and districts. As you might expect, the program emphasizes evidence-based self-study and Dana designed a course specifically to introduce these students to the concept of inquiry.

When it comes to practitioner inquiry or “action research,” Dana and others at the College of Education know that they are onto something special – something that’s transforming teacher practice and boosting student achievement.

“Teacher inquiry is a very personal process,” Dana says. “Teachers are engaging in inquiry because they care really deeply about the learners in their classroom, and they desperately want to do anything they can to be successful in the teaching of all learners and to meet their varied needs.”


SOURCE: Nancy Dana, ndana@coe.ufl.edu
WRITER: Larry Lansford, director, News & Communications, UF College of Education, llansford@coe.ufl.edu

 

 

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Ed. technology researcher lands record five NSF grants

Jan. 26 Update: NSF announces fifth grant, $1.2 million, for Dr. Pasha Antonenko to lead UF team on 3-D paleontology technology project.

Pasha Antonenko

Dr. Pasha Antonenko in his Norman Hall office.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Pasha Antonenko, an associate professor of educational technology, has set a new standard at the University of Florida College of Education, scoring five research grants from the National Science Foundation — all in the same 2015 funding cycle.

“You don’t expect all of them to hit,” Antonenko said. “You are lucky if one grant proposal is funded because acceptance rates are so low.”

Thomasenia Adams, associate dean of educational research, said five NSF awards sets a single season record for grants awarded to a College of Education faculty researcher.

“Dr. Antonenko has blazed the trail we have not seen before,” Adams said.

The National Science Foundation is an independent federal agency, created by Congress in 1950, that funds nearly one-fourth of all basic research conducted by America’s colleges and universities. It’s the only federal agency that supports all fields of fundamental science and engineering, except for the medical sciences.

Even more impressive than the number of NSF grants Antonenko received may be the variety and importance of the topics to be addressed in the resulting studies.

Antonenko’s five NSF awards total $4.1 million and will fund novel research projects using a wide-range of technologies in learning applications, including 3-D scanners and printers to study prehistoric bones, drones to study construction projects, and computerized simulations to study the human body’s reactions to a wide-range of stimuli.

He specializes in exploring the promise and problems of educational technology, including human-computer interaction and the design of learning environments.

The Ukrainian-born scholar will work with dozens of collaborators across the country, including researchers from fields as varied as construction engineering and paleontology and from institutions from Arizona to Massachusetts, as well as the University of Florida.

Antonenko is principal investigator on three of the NSF grants and co-principal investigator on two, one of which is led by UF’s David Julian, associate professor of biology, and the other by Emily Sessa, UF assistant professor of biology.

Below is a rundown of the NSF projects Antonenko will be working on.

Creating an evolutionary history of earth’s oldest plants: a $1.8 million, four-year project. With Sessa as principal investigator, the research team is developing a history of the evolution of flagellate plants — the oldest known land-based fauna to ever have existed, such as ferns. Other co-principal investigators are UF biology scholars Gordon Burleigh, Stuart McDaniel and Christine Davis. Antonenko’s role is to lead the development of an online application, named Voyager, to allow university students to explore a massive database in classrooms and promote evidence-based teaching practices. Antonenko will measure the effectiveness of the learning by conducting tests, including using electroencephalograms (EEGs), which measure the electrical activity in the brain of students to determine how well they are learning.

• STEM teaching using 3-D scanners and printersThis three-year, $1.2 million project will allow middle- and high-school students to study and scan bones in three dimensions, and upload them to virtual collections that scientists can access worldwide and reproduce using 3-D printers. Antonenko said the team is seeking to address an ongoing problem in 21st century education: how to integrate STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) lessons across multiple disciplines.

• How community college students learn using multimedia: a three-year,$765,000 effort. The use of multimedia resources in STEM education has undergone remarkable growth in recent years. The problem: Most all research on the effectiveness of these tools has been performed on high-achieving students at elite universities. This study will look at how effective these tools are among more diverse community college students, which now constitute nearly 50 percent of the population of higher education students. Co-principal investigators from UF are education technology faculty researchers Carole Beal (who also heads UF’s new Online Learning Institute) and Kara Dawson, and Andreas Keil, associate professor of psychology.

Creating an application to teach human physiology: a two-year, $247,129 project. Pre-med and other university students studying human physiology will use a new computer-based tool, called HumMod, to find out how a particular variable will affect a person’s health. For example, if a 50-year-old man were exposed to a certain level of carbon monoxide, how would that affect his cardiovascular, respiratory, neural and other processes? This study, led by UF’s Julian, allows for research of more than 6,000 variables to predict physiological responses.

• Using drones to study construction and engineering projects: This one-year, $58,148, pilot trial will use drones equipped with video cameras so students can view structures that are under construction. It seeks to address the problem in construction engineering and management courses of how to show students the myriad ways to build increasingly complex projects in a variety of scenarios, such as on all manner of construction sites. It’s not practical for students to take field trips to see these projects. “Cyber-Eye” will allow them to view drone-shot videos and establish a case library to see how to tackle real-world construction issues.

With this, as with as all his projects, Antonenko is looking to solve problems by using new ways of teaching and learning.

“In essence, all of the projects are about my core research, which really is understanding learning from different perspectives,” he said.


CONTACTS
     SOURCE: Pasha Antonenko, UF College of Education; 352-273-4176; p.antonenko@coe.ufl.edu
     WRITER: Charles Boisseau, UF College of Education; 352-273-4449; cboisseau@coe.ufl.edu
     MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu

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P.K. Yonge goes international

Teachers bring back lessons from professional-development trips abroad

 

Mayra Cordero joined a scientific mission to hunt for fossils in Panama.

Macy Geiger and Angie Flavin traveled to Haiti to help Haitian teachers improve the way they teach their students.

Jon Mundorf went to Fukuoka, Japan to give insights to Japanese educators eager to create more accessible learning environments.

These teachers from P.K. Yonge, the University of Florida College of Education’s K-12 developmental research school since 1934, traveled around the world in recent months to lead and participate in professional-development opportunities designed to sharpen skills and enrich lives.

The idea: Faculty members strengthen their own teaching methods by gaining global perspectives that broaden the lessons they provide their students.

“I will be a better teacher because of the trip,” Mundorf, a seventh-grade language arts teacher, said after visiting Japan in October, where he was a keynote speaker and workshop leader on inclusive classroom instruction.

The teachers said there is no replacement for being immersed in new cultures and languages to gain insights and improve their own teaching.

The trips are the latest examples of how P.K. Yonge is intensifying its efforts to build an international campus and prepare its students to fully participate in the increasingly interconnected world.

“Every opportunity for a faculty member to get beyond the borders of the United States and to really see humanity from a different angle is going to enrich how they think about teaching and how they interact with students,“ said P.K. Yonge Director Lynda Hayes.

The school has conducted international outreach for many years, highlighted by its partnership with a school in Nanjing, China. Since 2013, dozens of students — accompanied by teachers and staff — from P.K. Yonge and Nanjing Experimental International School have exchanged visits to each other’s schools and stayed with host families, a trip that has proved enlightening and even life changing for some.

P.K. Yonge also plans to broaden its global focus by introducing Portuguese language instruction next fall, and following up on invitations from schools in Brazil and Chile that may lead to additional teacher and student exchanges, Hayes said.

Below are snapshots of the recent foreign experiences of P.K. Yonge’s globe-trotting teachers.

Off to Japan

Jon Mundorf’s trip to the Far East was nothing if not a learning experience.

Mundorf gave a presentation to 2,500 Japanese educators on one of his specialties — universal design for learning (UDL). UDL is a teaching framework to guide the design of flexible learning environments that can support individual learning differences.

With a Japanese translator by his side, Mundorf gave a presentation and led a workshop on UDL. Mundorf has become an expert in the field after serving nine years as a faculty member of a summer institute at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

In Japan, Mundorf was not only a teacher but also very much a learner. He took copious notes, made a field trip to a Japanese classroom and personally shared teaching methods with many Japanese teachers.

“Half of teaching is learning,” Mundorf said, quoting a Japanese saying a few days after returning. “Seeing a whole other country and experiencing how they teach broadens my perspective and I’m sure that will impact what happens in my classroom.”

Mundorf’s Japanese hosts at the 24th Annual National Conference of the Japanese Academy of Learning Disabilities funded his weeklong trip, which was in the works before he joined the P.K. Yonge faculty this fall. Hayes encouraged Mundorf to take the time off to go, he said. Though not technically representing P.K. Yonge, he became an unofficial ambassador of the school.

“A lot of conversations turned to P.K. Yonge and practitioners were really interested in coming to P.K. Yonge and visiting my classroom and working with instructors at UF,” he said.

Digging Panama

The highlight of Mayra Cordero’s summer was digging in the dirt.

The sixth-grade science teacher traveled to Panama in July with about 20 edcuators from Florida and California as part of a Florida Museum of Natural History project to unearth fossils and provide professional development for K-12 science teachers.

During the 12-day trip, Cordero searched for specimens and learned firsthand how paleontologists conduct fieldwork. Their first lesson: distinguishing between fossils and the sea of rocks, pebbles and shells found along the shores of Lake Alajuela to learn about the stratigraphy of the area.

“It’s funny, but the first day we did not know how to recognize a fossil,” said the native of Puerto Rico.

The lessons received from the museum’s scientists paid off when Cordero discovered a tooth of a prehistoric Megalodon—informally dubbed “monster shark” or “megatooth shark”—the largest shark to have ever existed. This specimen and fossils unearthed by other teachers remained in the country and are administered by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama.

Since returning home, Cordero has incorporated her new knowledge by creating paleontology lesson plans. She set up a tabletop sandbox in her classroom and students uncovered fossils and collaborated to log, measure, describe and classify each specimen.

“The students worked like professional scientists using fossils that I brought from Panama,” Cordero said.

Cordero soon plans to invite scientists from the Florida Natural History Museum to her classroom to share about scientific methods and their work in Panama.

Cordero’s trip was funded by the National Science Foundation, which earmarks funds for in-the-field scientific learning experiences for K-12 teachers.

“To know about so many different areas in science is difficult for science teachers,” Cordero said. “This trip gave me another route to gather information and I have gained a lot of experience and knowledge.”

Teaching teachers in Haiti

In July, Macy Geiger and Angie Flavin, as well as P.K. Yonge writing consultant Patricia Jacobs, traveled to Croix des Bouquets, Haiti, for an annual summer teacher-training institute.

The elementary school educators gave workshops to about 160 native teachers on integrating reading with social studies and writing personal narratives. Their ability to communicate was enhanced by having Haitian-American interpreters translate in Creole – and by Geiger’s fluency in French.

Haitian teachers have special challenges, not the least of which is living in one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere, a country devastated by a 2010 earthquake, where there is no such thing as free public education and children often attend irregularly.

The P.K. Yonge teachers stayed in dorm rooms on the second floor of the school, bunked in beds flanked by mosquito nets and took cold showers.

They saw teachers walking several miles to return to their villages or clinging for dear life to overpacked buses, the colorfully painted vehicles known as tap-taps (literally “quick quick” in Haitian Creole).

Yet they were amazing by the vitality, warmth and joyfulness of the people. They ate native foods (Geiger loved keneps, a local fruit that “tastes like Starburst candy”) and marveled at local craftsmen’s metalwork.

The P.K. Yonge visitors not only brought lessons, they carried three suitcases filled school supplies donated by Blue Wave faculty and students, including computer flash drives, backpacks, folders and writing instruments.

The trip was funded by the Graham Family Endowment for Teacher Renewal, which supports P.K. Yonge student achievement by enhancing teacher knowledge.

P.K. Yonge continues to support Haitian education. Boxes placed in various locations at the school are filled with backpacks that will be shipped to Haiti for use by schoolchildren.

“Macy texted me the night we got home and said ‘I feel guilty about all we have,’ ” Flavin said.

“Even the simple things that I never thought about – like a sanitation system,” Geiger added.

Sharing the Lessons

After returning to P.K. Yonge, Geiger and Flavin gave a presentation to other teachers – while Cordero shared about her trip to Panama — at the annual back-to-school faculty breakfast.

“I think it has definitely changed my outlook and perspective on my teaching and I am trying to encourage other teachers to go out there and try new things,” Flavin said.

Such adventures are what education is all about. The experiences enrich the entire school, Hayes said.

“It’s really important for faculty to have these opportunities so they are going to be positioned to prepare our students for the future where things will be more and more global and interconnected than we could have imagined,” she said

Funding

P.K. Yonge’s international focus is enhanced by endowments created by alumni, including:

Graham Family Endowment for Teacher Renewal, $150,000: Created in 2007 by the late P.K. Yonge alum Henry “Tip” Graham to increase student and school achievement by enhancing teacher knowledge.

P.K. Yonge Globalization Fund, $125,000: Created in December 2014 by an anonymous P.K. Yonge alum to support international travel for talented and needy students and for faculty to conduct research to advance the school’s curriculum and effort to become more global.



WRITERS
: Charles Boisseau, UF College of Education, 352-273-4449, cboisseau@coe.ufl.edu; Katelin Mariner, 502-319-3503, kmariner@ufl.edu

MEDIA LIAISON: Julie Henderson, communications and international relations, UF’s P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School, 352-392-1554, jhenderson@pky.ufl.edu

 

 

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UF precollegiate center keeps teachers up to date on bioscience technologies

Quotable

“It is the best thing that ever happened to me as a teacher.”

— Kathy Savage
Oviedo High bioscience teacher

MOST OF THE TIME they are the teachers.

Not this time.

Dozens of high school teachers from across Florida returned to the classroom as part of an innovative University of Florida program to teach teachers the latest biomedical science and technologies, and to spark interest in bioscience careers among high schoolers.

Kathy Savage participates in a laboratory exercise during the summer program with Houda Darwiche, a post doctoral fellow with the Center for Precollegiate Education and Training.

Kathy Savage participates in a laboratory exercise during the summer program with Houda Darwiche, a post doctoral fellow with the Center for Precollegiate Education and Training.

Secondary science teachers Wendy Vidor and Carlene Rogers get first-hand training in UF laboratories that they can pass on to their students

Secondary science teachers Wendy Vidor and Carlene Rogers get first-hand training in UF laboratories. Vidor, a UF doctoral student in horticulture science, teaches agricultural biotechnology and marine science at Matanzas High in Palm Coast; Rogers teaches AP biology and honors anatomy and physiology at Wekiva High in Apopka.

More than 100 high school teachers have participated in the program since it was launched in 2010.

More than 100 high school teachers have participated in the program since it was launched in 2010.

The idea: You can’t teach what you don’t know, and you know best when you learn firsthand.

“It is the best thing that ever happened to me as a teacher,” said Kathy Savage, a bioscience teacher at Oviedo High School in Oviedo who created a bioscience curriculum working with researchers on UF’s campus.

CPET is the University of Florida’s “umbrella” program and conduit for the transfer of science and technology to public school and community college teachers, students and the public-at-large.

“Our ultimate goal is to improve the teachers’ content knowledge,” said Julie Bokor, assistant director of CPET and a doctoral candidate in curriculum and instruction at UF’s College of Education.

Key Elements

Known as Biomedical Explorations: Bench to Bedside, the program includes four key elements.

  • First, the high school teachers spend two weeks during the summer on UF’s campus where they conduct experiments and learn all manner of lab techniques and tools, such as applying technology to make copies of DNA, a method of diagnosing diseases, and identifying bacteria and viruses.
  • Next, they develop lesson plans and incorporate these into their teaching during the school year.
  • At year-end, they report their findings and disseminate the lessons so other teachers can use and help refine them.
  • Finally, selected research fellows return to campus in subsequent summers and scatter across UF’s campus to work closely with professors in labs to more fully develop curricula.

To sum it up: UF professors transfer research and techniques to secondary teachers and these teachers translate this knowledge into lessons that students can best understand.

“It’s a professional learning cycle,” said Kent Crippen, an associate professor of STEM education in COE’s School of Teaching and Learning.

Applying Lessons Learned

Importantly, participating teachers aren’t set adrift after the initial summer camp: They receive continued support from CPET staff and professors.

A good example is Savage, who had taught chemistry for 17 years when she was tapped to create a bioscience program at her school. She was a fish out of water.

“The equipment and procedures and lab techniques weren’t around when I was in school,” Savage said. “It’s a little intimidating doing those kinds of experiments yourself when you have to teach your students.”

After participating in the inaugural cohort in 2010, she has since returned to campus for three weeks every summer to work closely with UF professors and post-doctorate scholars in UF labs. They have helped her design lesson plans, taught her to use science equipment that had been gathering dust at her school, corresponded to answer her questions via email and even visited her classroom to help conduct experiments.

“You never feel afraid to try something new and jump in because you know someone has your back,” she said.

Another example: Orlando Edgewater High biology teacher Jessica Mahoney and fellow CPET alumna Jennifer Broo worked with UF Associate Professor of Entomology Daniel Hahn to create lessons on the interrelated concepts of climate change and evolution.

Students conducted experiments on live fruit flies provided by the university’s Department of Entomology to determine which strains were most vulnerable to climate change based on their recovery from a chill-induced coma.

In previous summers, these teachers teamed to develop two other curricula: one involving the cell cycle and cancer and another exploring the evolution of horses.

All told, 105 high school teachers who have participated in the program are now bringing their new skills to their own classrooms, including 22 in the 2015-2016 school year as part of a second phase of the program.

Second Phase

The UF Bench to Bedside program recently received a two-year $522,698 follow-up grant from the National Institutes of Health to expand the dissemination of the new high school science curricula.

Crippen, a co-principal investigator of this phase-two project, is helping to widely circulate the lessons by training teachers to use a powerful open-source portal funded by National Science Foundation. This online repository is part of the NSF Digital Library and allows instructors to submit, download, collaborate, and manage the copyright of lesson plans and other teaching resources they have created for the program.

CPET, which is housed in the Office of the Provost, has a long history of close collaboration with the College of Education. Education Associate Dean Tom Dana initiated a course offering for the Bench to Bedside program so teachers completing the work receive three hours of graduate credit. In another program, CPET is supporting Rose Pringle, associate professor of science education, and P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School Director Lynda Hayes on a $5 million National Science Foundation grant known as U-FUTuRES (University of Florida Unites Teachers to Reform Education in Science) to train middle school science teacher-leaders to transform science teaching and learning. CPET Director Mary Jo Koroly is co-principal investigator on the project to facilitate science enrichment activities on campus.

Sharing lessons – and the lessons learned – is a key element of all this professional development work.

“Ultimately, what we want is for our teachers to get regional, state and even national recognition so they can develop professionally,” Bokor said. “By moving to the next level they get to share this great research.”


Contacts
    SourceJulie Bokor, CPET, 352-392-2310
    SourceKent Crippen, College of Education associate professor of STEM Education, 352-273-4222
    WriterCharles Boisseau, UF COE News & Communications, 352-392-4449

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College of Education scholars named Global Fellows

Walter Leite Brian Reichow
Walter Leite Brian Reichow

Two College of Education scholars are among 10 University of Florida faculty members selected for a new program designed to enhance the university’s international research excellence.

Associate professors Walter Leite and Brian Reichow were recently named Global Fellows by UF’s International Center.

Each fellow will receive $4,000 for travel and expenses to collaborate with researchers abroad on an international research project. They also will work with a faculty mentor who will receive a $1,000 honoria to provide guidance and feedback, and participate in a series of workshops hosted by the Office for Global Research Engagement about working internationally.

The International Center created the Global Fellows program to increase the number of faculty who participate in global activities, promote faculty investigators’ international research and build a cohort of scholars to serve as campus leaders in international activities.

Leite’s specialty is working with extremely large data sets with lots of variables to find the evidence of whether educational programs are effective.

He is an associate professor in the college’s research and evaluation methodology program. A native of Brazil, Leite intends to use the Global Fellows resources to create a National Science Foundation grant proposal and collaborate with scholars at Brazil’s National Institute of Educational Research to create a method of analyzing student achievement data on samples from Brazil and the United States.

“My medium- to long-term goal is to engage in multiple projects with educational statisticians in Brazil that will involve research grants as well as exchange of scholars and doctoral students between the University of Florida and Brazilian universities,” Leite said.

Reichow, who joined the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies last year through UF’s state-backed preeminence initiative, has extensive experience on international projects. An associate professor of special education and early childhood studies, he serves as a technical advisor for the World Health Organization. He has worked with WHO colleagues around the world to develop guidelines and training materials to assist children with developmental disabilities and their families, with an emphasis on helping children and families in low-resource settings.

Reichow intends to use the support of the Global Fellows Program to expand his work at the WHO.

“The parent skills training program I have been developing with the WHO continues to expand. Recently, we began training across eight provinces in China,” said Reichow, “and, early next year, we are launching pilot trials in other countries across Africa and Asia.”


Contacts

  • Writers: Charles Boisseau, News & Communications, 352-274-4449; and Linda Homewood, Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, 352-273-4284
  • Media Liasion: Larry Lansford, Director, News & Communications, UF College of Education, 352-273-4137

 

‘Pivotal force’ in special education policy helping COE celebrate 40th anniversary of landmark Disabilities Education law

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The UF College of Education and its School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies (SESPECS) are commemorating the 40th anniversary of the passage of the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act this week with two special events, and one of the architects of the historic law will be on hand to join in the celebrations.

Commonly known as IDEA, the landmark act, passed in 1975, guarantees that children with disabilities have the opportunity to receive a free, appropriate public education.

THE FIRST COMMEMORATIVE EVENT in Gainesville, on Thursday, Nov. 9 from 4-5:30 p.m., is the 40th Anniversary Celebration for IDEA, a special reception for Edwin W. Martin, one of the original authors of the legislation who also served as the nation’s first Assistant Secretary of Education for Special Education and Rehabilitative Services under President Jimmy Carter.

The reception will be held in Alachua County Public Schools’ Kirby Smith Administration Center boardroom, located at 620 E. University Avenue in Gainesville. Local teachers, parents, UF education alumni, faculty and students, and others who serve or work with students with disabilities are invited.

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 3.05.22 PMThe event, themed “Celebrating Brighter Futures for Children and Youth with Disabilities,” is designed to share a UF resource with community partners. Co-sponsors with the College of Education and SESPECS are the local chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children. Fruit, cheese, cookies and soft drinks will be served.

ON FRIDAY, NOV. 20, from 11:30 to 1 p.m. in Room 158 (Dean’s Conference Room) of UF’s Norman Hall, Martin will lead a colloquium on “Reflections on Special Education as a Necessary and Noble Profession.” He will share his perceptions of the historic changes in national public policy that occurred while he was working from 1965 to 1981 for the U.S. Congress and the Executive Branch.

Martin, 84, was a pivotal force behind the development of federal policy in special education under Presidents Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter. At Friday’s colloquium, he’ll discuss the key issues and players involved in the passage of IDEA and other special education legislation, and lessons learned that have relevance to the present and future of special education.

Lunch and dessert will be provided. After the colloquium, Martin will sign copies of his 2013 memoirs titled “Breakthrough: Federal Special Education Legislation 1965-1981.” He and Jean Crockett, professor and director of SESPECS, then will engage in a videotaped conversation reflecting on the historical evolution of special education public policy.

CONTACTS
    SOURCE: Lynette Beacher, School of Special Education, School Psychology and Early Childhood Studies; UF College of Education; lynetter@coe.ufl.edu
    WRITER: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137;
llansford@coe.ufl.edu

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UF study: Majority of Florida school districts lack social media policies for teachers

Jesse Gates

Jesse Gates

More than half of Florida’s school districts have no policy on the use of social media by teachers and other employees, increasing the potential for misuse and inappropriate teacher-student relationships online, according to an analysis conducted by a University of Florida educational leadership scholar.

Doctoral candidate Jesse Gates found that only 32 of the state’s 68 school districts had a dedicated social media policy, and none of the policies were comprehensive enough to adequately address all the key elements of Florida’s case law concerning public school employees’ use of social media. Gates’ research covered the primary school districts in all of Florida’s 67 counties, plus the Florida Virtual School, the state’s Internet-based public school.

The findings come at a time of a growing awareness of social media “misdeeds” by teachers, Gates writes in his dissertation research report, as evidenced by a rising trend of teacher firings and suspensions due to inappropriate communications on Facebook and other social media outlets.

Teachers have been punished for posting inappropriate photos, engaging in unprofessional online interactions with students and inflammatory blogs about supervisors and fellow teachers. In 2013, a South Florida high school teacher was arrested on charges of using Facebook to solicit sex from students ages 15 to 17.

Yet school districts have been slow to establish guidelines on what teachers can and can’t do on social networking sites.

While a social media policy isn’t an ironclad way to stop misdeeds, it would provide employees protection and a more focused idea of what behavior is allowed on social media, Gates said.

“Realistically, in extreme cases, it’s doubtful that a clear and concise social networking policy would have made a difference,” Gates said. “Many of the issues we read about in the papers really aren’t violations of a social media policy, per se, they are usually violations of the code of ethics. Social networking just makes it easier for a teacher to prey on students.”

Gates makes several recommendations to improve district policies, including clarifying key terminology, explaining freedom of speech limitations for public employees, specifying enforcement of the policy and relating the policy to the teacher code of conduct.

UF educational administration & policy Professor Craig Wood, Gates’ dissertation chair, said his work includes a sample social media policy based on current state statutes that could serve as a template for school districts’ development or improvement of their policies.

“In terms of public policy analysis and improving practices at the school board level it’s a valid piece of work,” Wood said.

Gates said courts have generally given public schools the responsibility to decide the line in balancing a public employee’s right to freedom of speech with their responsibilities as a public servant.

“This is a huge responsibility,” Gates said. “Social networking has made this conflict more prevalent.”

Currently, Gates is an assistant principal at an elementary school in St. Johns County. Last month he successfully defended his 145-page dissertation – “A Public Policy Analysis of Social Networking in Florida Public Schools” – and he will graduate in December with a doctorate in leadership in educational administration.

One of Gates’ specialties is the use of technology in instruction. In 2007, he was a finalist for teacher of the year in Georgia in part because of his use of a classroom website and an online grade book to communicate with parents.

Despite the challenges, Gates stops far short of advocating a ban on the use of social media. Studies have indicated that Facebook and other social media outlets can increase student engagement and improve cross-cultural collaboration and community building.

“When it comes to social networking and texting policies, I really do hate to see a complete ban on their use because studies have shown they can be beneficial to learning and engagement,” Gates said.

While his research didn’t include the use of texting, Gates said “clearly the potential for misdeeds with texts is similar to that of social networking.

“On the flip side, if used correctly and responsibly, texting parents and students homework assignments, reminder notes, and other classroom related news is a smart and effective way to communicate with the digital natives.”


CONTACTS
   SOURCE: Jesse Gates, UF College of Education doctoral candidate, 678-925-5783; jgates@ufl.edu
   WRITER: Charles Boisseau, UF College of Education; 352-273-4449; cboisseau@coe.ufl.edu
   MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu

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UF early childhood intervention aims to help elementary teachers, students succeed

Maureen Conroy

Maureen Conroy

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Kindergarten teachers prepare their students for future school success, yet researchers say nearly 30 percent of children who enter school display problem behaviors, which put them at risk for fewer learning opportunities and poorer academic outcomes.

To help these students and their families start the educational journey on sure footing, University of Florida Professor Maureen Conroy is working with researchers at Virginia Commonwealth University to retool a social and behavioral intervention they originally developed in 2008 for preschoolers, called BEST in CLASS.

“The early years of school are critical for future success,” said Conroy, the Anita Zucker Professor in Early Childhood Studies at UF. “BEST in CLASS is about helping teachers gain the knowledge, tools and supports needed to build positive early learning experiences for their students, including improving teacher-student relationships that promote positive engagement in learning opportunities.”

Conroy, is a professor of special education and early childhood studies in the UF College of Education. A co-principal investigator in the study, she once again is teaming with her colleague, Professor Kevin Sutherland of VCU, who was awarded nearly $1.5 million by the National Center for Education Research at the Institute of Education Sciences to lead the project.

Their recently completed efficacy trial of BEST in CLASS for 3- and 4-year-olds in early childhood programs in Florida and Virginia demonstrated positive outcomes for nearly 200 teachers and 500 children and their families. The findings will help guide the researchers’ adaptation to meet the needs of children advancing from preschool into early elementary grades and their families.

The new study will be extended to about 60 teachers and 80 students in kindergarten through second grade in an inner city school district near Richmond, Va. The students’ families, who are also a part of the study, will participate through a family involvement component and ongoing home-school partnerships with participating teachers.

Over the first year, researchers will develop BEST in CLASS-Elementary training and coaching materials for supporting teachers’ use of evidence-based instructional practices addressing students’ social and behavioral needs in their classrooms. Feedback from teachers and families also will aid the researchers in refining BEST in CLASS for this next age group.

After training and coaching materials are developed, a pilot program in the second year will test the materials with 30 teachers who will work with students identified as having social and behavioral difficulties in their classrooms. Based on year-two results, the model will be refined and further tested in the third year with participation from another group of teachers, students and their families.

The study findings will allow researchers to measure and evaluate the effects of BEST in CLASS-Elementary teachers’ use of effective instructional practices with targeted students, and how well they are partnering with families.

Researchers also will gain a comparison of how well their intervention addresses the social, behavioral and academic skills for the targeted students in their classrooms.

“Our ultimate goal is to improve teacher-student interactions and relationships in these classrooms, both of which are linked to improved student outcomes,” Sutherland said. “We’re thrilled that we have an opportunity to take what we’ve learned about implementing this promising program in early childhood settings and adapt it for use in elementary school settings.”


 

   SOURCE: Professor Maureen Conroy, College of Education, 352-273-4382, mconroy@coe.ufl.edu
   WRITER: Linda Homewood, UF College of Education, 352-273-4284, homewood@ufl.edu

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National group honors UF education leader for helping low-income students get to college and succeed

Don Pemberton

Don Pemberton

University of Florida education innovator Don Pemberton received the prestigious Bob Craves Champion of College Access Award this week for his leadership in providing the means for low-income students to attend and succeed in college.

The award was presented on Monday in Orlando at the annual meeting of the National College Access Network (NCAN), one of the premier nonprofit organizations created to improve college access to low-income and other underserved populations.

Pemberton, 63, is director of the University of Florida Lastinger Center for Learning, the College of Education’s research-and-development incubator for advancing teacher and student achievement.

The award salutes Pemberton’s life mission to give opportunities to young people who lack the hope, much less the money and support, to attend and succeed in college.

“It’s an honor in terms of affirmation of this work,” Pemberton said. “It’s about collective effort and by honoring me they honor the organizations and individuals that have supported the work.”

UF College of Education Dean Glenn Good said Pemberton is more than worthy of the award.

“Don is an innovative, passionate and tireless advocate for the children and students of Florida,” Good said. Pemberton’s work has influenced school administrators, educators and students not only across the state “but it is having a national and international impact.”

Pemberton is the first and only director of the Lastinger Center, which works with schools and communities to improve student performance, teacher practice, school achievement, principal leadership and parental engagement.

A quarter of a century ago, before he joined UF in 2002, Pemberton was a teacher and guidance counselor in Pinellas County where he was troubled by an alarming number of Tampa Bay area students who dropped out of school.

In 1995, he founded a nonprofit organization, Take Stock in Children, to address the high dropout rate. With the backing of concerned community leaders and businesses, the organization has grown to become Florida’s largest college access and mentoring program to help students escape poverty through education.

It serves all 67 Florida’s counties by providing scholarships, advocates and mentors to middle-school students who need help to graduate from high school and attend college.

“More than 25,000 kids have been through the program,” said Pemberton, who continues to serve as a board member of the organization. “Today there are military officers, doctors, lawyers, accountants and pharmacists who otherwise wouldn’t have had the opportunity to go to college without the mentoring and promise of a college scholarship that Take Stock in Children provided.”

Among the biggest backers of Take Stock in Children was Allen Lastinger, who at the time was president of Barnett Bank, since purchased by what is now Bank of America. A $2 million gift to UF’s College of Education from Lastinger and his wife Delores also led to the creation of the Lastinger Center for Learning.

Pemberton received the award named for Bob Craves, co-founder of the College Success Foundation and a founding officer of Costco. Craves died in 2014 after many years advocating for students who have been historically underserved by higher education. Past award winners include the late U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy.


CONTACTS
    SOURCE: Don Pemberton, UF Lastinger; 352-273-4108; dpemberton@coe.ufl.edu;
    WRITER: Charles Boisseau, UF College of Education; cboisseau@coe.ufl.edu
    MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu;

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UF center partners with states’ school system chiefs to boost teaching of students with disabilities

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Stronger licensure standards for teachers and principals, identification of skills educators need from their first day in the classroom, and more rigorous preparation programs for teachers and school leaders are among the steps state education chiefs can take to meet the needs of all students, especially those with disabilities, according to a new report issued jointly by a center for educator preparation reform at the University of Florida and the Council of Chief State School Officers.

Mary Brownell

Mary Brownell

The recommendations are the result of a partnership between UF’s Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform, or CEEDAR Center, and the private, nonprofit professional organization that serves leaders of every state’s department of elementary and secondary education.

The two groups recently convened an advisory group of state education agency leaders, higher education faculty, national professional organizations and teachers to develop the guidelines, released in a report “Promises to Keep: Transforming Educator Preparation to Better Serve a Diverse Range of Learners.”

The Council of Chief State School Officers is distributing the report to all state education department leaders and national organizations that serve individuals and organizations invested in teacher and principal preparation.

Other recommendations outlined in the report include:

·        Making personalized learning and student achievement and outcomes, including those for students with disabilities, an integral part of preparation and evaluation programs for teachers and school leaders in training

·       Designing preparation programs that promote collaboration and teamwork among all educators for all of their students

·       Maintaining effective monitoring and evaluation systems that hold teacher preparation programs accountable and providing the programs with adequate feedback for continued improvement in how they prepare teacher and administrator candidates to support diverse learners in the classroom

The report, which outlines a comprehensive set of clear policy actions state agencies can take, is the first of its kind, said CEEDAR Center director Mary Brownell.

“Students with disabilities can make remarkable progress when their teachers have the knowledge and skills needed to serve them effectively,” said Brownell, a special education professor at UF’s College of Education. “Improving preparation of all future teachers and school leaders is one way to ensure they have the knowledge and skills needed to help a diverse range of students.”

The report builds on a well-publicized policy document the Council of Chief State School Officers published in 2012 that included recommendations for transforming teacher and leader preparation policies.

“State education chiefs want effective teachers in the classroom on Day 1,” said Chris Minnich, the council’s executive director. “It is essential that schools continually seek the most effective ways to reach their most diverse learners.”

UF’s CEEDAR Center, with assistance from a federal grant, is partnering with the council to implement many of the guidelines in 15 states. The hope is that state education departments, colleges of education and school districts will work together to incorporate the recommendations into efforts already underway to improve teacher quality and leader preparation, Brownell said.

CEEDAR Center is in the midst of a five-year, $25 million technical assistance project to help the 15 participating states strengthen their standards and methods for preparing, licensing and evaluating teachers and school leaders. Funded by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Special Education Programs, the center began its work in Florida and four other states – California, Connecticut, Illinois and South Dakota – in 2013. Five additional states are expected to join the project in 2016, with the “Promises to Keep” report guiding much of the work in these states.

The report is available at http://ceedar.education.ufl.edu/portfolio/promises-to-keep/ or www.ccsso.org.


Sources:
Mary Brownell, project director, UF CEEDAR Center; 352-273-4529; mbrownell@coe.ufl.edu
   Larry Lansford, UF College of Education News & Communications, 352-273-4449; skindland@coe.ufl.edu
   University of Florida News Center http://www.news.ufl.edu |  News@ufl.edu |  352-846-3903

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The University of Florida is one of the nation’s largest public universities. A member of the Association of American Universities, UF posted research expenditures totaling $696 million in 2013. Through its research and other activities, UF contributes more than $8.76 billion a year to Florida’s economy and has a total employment impact of more than 100,000 jobs statewide. Find us at www.ufl.edu, on YouTube at www.youtube.com/UniversityofFlorida, and learn about UF’s plan to become one of the nation’s top public research universities at ufpreeminence.org.

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Paul Sindelar joins select group as UF Distinguished Professor

Special education Professor Paul Sindelar has been named a University of Florida Distinguished Professor, making him just the sixth College of Education faculty member to be awarded the coveted title.

Paul Sindelar8

UF Distinguished Professor Paul Sindelar

Sindelar’s new title “acknowledges an exceptional record of achievement in the areas of teaching, research and publication and professional and public service that is recognized both nationally and internationally,” according to Joseph Glover, UF provost and senior vice president for academic affairs.

Sindelar said there have been times when he wasn’t sure his credentials would measure up to the lofty standards set by his predecessors.

“I knew that Cecil Mercer and Paul George were both Distinguished Professors,” Sindelar said. “We were contemporaries before they retired, and I had a great deal of respect for their work.

“In fact, I was on a bird watching trip in the Yucatan when a guy we ran into asked where I was from and what I did,” he added. “After I told him I worked at the University of Florida, he asked me if I knew Paul George. I mean, what are the odds of that happening?

“Paul was one of the founding fathers of middle school education, and his work reached a lot of people,” Sindelar said. “I don’t suppose I’ve had that kind of impact, but then, not many people have.”

The same could be said of the late Cecil Mercer, a giant in his field during his 31-year tenure on the COE special education faculty. Three other former faculty members – all deceased — were granted distinguished professorships during their tenures. Joe Wittmer came to UF in 1968 and chaired the Counselor Education department for 18 of his 37 years with the COE; James Wattenbarger was known widely as the “father of Florida’s community college system” after his dissertation was used as a system blueprint in the late 1950s; and Mary Budd Rowe, a science education professor who spent 24 years on the COE faculty, was a former UF Teacher of the Year.

Sindelar said he learned about his new title while attending a conference in Arlington, Va., when COE Dean Glenn Good sent him an email message containing a letter from UF President Kent Fuchs.

“I was a bit surprised, but thrilled to death,” Sindelar said. “It’s an honor, of course, and utterly humbling.”

Sindelar, who is co-director of UF’s federally funded CEEDAR Center, has been conducting research focusing on change in the special education teacher labor market and its implications for policy makers and teacher educators. CEEDAR is an acronym for Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform.

He and his colleagues have established that fewer education teachers are employed in U.S. public schools today than were on the job 10 years ago. The reasons for the decline are unclear, although reductions in the number of students identified with learning disabilities, changes in service delivery, and the economic impact of the Great Recession all appear to play roles, their research indicates.

Mary Brownell, Sindelar’s co-director at the CEEDAR Center, says she knows her colleague will make the most of whatever opportunities his new title may bring.

“Paul has been my mentor and a close friend for 25 years,” Brownell said. “He hired me, and we’ve had a tremendous journey together as teacher education scholars. We’ve directed three centers together, four doctoral leadership grants and one research grant from the U. S. Department of Education. We’ve co-authored countless papers, presentations, and book chapters. I can’t imagine my career being what it has been without my trusted friend and wise colleague.

“He’s one of the finest teacher education researchers in our field, and he’s respected by all of his colleagues at UF and across the nation,” she added. “No one could be more deserving of the title Distinguished Professor.”

Honors and recognition aren’t new for Sindelar, He won the Teacher Education Division of the Council for Exceptional Children, TED Publication Award in 1997 and 2009, as well as the University of Illinois College of Education Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 2007 and the UF Faculty Achievement Recognition Award in 2007.

Most notably, though, Sindelar and Brownell won the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education’s prestigious David G. Imig Award in 2015 for making significant, lasting contributions to educator development and teacher education policy and research.

Sindelar received an undergraduate degree in history at Dartmouth before earning a master’s in special education at the University of Illinois in 1974 and his Ph.D. in educational psychology at the University of Minnesota three years later. He entered the UF College of Education in 1988 as department chair and special education professor. He remained chair until 1996, when he became director of the UF Center for School Improvement and went on to serve as director of the UF Center on Personnel Studies in Special Education (2000-2005) and associate dean for research in the Office of Educational Research (2005-2008).


Contacts
    Media Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.

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Education school rankings place UF No. 1 in Florida, Southeast

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The University of Florida College of Education held on to its spot as the No. 1 education school in Florida and also was rated first among public universities in the Southeast, according to the U.S. News & World Report’s 2016 Best Graduate Education Schools rankings announced March 10.

UF climbed one spot to 20th nationally among public education colleges, and was rated 30th overall–including private and public schools–for the second straight year.

US NEWS LOGO (2016)U.S. News also rated two College of Education academic programs among the top 10 in their specialty areas—special education at fifth and counselor education at No. 9. A third program made the second top 10, with elementary teacher education ranked 17th.

The college also received high marks in January when U.S. News ranked its online learning program 13th best among the nation’s graduate education colleges. Student admissions selectivity for the online program–an indicator of high quality student enrollment–was rated best in the nation.

For the latest US News rankings, 357 graduate education schools granting doctoral degrees were surveyed, with 246 providing the necessary data to be rated. Nationwide, there are more than 1,500 schools, colleges and departments of education.

UF’s college registered gains in several of the quality measures assessed in the rankings—improving its ratio of doctoral students per faculty instructor and hiking its scores for program quality from school superintendents and other education professionals surveyed—and showed continued strength in funded research activity.

Dean Glenn Good said that in the first half of this academic year (through Dec. 31, 2014), UF education faculty researchers doubled the amount of external research funding generated over the same period last year, attracting more than $16.3 million in grants and contracts.

“The College of Education has made dramatic strides over the past four years in the breadth and quality of our programs, and our rise in the rankings reflect that,” Good said. “We’re now in a position of strength to help the University of Florida meet its goal to become one of the nation’s preeminent research universities, while continuing our own rise in national prominence.”

The COE is involved in three targeted focus areas that UF is investing in to strengthen its interdisciplinary research and academic missions. The added preeminence funding is supporting aggressive investigations in early childhood development and learning, personalized online learning, and “big data” informatics research in education.

“There has never been a better time to be at the College of Education,” Good said. “Momentum is surging in our education reform efforts at every level, from cradle to college to career advancement.”

He cited a $5 million gift last fall from COE alumna Anita Zucker (BAE ’72) that is expanding the reach and breadth of the university’s and college’s trailblazing initiatives in early childhood studies. At the K-5 level, the college recently created a Center of Excellence in Elementary Teacher Preparation–one of four in the state–funded by the Florida Department of Education. Through the center, UF education professors are working with the local school district to pioneer new strategies and best practices for transforming elementary teacher preparation, eventually throughout the state.

The dean also cited the UFTeach program, a collaboration between the colleges of Education and of Liberal Arts and Sciences. UFTeach recruits top math and science majors on campus and prepares them to join the ranks of effective teachers in those vital disciplines in the middle and high school grades.

Aided by $25 million in federal support, UF special education faculty are helping multiple states strengthen their professional standards and methods for preparing teachers and leaders serving students with disabilities.

Statewide and beyond, the UF Lastinger Center for Learning is the college’s “education innovation incubator,” developing and field-testing novel learning system models that transform teaching and learning and promote healthy child development.

“We are closing in on our goal of becoming a top public university and a top-tier college of education,” Good said. “Achieving a ranking is nice and reflects the dedication and commitment of the entire College of Education community. The true measure of our success, though, is the impact we make on solving problems and making life better for everyone.”

To view the complete U.S. News Best Graduate Education Schools rankings, visit http://gradschools.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-education-schools


CONTACTS
   SOURCE: Glenn Good, PhD, dean, UF College of Education; 352-273-4135; ggood@coe.ufl.edu;
   SOURCE: Tom Dana, PhD, associate dean, UF College of Education; 352-273-4134; tdana@coe.ufl.edu;
   WRITER: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu;

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5 more states join UF’s $25M effort to improve teaching of students with disabilities

Five states have been added to the list of 10 already taking part in a $25 million UF College of Education project aimed at improving the effectiveness of teachers and public school leaders who serve students with disabilities.

Images taken by Kristen Bartlett Grace Copyright the UF News Bureau College of Education October 1, 2007 D-1319

Mary Brownell

Arizona, Michigan, Missouri, Oregon and Tennessee are the latest additions to the five-year program being implemented by the college’s CEEDAR Center through a record-setting grant from the U.S. Department of Education. CEEDAR is an acronym for Collaboration for Effective Educator Development, Accountability and Reform.

Center director Mary Brownell, a UF special education professor, said the center and its state partners are engaged in work that could have a “dramatic impact” on improving education for students with disabilities and other struggling learners.

“If we can prepare teachers and leaders to implement the best evidence we have about effective instruction and classroom management, then we can help to improve student achievement and proficiency levels,” Brownell said.

The $25 million project represents the largest single grant ever awarded to the UF College of Education, and the figure could increase by another $10 million if the U.S. DOE exercises two optional years.

Five more states are expected to be added before the project completes its fourth-year cycle in 2016, bringing to 20 the total number of states – including Florida – whose school districts will have revised standards and significantly improved methods for preparing, licensing and evaluating teachers and administrators who educate students with disabilities in K through 12 schools.

The center is working with the American Institutes for Research, the University of Kansas, the Council of Chief State School Officers and several other national organizations to reach its objectives, including the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, the Council for Exceptional Children, the Council for the Accreditation for Educator Preparation, the National Association of State Directors of Special Education and the Association for Persons with Severe Handicaps.

The five states initially taking part in the CEEDAR center project were Florida, California, Connecticut, Illinois, South Dakota. Five others — Georgia, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio and Utah – were added in 2014.

Contacts
Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.
Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449.

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Conroy named as first Zucker Professor in Early Childhood Studies

Maureen Conroy, Ph.D., an early childhood expert and professor in the University of Florida College of Education, has been named the Anita Zucker Professor in Early Childhood Studies.

Maureen Conroy1

Maureen Conroy

Conroy, who co-directs the Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies at UF, is working with other center researchers to transform science, policy and practices in early childhood learning, intervention and healthy development. Their efforts are gaining national and worldwide attention.

“Ninety percent of a child’s brain development happens before he or she turns 5,” Conroy said. “Our research mission is to provide science-based approaches for supporting young children’s development and learning during this critical time.”

A primary focus of the center is supporting young children who are most vulnerable, their families, and their early childhood providers to create nurturing and supportive early learning environments to help them succeed.

Through the Anita Zucker Center, Conroy and her collaborators partner with colleagues from a number of colleges at UF as well as other community, state, national and international stakeholders.

Zucker, a 1972 UF education graduate and a UF Board of Trustees member, has long been interested in early childhood studies. In 2011, the Charleston, South Carolina native contributed $1 million to the College of Education to establish the endowed professorship that Conroy now occupies. Last year, Zucker gave another $5 million to expand the center’s efforts and UF’s Preeminence initiative in early childhood studies.

“Anita Zucker understands the importance of investing in young children’s growth, development and education,” Conroy said. “Her generous gifts are a game-changer that ensures our work will reach children and families in our community, state and across the nation and world.”

A graduate of Keene State College in New Hampshire and a two-time graduate of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Conroy’s 38-year career has revolved around conducting research and training future researchers as well as those working directly with young children and their families.

Patricia Snyder, director of the Anita Zucker Center who also serves as the David Lawrence Jr. Endowed Chair in Early Childhood Studies, said the appointment of Maureen Conroy as the inaugural Anita Zucker Professor in Early Childhood Studies will advance the College of Education’s national and international visibility and impact.

“Having the Zucker Professor and Lawrence Chair working side-by-side demonstrates UF’s commitment to achieving preeminence in early childhood studies,” Snyder said.

Zucker, who taught elementary school for 10 years and has a master’s degree in educational administration and supervision from the University of North Florida, agreed.

“Early childhood education really is the key to unlocking doors for later learning and success in life,” she said. “Transforming our children’s lives through education is important in so many ways.”

Contacts
Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.
Writer: Linda Homewood, Anita Zucker Center for Excellence in Early Childhood Studies, homewood@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4284.

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UF awarded $2.7M for new center aiming to transform elementary teacher preparation

The revamped coursework and internship evaluations will place a heightened emphasis on data-driven decision-making and a forward-thinking instructional approach for classroom readiness.

The revamped coursework and internship evaluations will place a heightened emphasis on data-driven decision-making and a forward-thinking instructional approach for classroom readiness.

GAINESVILLE, Fla.—With $2.7 million from the Florida Department of Education, the University of Florida College of Education is creating a new “center of excellence” to transform its nationally ranked elementary teacher preparation program—and several of Alachua County’s high-needs schools will serve as the effort’s proving ground.

The DOE has awarded three-year grant support to UF and three other Florida institutions to establish a Center of Excellence in Elementary Teacher Preparation at each campus, with the education schools partnering with their local school districts on the effort. The other are Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, St. Petersburg College and Stetson University in Deland.

“We know more than we have ever known about how to prepare new teachers for strong starts and long careers of positive impact on student achievement,” said Brian Dassler, Florida DOE deputy chancellor for educator quality. “The centers of excellence grants have been awarded to four pioneer programs that will not only produce outstanding elementary teachers for Florida’s classrooms, but also blaze a trail for improved teacher preparation in the entire state.”

According to Dassler, the centers will place heightened emphasis on preparing teachers to improve learning among historically underachieving students including those with disabilities, English language learners and students living in poverty. Each teacher prep program is tailoring its strategies to the needs of its partnering school district, he said.

In Alachua County, 12 elementary schools so far have agreed to host UF teachers-in-training for their yearlong internships and participate in the UF teacher prep reform project. They include Chiles Elementary, Hidden Oak, High Springs Community School and P.K. Yonge, plus eight of the district’s high-need, Title 1 schools: Alachua Elementary, Finley, Glen Springs, Lake Forest, Littlewood, Meadowbrook, Norton, and Terwilliger.

UF’s teacher prep reform effort is dubbed Project ADePT, short for Advancing the Development of Preservice Teachers. It calls for deepening student-teachers’ content knowledge of core subject areas, strengthening teaching and classroom management skills , and improving feedback to future teachers during their final-year internship.

UF is Florida’s top-rated elementary teacher education program — ranked 17th nationally in U.S. News & World Report’s latest survey of America’s Best Graduate Schools — and has a long history of progressive, research-based teacher preparation practices. UF was one of the first education colleges in the nation to unify its general and special education programs and extend it from four years to five. Students now complete a full-year internship in their final two semesters of Year 5 before graduating with a master’s degree in education.

“We have a long-standing tradition of continuous program evaluation and improvement. This grant affords opportunities for some really creative program enhancements that we couldn’t otherwise pursue,” said Ester de Jong, director of the UF education college’s School of Teaching and Learning.

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Co-researchers on the elementary education reform project are, from left, Ester de Jong, Elizabeth “Buffy” Bondy and Suzanne Colvin.

De Jong is one of three UF co-researchers on the project, along with education professors Suzanne Colvin and Elizabeth Bondy, who is principal investigator.

Bondy said they are collaborating with subject area experts from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences to revamp and expand the curriculum of UF’s Elementary ProTeach program so future teachers will gain a deeper knowledge of science, math, social studies and English language arts.

“One of the great opportunities to come from this grant is to restore social studies to its rightful place as a cornerstone of public education,” Bondy said. “With so much time now spent on preparing schoolchildren for standardized testing, social studies had fallen off the radar.”

UF teachers-in-training also will learn the latest, research-based approaches to instruction and classroom management and be supported by an innovative model of instructional coaching.

Bondy said the revamped coursework and internship evaluations will place a heightened emphasis on data-driven decision-making and a forward-thinking instructional approach for classroom readiness called Fast Start, which she said “will help our graduates start their first year as practicing teachers ready for the challenges ahead.”

New, Internet cloud-based video technology will allow school-based mentor teachers and UF-based supervisors to provide targeted commentary on the student teachers’ instructional practice down to the individual frame. Or, the students can study their own videos and share them confidentially with their peers on an online social platform designed just for them.

The college’s Lastinger Center for Learning, which designs and field-tests research-proven learning systems for school districts in several Florida counties and even in other countries, is adapting its instructional coaching model for UF’s elementary education reform project. Two school-based “professors-in-residence” from the college will serve as liasions between the public schools and the ProTeach program to help train the mentoring teachers and supervisors in the high-impact instructional and classroom management skills that the student-teachers will learn.

During the next two summers, UF content experts will conduct intensive, interdisciplinary workshops which combine subject area content knowledge and teaching practices for ProTeach students poised to start their final, year-long internships. Their mentoring teachers and college supervisors will also attend. The first workshop will integrate math, science, and technology.

“The redesign of our elementary education model will expand the pipeline of effective teachers locally and statewide,” Bondy said. “We’re particularly excited about strengthening our connections with the schools in east Gainesville.

“We’ll be better teacher educators when we understand the challenges and mandates that our public schools face. By providing higher quality interns and future teachers, we can have a dramatic impact on student learning.”

Everett Caudle, director of project and staff development for Alachua County Public Schools, said partnering with UF on its teacher prep reform project “holds great promise for preparing classroom-ready beginning teachers.”

He said the Alachua County teachers hosting the student-teachers also will benefit: “By fine-tuning their skills as student mentors and instructional coaches, they will become more aware and critical of their own instruction.”


CONTACTS
   SOURCE: Elizabeth Bondy, UF College of Education; 352-273-4242; bondy@coe.ufl.edu
   SOURCE: Ester de Jong, UF College of Education; 352-273-4227; edejong@coe.ufl.edu
   SOURCE: Jackie Johnson, School Board of Alachua County; 352-955-7880;  jackie.johnson@gm.sbac.edu
   WRITER/MEDIA LIAISON: Larry Lansford, communications director, UF College of Education; 352-273-4137; llansford@coe.ufl.edu

It’s Miller’s time to take home a UF mentoring award

COE research and evaluation methodology professor David Miller made quite a statement on his way to winning a Doctoral Mentoring Award sponsored recently by the UF Graduate School.

David Miller3

David Miller helps celebrate the graduation of two of his mentees, Miao Gao (left) and Janna Underhill.

“The core of mentoring is based on long-term commitment to building a mutually beneficial relationship with students,” Miller wrote in a mentoring statement required by the selection committee. “The mentoring relationship evolves over time and becomes deeper through the shared experience of advancing the research and career goals of the mentee.”

Miller’s philosophy is based on an intellectual relationship he had with the late Dr. Leigh Burnstein, Miller’s adviser and mentor when Miller was a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, Los Angeles more than three decades ago.

“That relationship had a profound affect on me,” said Miller, a COE faculty member since 1998 who next month replaces Harry Daniels as director of the college’s School of Human Development and Organizational Studies in Education.

“I’ve always enjoyed working with younger talent, and UF has a longstanding tradition for mentoring that hasn’t always been recognized through awards,” he added. “There’s also a strong mentoring ethic here in HDOSE, so I consider myself very fortunate.”

The annual award encourages and rewards excellence, innovation and effectiveness in mentoring doctoral and master of fine arts students through their final dissertation or thesis project. Each winner receives $3,000, with an additional $1,000 deposited into each recipient’s department account for use in supporting doctoral or master of fine arts students.

Miller was one of four UF faculty members to receive the 2014-2015 Doctoral Mentoring Award.

Contacts
Liaison: Larry Lansford, director, College of Education Office of News and Communications; llansford@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-4137.
Writer: Stephen Kindland, College of Education Office of News and Communications; skindland@coe.ufl.edu; phone 352-273-3449.

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UF’s free tutoring app helping Fla. students prep for high-stakes algebra exam

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Algebra Nation’s online practice tool closely resembles the end-of-course exam and also features an interactive, Facebook-style discussion forum known as the Algebra Wall.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Last spring, nearly half of Florida ninth-graders flunked the statewide end-of-course Algebra 1 exam—a gateway test that Florida high school students must pass in order to graduate. University of Florida education researchers, using a powerful online teaching tool they developed, are offering incentives and challenging students across the state to “kick it up a notch” as they prepare for this year’s testing, which will begin April 20.

UF is sponsoring its second annual, statewide “Algebra Nation Test Yourself! Challenge” to support the students’ effort. Algebra Nation is a free, first-of-its-kind, Web-based tutoring tool specifically designed to help students prepare for the Algebra 1 exam. In less than a half-year after its 2013 launch, Algebra Nation was being used by more than a quarter-million students and 3,300 teachers in all 67 Florida school districts.

The two‑week Algebra Nation Challenge, which runs through April 19, motivates students to prepare for this high-stakes test with a chance for valuable prizes for students and their teachers. Florida students have the chance to practice for the upcoming Algebra 1 end-of-course exam by working algebra problems through Algebra Nation’s online Test Yourself! Practice Tool. This tool simulates the end-of-course testing environment by allowing students to answer standards-based problems in a format similar to the required exam.

Students earn entries into the Algebra Challenge by completing practice tests with at least 80 percent accuracy. With each entry, students also earn an entry for their teachers.  Each entry will be placed into a raffle for prizes. Algebra Nation will give out 100 class pizza parties and 10 iPad minis to students, plus five Caribbean cruises for two to teachers!

The 2014 Test Yourself! Challenge was a remarkable success, with over a million questions answered by students all across the state. Nathan Howe, an algebra teacher at Sunlake High School in Pasco County and a cruise winner, said, “I still can’t believe I was a winner of the teacher prize. The Bahamas cruise was by far the best thing I’ve ever won in my life.  It was also the first cruise I’ve ever been on, and definitely the trip of a lifetime.  Thank you Algebra Nation!”

The Challenge is more than just pizza, prizes, and fun. It helps students learn algebra and succeed on a high-stakes exam that they must pass to earn a high school diploma.

“Success in algebra is increasingly becoming a major determinant for future academic success,” said Don Pemberton, director of the UF Lastinger Center for Learning, which created Algebra Nation with Gainesville tech firm Study Edge. “Getting kids motivated to take advantage of the Algebra Nation tools is a key to their success.”

The Algebra Nation team will award 50 pizza parties at the end of the first week of the Challenge, and the rest of the prizes at the end of the second week. For more details on how the Algebra Nation Challenge works, please visit www.AlgebraNation.com/Challenge.

Students logged in to Algebra Nation can watch dynamic concept videos that come with corresponding study guides. Florida master teachers from diverse backgrounds provide the instruction on the videos and students choose the instructor that is the best fit for them.

Algebra Nation’s online practice tool closely resembles the end-of-course exam and also features an interactive discussion forum (Algebra Wall) where Florida students and teachers can ask and answer questions about algebra. Algebra Nation is now used in over 1,500 schools across Florida.

Students, parents and teachers can access Algebra Nation’s free resources 24/7 through their computers, iPhones, iPads, and Android phones. To learn more about Algebra Nation, go to www.AlgebraNation.com.


CONTACTS:
Melody Pak, Algebra Nation, 352-327-8218; melody@algebranation.com
   Ashley Dodds, Algebra Nation, 321-446-4556; ashley@algebranation.com
   Sylvia Boynton, UF Lastinger Center, 727-742-3759; sboynton@coe.ufl.edu
Don Pemberton, UF Lastinger Center for Learning; 352-273-4103; dpemberton@coe.ufl.edu

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COE responds to tragic death of Professor Emeritus Thomas Oakland

Thomas Oakland, Professor Emeritus (1939-2015)

Dr. Thomas Oakland, Professor Emeritus (1939-2015)


(Thomas Oakland, a beloved and world-renowned professor of school psychology at the UF College of Education from 1995 until his retirement in 2010, was killed on Wednesday, March 4, when, Gainesville police allege, a local man set Dr. Oakland’s house on fire after killing and stealing money from him. Police have a suspect in custody. Dr. Oakland was 75. Below is the College’s public statement issued by Dean Glenn Good in response to Dr. Oakland’s death.)

STATEMENT FROM GLENN GOOD, DEAN, UF COLLEGE OF EDUCATION:
“We are shocked and deeply saddened over the passing of Professor Emeritus Thomas Oakland. The circumstances surrounding his death only compound our grief. Dr. Oakland was an exemplary world-class scholar in the field of school psychology, and a dedicated teacher, researcher and mentor to his students during his 15 years as a College of Education faculty member. We will continue to be inspired by his extraordinary commitment to the college and his profession, his caring and love for his family, compassion for his students and graduates, and his grace and humor . . . Professor Oakland was an international scholar and touched so many people throughout the world. He continued to stay connected with his former students and colleagues at UF after he retired. We will miss Professor Oakland greatly and he will be missed by many people around the world.”

— Dr. Oakland’s family has said plans will be forthcoming for a local memorial celebration of Dr. Oakland’s life. The COE will post the time and place when announced.
— Visit http://bit.ly/1C2lrWS to read The Gainesville Sun coverage of Dr. Oakland’s death and the arrest of the man charged with his murder.
— Visit http://bit.ly/1BOJSp9 for a TV news report from WJXT-TV 4 News (Jacksonville). It’s a 2:30 minute report, and some 40 seconds into it begins a heartwarming profile of Dr. Oakland with a phone testimonial from his son, Chris, who describes his internationally acclaimed dad as “a father figure for the world.”


THOMAS OAKLAND, PhD: A Brief Profile

Dr. Oakland worked as a professor of school psychology at the UF College of Education from 1995 until his retirement in 2010, when he was conferred the distinction of professor emeritus. He was a preeminent scholar in his field of study both nationally and worldwide.

He received UF’s Senior Faculty Distinguished International Educator of the Year Award in 2004, the same year he was given the prestigious distinction of University of Florida Research Foundation Professor. His scholarly work in more than 45 countries centered on psychological and educational characteristics of children and youth, applied psychological assessment, cultural diversity, international issues and professionalism in the school and education psychology fields.

Oakland said the most important part of his work was helping children to succeed in their education. He provided educational and psychological testing in schools in many developing nations, including the Gaza Strip near Israel, Mexico, Central America and Brazil, where he was a Fulbright Scholar and helped form the country’s national association of school psychology. One project involved creating a 10-week program for school psychology graduate students from UF and other institutions to gain fluency in Spanish and knowledge of Latin culture and educational methods.

Other honors Oakland received include the 2006 College of Education Lifetime Achievement Award and the college’s 2007 award for doctoral student mentoring and dissertation advisement. Several foreign universities named him honorary professor or professor emeritus after his collaborations with those institutions.

As a professor and mentor, Oakland encouraged his students to take a global approach in their studies and life in general, saying, “I encourage my students to acquire a world view on issues and not to be restricted only to those currently in vogue in our country.”

Oakland held numerous leadership positions with national professional groups, including presidencies for the International Foundation for Children’s Education, the International School Psychology Association and the International Test Commission. He also received honors for distinguished contributions and lifetime achievements and service from those and other groups, including the Florida Association of School Psychologists.

He has authored or edited 12 books, 100 chapters, 200 articles, and developed several widely used psychological tests. Oakland was board certified in school psychology and neuropsychology and had an active forensic practice. He was a member of the Task Force that developed the ethics code of the American Psychological Association.

Prior to joining the UF faculty, Oakland was on the education psychology faculty at the University of Texas at Austin for 27 years. He had master’s and doctorate degrees in educational psychology from Indiana University.