Highlights of partnership activities
UNC College of Education and Behavioral Sciences
District 6, 2006-2008
The Colleges of Education and Behavioral Sciences, Natural and Health Sciences, Humanities and Social Sciences and Performing and Visual Arts at the University of Northern Colorado sustain many partnership activities with Greeley-Evans School District 6. The purpose of this report is to provide a brief overview of the 2006-2008 collaborations. Our varied projects provide arenas that support an inquiry-oriented approach to teaching and learning and provide opportunities to connect theory and practice as both preservice and inservice teachers, graduate students, district administrators and UNC faculty work together to solve authentic problems in complex classroom and school settings. The simultaneous learning and renewal that occurs in the collaborative endeavors outlined in this paper advances both teacher education and the achievement of students.
A new Partnership Steering Committee was initiated in fall 2008 between UNC and nine area school districts, including District Six. Superintendents or their designee will meet twice during the academic year. The group’s purposes are to engage in discussions that enhance the global understanding of partnership, to create an arena where connections between education theory and practice are discussed and linked through inquiry, and to create an arena where common problem solving will take place in order to advance the quality of the work of both institutions.
UNC-District Partnership Task Force
During our Partnership Steering Committee meeting in fall 2008, the group recommended the creation of a Partnership Task Force for the purpose of continuing partnership discussions involving, but not limited to, the following areas of interest:
- Written partnership agreement
- Overview of districts’ systematic teacher candidate placement strategies
- Student teaching supervision provided by districts’ instructional coaches
- Teacher induction/ beginning teacher institute.
- Contemporary model of student teaching
- Ongoing review of teacher education curriculum
The first Task Force meeting is scheduled for January 9, 2009.
Undergraduate Teacher Education Task Force
An Interdisciplinary Liberal Arts Major (IDLA)/Professional Teacher Education Coordinating Council convened by the Provost in fall 2005 completed its work of reviewing and revising the elementary program in 2007-2008. A principal and a teacher from District Six were important members of the Council. The Council redesigned the elementary program to develop stronger content knowledge in writing and the arts by recommending an intensive writing course and an integrated arts course, better preparation for teaching linguistically and culturally diverse students by recommending an ESL course for all candidates, better integration of student advising between IDLA and PTEP and online access to appropriate IDLA and PTEP courses.
The Tointon Institute for Educational Change has been providing high quality leadership training to K-12 administrators in District Six and around the state since 1995. The goal of this enormously successful program is to increase the effectiveness of school leaders so that overall student achievement will be increased.Many of thecurrent principals in District Six have attended one of the Principal Leadership Academiesinvolving five intense and rigorous days of residential work.Eleven of the public schools in Greeleyhavebroughta school team to a School and Teacher Leadership Academy and one is scheduled to bring a team in June 2009. The director was an outside representative for the District's CDE School Support Teamvisitfour years ago, was a member of the Strategic Planning Committee following the SST visit, and currently is a member of the Superintendent's Blue Ribbon Panel examining the possibility of taking a mill levy override request to the community in an upcoming election.
The Educational Leadership and Policy Studies at the University of Northern Colorado and District 6 entered into a partnership in January of 2008 aimed at developing a greater leadership pool from the District’s teacher ranks. District 6 principals recommended over 50 teacher-leaders for this cohort that offers graduates either a masters or an educational specialist degree along with a principal’s license, and 23 were admitted to the first cohort. Coursework for the cohort began in the fall of 2008. The partnership between District 6 and UNC includes the pooling of financial and expertise resources to ensure the cohort members are prepared to become educational leaders in the 21st century.
Stuart Omdal and George Betts are working with Linda Johnson, the GT coordinator for District 6. A meeting has been scheduled with Johnson and other Northern Colorado coordinators of Gifted and Talented programs to conduct a focus group on new directions of collaboration for the Center for the Study of Gifted, Talented, and Creative. Amy Graefe is also working on this project.
Stuart Omdal is engaged in another ongoing collaboration with Linda Johnson, GT coordinator for District Six. They are piloting an online curriculum differentiation and enrichment program that addresses student interests and academic level.
George Betts is continuing a partnership with Amy Graefe and Susan MacKenzie at Brentwood Middle School. Their approach for gifted education is based on the Autonomous Learner Model.
Tracey Mueller conducted a staff training on the principles of behavior management for teachers and paraprofessionals in District 6 and provided behavioral consultation for one student in District 6 in 2007.
The Special Education: Deaf/Hard of Hearing program (John Luckner and Sandy Bowen) places students from the teacher preparation program with District 6 K-12 students with a hearing loss as part of their field work. In May 2008, the UNC Deaf Education faculty members were invited to learn more about the District 6 literacy curriculum as well as a request to help with the transition of the center-based program for students who are deaf or hard of hearing from University Schools to Chappelow. To date, neither opportunity has occurred. In addition, Silvia Correa-Torres places students for observations with a teacher of students with Visual Impairment/Orientation and Mobility Specialist in District Six.
Harvey Rude and UNC Program Coordinators from the School of Special Education have been engaged in a series of partnership meetings with the Exceptional Student Services leadership team in District Six in the past several years. In addition, Ranelle Lang is on the Advisory Council for the Special Education Intervention Specialist project funded by the federal Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP).
Science and Mathematics
A new NSF grant was awarded in summer 2007 to the UNC MAST Institute (College of Natural and Health Sciences) to continue a professional development project with Greeley-Evans School District 6. This collaborative involves UNC instructors from both the Colleges of Education and Behavioral Sciences and Natural and Health Sciences. The project is aimed at increasing content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge for teachers in response to No Child Left Behind. Through the NSF funded GK-12 program, MAST has partnered with CSU to provide K-12 teachers in the Poudre R1 and Greeley-Evans District 6 school districts with research internships and courses aimed at increasing content knowledge. The program also provides graduate students in science and mathematics with opportunities to work with teachers in their K-12 classrooms.
Linguistically Diverse Education - Undergraduate Program
During summer 2008 Hispanic Studies (College of Humanities and Social Sciences) offered the undergraduate ESL practicum for the first time at Madison Elementary School. It was a very successful experience. Lindsey Guccione, a doctoral student in Teacher Education in CEBS, taught the practicum. Dr. Elizabeth Franklin observed six of the students teaching and felt that the quality of the experience was very high and comparable to the semester long experience.
Project Teacher Find Scholarships
“Project Teacher Find” is a collaborative “grow your own” effort between UNC and District Six to identify, recruit, and prepare teachers from minority and underrepresented high school students. The Creana Lee Jex scholarship provides $18,000 each year to 11-18 teacher candidates. The candidates receive $1,000 per year and an additional $1,000 during the student teaching semester. High school students are recommended by their counselors, applications are screened by a scholarship committee composed of district and university faculty, and candidates must maintain at least a 2.75 gpa to be eligible for continued support. Candidates are supported by the Project Teacher Find Committee and especially by the UNC Center for Human Enrichment (CHE). CHE is a comprehensive academic support center for UNC undergraduates with a dedication to first generation and underrepresented students, supporting academic, professional, and personal success.
Linguistically Diverse – Graduate Endorsement
A cohort of thirteen secondary teachers completed their coursework for the Linguistically Diverse Education endorsement during the fall of 2008. The teachers were financially supported by a Title III grant that was awarded to Dr. Madeline Milian from the School of Teacher Education. The grant covered their tuition and provided a small stipend to assist teachers with the purchase of books or other related costs.
CEBS Dean’s Office
District Six is a partner in the UNC Teach Colorado Grant Initiative that provided $2,000.00 scholarships to 46 teacher candidates for the 2008-2009 academic year. The teacher candidates were high-performing candidates in the high-need teaching areas of secondary mathematics and science, K-12 special education generalist, elementary and secondary English language acquisition and K-12 world languages. Scholarships recipients committed to student teaching in a high-poverty or a rural school setting. While student teaching, the candidates will work in a Teach Ambassador service learning project to promote high school graduation, post secondary education and teaching careers, especially among students of color or low socioeconomic status in their classrooms and schools. Two teacher candidates who are student teaching at Central High School in spring 2009 in the areas of mathematics and Spanish will provide students with lessons/activities to promote career planning and post secondary education.
District Six is involved in the UNC Center for Integrated Arts Education (CIAE) that is housed in the College of Visual and Performing Arts. The Center was established in the fall of 2006 and is directed by Dr. Connie Stewart. The mission of the Center for Integrated Arts Education is to provide leadership in achieving quality, comprehensive arts education for all students in Colorado and is supported by private foundations and state funding sources. Faculty at Chappelow and Central High School are developing a five-year arts plan, individually suited for the school they represent.
As a part of the CIAE partnership with District Six, Dr. Stewart provides professional development for the district’s middle and secondary art teachers throughout the year. Currently, the group at Central is administering a survey developed and funded by the National Art Education Association Foundation. The survey measures student perceptions of learning transfer specifically looking at learning in the arts and other subjects. This is to see if students perceive the arts as “core” as stated in No Child Left Behind.
In addition to the CIAE collaboration, an after-school art program continues at Chappelow where Dr. Stewart directs the UNC K-12 Art candidates in designing and providing specialized art instruction to students as a part of the K-12 Teacher Preparation Program.
Sport and Exercise Science
UNC and District 6 are involved in a PEP Professional Development grant awards to the Sport and Exercise Science Program in the College of Natural and Health Sciences. The grant funds conducted a study during the 2006-2007 school year to provide a detailed analysis of the relationship between components of health-related fitness and academic achievement in students enrolled in the district’s elementary schools. Health related fitness focuses on optimum health that prevents the onset of disease and problems associated with physical inactivity. The components of healthy related fitness include: aerobic fitness, muscular strength and endurance, flexibility, and body composition. Results of analyses for this study indicated that, for students in grades 3-5 grades, there was a positive association between physical fitness, as measured by the Fitnessgram, and academic achievement, as measured by the Colorado Student Assessment Program (CSAP). Fitnessgram measures body composition, aerobic capacity, abdominal strength, upper body strength, and flexibility. CSAP variables used for analysis included math, reading, writing, and science (5th grade only).
The three-year PEP grant also funded a project where elementary teachers in District Six developed and disseminated district-wide curriculum. The specific research question guiding the study was: What factors facilitated the creation and maintenance of a community of practice through the process of curriculum development? The teachers undertook the total revision of the elementary physical education curriculum; none had any previous experience with curriculum development. Teachers were compensated for any work done outside of school. The group met for approximately eight months in one or two hour blocks of time once a month. In early summer between years two and three of the grant, the group held a three day retreat to develop curriculum, while supporting the teachers’ overall purpose, the facilitators’ goal was to empower them toward ownership in and of their curriculum development. The group continues their work in implementing the curriculum across the district.
Teaching American History Grant
Through a continuing partnership, UNC and Greeley-Evans School District 6 are collaborating on a $982,320 history grant from the U.S. Department of Education. The Teaching American History discretionary grant (College of Humanities and Social Sciences) supports three-year projects aimed at improving student achievement in history by providing teachers with ongoing and intensive professional development opportunities to enhance their understanding and appreciation of traditional American history.
District 6 will coordinate with five other school districts in Colorado in collaboration with UNC’s School of History, Philosophy and Political Science, which will develop and offer 10 days of professional development for teachers each year through 2009. Beginning fall 2006, 40 elementary, middle and high school history teachers from District 6, Montezuma-Cortez Re-1, Estes Park R-3, Frenchman Re-3 (Fleming), Adams County 14 (Commerce City) and Sierra Grande R-30 (Blanca) took part in the program. The program will include workshops, field trips, participation in national and state historical organizations and mentoring.
Teacher Candidate, Student, and Graduate Student Collaborations
Every year approximately eight psychology majors complete their supervised discipline-related internship in District 6 schools. To satisfy this requirement, students must spend a minimum of 135 hours in the field. Those in schools may shadow and assist teachers, counselors, administrators, or school psychologists.
Secondary Professional Teacher Education Program (Secondary PTEP) and K-12 Art, Music, and Sports and Exercise Science Professional Teacher Education Program (K-12 PTEP)
Every academic year secondary teacher candidates are involved in high schools and middle schools in Greeley. Approximately 100 secondary candidates are placed with teachers for early and advanced supervised field experiences and about 35 student teachers are placed every year. Approximately 100 candidates from the K-12 PTEP are placed with teachers in the district every year for early and advanced supervised field experience and about 30 student teachers are placed. The K-12 PTEP requires that the candidates have two field experiences during student teaching, one in elementary and one in secondary schools.
Supervision of the Secondary and K-12 candidates is conducted by teams of faculty from four colleges across campus. Various administrators and teachers from District 6 serve on several Secondary PTEP program committees and district teachers collaborate every semester in teaching specialty seminars on campus related to secondary classroom issues.
Elementary Professional Teacher Education Program (PTEP)
Approximately 100 teacher candidates inan early literacy tutoring experience are placed in high needs schools in District 6 every year. Each candidate provides
approximately 15 hours of reading and writing tutoring for elementary students, amounting to 1,500 hours of tutoring each year.
Many of the elementary schools in District 6 welcome approximately 80 literacy practicum candidates and 50 student teachers each academic year. Teacher candidates obtain licensure in Elementary Education - grades K-6 with the opportunity to earn added endorsements in Bilingual or ESL Education.
The university pays each partner and affiliate school $50.00 per Elementary PTEP and Secondary PTEP candidate placed in early field and advanced field placements; monies are spent at the discretion of the school administrator. This amounts to approximately $9,000 per academic year. Cooperating teachers are directly paid a stipend of $100.00 for supervising each student teacher for a semester. A total of approximately $11,500.00 is paid to cooperating teachers in District Six each academic year for a total distribution of $20,500.00 in funding. In addition, teachers receive one-half credit toward recertification from the Colorado Department of Education for each student teacher the cooperating teachers supervise and may receive two university course credits at the reduced rate of $50.00 per credit.
We have recently begun sending students who will be completing a Literacy Practicum and Student Teaching in District Six to a two-day workshop on the district’s adopted literacy program. In addition, UNC elementary faculty and field supervisors recently attended the overview of that Literacy Program provided by Literacy Coordinator.
Talks are underway regarding two research studies linked to the District 6 Literacy Program. One involves the apparent reduction of the referrals for special education evaluation at the elementary level and the apparent increase in referrals of minorities to the Gifted and Talented Program in the District. The superintendent has approved the exploration of these potential research projects and plans are underway to begin planning for the studies.