Friday, December 19, 2014

UM-Dearborn CEHHS Integrated Science Education Faculty Member Chris Burke And His Students Highlighted In Detroit Public Schools Briefing

CEHHS students work directly within local schools to gain invaluable experience creating science curriculum for classrooms. This week, University of Michigan-Dearborn Faculty Member, Chris Burke and his Early Childhood Education Students Studying Integrated Science were mentioned in the Detroit Public School's weekly "Featured School" post. 

University of Michigan - Dearborn Students mentioned at 02:10

“Extreme” Community Ties

“The ties are extreme with the community when it comes to Neinas,” Principal Russell says. “Our community support is phenomenal.”
DTE Energy recently provided winter warmth through the contribution of winter coats for students, and families can depend on weekly food donations from Forgotten Harvest. Help is literally just around the corner with community partners like Courage Church and E&L Supermercado, the local grocery store whose building and parking lots wrap partially around the school campus just over the fence from the school garden.

Additionally, the Southeast Michigan Stewardship Coalition, and the University of Michigan-Dearborn are among the partners in the science curriculum.
The university has a wide range of connections to the school, with one University of Michigan-Dearborn professor even holding weekly summer college classes and developing project-based activities at Neinas. Projects include movable garden beds and mini-irrigation systems that will eventually be used on the rooftop garden.

Even when the university partners are not on site for one of their repeat visits, the young students have perpetual reminders gearing them to higher educational aspirations. The desks in second grade teacher Deidre Davis’ classroom – where a student-led, math lesson was being delivered in Spanish and English, are each named for a state university.
In writing, fourth grade students receive regular visits from reporters and editors at Bloomberg News to work on writing projects. Students gain exposure to jobs within the newsroom while building a rapport with those professionals. This experience ends with a culminating annual trip to the service’s high-tech Southfield newsroom.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Robin Morris-Wilson, Author Of Children’s Book "Mama Got Rhythm and Daddy Got Rhyme", Pursues Degree In Education At UM-Dearborn

Part of our mission here at the College of Education, Health and Human Services (CEHHS), is to highlight the great work of students. Robin Morris-Wilson is a current student in our Elementary Education Program. You can view her recently published book, Mama Got Rhythm and Daddy Got Rhyme, HERE. 

1. What degree are you pursuing at UM-Dearborn and why? 

"Currently, I am majoring in elementary education with a concentration in reading and minor in integrated science. I have a passion for literacy and for helping children and families become better readers."

2. As a published children's author, what is your perspective on reading and early childhood education? 

"I firmly believe that reading is an integral part of early childhood education. It is especially important to talk to children and use variations of words in describing things around them. This is one way to aid in their language learning and support the development of early reading skills."

3. Tell us a little bit about your book, Mama Got Rhythm and Daddy Got Rhyme and why it is important for children to read books like this? 

"I have always loved jazz music--it was among the rich music that filled my household growing up. Mama Got Rhythm and Daddy Got Rhyme is a children's book that takes the reader on a journey into the lives and times of some of the jazz artists and musicians that made modern R&B possible. Jasmine, the main character, learns about jazz when her parents take her to a jazz museum in New York City. I wrote the story because it is important for people, especially young people, to understand the connection between jazz and rhythm & blues. So often people listen to modern music but they do not have the slightest idea of where the music comes from."

I think children's books like Mama Got Rhythm and Daddy Got Rhyme are important
because they both educate and entertain the reader. Once, a young girl told me that she heard of Billy Holiday but did not know that Holiday was a women until reading my book. That meant a lot to me because she learned something from reading my book.

Also, I think the characters in my book are a departure from stereotypes that sometimes exist in multicultural children's literature. I have found that children appreciate the characters in my book and can relate to them regardless of their background.

In 2015, Mama Got Rhythm and Daddy Got Rhyme will be published in French and Spanish. I believe this will further broaden my books reach and translate into more children learning about jazz music."

4. What are your plans after graduating with a degree from UM-Dearborn's College of Education, Health and Human Services? 

"I plan to attend graduate school to pursue a masters and doctorate degree in reading. I plan to become a reading specialist to support literacy learning for children in under-served communities. Additionally, I want to consult for school districts and nonprofit organizations on developing research-based and culturally relevant literacy curriculum and programs to benefit under-served youth."

5. Any other notes or comments you would want our audience to know about you and your work? 

"Next year, I hope to travel abroad to schools in Spanish and French speaking countries to promote the release of the second edition of Mama Got Rhythm and Daddy Got Rhyme. I would love to travel to the Dominican Republic and Paris, France.

In 2013, my new children's manuscript Jazz-A-Bet: An Original Jazz Alphabet won second place in the poetry category of the University of Michigan-Dearborn Writing Awards. I hope to find a publisher for my newest children's manuscript in the upcoming year. In the meantime, I will continue to write and perform my poetry and fiction writing for local and national audiences."

Monday, December 8, 2014

Weathering The Storms: CEHHS Prof Sampson Works To Address Climate Change In Detroit

How does a city grappling with how to thrive in the present day begin to think about what it will look like 50 years down the road?
That was a question the Detroiters Working for Environmental Justice (DWEJ) wanted answered when it assembled the Detroit Climate Action Collaborative (DCAC) in 2011, a largely volunteer initiative to bring government, industry, academia, and the community together to address the effects of climate change on the city.
“Understandably, a lot of people don’t have the time and the resources to be thinking about climate change, but, as a society, I don’t think we have a choice in the matter,” said Natalie Sampson, University of Michigan-Dearborn assistant professor of health and human services. “It’s exciting to see [DWEJ Policy Director] Kimberly Hill Knot and the environmental justice community pick up this topic and run with it.”
Sampson sits on the DCAC steering committee and chairs the public health work group. She hopes to get decision-makers to think about how public health and climate change are connected. With climate change, southeast Michigan will likely experience increased temperatures and more heavy precipitation events. This has implications for health—think of how heat waves can trigger respiratory issues or how flooded basements can expose people to waterborne diseases.
“The core mission of public health fits in with getting ready for these events,” she said. “If we have these extreme weather events, what does that mean for some of the city’s most vulnerable residents? If we’re behind on this issue, we’re going to further amplify disparities.”
DCAC has led focus groups and community outreach activities to make sure their work reflects the needs, resources, and knowledge of Detroiters and the DCAC’s partners. Across the city, many related community development and environmental initiatives have been underway for years.
To address climate change, Sampson said, “We have to think about how we can put systems in place to support citywide efforts, as well as the good work that is already happening in Detroit’s neighborhoods.”
The DCAC is working on a climate action plan that will begin to address those needs in ways that reflect existing research. The plan—similar to plans developed in more than 600 cities nationwide—will document the city’s current greenhouse gas emissions levels and detail strategies on how to mitigate and adapt to climate change.
DCAC published initial accomplishments in the Michigan Journal of Sustainability and will release the climate action plan this spring. The group also plans to continue to work with its many partners and Detroit residents to raise awareness of climate change and its impact on the city.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Young Authors Festival 2014 A Success!

Many thanks to the Mardigian Library for putting on such a wonderful Young Authors Festival this past November, 22nd, 2014! Featured below is Evan and Olivia meeting Toni Buzzeo, the author of "One Cool Friend".

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

CEHHS Professor Dara Hill's Detroit Work Featured in TIME Magazine

Inside Detroit’s Plan to Woo Middle-Class Parents to Its Public Schools

Dara Hill diligently scribbled notes as the principal of Detroit’s Nichols Elementary-Middle School led her and several of her neighbors on a tour of the school. A room for special education students was brimming with stuffed animals, but the hallways were sparsely decorated. Work displayed in the kindergarten classroom was charming and developmentally appropriate. But why were there six students sitting to the side during gym class?
Hill has two more years before she has to pick a school for her four-year-old daughter, but she and her husband are starting their search now because she is overwhelmed by the number of options in Detroit, and underwhelmed by the quality of many of them. To help with the decision, Hill joined The Best Classroom Project, a Facebook group formed to help parents navigate Detroit’s large and under-resourced school system. Since beginning in 2013, the group has grown to more than 250 parents, a mostly middle and upper-middle class mix of life-long residents and recent transplants. Several of them care about sending their children to public schools. And they are precisely the type of people Detroit school officials need to court as the city claws its way back from bankruptcy.
Such numbers make it tough to convince parents like Hill, a professor of education at the University of Michigan-Dearborn, to commit to the city’s public schools. A statewide school choice system allows students in Detroit to attend any school in the district or pick from dozens of charter schools, but it also lets them apply to suburban schools. And many families with the means choose to bypass the system entirely and send their children to area private schools.Thirteen years ago, Detroit’s school system had 200,000 students. Today, it has less than 50,000. It’s saddled with a $127 million deficit and its students perform well below the rest of
the state. In the 2013-14 school year, for instance, just 14.6% of Detroit third-graders and 7% of city 11th-graders passed the state math test, according to Michigan education data. And graduation rates also lag. Sixty-five percent of students graduated from Detroit public schools in four years in 2012-13. The state average is 77%.
Keeping middle class families in the Detroit school system is particularly important because there are only so many of them. About 38% of Detroit households earn more than $35,000 compared to 56% of households across America, according to 2012 American Community Survey figures published by the Census Bureau. For the city to grow its tax base, the schools need to improve. But to significantly improve, the school system needs more students – and the money that comes with them.
“We recognize we’re a central anchor to the city,” says Roderick Brown, the district’s chief strategy officer and the man charged with finding ways to convince more families to pick the public school system. “Our success is tied to the success of the city.”
The War Room
Hill should be an easy mark for the school district. The daughter of German and Jamaican immigrants, she graduated from Detroit Public Schools in the 1980s and fondly remembers a time when black and white students would walk together to the Detroit Public Library after middle school. She met her husband in high school and stayed in the city after graduating, teaching first in the city and then in a nearby suburb.
She watched as Detroit continued a decline that began in the 1960s. And the city’s decades of struggle have been intertwined with those of the school system. Detroit Public Schools was first placed under state control in 1999 and then again in 2009 as test scores continued to falter. The district’s enrollment has fallen to 49,800 students as families moved or opted for charters that promised — but didn’t always deliver — better results. Nearly 40,000 students in the city now attend charter schools. Detroit Public Schools has shuttered more than 80 schools and the state has taken over 15 of the lowest performers in the past 5 years.
On top of that, in May, the district missed the deadline for applying for about $4 million in federal Head Start money because oftechnical problems. Officials said they would find money elsewhere to offer preschool to all students this school year, not just low-income ones, but to Hill, the incident is indicative of larger administrative problems. “There are things going on that are really good at many of the school levels, but as a district, it’s like, ‘Oh get it together,’” she said. “It just makes you wonder.”
The process of reassuring her begins in a conference room in the school system’s downtown headquarters that has been turned into a campaign-style war room. A translated quote from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” hangs on one wall, next to a poster titled., “THE QUESTION: How shall DPS compete and win the marketplace?” The answer: “Empowered DPS employee’s operating via synchronized, lean agile and leveraged work efforts.”
The business jargon is evidence of Brown’s time at General Motors, where he was a manager of strategic facilities planning at the nation’s largest automaker. He’s brought more than the lingo with him to DPS. Brown thinks in terms of markets and supply chains, and argues that along with improving academics, Detroit Public Schools also must improve the overall customer experience for students and parents. That’s why district officials invited Target to train school office workers in customer service. Among the tricks: smile when answering the phone to sound friendlier. “We didn’t do the best job of serving our existing customer base,” Brown says.
The effort to change that started in 2009, when then-Emergency Manager Robert Bobb launched an “I’m in” campaign encouraging families to enroll in Detroit Public Schools. Since then, improvements such as universal pre-kindergarten and increased test scores, have been advertised with flyers, open houses and old-fashioned door-knocking.
“You can’t win this on the defensive,” says Steve Wasko, the district’s assistant superintendent for community relations. “The only way to survive and thrive is to be on the offensive.”
The first step was trying to ensure basics like making schools safe. District officials gathered community volunteers to walk with children to school and are working with the city’s lighting authority to get broken streetlights near schools replaced before all of the other busted ones in town. And they designated 20 schools as community hubs, to be open 12 hours a day as resource-centers for parents.
The district has also launched new academic programs, including the three-year-old Benjamin Carson High School of Medicine and Technology, named for the retired Johns Hopkins neurosurgeon who attended Detroit public schools. Many students there said they returned to the district from charter schools because they were attracted by Carson’s small size and focus on science. Yet even Carson has struggled. In the spring, in the school’s first year of state testing, only 9% of 11th-graders passed the state math test and just 1% passed the science exam. They fared better in reading and writing, with about 40% considered proficient.
Similarly, music or art is now taught at every elementary school, but many schools can’t afford to offer both.
But there has been progress. Last fall, enrollment barely dipped after a more than a decade in which it dropped by about 10% every year. Daily attendance is up to 86%, which is meaningful for a system that in 2011 had to return more than $4 million in state funding for having an average daily attendance rate below 75%. And some schools have begun to make gains on state tests that outpace the rate of improvement in the rest of the state.
Uphill Battle
Three weeks before Hill and her peers observed classes at Nichols, a group of volunteers with the nonprofit group Excellent Schools Detroit wandered around two pre-kindergarten classrooms at Bow Elementary School in a heavily blighted neighborhood in the Northwest of the city. In one room, a handful of children gathered around an iPad, while another group paraded through the classroom playing tambourines and wooden blocks. The volunteers made careful notes as the lights flickered. The day before, the power had gone out entirely. (Some schools in Detroit lost as many as 13 days of school last year because of power outages caused by the city’s outdated electrical grid.)
Bow, where 86% of students receive free or discounted lunch, is emblematic of the obstacles DPS faces as it attempts to shed its poor reputation. The school was one of 29 to receive a D this year in the influential rankings published by Excellent Schools Detroit. Only one K-8 Detroit Public School got an A.
For parents in the neighborhood, with few resources to get their children to schools miles away or little knowledge of how to navigate the school-choice process, the only other option is a similarly low-performing K-8 charter school across the street, which Bow’s former principal, Ernestine Woodward says has been drawing away students for years. Last summer staff from Bow knocked on every door in the neighborhood trying to get families back.
The school is doing the best it can with the resources it has, says Woodward, who retired at the end of last year. There’s not nearly enough money for the technology she would have liked, nor for social workers and other services to meet the needs of her students. But they do have afterschool and arts programs and make an effort to get parents into the school whenever possible.
Yet with a reputation for poor performance, it’s a school that Hill would never consider. And Nichols is out of the running, too, even though it should have been a good option. Nichols typically performs at or slightly above average on state tests. And it’s a five-minute walk from Hill’s home in Indian Village, one of the few neighborhoods that look untouched by Detroit’s downturn. But Hill found the class sizes were too large, and she didn’t like that the English curriculum required teachers to follow a script. She’s now leaning toward sending her daughter to a private school, underscoring how difficult it will be for Brown and DPS to convince parents like her.
“Can the public schools really appeal to us?” she says. “I don’t know that they have the resources or the ability to do that right now.”
This story was produced by the Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education-news outlet affiliated with Teachers College, Columbia University.