Professor Al Otaiba’s Podcast with Learning Disability Quarterly

Learning Disability Quarterly (LDQ) publishes high-quality research and scholarship concerning children, youth, and IMG_0050adults with learning disabilities. Consistent with that purpose, the journal seeks to publish articles with the potential to impact and improve educational outcomes, opportunities, and services.

Special Series: Reading Part One of Two | August 2014

Dr. Stephanie Al Otaiba speaks to the promise and ongoing challenges related to Response to Intervention (RTI) as a means of both prevention and identification of reading disabilities. Click here to listen to the interview.

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Summer 2015 Study Abroad Opportunity in Germany


Escape to Germany next summer!


- Impress future employers by adding internship in Germany to your resume – Immerse yourself in any level German at the famous Bauhaus University – Live in the historic university town of Weimar – Learn how to teach English as a 2nd language – Explore Europe on your own after the program ends – Earn 7/8 credits + fulfill several proficiencies – Apply early, internship numbers are limited! – ALL MAJORS WELCOME, NO PREREQUISITES REQUIRED!!!   5 WEEK INTERNSHIP +7/8 CREDITS MAY 18-JUNE 19, 2015 For more information, email or refer to SMU’s Study Abroad website.

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Teacher of the Year

We are so proud of one of our graduate students, Jorge Rivera. This spring it was announced that Mr. Rivera is being honored Jorge Riveraas Teacher of the Year at Lee A. McShan Elementary School! Mr. Rivera will be graduating next week with a Master of Bilingual Education. He graciously agreed to answer a few questions so that we can learn more about him, his teaching experience, and his learning experience at SMU Simmons.

1. How long have you taught at McShan Elementary?

I have been at Lee A. McShan Elementary School since November 2011. Before McShan, I worked at two other elementary schools in 4 different grade levels (Kinder, first, second, and third grade) in three years. It was a difficult situation that I had to deal with due to a Dallas ISD leveling policy.

2. What challenges do you face as a teacher?

The main challenge that I have to face is unmotivated students. Students are unmotivated because of low self-efficacy (they don’t believe in their own abilities to reach a goal) and self-esteem (they have a negative evaluation of themselves). Another major challenge that I face with my 5th grade students is their lack of sufficient background knowledge because they don’t like to read.

3. What made you decide to pursue study at SMU?

In the fall of 2008, I started working as a bilingual teacher for the Dallas Independent School District (Dallas ISD). I knew very little about English Language learners, as this was the first time I had worked with this population of students. I noticed within a few days that if I wanted my students to receive effective instruction and succeed academically, I needed to identify and cater to their diverse characteristics and needs. During my first two years as a DISD teacher, I attended as many professional development opportunities as were available. However, it became very clear to me that traditional professional staff development was not going to suffice my needs to become an effective teacher. Thus, I decided to apply for the Master of Bilingual Education (MBE) degree program at SMU.

4. How has your SMU education served you in your teaching position?

All the courses I have taken and professors I have met at SMU have made a tremendous impact on my teaching philosophy. I am now an avid consumer of educational research. Consequently, my teaching began to improve since I was accepted into the MBE program and the principal and administrators invited me to participate in the Campus Instructional Leadership Team (CILT) at my school. I have been asked several times to facilitate staff development opportunities for my colleagues and to help tutor struggling learners in other grades.

5. Why do you think you were awarded Teacher of the Year?

I think I was selected to serve as Teacher of the Year at my school because my students have become leaders at our campus. They have experienced a true paradigm shift. For the last two years, my students have achieved the highest scores (96.4% and 97%) in the State of Texas Assessment of Academic Readiness (STAAR) reading test. My “scholars” are also very involved in other programs at our schools, such as our “Safety Patrol”. They are role models and younger students look up to them.

6. What are your future plans?

I would like to pursue a doctorate degree at SMU.

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National Academy of Education Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow Award

SMU, Faculty, School of Education, Assistant Professor

Dr. Candace Walkington

Candace Walkington has recently been selected as one of only 20 recipients nationwide of the prestigious National Academy of Education Spencer Postdoctoral Fellow Award. This award is funded by the Spencer Foundation and recognizes rising scholars whose work in educational research addresses topics in critical areas by applying creative ideas and innovative approaches. With this achievement, Candace will receive a $55,000 research stipend and will participate in a series of three academic retreats with other Postdoctoral Fellows during the fall and spring semesters of 2014-2015. Her project will implement an intervention where students generate personalized connections between concepts they are learning in algebra and their out-of-school interests in topics like sports, video games, and social networking. Students will author their own “algebra stories” where they describe how linear relationships can approximate things they encounter in their everyday lives. She will look at the impact of the intervention on students’ classroom discussions and on learning of and interest in algebra.

Please join our community in congratulating Candace on this honor, which reflects her strong record of research and scholarly contributions!

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Elect Her – SMU Women Win

Come learn the skills needed to run a campaign and win on campus elections.  Women make up 14 out of the 37 posted members of the Student Senate.  Women make up about half of the student body, yet are completely underreprestend on our campus.  Please let your voice be heard!




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August 2014
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