As classes in the Dallas Independent School District conclude June 18, a new school in West Dallas gets ready to start. The Pre-K to 8 STEM School breaks ground virtually to celebrate its opening in mid-August.
In this video, the convener is Principal Marion Jackson, who highlights what students and their families can expect. The first group of students to study at the school will be seventh and eighth-graders.
The West Dallas STEM School, a Dallas ISD Transformation and Innovation School, is the result of more than three years of collaboration between the District, the Toyota USA Foundation, SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development, and the West Dallas community.
Several Simmons researchers and their co-investigators at other universities were recognized for their STEM projects by the 2021 STEM For All Video Showcase, funded by National Science Foundation.
Associate Professor Annie Wilhelm, Beth Adams, STEM evaluation researcher, Tiffini Pruitt Britton, math education researcher (co-principal investigators), and their team received a Presenter’sChoice award for their video, Supporting Equitable Participation and Access. Led by Principal Investigator Jonee Wilson, assistant professor at North Carolina State, the video shows that aiming for equity involves identifying and outlining specific practices that support and empower students who have historically been underserved specifically in mathematics classrooms. This video also was noted for being one of the projects that registered the most discussion.
Associate Professor Candace Walker and her team received a Facilitators’ Choice award for their video, Stories of Algebra for the Workplace. The project examines how practitioners in STEM and STEM-related careers use algebra to do their jobs and then uses this information to build classroom activities for students enrolled in algebra courses. The team includes Simmons Ph.D. students Brooke Istas, Jonathan Hunnuicut, and Min Wang, and fellow researchers from UNC-Chapel Hill, Worcester Polytechnic University, and Texas A&M created
The 2021 National Science Foundation (NSF) STEM for All Video Showcase is an annual online event. Each year, it hosts between 100-200 three-minute video presentations from federally funded projects that aim to improve STEM (Science, Math, Engineering, and Mathematics) and computer science education. During the seven days of this online event, Principal Investigators, practitioners, administrators, researchers, policymakers, industry, and the public at large are encouraged to participate.
DALLAS (SMU) May, 4, 2021 – In West Dallas a new Pre K-8 STEM school is set to open this August beginning with students in the 7th and 8th grades. The West Dallas STEM School, a Dallas Independent School District Transformation and Innovation School, is the result of more than three years of collaboration between the District, the Toyota USA Foundation, SMU’s Simmons School of Education and Human Development and the West Dallas community.
“We strongly believe that all children should have equal access to opportunities and a pathway to great careers,” said Sean Suggs, director, Toyota USA Foundation and group vice president, Toyota Social Innovation. “Together with the community, we have worked on everything from building design, teacher development, curriculum and before and after school care. This extends also to addressing broader community needs, including access to transportation.”
To support the school as it opens and its new Master Principal Marion Jackson, the Toyota USA Foundation approved an additional grant of $3 million to SMU, adding to the $2 million grant the foundation awarded in September 2018. This is in addition to Toyota’s teacher and community grants, West Dallas scholarship and mentorship programs, and the recently launched transportation circulator in the area.
“We know that there many related issues – from access to healthy food to before and after school care – that all tie into academic success. This is something we need to collectively address, and we encourage additional partners to come alongside the effort,” added Suggs.
To further support the school, business leader Carter Creech, an SMU alumnus with a passion for education philanthropy, has pledged an additional $3.5 million, following his initial gift of $1.5 million to the project. Creech’s contribution will go toward a new middle school career and college readiness pilot program at the school, as well as efforts to replicate the West Dallas STEM school.
“As we move from planning to implementation, we have deepened our commitment to the school, to the model, and to each other,” said Simmons School Dean Stephanie Knight. “SMU is grateful for this unique partnership, and thanks both the Toyota Foundation USA and Carter Creech for continued investment in our community’s children – the problem solvers of the future.”
The West Dallas STEM School Program at Pinkston
The West Dallas STEM School Program at Pinkston is a neighborhood school that will begin by serving the 7th and 8th grade. PreK – 1st grade is scheduled to begin enrollment in 2023.
The school brings together four integral components to create an innovative PK – 8 school model:
A project-based, industry-informed STEM curriculum
Professional development for educators
“Wraparound” services delivered directly to the students by community nonprofit organizations to help with issues such as literacy, nutrition, transportation and after-school care
Evaluation and measurement to support a model of continuous improvement
“This is an opportunity of a lifetime for the students and community of West Dallas,” principal Jackson said. “This partnership has afforded us the space to realize what’s possible when we focus our collective efforts on changing how we meet the needs of our students and families. We are committed to equipping our students to succeed in an evolving global society.”
SMU’s Simmons School is providing faculty expertise to develop project-based learning, which means that students will learn by working in groups to solve open-ended problems using design, engineering, math, science and technology. The approach prepares students to take on new challenges as they occur – and to understand how to build new knowledge on existing concepts. The Simmons School will provide professional development for teachers, and Simmons researchers will monitor and evaluate the program as it evolves, developing a model to create other STEM-focused schools.
Partnering with the West Dallas Community
Since the onset, the West Dallas community has been engaged in the creation of the school, advising on everything from design to input on services offered at the school.
Parents, such as José Alas, who sits on the school’s advisory council, have been engaged from the beginning. “This school really will help bridge the gap in opportunities when it comes to education,” he says. “Every child has the potential to do great things if we can provide them what they need, and I think the school is going to do just that. We always juggle where to send our children and now we are going to have one of the best schools in our backyard.”
Organizations such as West Dallas One and the West Dallas Community Coalition also have been active in the partnership, participating in the school’s design teams and focus groups with residents. Additionally, six long-established West Dallas nonprofit groups have been working on plans to expand their services within the school to help students and their families gain quick access to resources they need.
Professor Richard Duschl, a leader in SMU’s Lyle School of Engineering known for his continuing contributions to science education through research, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Education (NAEd).
Duschl is the Executive Director of SMU Lyle’s Caruth Institute for Engineering Education and also has an appointment in SMU’s Simmons School of Education & Human Development in the Teaching and Learning Department.
“Induction into a National Academy representing your field of expertise is the pinnacle of achievement in one’s career,” Marc P. Christensen, dean of the Lyle School of Engineering, said. “When we recruited Prof. Duschl to lead the Caruth Institute for Engineering Education, we knew he was one of the most distinguished researchers in the field education. We are so pleased that he has been formally recognized in this way.”
Duschl has been President of NARST, the International Association for Science Education Research. He also served as director of the Division for Research on Learning at the National Science Foundation and chaired the U.S. Department of Education National Resource Center report, “Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8” (National Academies Press, 2007).
Before joining SMU in 2018, his past appointments included the Waterbury Chair at Penn State University, Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University, Chair of Science Education at King’s College London, Vanderbilt University, the University of Pittsburgh, Hunter College-CUNY and the University of Houston. Duschl taught high school earth science in Charles County, Md. and middle school science and math in East Lansing, Mich.
In 2014 Duschl was awarded the NARST Distinguished Career in Research Award. He served for 10 years as the editor of “Science Education,” an international journal of research and scholarship, and was editor of the Teachers College Press book series “Ways of Knowing in Science.”
Duschl is one of 22 people selected on March 11 to join the National Academy of Education.
Other new members include:
Megan Bang, Spencer Foundation/Northwestern University
Daryl Chubin, Independent Consultant and Founding Co-Director, Understanding Interventions
Colette Daiute, The City University of New York, Graduate Center
Kenneth Frank, Michigan State University
Jonathan Guryan, Northwestern University
Shaun Harper, University of Southern California
Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek, Temple University
Andrew Ho, Harvard University
Nancy Hornberger, University of Pennsylvania
Tyrone Howard, University of California, Los Angeles
Kent McGuire, Hewlett Foundation
Roberta Michnick Golinkoff, University of Delaware
Richard Milner IV, Vanderbilt University
The NAEd advances high-quality education research and its use in policy and practice. The Academy consists of U.S. members and international associates who are elected on the basis of outstanding scholarships related to education.
Robyn Pinilla, a Simmons doctoral student working in early mathematics, has been selected to join the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) 2021.
This program involves a commitment to action to address a specific challenge with a defined course of action and detailed objectives.
Pinilla will be working on a process to develop community-based STEM programming for young children, their families, and teachers in Dallas areas of need.
SMU provides funding to its selected students for getting their projects started and attending the annual CGI U meeting, which will be held at Howard University March 23-26. Graduation is in November.
“This exciting opportunity to work with the Clinton Foundation to collaborate with scholars and entrepreneurs from around the world reinforces the leadership and partnership ideals of SMU’s commitment to world-changing transformation,” she says.
Associate Professor Anne Garrison Wilhelm offers new possibilities to deal with math learning losses during the pandemic.
In an opinion piece published by InsideSources.com, she believes now is the time to redress traditional ways of engaging students in math.
“Even before COVID-19, our mathematics education system was not serving most kids,” she says. “Some just assumed they didn’t “get” math; others never really understood the mathematics they were taught in school, and this manifested when they had to enroll in college remedial math courses.”
For her ideas to create new strategies and make math a part of everyday life, read her piece here. Wilhelm teaches math education and conducts research in Simmons’ Department of Teaching and Learning.
Simmons Professor Leanne Ketterlin Geller and co-principal investigators at the Lyle School, Associate Professor Eric Larson, and Assistant Professor Corey Clark, talk about the impetus behind their $1.5 million National Science Foundation grant allowing them to develop a videogame to teach computational thinking. Computational thinking should begin in Pre-K and followed through Grade 12, but as Ketterlin Geller notes getting students engaged in math and science is difficult.
In a recent article featured in Lyle Now, they discuss how their inspiration to use a Minecraft-based game for teaching came from the literacy game Simmons, Guildhall, and Literacy for Texas collaborated on for the Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy X-Prize competition. The game won the grand prize, and Clark says, “We figured if educational gaming can help teach literacy concepts, why not use it to teach math, science and computational thinking by converting it into Minecraft?” Clark, also deputy director of research at SMU Guildhall, is an education gaming expert who constructed the X-Prize game.
Ketterlin Geller says the research team is speaking to local school districts about potential collaborations. “Having student and teacher voices in the ultimate design and dissemination of the project will help with its implementation, longevity, and sustainability.”
Their feedback is essential because the team is striving for key education outcomes such as engaging in gameplay; changes in students’ interest, attitudes, beliefs and self-efficacy in STEM+C; involvement in collaborative, open-ended solutions; and achievement in related computing and mathematics concepts. Research for this project began last fall and continues through 2022.
You are invited to attend a virtual community meeting to discuss plans for the new West Dallas STEM School at Pinkston. The meeting will be held at 5:30 p.m. on Monday, June 8, 2020, online at www.dallasisd.org/Bond2015Meetings. Dallas Independent School District representatives will be in attendance to make a presentation and answer questions about the project. Spanish translation will be available. Dallas ISD’s planning for the school has been done in partnership with Toyota USA Foundation, SMU Simmons, and the West Dallas Community.
Faculty members Leanne Ketterlin Geller, Ph.D. (Education Policy and Leadership), and Candace Walkington, Ph.D. (Teaching & Learning), created winning videos about their STEM research for a National Science Foundation showcase competition, May 5-12. A voting public selected the top videos.
Professor Ketterlin Geller and her team, Research in Mathematics Education, received the Public Choice award, and Associate Professor Candace Walkington and her co-researchers received the Facilitators’ Choice award.
Ketterlin Geller’s video “Developing STEM Access in Students K-2 through MMaRS” illustrates research on two early predictors of mathematics success in K-2 students: numerical relational reasoning and spatial reasoning. Researchers describe what underlies the project and an elementary school principal articulates the importance of an assessment to identify student thinking and guide teacher instruction. View video here:
Walkington’s presentation, “The Hidden Village: Mathematical Reasoning Through Movement,” looks at a motion capture Kinect video game for learning high school geometry that was initially developed through a collaboration between the Simmons School of Education and Human Development at SMU, the Guildhall at SMU, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison. The project was funded by The Institute of Educational Sciences in the U.S. Department of Education, in an award given to the University of Wisconsin. View video here: