Our faculty and students work in and learn from schools and communities to address today’s complex public challenges in K-12 education, public policy, and more. Combining the expertise of our faculty, our communities, and our students we integrate research, teaching, and outreach.
Our commitment to social justice and educational transformation is interwoven into our partnerships in local schools and communities. These partnerships are concentrated place-based educational research and development in three initial Colorado communities: Lafayette in Boulder Valley, near northeast (NNE) Denver, and Northeast Colorado.
By locating our research, professional development, teacher preparation, community engagement and policy work in these communities and more, we look for synergies and concentrate our engagement work to help facilitate the university's goal to impact humanity.
2020-21 Place-based Partnership Projects
Culturally Sustaining and Critical Civic Engagement with Latinx Youth
Charla Agnoletti and Enrique Lopez
Our objective is to merge two autonomous programs affliated with CU Engage, the Center for Community-based Learning and Research—Aquetza and Public Achievement (PA)—to create robust programming and scholarship that leverages the strengths of both programs. Our programming will incorporate Latinx cultural practices and historical identities as tools to address school and community based social justice issues, which we refer to as culturally sustaining civic engagement. In addition, we will expand programming for CU undergraduates and Lafayette high school youth across a calendar year. Aquetza is a 10-day summer program at CU Boulder for primarily Chicano/a high school youth across Colorado. PA is an undergraduate program that guides critical civic engagement with youth in Boulder Valley School District. We will work directly with Centaurus High School youth in Lafayette through the PA program who will serve as co-members in our project. Our interdisciplinary team, led by Dr. Enrique Lopez and Charla Agnoletti, M.Ed., brings together experts in education, Chicana/o Studies (Dr. Enrique Sepulveda), and youth-led civic engagement (Dr. Ben Kirshner). In concert with our program, our team will produce an ethnographic case study that documents the development of agency among youth participants. Our project advances our broader mission of strengthening CU Engage’s outreach efforts by creating a research-practice site where CU affiliates (faculty, staff, students) and community members can observe culturally sustaining civic engagement “in action” and receive training on incorporating similar programming in their projects or classes.
Partnerships with Rural Districts for Post-Pandemic Planning
Valerie Otero, Angela Bielefeldt, Bret Miles, and Jason Westfall
In the Partnerships with Rural Districts for Post-Pandemic Planning project, CU Boulder faculty and staff from the Physics through Evidence, Empowerment through Reasoning (PEER Physics) project and from the Engineering Plus program are partnering with teachers, coaches, and administrators from the Northeast, East Central and Centennial Boards of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) to generate knowledge and relevant practices that address the unique needs of the BOCES and inform the development and revision of the PEER Physics Suite. We plan to meet the immediate needs of teachers of science in rural Colorado through remote professional development, classroom tools and resources for teaching state of the art physics, and to build a regional cohort of science teachers for ongoing support. These high school science teachers are using the PEER Physics curriculum and participating in remote professional development where we are modeling remote instructional strategies and sharing remote learning resources that have been effective for our veteran PEER Physics teachers. We ultimately seek to build models for physics and engineering teacher preparation and development, which will prepare in-service and prospective teachers to act quickly in crises such as COVID-19, including more substantive remote science instruction and online physics-specific teacher preparation modules.
SCENIC: Science-Engineering Inquiry Collaborative In Rural Colorado
Joseph Polman, Daniel Knight, and Michael Hannigan
The Science-Engineering Inquiry Collaborative in Rural Colorado (SCENIC) project involves faculty and students from CU Boulder’s College of Engineering and Applied Science and School of Education with teachers and students in multiple districts in rural Colorado, including the Northeast Boards of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) area, Delta County, and Mesa County. SCENIC is a research-practice partnership focused on engaging youth in rural schools mentored by engineering students from CU Boulder in scientific inquiries with the help of cutting-edge environmental monitoring tools. The initiative supports the learning and developmental needs of rural K-12 students as well as CU students. The initiative provides rural K-12 schools access to engineers and environmental monitoring equipment they could not otherwise access. The initiative also provides CU Boulder engineering students an opportunity to engage in meaningful educational outreach work, and improve their own communication practices, which will be valuable in their future professional careers. The project also fulfills a research need—namely, to surface and better understand how interdisciplinary project-based learning involving high school youth supported by university students can serve rural high school sites in culturally responsive and sustaining ways. The project will support research and development on the learning and identity development of participating students at the middle, high school, and university levels, as well as research on the research-partnership practices and routines.
2019-20 Place-based Partnership Projects
Developing Critical Consciousness through Dialogue with our Neighbors: Uni Hill and SOE Partnership for Equity
Deb Palmer, Andrea Dyrness & Krishna Pattisapu
University Hill Elementary is a Title I school, part of Boulder Valley School District, serving 70% Latinx students/families, situated directly across Broadway from the Education building. They are currently undergoing significant changes to their model for instruction in their DLBE program. Together with faculty, parents, and children, SOE faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students of color, are working to understand what kinds of spaces support the development of critical consciousness and equity - and we are working to address needs articulated by the school’s principal and counselor and build connection at this diverse elementary school that is, quite literally, our neighbor in Boulder.
Accountability and Assessments in Small Rural School Districts
Terri Wilson, Ben Shear & Kendra Anderson
Partnering with Bilingual Educators to Improve Writing Instruction and Outcomes for Low-Income, Latinx English Learners
Mileidis Gort, Molly Hamm-Rodríguez, Laura Hamman-Ortíz & Vanessa Santiago Schwarz
Building School-University Partnerships to Support Humanizing, Place-Based, and Community-Based Elementary Teacher Preparation
Jamy Stillman & Melissa Braaten
2018-19 Place-based Partnerships Seed Grant Projects
This year's place-based seed grant projects plant the seeds of sustainable partnerships across Colorado communities.
Partnering to Improve Denver Public Schools’ Talent Management Team
Allison Atteberry and Mimi Engel