Bringing experience, research, and practice together (with a chance for you to participate!)

Katie Caprino, a doctoral candidate at UNC, is bringing together her previous experience as a high school English teacher with her personal and professional interests in educational research to help improve practice within the English Language Arts classroom, particularly within the writing curriculum.

Caprino knew as she entered graduate school that she wanted to contribute to the research about teachers’ writing practices. She was especially interested in whether the fact that a teacher writes impacts his or her classroom practices, and if it does, how. Through an independent study with her advisor, Dr. Cheryl Bolick, she also incorporated the idea of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK) (Mishra & Koehler, 2006) in the English classroom. This path has led her to her most recent research study which will ask the following questions:

  1. What are the writing practices of secondary English teachers who are active digital writers?
  2. What doeswriting (digital and otherwise) pedagogy look like in the classrooms of teachers who are digital writers?
  3. What factors move teachers toward critical literacy in their own writing and in their classroom practices?

Here is how you can help:

Caprino is in the recruitment period of her study and would love more participants. If you are a middle or high school English teacher, in need of CEUs, and would like to contribute to research in your field, this is your chance. Teachers will register for a online six-week online course about critical literacy and digital writing . The course will be offered during this fall semester through a LEARN NC and is worth 2 CEUs. In this six-week study group, teachers will read and discuss literature and examples of digitally written texts that take a critical stance.  As their final study group project, teachers will design a mentor text – their own digitally written text that takes a critical stance – that they will share with their own students and present to their students as a course assignment.

Based on observations and data collected during the course, Caprino will conduct teacher interviews and classroom observations as well as analyze digital writing (blogs, Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, etc.). Caprino hopes this research will contribute to the field of English education and will encourage teacher educators, school leaders, and teachers themselves to facilitate teachers engaging in their own writing and composing for change while encouraging their students to do the same.

Email Katie Caprino to learn more and to sign up!


An Interactive Tool for Developing Global Competence in Teaching

This week, I am proud to introduce a guest writer for The Well. Hillary Parkhouse is a fourth year doctoral student in the Culture, Curriculum, and Change strand within UNC’s School of Education. She, along with two other doctoral students, Ariel Tichnor-Wagner and Jessie Montana Cain have created an interactive tool to help clarify Globally Competent Teaching. She recently wrote about the process and the tool for the site Global Teacher Education and has graciously agreed to share the information for teachers here.


Several years after outlining the concept of culturally relevant teaching, Gloria Ladson-Billings published a piece called “Yes, But how do we do it? Practicing Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.”  As teacher educators,  the three other researchers on my team and I heard our students ask similar questions with regards to globally competent teaching. Although both concepts refer more to approaches to education, rather than specific sets of technical strategies, we knew that teachers needed clarification of terms – such as global awarenessand global competence – in teacher and student standards. We created an interactive tool called The Globally Competent Teaching Continuum (GCTC) to provide such clarification through definitions, resources, and models of what globally competent teaching looks like.


We designed the GCTC as a self-reflection tool for professional growth for both teachers and teacher educators. It outlines 12 elements of globally competent teaching across three domains (dispositions, knowledge, and skills), and defines 5 levels for each element (nascent, beginning, progressing, proficient, and advanced). While the GCTC may appear to look like a linear progression, we emphasize that developing global competence is a nonlinear and lifelong learning process as the world and our understanding of it continue to change. Our research team of three PhD students and one professor at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill, all former teachers and current teacher educators, developed and refined the GCTC for over a year.  We spent an additional six months creating a web-based interactive tool and resource repository, which launched on July 25. The project was funded by the Longview Foundation, and completed in partnership with World View and LEARN NC. We used a systematic literature review to identify global competence elements and guide initial continuum development. In the second phase, over 100 practicing K-12 teachers and global competence experts reviewed and modified the GCTC. In the third phase, we further adjusted the GCTC after a series of validation analyses and further expert review. This yielded the final version, which is now available online for free. The web-based tool includes embedded links to videos of teachers demonstrating globally competent instruction for each element, along with accompanying lesson plans, resources, professional development opportunities, and readings. The website introduction provides an overview of who should use the GCTC and how to navigate the web-based tool. Both teachers and teacher educators can use the continuum to better understand the components of globally competent teaching (such as perspective consciousness, a commitment to global equity, knowledge of global conditions and local-global interconnectedness), and the skills to create a globally-engaged classroom environment that values diversity and lessons that integrate global learning experiences with content standards. They can read each level for a particular element, clicking the embedded links for teaching demos and sample lessons, to self-reflect on which level best describes them and gain ideas for how to advance. Teacher educators can guide their students through the self-reflection process, and use the site to generate conversations about next steps. They can also use the GCTC to plan teacher preparation programs, courses, and activities to develop globally competent teachers.


One of the most rewarding components of the project for our research team has been learning more about what globally competent teaching actually looks like and how teachers develop these capacities. To create the video demos and compile relevant resources, we selected ten teachers (our “Global Consultants”) from across North Carolina who had demonstrated the dispositions, knowledge, and skills that we identified through the literature review. Because we aimed for representation of all grade levels and subject areas, we were able to record science, math, and even music lessons that incorporated global awareness. Almost all of the literature we read documented social studies, world languages, and sometimes English Language Arts classes, so seeing how teachers were globalizing other subjects was remarkably illuminating. Our math consultant, for example, has a website called Global Math Stories, where teachers can submit lessons that present math problems in global contexts – such as calculating population growth in booming urban areas like Chittagong, Bangladesh. One of the science teachers asked students to take on the perspectives of people in other countries when evaluating costs and benefits of various forms of energy. The music teacher had his students learn to play Latin American folk music and to take on the perspective of a Venezuelan composer to understand his response to current issues in Venezuela.

We were also surprised by the multiple pathways various teachers take in their journeys to develop global competence. Some had not traveled internationally prior to teaching. Some had extensive experiences living or teaching abroad; others never left the country. Some teachers were asked to serve as global education leaders at their schools, which led them to pursue opportunities to expand their knowledge. Several others felt an obligation to become globally competent to connect with their ESL students. Another did so to connect with her many students who lived internationally on military bases. What the teachers did share, however, was a deeply held belief that global competence is a lifelong process, and a passion to continue pushing themselves and their colleagues to prioritize it in their teaching. We, as the project coordinators, were delighted to hear that they found participating in the project “rejuvenating” and “reinvigorating,” and we hope that other teachers are offered opportunities to share their expertise and feel professionally affirmed – whether it be in global competence or other areas. We hope that the GCTC will facilitate teacher educators’ abilities to prepare themselves and their students for meeting the increasingly complex demands of our ever-changing world.

– See more at:

A Link Between Teacher Contracts and Teacher-Quality Gaps?

Teacher contracts have recently received much attention nationally. After recent federal civil rights data showed that black students are four times as likely as their white peers to be assigned less-experienced teachers, teacher contracts are being linked with teacher-quality gaps. These results have prompted the United States Department of Education to create a “50 state strategy” to tackle the inequitable distribution of quality teachers.

An Education Week article by Stephen Sawchuk published in April 2014 entitled Are Contracts to Blame for Teacher-Quality Gaps? examines recent studies focusing on the relationship between teacher contracts and teacher quality, including a study by UNC Chapel Hill education professor, Lora Cohen Vogel. Sawchuk concludes that there are no simple solutions for the gap in teacher quality between schools serving large concentrations of minority students and those educating primarily white students. Here is what he found in his review of the literature:

  • Teacher seniority seems to play a role in teacher-quality gaps in high-minority elementary schools within large districts.
  • Different researchers interpret results differently, making conclusions more difficult to define and compare.
  • Researchers agree that an empirical examination of teacher contracts is overdue, particularly now that teachers’ union, tenure, and other seniority protections are under attack. For example, Koski and Horng (2007) found that there was no pattern linking contract language and teacher distribution with nearly two years’ experience across high- and low-minority schools, yet Moe and Anzia argue that when you reevaluate the data using different criteria there is a link between contract language and teacher distribution.
  • All of the research reviewed for this article views experience as a gauge for teacher quality because there is a large amount of empirical evidence that teachers grow more effective during their first few years within the profession.
  • Cohen Vogel’s research shows that current research does not suggest that eliminating seniority rules will help meet the goal of getting high-quality teachers into struggling schools.

The article also shared some of the gaps that exist within the present research. For example, the article suggests the possibility of using teacher transfer rates as a quality indicator to better understand the relationship between contracts and teacher effectiveness. The article also cautions against overanalyzing data when creating new policies. Cohen Vogel is working towards closing these research gaps by preparing a study that will examine the relationship between contracts and where the most effective teachers are located. While there is much to be done in this area of educational research, researchers are working together to find ways to reduce inequitable education.

Free Courses for Teachers


Two UNC School of Education doctoral students, Hillary Parkhouse and Ariel Tichnor-Wagner, are offering online courses through LEARN NC to help teachers become more globally competent. Teachers are trying to find more ways to connect their classrooms and their students to the ever-growing, ever-changing world, as well as facing the reality that one in five students in the US are immigrants. Parkhouse and Tichnor-Wagner are offering a free online series of workshops in two-parts: Preparing to Teach for Global Competence and Globally Competent Teaching in Action. Below are the course descriptions and a link to find out more information.

Preparing to Teach for Global Competence: (July 30- August 26)

This course focuses on developing the dispositions and knowledge that characterize globally competent teachers. Specifically, teachers will learn how to interact with a self-reflection tool (The Globally Competent Teaching Continuum) to advance in the following areas:

  • Empathy and valuing multiple perspectives
  • Commitment to promoting equity worldwide
  • Understanding the way the world is interconnected
  • Understanding global world conditions and current events
  • Understanding intercultural communication
  • Experiential understanding of multiple cultures

For more information or to enroll in the course, please contact Tichnor-Wagner at

 Globally Competent Teaching in Action: (September 3- September 30)

This course will assist teachers in enhancing their abilities to develop students’ global competence through the use of The Globally Competent Teaching Continuum. The course will focus on the following skills:

  • creating a classroom environment that values diversity and global engagement
  • integrating learning experiences for students that promote content-aligned investigations of the world
  • facilitating intercultural and international conversations that promote active listening, critical thinking, and perspective recognition
  • developing local, national, and international partnerships that provide real world contexts for global learning opportunities
  • developing and using appropriate methods of inquiry to assess students’ global competence development.

For more information or to enroll in the course, please contact Hillary Parkhouse at


“Every complicated problem has a simple solution. And it is usually wrong.”

Gary Flowers

A few weeks ago, The Well focused on the then-upcoming 20th National Health Equity Research Webcast, a collaborative event supported by multiple schools across the University. We also promoted the preliminary viewing of the documentary NC School to Prison Pipeline hosted by the UNC School of Education. These events took place on June 2 and 3, 2014 and as a follow-up, here is the link to watch the webcast, as along with a few takeaway points from the three panelists: Dr. Anthony A. Peguero, Attorney Melina Angelos Healey, and Attorney Gary Flowers.

  • The school-to-prison pipeline is difficult to define, but the panelists agreed that it consists of school-based policies that work as mechanisms to push some students out of schools and into the criminal justice department.
  • According to Peguero, the factors contributing to the school-to-prison pipeline are:
    • School location
    • Socio-economic status
    • Social status (meaning your identity and individual characteristics such as athlete, academically gifted, class clown, etc.)
    • Family structure
    • Gender identity and expression
    • Sexual orientation
    • Race and ethnicity
    • Immigration Status
    • Religion
    • Special Education status

Other panelists agreed with Peguero that these were contributing factors.

  • Schools reflect the community and the community reflects society. These systems do not work in isolation and therefore should not be viewed as completely separate entities.
  • Zero Tolerance does not mean Zero Discretion. The way in which zero tolerance policies have been implemented and enforced have not been without racial undertones.

Becoming Mindful

Mindful meditation has been discovered to foster the ability to inhibit those very quick emotional impulses.
Alan Pardee

Dr. Karen Bluth and Dr. Rebecca Campo, with the help of graduate students and volunteers, have spent the past semester working with students at a public alternative high school. The goal of their study was to implement mindfulness and to increase students’ self-compassion and social wellbeing. Mindfulness is the awareness that comes through purposefully paying attention, within the present moment, allowing oneself to fully experience each moment. “The practice of mindfulness meditation typically consists of initially directing attention to a specific focus, such as the breath, a sensation, a feeling, or other attentional anchor” (Meiklejohn, Phillips et al. 2012). With training, students create a pattern in which they are able to direct their attention back to this anchor when they are in need of clarity and/or stability of attention. With time and practice this can lead to reduced reactivity in the body’s physiological stress response.

Bluth and Campo’s are analyzing data at this time, however preliminary look like there will be an increase in social connectedness and a decreased the level of stress of students. While they were initially skeptical, students have become receptive to the mindfulness training over time. The high school students within this study deal with many difficult life circumstances and the hope is that by learning to implement mindfulness in their day to day lives, they will have self-compassion, take care of themselves, and make choices that will help them to live happy and healthy lives.

The Study:

Half of the students within the school participated in mindfulness training and the other students were enrolled in a substance abuse course.  By chance, Dr. Bluth found that students viewed the classroom as a stressful place when the class decided to utilized a small portion of the school gymnasium for the training instead of classroom in order to gain more space.  Here, the students became more receptive to the training and felt that they could rest. She modeled her lessons after the Learning to BREATHE curriculum that was created to fit within the health curriculum.  Qualitative data and teacher and student surveys will soon be collected to add to the existing data. Bluth and Campo are encouraged by the initial results and the researchers hope to expand their study in the near future.


C.A.R.E: Cultivating Awareness and Resilience in Education – This site offers information, professional development, and examples of how teachers are practicing and implementing Mindfulness.

Meiklejohn, J., et al. (2012). “Integrating Mindfulness Training into K-12 Education: Fostering the Resilience of Teachers and Students.” Mindfulness 3(4): 291- 307.

Program on Integrative Medicine website– teachers can sign-up to take a course this summer to learn more about mindfulness.


eaeb762d-bbaa-44e5-82a8-ecafd145f313Karen Bluth, Ph.D, has been practicing mindfulness for over 35 years and has attended numerous retreats at Insight Meditation Society, Southern Dharma Retreat Center, among others. Dr. Bluth received her mindfulness instructor training at the Center for Mindfulness at University of Massachusetts Medical School, and completed her doctoral training in 2012. Dr. Bluth’s research focuses on improving adolescent and family well-being through mindfulness interventions, and is particularly interested in how mindfulness practice can help adolescents navigate what can be a challenging developmental period.  In addition to her mindfulness training, Dr. Bluth is a former educator with 18 years classroom teaching experience with children and adolescents.

Rebecca Campo, Ph.D, completed her doctoral degree in Social-Health Psychology at the University of Utah and was a Research Associate in the Cancer Control and Population Sciences Program at Huntsman Cancer Institute until 2013. Her overall research interests include examination and understanding of the role that supportive relationships and mind-body interventions have in promoting resilience in cancer survivors and other chronically distressed populations. She is currently implementing (with Dr. Karen Bluth) a school-based mindfulness intervention for students enrolled in an alternative high school.

The Possible Unintended Consequences of Two-Way Immersion Education Programs

The secret in education lies in respecting the student. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Last month, UNC School of Education Assistant Professor Claudia G. Cervantes-Soon published an article entitled A Critical Look at Dual Language Immersion in the New Latin@ Diaspora in Bilingual Research Journal. Cervantes-Soon’s article surveys educational research literature to uncover how the popularity of dual language programs, referred to here as two-way immersion (TWI) education programs, may be impacting the equity of Latin@ children despite the well-intended efforts.

TWI programs “aim to support the English development and native-language maintenance of language minority students while simultaneously offering English-speaking children the opportunity to acquire a foreign language in the same classroom” (Cervantes-Soon, 2014, 64). This literature review examines whether these TWI programs are quality alternatives to English as a Second Language classrooms or if instead, these programs commodify Latin@ students as linguistic resources, focusing primarily on the second language acquisition of the English-speaking students.

Cervantes-Soon looked at national data, as well as focusing on the state of North Carolina, as the rapidly growing Latin@ population within the state that has placed it among one of the fastest growing nationally. Thomas and Collier (2012) recently cited North Carolina’s TWI programs as being astoundingly effective.

Here are some key points to take away:

  • All TWI education programs need to focus on critical consciousness and social justice; otherwise, there is the potential for disempowerment of Latin@ students.
  • TWI programs must look beyond language acquisition in order to teach students to use language to address global concerns, such as promoting peace, reducing poverty, and defending human rights (Cervantes-Soon, 2014).
  • TWI programs should focus on biculturalism more than bilingualism as a way to build goals beyond bilingualism.
  • Cervantes-Soon calls for more research in the area of identifying ways “to tap into new Latin@ communities to establish locally grown, bilingual/bicultural teacher pipelines” (2012, p. 79).

Cervantes-Soon, C. G. (2014). A Critical Look at Dual Language Immersion in the New Latin@ Diaspora. Bilingual Research Journal37(1), 64-82.

About the Researcher:Unknown


Cervantes-Soon’s teaching and research interests revolve around pedagogical practices that address the needs and concerns of culturally and linguistically diverse learners in U.S. schools and subaltern young women in the borderlands. Her research interests include bilingual and ESL education, minority issues in education, teacher development, critical pedagogy, Latina/Chicana feminisms, and language education policy.

National Health Equity Research Webcast


On June 3, 2014 from 1:30-4:30, the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill will host the 20th National Health Equity Research Webcast. This full audience webcast, hosted on UNC’s campus, is an annual interactive, live-streamed symposium that explores the intersection of health, policy, and diversity through expert panel discussions with a question-and-answer segment. This webcast is an interdisciplinary and community effort with representatives from the UNC School of Social Work, Gillings School of Global Public Health, Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute, UNC Student Wellness, UNC American Indian Center, and the UNC School of Education.

The topic for this year is the School to Prison Pipeline and will feature three twenty minute presentations by nationally renowned speakers: Anthony A. Peguero, assistant professor of Sociology  and research affiliate of the Center for Peace Studies and Violence Prevention at Virginia Tech; Thalia González, assistant professor of Politics at Occidental College; Gary Flowers, CEO of Gary Flowers and Associates; and moderated by Christopher Hill, director of the Education and Law Project at the North Carolina Justice Center. The presentations will be followed by an hour and a half question-and-answer session with the studio and remote audiences.

As a preliminary event, the UNC School of Education will host a screening of the short documentary NC School to Prison Pipeline on June 2, 2014 from 3:00-5:00. The documentary addresses the impact of stringent suspensions and incarceration on the youth of North Carolina and town hall meeting. The School of Education’s Dean Bill McDiarmid will make opening remarks. After the screening, a town hall meeting moderated by Shamika Rhinehart will allow the audience to discuss the School to Prison Pipeline within North Carolina.

Both events are free, but registration is required. The webcast will be archived through the Office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs website for those unable to attend or stream the event live.

Dean McDiarmid’s Op Ed Sparks Conversation

Bill McDiarmid, Dean and Alumni Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, has always been an active Dean. On March 17, 2014, Real Clear Education published his op ed, “Is the ‘Common School’ Ideal Doomed in North Carolina? Within three days, Diane Ravitch posted the op ed on Daine Ravitch’s blog: A site to discuss better education for all; within three weeks, it was a frequent topic of conversation at the American Education Research Association Conference. Many members of the UNC School of Education community hope that both the Dean’s activism and his op ed continue to be the center of conversations.

Here are a few highlights from the piece:

  • Many of the recent legislative budget cuts funnel state funds into the private sector. For example, budget cuts eliminating the Teaching Fellows program, Master’s pay for teachers, and 3,000 instructional aides, as well as reduction of textbooks and materials funds, redirect those funds to private entities through programs such as vouchers and Teach for America. Dr. McDiarmid refers to this January article on how some charter schools are contracting with for-profit companies.
  • The legislature is sending the message that our schools are broken. McDiarmid argues that prior to these recent policy changes, North Carolina was making great progress. The high school graduation rate was at an all time high, there was job security in teaching, and the state’s lowest achieving schools were improving. Our state was making incremental and continuous progress, yet the legislature does not trust the schools to continue this progress.
  • Of 2.350 respondents surveyed by researchers at UNC-Wilmington, 94% stated that they feel that NC public education is heading in the wrong direction. Questions about specific policy changes revealed that 85% of respondents were not in favor of vouchers for students to attend private schools, 96% percent disagree with cutting the salary incentive for teachers to pursue master’s degrees, and 75 percent disagree with eliminating tenure.
  • Early public school advocates believed that in order to maintain a democracy, all citizens must be equitably educated together in “common schools” regardless of race, gender, or economic status. Recent policy changes do not address this priority. North Carolina remains a segregated state in many ways, primarily residentially, and this negatively impacts our public schools’ ability to serve all children equitably.

This op ed is a great example of how to extend your voice, use data to make your point, and get a lot of information to the public concisely. At LEARN NC, we are proud to be part of a school where the Dean is so committed to activism and social justice.


A North Carolina native and UNC Chapel Hill alumnus, Bill McDiarmid previously served as the Boeing Professor of Teacher Education at the University of Washington, Seattle. At UW, he led the Carnegie-funded “Teachers for a New Era” project, a national initiative to use evidence, such as performance assessments of preservice teachers, to improve teacher education. He also helped create the Teaching/Learning Partnership program to prepare mid-career changers to teach mathematics and science in Seattle’s high-need middle schools.

Earlier in his career, McDiarmid served on the faculties of the University of Alaska-Anchorage, the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and Michigan State University, taught high school history in Athens, Greece, and was a Title I teacher in a remote Alaska Native village. At Michigan State, he served as co-director of the National Center for Research on Teacher Learning. In Anchorage, he directed the Institute for Social and Economic Research. He was a visiting professor at Hebei Normal University in Shijiazhuang, China, in 2007.

His research has focused on teacher learning, particularly the preparation of teachers to work with diverse learners, and teacher education programs. He has received an Outstanding Research Award from the American Educational Research Association.

Bill McDiarmid earned an B.A. degree with Highest Honors in American Studies from Carolina in 1969. In 1984, he earned an Ed.D. degree in Administration, Planning and Social Policy from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education.


Flipping Classrooms

In 2007, science teachers Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams at Woodland Park High School in Woodland Park, CO found themselves frustrated by the amount of content students were missing due to absences. After discovering software that would record PowerPoint presentations, they created the pedagogical model of the Flipped Classroom. Soon, they were using the model with all their students, freeing up class time for students to engage deeply with the concepts being taught.

What is this concept of a flipped classroom?

The flipped classroom is a pedagogical model where typical lecture and homework routines are reversed. Teachers using this model work to reverse traditional classroom routines through employing technology to record direct instruction for students to watch at their own pace and on their time. When students come into class, they are already familiar with the content. Classroom time is used for concept-engaging activities, concept mastery, and collaborative work. In this model, the classroom teacher takes a more facilitative role and serves less as an expert transferring knowledge.


What does research say about this model?

UNC School of Pharmacy Assistant Professor, Jacqui McLaughlin, spoke at the UNC School of Education on Wednesday March 18, 2014. She shared her extensive research on flipped classrooms at the postgraduate level within the School of Pharmacy. She has found that this model of teaching can be effective and that students value the efficiency of learning, quality of content, and meaningful class time engagement. Here is her advice for effective flipping:

  • Quality professional development is needed before teachers can begin this model.
  • The model must be driven by the pedagogy and the content, not the technology.
  • Remember that technology is not a one-size-fits-all intervention.
  • This must be a collaborative enterprise between teacher, students, and technology.
  • Informal, formal, summative, and formative assessments are critical. Teachers must employ routine assessments in order to ensure that students understand the content.

Resources for Flipping Classrooms

  • Flipped Learning Network This network defines flipped learning and provides many explanatory and example videos, research, resources, conference information, and support. This is a great place to start learning about this model.
  • Flipped High School Clintondale High School is a completely flipped high school in Clinton Township, MI. This is their school site with explanations and examples of flipped classrooms.
  • 21 Things for Teachers This page details many media for teachers to use for the out-of-classroom, content-delivery portion of the model.