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Rubio Praises Students In Collaborative Effort

Published: June 15, 2011

Teacher Education’s Olga Rubio enjoyed a double success recently when graduate students in the department’s dual language development master’s degree in curriculum and instruction joined her in dual scholarly presentations.

At the 32nd Annual Ethnography in Education Research Forum, Feb. 25-26 at the Center for Urban Ethnography at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education in Philadelphia, the students presented on “Immigration and Migration: Ethnography in Education in Dynamic Times and Spaces.”

They repeated their research in April before CSULB’s Teacher Education Department in a special presentation titled “Bilingualism in the Homes of Children in Dual Language Schools in Southern California: Implications for Hybridization in Biliteracy Development” with the support of Cecile Lindsay, vice provost of Academic Affairs Office, and Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, dean of the College of Education. More recently, Professor Linda Symcox, assistant director of the College of Education’s Educational Leadership Doctoral Program, invited the DLD teacher researchers to present their work to doctoral candidates on June 4.

Graduate students Andrea Crawford, Erika Garcia, Rachel Rockway, Young-Hee Lee and Esmeralda Rosas joined Rubio in her research. Their presentation included participant observation case studies, results from studies of bilingual families of children in dual language programs or settings and using a “continua of biliteracy development” ecological framework, a heuristic designed to study the traditionally less powerful language groups or endangered language speakers. Results from their case studies served as the foundation for recommendations for biliteracy practices based on home hybrid practices. Rubio’s recent work focuses on the methodology of teaching teacher researchers to study the socialization of biliteracy development in restrictive policy landscapes or in English-only states.

The students must enroll in four core requirements of which Rubio’s course, EDCI 532 on the socialization of language, is one. “I want my students to be able to develop instructional planning (bi) literacy materials for English learners and work that is theoretically driven from grounded research,” she explained.

Rubio introduces her students to participant observation methodology with a focus on preparing them to examine values and theories of learning to read in more than one language in the contexts of their family settings.

“The students were asked to identify and introduce two bilingual families of whatever language,” she explained. “They then interviewed these family members on audiotape. Students transcribe the taped materials and use their field notes taken during or immediately following the interview with the parents of English learners. It’s exciting to help prepare students for a global future. The challenge is not just to teach activities to educators. The challenge is for students to understand learning from a sociocultural perspective.”

When students collect data from bilingual families, they interpret and analyze the biliteracy practices in the homes. “What is the range of literacy in those families?” she asked. “The students learn how to incorporate these discourses into their instruction. It is a grounded way of making instruction for English learners richer and more significant.”

She applauded the students’ quick understanding. “They not only made a connection to theory but were able to develop practices that were based on their own research,” she said. The final product of the course was for the students to be able to develop a biliteracy instructional report.

Rubio Praises Students In Collaborative Effort
Pictured in the back row are (l-r) CSULB students Young Hee Lee, Rachel Rockway, Esmeralda Rosas, Andrea Crawford and Erika Garcia. In the front row seat are (l-r) University of Pennsylvania professor and 32nd Ethnography Forum Convenor Nancy Hornberger and CSULB Professor Olga Rubio.

“I haven’t seen anyone who has completed the program who hasn’t been proud and pleased with the final product,” she said. “This program is rare in that it focuses on a cultural and linguistic understanding of our changing population in California.”

In 2011, there are five graduated cohorts. “We think this is a highly successful program,” she said. “It’s successful because it helps to prepare our teachers in Southern California to understand English learners in various contexts. Our students leave the program with a deeper understanding of how they can study and interpret teaching practices. We give them the model to do that.”

Rubio feels one quality that distinguishes the dual language development master’s degree in curriculum and instruction from others, is its focus on helping classroom teachers become researchers of English Learners. The student teachers also met with Prof. Nancy Hornberger, the architect of the continua biliteracy ecological framework, and were able to ask questions about the methodology.

“This was significant because she congratulated them on their application of the heuristic. It was powerful for our graduates to communicate with scholars in the field and for them to hear that teacher research is important too. It’s also important to stress that the bilingual emphasis of this course isn’t just focused on English and Spanish. It applies to all bi (multi)lingual standard or dialect speaking groups,” she said. “There are African-American students interviewing African-American families about their use of the African-American vernacular. There are Korean-American students interviewing Korean-American families. Arab-Americans interview Arab-American families. There was an Argentine-American who interviewed an Argentine-German family.”

Rubio, who joined the university in 1997, is fluent in English and Spanish. She received her bachelor of science degree in elementary education in 1974 from Texas A&I University and her master of arts in bilingual-bicultural teacher training/English as a second language in 1977 from the University of Texas. Her Ph.D. in education, culture and society came in 1994 from the University of Pennsylvania.

Rubio believes one reason for her students’ success is the balance her class strikes between theory and practice.

“Today’s teachers need to be researchers,” she said. “I want our students to understand that teacher research matters and is imperative for those teachers in super-diverse urban communities like those in California. Classroom teachers must have a strong understanding of what they are doing that goes beyond scripted curricula used in schools today. It is a rigorous program.”