We at CERCLL had something to celebrate this September 11: Dr. Brenda Dann-Messier, Assistant Secretary for Vocational and Adult Education and Acting Assistant Secretary of Education, and Dr. Sharon Lee Miller, Director of the Division of Academic and Technical Education, came to a roundtable held in their honor at The University of Arizona on the southwest leg of the U.S. Department of Education’s Back-to-School Bus Tour. The event began with Drs. Béatrice Dupuy and Linda Waugh providing an overview of CERCLL, explaining the purpose of the roundtable, and recognizing key guests including the University of Arizona’s Deans of Humanities and Education, leaders of the two National Resource Centers on campus, and other department and program Heads.
Dr. Dann-Messier served as the moderator of the roundtable and asked participants to introduce themselves and their work in the CERCLL projects. Then Dr. Kathy Short talked about how CERCLL’s Global Cultures project has been successfully implemented in many K-8 schools, expanded to produce additional materials for pre-school and elementary aged children, and also shared lessons learned. Next Dr. Jonathon Reinhardt explained about his two CERCLL projects: 1) Games To Teach: Developing Digital Game-Mediated Foreign Language Literacies and 2) a project sponsored by a National Science Foundation Cyberlearning Grant titled Partnerships in Indigenous Knowledge and Digital Literacies, which will include a symposium on game-based learning with invited participants from Native American communities that will be held this November in Tucson.
After these overviews, Dr. Dann-Messier asked the international consultants who work with Dr. Short’s project and take the culture kits into K-8 schools to share their experiences using these materials as they interact with students, teachers, and parents. It was exciting to hear about how kids eagerly ask the international consultants questions and enjoy learning about their cultures while also interacting with the cultural artefacts and colorful books in the toolkits. One of the consultants working with the Arabic materials noted that many of the students using the kits had gone on later to take language courses.
Dr. Dann-Messier concluded the ceremonies and thanked everybody for their hard work and dedication to these educational projects; she added that one of the reasons for this event was to help make connections between relevant parties, and she is helping to connect people with similar interests. Several members of CERCLL’s core team attended a conference in Washington D.C. last week and were approached by others within the U.S. Department of Education who had heard about our activities because of the roundtable. In short, it was a successful visit as those in attendance got to hear inside perspectives about the two exciting educational projects at CERCLL, ideas were shared, and connections were made.