Multiculturalism and bilingualism in schools and society; teaching and learning in demographically-transitioning community and classroom contexts; US Mexico transnationalism and education; cultural studies of science education; engaged pedagogy
Before beginning my graduate studies, and drawing upon interests I developed in Spanish language and culture from living abroad in Costa Rica and Spain, I worked as a bilingual instructional aide in a second-grade classroom as well as in adult education settings serving the Mexican immigrant community in and around Sacramento, California. My postdoctoral work at the American Institutes for Research involved evaluating a statewide professional development institute for teachers of speakers of English as a second or additional language. This evaluation work brought me into California classrooms across all K-12 grade levels and subject areas to observe instruction intended to integrate content teaching with language development practices. From this experience, I developed a particular interest in science teachers’ understandings of culturally- and linguistically-responsive pedagogy.
As a faculty member at ISU, my early research agenda focused on the science education experiences of Mexican immigrant youth in demographically-transitioning communities. This research took me into the schools and homes of US-Mexican families in Iowa and Mexico. As a result, with funding from the Iowa Department of Education, I created the Iowa Administrators and Educators Immersion Experience in which three groups of Iowa superintendents, principals, English language development coordinators, and other education professionals traveled with me to Villachuato, Michoacan, Mexico to learn about the resources Mexican immigrant youth bring with them into their Iowa classrooms. Additionally, this project brought Mexican educators from Villachuato to Marshalltown, Iowa to understand the new life and learning experiences of immigrant families in that “sister city’s” community and schools.
I have published articles in scholarly outlets such as the Bilingual Research Journal, Cultural Studies of Science Education, the Journal of English for Academic Purposes, Linguistics and Education, and Multicultural Perspectives. I have chapters in several books on science learning and literacy, including my own co-edited volume The Work of Language in Multicultural Classrooms: Talking Science, Writing Science. I have served as an Associate Editor for the International Journal of Multicultural Education and on the leadership board of the Council of Anthropology and Education of the American Anthropological Association.
I currently teach undergraduate and graduate courses on Multicultural Education, Bilingualism, Bilingual Education, and US Mexican Youth, and Advanced Interpretive Inquiry Theory and Methods, as well as supervising the international student teaching experience in Cuenca, Ecuador. At ISU, I have acted as the Equity Adviser for the College of Human Sciences as well as, in my current capacity, the Director of the ISU 4U Promise, a university-school-community “promise program” partnership. The program began in 2012 to serve two elementary schools in urban Des Moines neighborhoods that are experiencing the additional challenge of rapid ethnic diversification. Lastly, I am working with teachers at Ames High School to partner with the civics education professional development organization Facing History and Ourselves to enhance education and teacher preparation for engaged democratic participation.
Ph.D., Sociocultural Studies of Education with designated emphases in critical and feminist theory, University of California, Davis, 2003.