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Inclusive Play Training in the Classroom

Playing with dolls and stuffed bears is more than just kiddie fun! Students in Dr. Coleman’s Physical and Health Impairments class (SPED 459), learned that lifting and transferring children can lead to serious injury if not performed with proper techniques.

Children with mobility impairments actively attain academic skills and social membership when they can share the same spaces and places as all children in the classroom, but many of them need assistance transferring from their wheelchairs to other locations in the classroom setting.

Special Education teachers often experience injuries from improper lifting and transferring maneuvers.  Dr. Coleman invited Physical Therapist and Director of Power of Play ( Pete Cappell, to teach future Special Education teachers proper techniques using dolls and bears.

Cultural Competency Training Contract Approved by Knox County Schools

The College of Education, Health and Human Sciences realizes the disproportions occurring in academic achievement and discipline in Knox County Schools.  This realization is a necessary step to eliminating systemic challenges in the achievement gap and implicit bias which occurs.

Two of our faculty, Chonika Coleman-King and Jud Laughter of the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education, are well aware of these issues. In response, they have developed a multi-year plan to address the various categories of diversity, implicit bias, identity, culturally relevant pedagogy and family engagement. This plan will breach up to five years to assist with sustainability efforts.  The commitment and proximity of these faculty will allow for collaboration with local administrators to assess and hone their services over the course of the project to ensure the plans effectiveness.  The first stage will include a series of workshops for all Knox County employees.  During the second stage, Cultural Competence Learning Committees will be formed to develop Sustainability Plans and will include a schedule of support for these employees as they work with their schools in planning professional development opportunities.

On Monday, December 11th, the University of Tennessee’s contract for Cultural Competency training was approved and passed unanimously.  Training will begin in 2018.


Camille Mason presents her work at the Tennessee Reading Association Conference

Camille Mason, a senior Art major with an Elementary Education minor,  presented her work at the Tennessee Reading Association conference in Murfreesboro, TN on December 10th. The presentation was focused on promoting literacy through interdisciplinary text sets. Camille shared how she successfully integrated various texts about oceans with an emergent bilingual student. Camille was accompanied to the conference by her Reading Education professors Dr. Anne McGill-Franzen and Dr. Natalia Ward.

Mehmet Aydeniz

The State of STEM Education and Future Directions in STEM Education for Turkey: An Economical Perspective

Dr. Mehmet Aydeniz was featured on the highest circulated newspaper Hurriyet and several other media outlets in Turkey for his technical report, “The State of STEM education and Future Directions in STEM Education for Turkey: An Economical Perspective” dated November 21, 2017. The news highlighted the 10 major reform recommendations suggested by Dr. Aydeniz.

The report first takes a critical perspective on global economic developments by highlighting recent trends in several sectors, ranging from Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, cybersecurity, to green technologies. The report further discusses the importance of equipping the next generation of citizens with such skills as problem solving, design thinking, leadership, creativity and entrepreneurship demanded by these emerging economy and for solving grand challenges of global society such as clean energy, environmental pollution, biodiversity, poverty and human health.

After providing an extensive review of current trends in 21st century economy through economic and labor indicators, Dr. Aydeniz problematizes the state of Turkish STEM education by analyzing performance of Turkish students on the international and national exams such as Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) and YGS (a university entrance selection exam in Turkey). He further explores and discusses the causes of Turkish students’ under performance in STEM on the national and international performance tests. Most notable he finds that students’ reading skills, quality of instruction, access to early childhood education and access to resources after school play important role in Turkish students’ under performance on the national and international science and mathematics tests.

In the final chapter of the report,  Dr. Aydeniz makes recommendations ranging from reforming STEM curriculum, investing in teacher quality, providing differentiated and enriched instruction to the gifted students and addressing the achievement gap between different student groups.  The 140-page report was forwarded by Nobel Laureate Professor Aziz Sancar of UNC Chapel Hill.

Dr. Aydeniz is an associate professor of Science Education in Theory and Practice in Teacher Education in the College of Education, Health and Human Sciences at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Tennessee Art Education Association’s Higher Education Student Achievement Award

Heather Eades is recipient of the Tennessee Art Education Association’s Higher Education Student Achievement Award.

Heather is pursuing a Master of Science in Teacher Education (Art Education concentration).  As a graduate student, Heather has excelled in her studies, demonstrated excellence in her coursework, and shown a strong commitment to the field of art education.  She contributes meaningfully to class discussions and activities, and goes above and beyond in assignments.  As part of a summer graduate course, she developed and implemented curricula for students at Inskip Elementary School, a Knoxville city school that partners with UT.  During this experience, Heather demonstrated a passion for working with students. The art curriculum she designed was innovative, as it encouraged students to develop empathy with the natural world.

She is vice-president of the University of Tennessee’s student chapter of the National Art Education Association.

Heather is completing her student internship at West Valley Middle School in Knoxville, TN.

Congratulations Heather on receiving this prestigious award!

Tennessee Art Education Association’s First Year Art Educator of the Year

Ericka Ryba is the recipient of the 2017 Tennessee Art Education Association’s First Year Art Educator of the Year Award.

Ericka  graduated from the University of Tennessee with a Master of Science in Teacher Education (Art Education concentration) in 2016.

Erica is a first year art educator at Coulter Grove Intermediate School in Maryville, TN.  Ericka demonstrates a strong passion for teaching and practicing art. In her classroom, Ericka utilizes choice-based curriculum to promote student agency and purposeful meaning-making in her  students’ art.  Additionally, she arranged the first ever Coulter Grove ArtFest, featuring student artwork and student-led craft stations. One of her student’s designed a t-shirt that was awarded the top selection to be used for the Dogwoods Art Festival T-Shirt.

Ericka has been active in promoting visual art and art education in the community.  She teaches community art classes at Mighty Mud, a ceramics studio in Maryville and at the Knoxville Fine Arts and Craft Center.  This year, she served as a juror for the Rhythm & Blooms Guitar Design Contest, was a donor for the Artitude Art Auction, participated in the Cattywampus Puppet Council Parade, and was an installation volunteer for the Tennessee Valley Fair Student Art Competition and Dogwood Arts Student Art competition.

Congratulations Ericka on this prestigious award!


Art Education Intern Exhibit

Art Education Intern Exhibit and Reception

 The 2017 -18 Art Education interns held a reception for their Annual Art Exhibition on Thursday, November 30, 2017. Their work will continue to be on display at the Cookie Aytes Elliott Art Education Gallery, 105 Jane and David Bailey Education Complex, 1126 Volunteer Blvd, Monday-Thursday from 9:00 am-4:00 pm through February 1, 2018.  




“Young People’s Engagement with Literature: What Does it Look Like?


  • What? Drs. Groenke and Botzakis presented “Young People’s Engagement with Literature: What Does it Look Like?


  • When? University of Tennessee MicNite on November 15, 2017


  • Where? Relix Theater, Central Avenue, Knoxville


  • Why? MicNite is a twice-annual evening for faculty and staff, based on the Japanese concept, Pecha-Kucha. Pecha-Kucha is a simple lecture in which presenters show and discuss 20 images for 20 seconds each.
Joshua Kenna

Dr. Joshua Kenna Awarded an Improving Teacher Quality Grant from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission

Who: Dr. Joshua Kenna (PI) & Dr. Derek Alderman (co-PI from Geography Department)

What: Awarded an Improving Teacher Quality Grant from the Tennessee Higher Education Commission (a federally funded program) titled, “Leveraging Disciplined Inquiry to Support Reading, Writing, and Thinking in History and Geography.”

When & Where: A total of 20 high school social studies teachers from Anderson, Grainger, Jefferson, Knox, Loudon, Roane, and Union school districts will have an opportunity to participate in a professional development workshop funded by the grant. The workshop will take place at the East Tennessee Historical Society during the summer of 2018.

Why: The goal is to improve teachers’ history and geography content knowledge and help them integrate critical thinking skills and key social studies practices into their instruction, such as analyzing primary/secondary sources, constructing and communicating arguments, and citing evidence from sources.


2017 Teacher Education Division of Council of Exceptional Children Annual Conference

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TPTE Faculty and Alumni Participate in the 2017 Teacher Education Division of Council of Exceptional Children Annual Conference in Savannah, GA

  • Who?  TPTE faculty, alumnae and colleagues MariBeth Coleman, associate professor and Tara Moore, assistant professor, both in Special Education; Anthony Pellegrino, assistant professor in Social Science Education with George Mason colleague Peggy Weiss; Sherry Mee Bell, professor of Special Education and department head with current doctoral student, Jamie Smith and recent PhD graduate and UT Office of Information Technology staff Eric Moore; Melissa Martin, recent PhD graduate in her second year as assistant professor of State University of New York, Plattsburgh
  • What? Faculty and current and former students and colleague presented on such topics as co-teaching, assistive technology, universal design for learning, and reading assessment.
  • When?  November 7-10, 2017
  • Where?  Savannah, Georgia, Marriott Riverfront
  • Why?  Faculty and student participated in the 40th annual TED/CEC conference to share their research and to learn about a range of practices and policies affixing K-12 special education and preparation of special education teachers.

Fourth Annual TPTE Recognition Ceremony

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On October 10, 2017, the Department of Theory and Practice in Teacher Education (TPTE) at the University of Tennessee held its fourth annual Recognition Ceremony in downtown Knoxville. The Recognition Ceremony was held in conjunction with the David T. Bailey Graduate School of Education’s Billie Grace Goodrich Lecture by Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund. We honored two outstanding alumni, Ellen Watson James (year of graduation) and Melissa McKown (year of graduation); three outstanding collaborators, Shannon Jackson (Knox County Schools) and Melissa Massie (Knox County Schools); and three outstanding community advocates for education, Katie Cyphers, Dr. Gene Overholt and Mrs. Lyn Overholt. TPTE recognized two outstanding faculty: Dr. Lynn Hodge (Collaboration with the Field Award) and Dr. Stewart Waters (Scholarship Award) and one outstanding doctoral student, Robin Schell (Literacy Studies/English as a Second Language).

STEM Family Night


Dr. Lynn Hodge, Dr. Ashley Walther, Michael Lawson, Shande King, and Bearden Middle School staff and students.


Family Night in the Community! Featuring food for the families, family math and literacy games from UTK, and the Bearden Middle School Step Team.


October 26, 2017 5:30-7:30


Community Center in Mechanicsville, Knoxville, TN


The purpose of this event was to build bridges through food, fun, fellowship, and servanthood with the families who can’t always attend school-based events by meeting them in their community. CEEMS and TPTE faculty and graduate students supported this event to provide resources and activities about STEM and literacy related topics for students and families.

2017 B.O.S.S. for Educators (Big Orange STEM Saturday)

What: 2017 B.O.S.S. for Educators (Big Orange STEM Saturday)

When: October 7, 2017

Where: Hodges Library


Sponsored By: UTK Libraries, The Center for Enhancing Education in Mathematics and Sciences (CEEMS), The East Tennessee STEM Hub, and the Tennessee STEM Innovation Network (TSIN)

Team Members: Thura Mack (chair), Ingrid Ruffin (co-chair), Michelle Brannen, Alexa Carter, Kristina Clement, Dr. Lynn Hodge, Val Hodge, Ann Ramsey, Megan Venable, & Dr. Ashley Walther



Keynote Speaker: Dr. Christopher Lavan, Director of Experience Learning, University of TN (Topic: The Power of Experiential Learning for Today’s Students)

Breakout Sessions & Titles:

  • Dr. Clara Lee Brown, English Learns & STEM: STEM for All? Where Should We Begin?
  • Gale Stanley & Michael Lawson, Exploring Resources for K-12 Teachers to Engage Students in STEM Learning
  • Ask a Scientist, Communicating Science: Do’s and Don’ts
  • Patricia Stinger-Barnes, Creating Access to Scientific Inquiry: Everyday Ideas and Materials
  • Dr. Jeff Beard & Dr. Blanche O’Bannon, Using Mobile Technology in the Classroom

Participants: 33 educators from the East TN region (teachers, administrators, librarians) attended the conference. 14 districts were represented from the following areas: Anderson County, Blount County, Campbell County, Claiborne County, Jefferson County, Knox County, Lenoir City, Loudon County, Monroe County, Oak Ridge City, Polk County, Roane County, Sevier County, and Union County.


Why: Big Orange STEM Saturday for educators (EduBOSS) is a free professional development opportunity for education professionals in East Tennessee. Educators from across the region gathered to learn and discuss STEM education. This year’s theme: STEM4ALL: Equity & Access for K-12 STEM Education.

East Tennessee STEM Hub Regional Meeting & Open House


On Friday, October 20, the East TN STEM Hub hosted its first regional meeting and open house since management passed to The Center for Enhancing Education in Mathematics and Sciences (CEEMS) at the University of Tennessee. The Hub is a regional partnership and collaborative effort designed to promote and support high quality STEM education in the East Tennessee region. The regional meeting and open house served as a networking and introductory meeting. Fourteen STEM-focused organizations were represented as exhibitors during the event. Teachers, administrators, and higher education faculty attended the event. Special exhibits included: STEM & Literacy and STEM Education Resources. Additionally, attendees had the opportunity to discuss STEM professional development and community needs, and the ways in which STEM intersects their organization.

Anthony Pellegrino

Funding Secured By Dr. Anthony Pellegrino for TPTE Social Science Ed Program

  • Who? The Social Science Education faculty of TPTE have secured funding for a UTK/Knox County Schools partnership project from the Teaching with Primary Sources Program of the U.S. Library of Congress.
  • What? The purpose of the project is to better prepare our teacher candidates for their internships through a combination of clinically-rich pre-internship coursework and mentor/intern professional development training to support methods for teaching with primary sources.
  • When? Planning for the project begins in fall 2017. The first pre-internship methods course will         begin in spring 2018, and professional development for mentors and interns will begin in summer 2018.
  • Where? The clinical experiences and professional development will take place with Knox County middle and high school social studies teachers.
  • Why? The purpose of the project is twofold. First, our candidates will gain clinical experience and deeper understanding of teaching practices through the pre-internship methods course. Second, our school-based mentors and interns will have the opportunity to work together prior to internship to build relationships and discuss high leverage practices for social studies prior to the beginning of the internship year. We hope that doing so will help mentors see the vision of our Social Science Education program and be better positioned to support our candidates in their internships.

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