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George Graham Lecture, VT-STEM Summit, awards and more!

Heidi Anne Mesmer is the George Graham Lecturer in Reading 2014


Heidi Anne Mesmer Heidi Anne Mesmer, Associate Professor of Education, specializing in STEM and Literacy Education

May 2, 2014 – Reader-Text Matching in the Common Core Era: Envisioning the Future, Learning from the Past

Dr. Mesmer delivered the keynote lecture at the prestigious George Graham Lecture in Reading on April 24th. The reading program area at the University of Virginia has sponsored a national reading conference since 1985. Featuring keynote speakers who are outstanding researchers in the field of reading, the lecture makes it possible for local students and educators to reach well beyond the university to interact with research. She “addressed the difference between text complexity and text difficulty and why this difference is important to teachers. She clarified what is behind the number and letter labels commonly used in classrooms to describe the difficulty of texts. The lecture examined the latest innovations in text difficulty including tools that are being used to capture of the cohesion of entire passages and methods for analyzing the meaning vocabulary in passages. She drew on her own scholarship to inform questions about exactly how students can be “stretched” in text, how text length impacts readers, what is known about beginning reading materials, and why schools must think beyond individual books to programs of text that support readers across years and developmental junctures.” (quotation, UVA website). For complete details on the lecture and event:

Director Carol Mullen was nominated and accepted to participate in the ACE Women’s Network: The Virginia Network for Women in Higher Education (American Council on Education). She is looking forward to this exciting opportunity to participate in the Senior Leadership Seminar on behalf of the School of Education and VT.

SOE Student Recognized for Virginia Tech’s Most Prestigious Graduate Student Award

Tyler Love, doctoral candidate in Integrative STEM Education, was recognized by the Graduate School as one of three finalists and awarded Honorable Mention for the 2013-2014 Graduate Student of the Year Award. He was also named a finalist for the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences (CLAHS) Outstanding Doctoral Student Award.


Tyler with a certificate Presenting Tyler with a certificate of recognition (from left to right): Thomas Tiller Jr. (VP for alumni relations), Dr. Joan Hirt (Interim Dean, College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences), and Dr. Patty Perillo (VP for Student Affairs)

The Graduate Student of the Year award (formerly known as the Graduate Man and Woman of the Year Awards) is the most prestigious award the university bestows on its graduate students. Awardees are chosen through a competitive nomination and interview selection process conducted by a panel of Graduate School students and faculty members. The award is based on character, service and outstanding contributions, and academic achievements. Each year the school presents this award to only three students (one winner and two honorable mentions) among the 4,600 graduate students at Virginia Tech. The award was presented at the Graduate Education Week awards banquet on March 27. Dr. Bonnie Billingsley (Professor and Department Chair of Teaching and Learning) attended to accept the award on behalf of the School of Education and Tyler, who was presenting at a conference in Orlando. On April 12 VT President Charles Steger recognized Love for his achievements at the Virginia Tech Alumni Association’s Student Recognition Banquet. Dr. Jeremy Ernst (assistant professor) attended the banquet with Tyler on behalf of the Integrative STEM Education program, and Dr. Joan Hirt was also in attendance on behalf of the CLAHS. The CLAHS Outstanding Doctoral Student Award, which Love was also named a finalist, is given to one doctoral student annually from 11 departments, based on student achievement criteria identified by the college.

Tyler Love and Dr. Jeremy Ernst Tyler Love and Dr. Jeremy Ernst

In addition to the recognition from Virginia Tech, Love was named Scholar of the Year by the Nu (Maryland) Chapter of Iota Lambda Sigma, a professional honor society in workforce education. Love was also recognized at the annual International Technology and Engineering Educators Association (ITEEA) conference for his participation in their 21st Century Leadership Academy cohort of 2013-2014. He was one of six individuals selected worldwide for this cohort. Michael Grubbs (Integrative STEM Education doctoral student) has been selected for the 2014-2015 cohort.
During his three years in Blacksburg Love has volunteered through various programs to work with K-12 students at Kipps Elementary School and Virginia Tech. He is currently active in numerous state and national education associations. Since 2011 Love has authored or co-authored six refereed articles, has one in press, and two under review in numerous journals. In addition, he contributed to three conference proceedings and has made over 10 presentations at various national and international conferences. Most recently Love served as the lead author for revisions to the ITEEA’s book regarding safety and liability in technology and engineering education laboratories, which is expected to be released later this spring.
Love contributed these honors to his experiences with the School of Education, “It is a great honor to be recognized for these awards, but, more importantly, I believe it is a reflection of the high caliber work being conducted within the School of Education at Virginia Tech. I have been fortunate to collaborate with outstanding faculty, staff, and students from all three departments within the school, and could not be considered for such honors without their support.” Tyler hopes to provide the same positive experiences and support to others upon graduating. For more information about the award:

The First Annual Southwest Virginia STEM Summit


Poster Poster board on display

The First Annual Southwest Virginia STEM Summit took place today at the Inn and a large showing of community based activists and sponsors as well as teachers and administrators were present.
Karen Jackson, Secretary of Technology, gave an inspiring opening address about technology priorities in the Commonwealth and the role for education in shaping entrepreneur pathways for young learners.
Ben Knapp’s keynote was an expressive, aesthetic look at STEM as a platform for creativity and innovation in the 21st century. Ben is the Director of the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology.

Katy Ulrich Katy Ulrich, assistant professor, math education

Dr. Katy Ulrich (below), math educator who teaches in the Math Education program in the School of Education, was a panel speaker. She talked about the value of partnerships with local schools and community colleges and about the strengthening of the secondary-level math education program through these types of relationships. She also spoke about the desire to fill secondary school positions with SOE graduates and about the importance of building formal and informal partnerships.

Contributors to this event were the School of Education, Institute for Creativity, Art, and Technology, and Outreach and International Affairs. Organizers included: Sue Magliaro, in consultation with the V-STEM Advisory Board, and GA Jeanny Gilpin, SOE, and the Continuing & Professional Education

Congratulations to Diana Wu on a Successful Dissertation Defense!!! Way to Go!!!

Dr. Diana Wu not only is SOE's fearless leader of the Educational Technology Lab but she recently defended her dissertation. Diana and her office team truly do everything possible and then some to ensure SOE students and faculty have everything they need to embody "Hands on Minds on."


Diana Wu Diana Wu in her element: coffee, Macs, PCs, and a smartphone

Virginia Science Festival - Come Join Us Next Fall!

Please join us at the Virginia Science Festival to be held on the VT campus on October 4, 2014 and in Roanoke on October 10-11, 2014, with activities throughout the week in between! While we are still in the "silent phase" with the official roll-out coming May 7, it’s time to garner your interest/commitment in participating in the event, either on October 4 in Blacksburg and/or October 10 and/or the 11th before people move into summer mode!

The current plan is as follows:

  1. Dates/location/audience/timeframe:
    • a. Saturday, October 4, 2014: On the VT campus, with interactive exhibits in the Moss Arts Center, and larger demonstrations/interactive activities on the Drillfield; audience = entire community; 10 – 4
    • b. Friday, October 10, 2014: Downtown Roanoke, with interactive exhibits in the City Market area; audience = school children only; TBA
    • c. Saturday, October 11, 2014: Downtown Roanoke, with interactive exhibits in the City Market area; audience = entire community; TBA
  2. The emphasis is on interactive events that engage the festival - goers to see STEM in action.
  3. The Science Museum of Western Virginia is the official host of this event. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine are our official co-chairs and the focus of event has grown to include the entire state, with plans now for events during the week at our extended campus sites. Eventually, the idea is to grow the festival similarly to what North Carolina currently has in operation - events all over the state that happen on designated days but controlled locally by the town, city, region, etc.
  4. There is no cost for Virginia Tech faculty/staff/groups or other local non-profit organizations for an exhibit or demonstration space across both sites. We will have tables/chairs in the Moss Arts Center here on campus and on the Drillfield. Not sure yet what will be available in Roanoke. There will be a charge for for-profit groups; that information is forthcoming in the formal announcement.
  5. We are organizing volunteers to help with the set up, crowd control/assistance, etc. If you sponsor volunteer groups, please contact Casey Bailey so that we can get them on the list for helping at any of the events. Please feel free to share this information with any volunteer groups and ask them to contact Casey as well.
    To indicate your interest in participation, please complete our brief survey found at:
    Submit interest no later than Friday, May 9. Thanks for your willingness to represent VT and the Blacksburg community in an event that brings visibility to the GREAT work happening each and every day—an amazing opportunity to create the type of excitement that attracts all to the STEM world! Please contact Dr. Sue Magliaro with any questions

UCEA (University Council for Educational Administration) Call for Proposals

UCEA proposals due May 5, 2014 for the November conference Washington, DC, November 20-23;

VERA (Virginia Educational Research Association) Call for Proposals

2014 Annual Conference DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Charlottesville, Virginia; September 18-19, 2014
Theme: The Past, Present, and Future of Technology in Education
Proposals for individual papers, panel sessions, and symposia are invited on all topics and at all levels of education. Innovative formats (e.g., discussion sessions, demonstrations, interactive workshops) are encouraged. All papers are peer reviewed for acceptance. To accommodate as many presenters as possible, individual papers may be scheduled in roundtable format.
To submit a proposal: 
Email a cover sheet (attached) and an abstract (without names) of 250 words or less as attachments to Glen I. Earthman at by July 1, 2014. Notification of acceptance will be no later than August 1, 2014. All participants must register for the conference by August 20, 2014. The conference registration fee of $40.00 includes breaks and a continental breakfast on Friday, September 19. Conference registration can be completed online at After August 20, 2014, registration fees will be $50 per person, including on-site registration.

Association for Teacher Educators is accepting Clinical Practice Fellow Applications

The Association for Teacher Educators has put out a call for Clinical Practice Fellows. Clinical Practice Fellows are a group of teacher educators (including educational leaders) who have a strong research interest in clinical practice. University educators in all stages of their careers are encouraged to apply to be a 2015 ATE Clinical Practice Fellow. The organization especially encourages doctoral students and early career faculty members to apply.
Email for application documents and information.