CSUF Faculty Lead Transitional Kindergarten Project

College of Education faculty members are leading a California State University project to prepare future teachers to teach in transitional kindergarten classrooms. CSUF is receiving a $75,000 award, made possible through funding from the David and Lucile Packard Foundation to the CSU Chancellor’s Office, to develop instructional materials for CSU teacher preparation programs. Elementary and bilingual education faculty involved are Kimberly A. Norman, project coordinator, Lisa D. Kirtman, Hallie Yopp Slowik, Ruth Yopp-Edwards, and Sharon V. Chappell, with Shelia Arnold, Orange County Department of Education. The Kindergarten Readiness Act changed the required birth date for admission to kindergarten and first grade from Dec. 1 to Sept. 1 by 2014-15, and established a transitional kindergarten program.

Welcome to the Elementary and Bilingual Education Department

Equity and Excellence, Community and Social Change, and Knowledge and Wisdom – these are the themes that guide every program and decision at the Department of Elementary and Bilingual Education Department.

Our web site features thorough information about all of the programs that we have to offer, as well as information on what you’ll need to join us!

Promoting K-12 Learning Through the Arts


Future teacher and alumnus Carlos Sanchez recently used skills he learned in Cal State Fullerton’s teacher preparation program in a classroom of his own.

Sanchez and three other multiple-subject credential alumni were hired by Girls Inc. of Orange County to teach a science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics in the organization’s Eureka! summer enrichment program. College of Education professors developed the arts-infused STEM curriculum for the Costa Mesa-based nonprofit that provides girl-focused programs. Continue reading

Future Science, K-6 Teachers: Innovative CSUF Teaching Programs Graduate Quality Educators


By Debra Cano Ramos

May 18, 2012 :: No. 189

To prepare more high-quality elementary school teachers and science educators for California’s schools, Cal State Fullerton is graduating the first classes of students from two new and innovative efforts: the combined credential/master’s in education and B.A. in earth science.

Students graduating from both programs will be participating in this weekend’s commencement exercises Saturday, May 19, and today’s (May 18) teacher credential ceremony at 5 p.m. in Titan Gym. Continue reading

A Fulbright Quintet: Scholars Teach, Conduct Research Abroad


By Mimi Ko Cruz and Debra Cano Ramos

April 3, 2012

Five Cal State Fullerton faculty members are busy conducting or planning the research or teaching activities that have won them Fulbright grants for international scholarship.

The U.S.-sponsored international educational exchange program to “increase mutual understanding between the people of the United States and the people of other countries” awards about 7,500 new grants annually, involving more than 155 countries. This year’s grants will see one professor complete his research in India while four other Titan faculty members travel to Japan, Korea and Poland. Continue reading

Teaching Math Is Elementary: Tutoring Program Helps Young Students Excel

California State Fullerton teacher credential student Kayla Magill uses candy M&Ms to teach fractions and percentages to elementary school students struggling with learning math.

Using the colorful candy makes learning fun, and more importantly, helps reinforce math concepts of comparing fractions to percentages.

“The M&Ms make it easier for the young students to learn these math concepts because it allows them to count the color and use it in a fraction,” said Magill, who wants to teach elementary students. “It’s the greatest feeling as a teacher to see their faces light up when they understand what we’re teaching them.”

At another table inside the multipurpose room at Richman Elementary School in Fullerton, teacher credential candidate Emily Beard was using multicolor cubes to teach students about the relationship between fractions, decimals and percent equivalents.

Richman Elementary School student Jose Morales is tutored by Cal State Fullerton credential student Nicole Moncher at the new Community Mathematics Education Center. Photo by Karen Tapia


“Using manipulatives, such as cubes, are concrete and help students to better understand abstract concepts,” explained Beard, who wants to teach kindergarten. “This is a great teaching technique in mathematics because students often learn better with hands-on activities.”

Magill and Beard are among teacher candidates in the College of Education’s Elementary and Bilingual Education Department’s Multiple Subject Credential Program. Both tutor fifth- and sixth-grade students at Richman.

This spring semester, 60 Cal State Fullerton students — preparing for a multiple subject credential to teach grades K-6 — provided structured and individualized mathematics tutoring sessions for Richman students. Michelle Vander Veldt and Cynthia Gautreau, both assistant professors in bilingual and elementary education, coordinate the tutoring program, which is offered through the college’s new Community Mathematics Education Center.

The math focus reflects the university’s renewed emphasis on increasing student interest in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Richman students Irving Oliver, left, and Enrique Sotelo, are tutored in math by university credential students Cherish Vandervort and Sarah Strauss. Photo by Karen Tapia


Enhancing Math Instruction

During the sessions, credential students use math manipulatives, such as cubes, candy or other familiar objects, to help the young students grasp basic math concepts.

The tutoring sessions not only provide academic support for the children, but also supplemental professional development for the teacher candidates, Vander Veldt said.

“The program addresses the urgent need to help children improve mathematics achievement,” she said. “At the same time, because our teacher candidates are working one-on-one with students, they are learning the tools and methodology to teach state mathematics content with greater depth and expertise and will be more effective in their math instruction as future elementary school teachers.”

Through the College of Education’s new Community Mathematics Education Center, fifth- and sixth-grade students at Richman Elementary School in Fullerton receive one-on-one tutoring in math by CSUF credential students. Photo by Karen Tapia


Through the tutoring program, credential students also plan the curriculum and work collaboratively with their peers. All of the math activities are hands-on learning opportunities that focus on conceptual development of different mathematics skills — from addition and subtraction to algebra, Gautreau noted.

Often, new elementary teachers have anxiety and apprehension about teaching math, so giving them the chance to teach the subject in a tutoring setting gives them a boost in self-confidence, added Vander Veldt. Unlike junior high and high school teachers who hold credentials to teach a specific subject, elementary school teachers hold a multiple subject credential to teach in all subject areas, including math.

Magill, who also is studying to earn a single subject credential to specifically teach math, said the program has helped her feel more comfortable teaching the subject.

“The tutoring center has helped apply what I have learned so far in the credential program and it’s been a good experience,” she said. “It has allowed me to grow as a future teacher because I not only gained experience working with these children, but it allowed me to create lesson plans, learn pacing, management, and most of all, taught me to be flexible. We were given the opportunity to experience all the things teachers must deal with on a daily basis in the classroom.”

Community Outreach

Teacher credential student Cherish Vandervort gives Richman students Enrique Sotelo, left, and Ivan Serna a lesson in math. Photo by Karen Tapia


Moreover, the program offers a valuable outreach to the local community, said Gautreau.

“This program gives student teachers the opportunity to assess the math knowledge and skills of real children in the local community, and then they help them overcome their difficulties through individualized assessment and instruction,” she said. “Our students are providing help where it is needed most.”

During this spring, Cal State Fullerton multiple subject credential students provided math tutoring to students at Richman Elementary School in Fullerton. Photo by Karen Tapia


The Community Mathematics Education Center serves low-income, mostly immigrant Latino students where families primarily speak Spanish at home, Vander Veldt said. Elementary school students are identified and referred to the program by teachers at the school.

Susan Ly, a sixth-grade teacher at Richman Elementary School, said the tutoring program has dramatically helped her students.

“I’ve seen students’ grades jump a level,” said Ly, a Cal State Fullerton alumna. “They’re more engaged in math and have changed their attitude about math.”

Mark Ellis, chair and associate professor of secondary education, Andrea M. Guillaume, professor of elementary and bilingual education, and Martin V. Bonsangue, professor of math, received $25,000 in funding through a 2008-09 University Mission and Goals Initiative to develop the tutoring program. Armando M. Martinez-Cruz, professor of math, also helped to create the curriculum. The Mathematics and Science Teacher Initiative, a California State University project to recruit math and science teachers across the state, provided some funding for the program this year, Ellis said.

Now, Vander Veldt and Gautreau, who also oversee the tutoring curriculum, are seeking grant funding to continue the program in the fall at Richman and to expand it at another local elementary school.

Media Contacts:
Michelle Vander Veldt, Elementary and Bilingual Education, 657-278-4305 or
Cynthia Gautreau, Elementary and Bilingual Education, 657-278-3639 or
Debra Cano Ramos, Public Affairs, 657-278-4027; 657-278-2414 or

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