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In Pursuit of Equity - Recollecting to Connect: The power of stories and storytelling in special education contexts

In Pursuit of Equity Webinar - Tuesday July 9th, 2024, 2:00 - 3:30 PM Eastern Time

Sponsored by the Division for Early Childhood and the Early Childhood Technical Assistance Center

Presented by Dr. María Cioè-Peña

Facilitated by Jen Newton, PhD and Sheresa Boone Blanchard, PhD


Anchored in themes surfaced from children’s books, in this presentation, participants will uncover connections between the narratives we encounter in books and those that shape our lives. As part of this session, teachers will learn about the descriptive inquiry processes —particularly reflections on words, recollections and descriptive reviews— and their potential for creating fuller and more expansive understandings of culturally and linguistically diverse special education students and their families. Developed by Patricia Carini and educators at Vermont's Prospect School, these processes serve to as a means to go beyond viewing students solely through the lens of their disability- and/or language-related learning needs. Rooted in progressive education, they aim to construct nuanced portraits of children, empowering teachers to deepen their pedagogical approaches and recognize the diverse abilities of their students. By embracing these processes, educators can enhance students' academic and social experiences, providing them with greater opportunities to learn and thrive.


About Dr. María Cioè-Peña

María Cioè-Peña is a bilingual/biliterate education researcher and educator who examines the intersections of disability, language, school–parent partnerships, and education policy. Taking a sociolinguistic approach and stance, she pushes and reimagines the boundaries of inclusive spaces for minoritized children. Stemming from her experiences as a former bilingual special education teacher, Dr. Cioè-Peña’s research focuses on bilingual children with dis/abilities, their families, and their ability to access multilingual and inclusive learning spaces within public schools. Her interests are deeply rooted in political economy, raciolinguistic perspectives and critical dis/ability awareness within schools and families.


Dr. Cioè-Peña’s scholarship has won awards from major organizations in the field of bilingual education; first-place winner for Outstanding Dissertation by the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) in 2019, and third place winner for Outstanding Dissertation by AERA's Bilingual Education Research SIG in 2020. In 2022, her article “Wanting to Leave; Needing to Stay: Issues for undocumented mothers of children with disabilities” received the Inaugural Outstanding Publication Award from the Council For Exceptional Children's Division for Culturally & Linguistically Diverse Exceptional Learners. She was also awarded the Early Career Award by AERA's Bilingual Education Research SIG in 2022. Prior to arriving at Penn GSE, María was an assistant professor and a Community-Engaged Teaching Fellow at Montclair State University. Her book, (M)othering Labeled Children: Bilingualism and Disability in the Lives of Latinx Mothers, was released May 2021 by Multilingual Matters.


About the In Pursuit of Equity Webinar Series

In this webinar series, DEC and ECTA host various experts in the field of early childhood special education and early intervention in disrupting the pervasive inequities of our systems. Topics include troubling notions of "at risk," challenging biases about families in home based services, suspension and expulsion in early childhood settings, counteracting racism and ableism in early childhood systems, and engaging in systems change in pursuit of equity. Learn more and access the full series here.

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