RISE seeks to promote home-school connections for the purpose of co-constructing culturally relevant STE curriculum. We were guided primarily by the work of education scholars Joseph Tobin and Luis Moll. The HSC component of RISE integrates the notions of parent-teacher dialogues (Tobin) and families’ funds of knowledge (Moll), with joint activities (JAs) being a key strategy to foster partnership and communication between teachers and families to inform culturally relevant STE curriculum.
In the RISE project, we believe that when individuals engage with each other in joint activities that involve shared goals (such as making a scrapbook or building a structure out of recyclables), they encounter and negotiate their respective culturally-based assumptions and expectations of one another (Rogoff, 2003) and through these shared activities come to understand each other as equal partners in supporting children. In this project, we use joint activities as an entry point for relationship-building between teachers and parents. We then extend this relationship-building to another forum, parent-teacher discussion groups (PTDs). Tobin suggests that another place where teachers and parents can come to question their assumptions about one another, even disagree while building toward understanding, is when teachers and parents engage in two-way dialogue about topics that matter to them (Adair & Tobin, 2008). In the RISE project, these PTDs in conjunction with JAs serve to facilitate better understanding of each others’ contributions to children’s learning and development.
Through both of these forums (JAs and PTDs), teachers gain access to what Moll and colleagues (1992; 2005) termed “families’ funds of knowledge,” defined as immigrant parents’ knowledge of the local environment and community and the expertise they have developed to function within their various contexts (work, neighborhood, social networks, political, etc.). By supporting teacher-parent communication and relationship-building in this way, the RISE project is helping develop the bridges for teachers to gain access to and then utilize the information/resources they learn about in their classroom teaching and curriculum.