Mireme / take a Look at Me Portfolio Project: A Head Start Innovation and improvement Grant
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one What is the Mireme™ Project?Order your portfolio
two Who is the Head Start Program Partner?
three What are the goals for the Mireme™ Project?
four How do we define family engagement?
five How are we implementing the project?
six What data are we collecting?
seven What have we learned so far?


one WHAT IS THE MIREME™ PROJECT?

The Mireme™ Project focuses on implementing the strengths-based Míreme™/Take a Look at Me™ Portfolio system with a majority Latino Head Start Center in North East Georgia. The portfolio system was specifically designed to support families of children from birth to five to foster the healthy development of all children, including those most vulnerable. This intervention process is designed to facilitate family observation and exploration of their child’s strengths and interests and increase family engagement in the educational setting. Both a family and school generated portfolio (Spanish and English versions) provide the opportunity for identification of the child’s interests, skills and natural learning opportunities resulting in greater awareness of each child and families developmental, ethnic, cultural and linguistic heritage, experience and goals. (Back to top)

two WHO IS THE HEAD START PROGRAM PARTNER?

The Míreme Project partners with the Early Head Start and Head Start programs in Northeast Georgia.  Typically over fifty percent of the families involved are of Latino descent and many are recent immigrants to the country.  The program enrolls approximately 240 children in its 13 Head Start classrooms and 32 children in its 4 Early Head Start classes. (Back to top)

three WHAT ARE THE GOALS FOR THE MIREME™ PROJECT?

  • To increase family engagement in the Early Head Start and Head Start Programs.

  • To increase communication among teachers, family members and family partners.

  • To enhance the quality of the relationship among teachers, family members and family partners.

  • To assist teachers and family partners in gaining a holistic view of the child in the context of their family including an understanding of the family's culture.

  • To assist families in recognizing and enhancing learning opportunities in the home and community based on
    the child's strengths and interests. (Back to top)

four HOW DO WE DEFINE FAMILY ENGAGEMENT?

Family engagement is a collaborative process between educational staff and families with the goal of supporting optimal outcomes for children in all contexts.  Staff engage in formal and informal family-centered processes. By learning about families through the portfolio system, educators build on family strengths, supporting and engaging their child’s goals.  The Míreme project encourages family engagement for parents through:

  • participation in program activities,  

  • openly communicating with program staff and having their communications respected and acknowledged

  • utilizing their child’s interests to enhance natural learning opportunities (Back to top)

HOW ARE WE IMPLEMENTING THE PROJECT AT THE BUTLER CENTER?

  • The Family Portfolio:
    Families in the classroom learning about the portfolio process.

    The Míreme/Take A Look At Me Family Portfolio is a 20+ page book of information representing a child’s strengths, interests, hopes and dreams. The portfolio process provides the opportunity to take a closer look at the child and create a visual record of who the child is today.

    The Míreme Project engages families by introducing them to the portfolio through Portfolio trainings and “parties.” At these initial events, each participating family receives a Portfolio Kit. The kit consists of a portfolio in their primary language (English or Spanish), a disposable camera, craft scissors, markers, stamp-markers, and other supplies to get them started on their child’s portfolio.  The Míreme team hosts various portfolio events called scrapbooking parties for families to come to the center to work on their child’s portfolio using supplies provided by the team.  These may include but are not limited to magazines for cutting out pictures and colored paper to decorate their book. 

  • The School Portfolio:

    There is a key aspect of the Míreme project that is teacher implemented.  The Míreme en la Escuela™ / Take
    a Look at Me at School™ portfolio is a shortened version of the family-created portfolio.  This school portfolio includes five pages for each child in a classroom. These pages include: a front page with the child’s picture, three pages about the child’s favorites at school (i.e., center, activities, songs, etc.), and a “natural learning opportunities” (NLO) page.  The Teachers sharing portfoliosNLO page includes a prompt for choosing one of the child’s favorite activities documented on the previous pages and asks what the child is learning while enjoying this activity.  Further, the NLO page prompts teachers to record what motivates that particular child in the classroom setting. 

    The NLO page serves three primary purposes.
    First,teachers are reminded of the importance of natural learning opportunities for the children in their class when thinking about this page. Selecting an activity the child enjoys and thinking about what the child learns during this activity can foster learning through interest-based play. Second, teachers bring this completed page to each child’s first home visit. This provides teachers the opportunity to present an example of what children can learn through their favorite activities to the family members.  Third, this page is referred to throughout different aspects of the project to communicate with parents the importance of learning at home, not just at school.  It serves as an example to help parents start thinking about what their child is learning through numerous activities in their day-to-day life. 

  • The "Big Book":

    The Big Book is enjoyed by students in the classroom.The final aspect of the portfolio at school is a large, laminated version of Míreme en la Escuela™ / Take a Look at Me at School™ known as the “Big Book.”  The Big Book’s purpose is to bring the portfolio to life for both children and teachers. It can be used to prompt discussion of student favorites in the classroom or within different units already part of the teachers’ curriculum (i.e., farm animals).  Teachers can write on the Big Book with dry erase markers, engage the children in literacy or counting activities, or have the children use images to respond to the different prompts. Teachers were provided with training and given a sample lesson plan of how to use the Big Book during different class activities. 
    (Back to top)


six WHAT DATA ARE WE COLLECTING?

In order to assess the effectiveness of the portfolio process within the Head Start program, data are being collected from teachers, family partners, and family members.  All participating families and teachers fill out the “Quality of Parent-Teacher Relationship Survey” before and after each year of the portfolio project implementation.  Focus groups were conducted in year one with teachers, family partners, four groups of Spanish speaking families, and two groups of English speaking families before and after the project implementation.  In years two and three, focus groups will be conducted after project completion. The goals of the focus groups include discovering the current views and processes involved in family engagement within the center as well as to get feedback on the portfolio itself.  Finally, teachers and family members fill out open-ended evaluations at the end of the year to communicate their thoughts on the effectiveness of the portfolio project and make suggestions for the following year.  Demographic data on families is provided through the Head Start database, ChildPlus.  (Back to top)

seven WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED SO FAR?

Feedback from teachers and family members has been very valuable in determining he effectiveness of the portfolio program. Following are a few of the comments providing in the evaluations.

TEACHERS:

  • On parent involvement and the portfolio…

    “Some of the parents became more outspoken and really enjoyed working on the portfolios.
    This helped because they were proud of their children’s progress & wanted to share this.”
    Teacher in an infant classroom

    “I think it made the parents appreciate the teachers more by realizing how important all of this is to us and the school. I had parents open up and not be afraid to speak to teachers. [The portfolio project] allowed them to spend more time in the class with the teachers and kids.” Teacher in a three year old classroom

  • On gaining a better understanding of familial background and culture…

    “We learn about difference in cultures on home visits, but never see it. You get to see and read about experiences and celebrations of each family and how they differ in each culture.” Teacher in a three year old classroom


    “We get to see and learn about the child’s life and family and its an opportunity for us to learn about the families’ needs and strengths as well as the dynamics of the families.” Teacher in an infant classroom

    “As a new teacher that had very little time remaining in the school year, [the portfolio project] helped me to better understand the family dynamics and how it influenced the student” Teacher in 4-5 year old classroom

  • On using the portfolios in the classrooms…

    “After the portfolios were completed, they were introduced into the classroom. The kids loved sharing them with their classmates… They liked telling classmates about their family.” Teacher in four year old classroom

FAMILY MEMBERS:

  • On what people will learn from looking at the portfolio…

    “They will see a beautiful, happy, intelligent little girl that is blossoming into a fine young lady.”
    Mother of four year old

  • On what they like about the portfolio…

    “I like the idea of having something to give his teacher (next year) that explains a little more about him…” Mother of five year old

    “I got to focus on his abilities and skills capturing them not only on image but also with words so that other people can look at it and understand who is my child.” Mother of four year old

    “Sharing with my children, ask them questions about what they are thinking or needing and most of all remembering many special moments for me when cutting out our pictures.” Mother of three year old

  • On parent involvement and the portfolio…

    “With the different activities we had the opportunity to get to know the staff members better and feel more confident when participating in parent meetings and conferences with the teachers.” Mother of four year old

    “Participation in the portfolio process helped me become more involved at Butler Center Head Start by taking part of the creation of a significant portfolio that displays our close family bonds.” Mother of three year old
    (Back to top)

Mireme Posters, 2 pages, English and Spanish versions.

THE MIREME™ PROJECT TEAM WAS:

  • Zolinda Stoneman: Principal Investigator
  • Mary Rugg: Project Director
  • Jessica Forbes: Project Coordinator
  • Nelly Escobar: Family Portfolio Coordinator
  • Katy Gregg: Graduate Research Associate
  • Lauren Stargel: Student support

   

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Institute on Human Development and Disability (IHDD)
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Unit of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences
University of Georgia, Athens, Georgia 30602-4806
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