Center for Research & Development in Dual Language & Literacy Acquisition in the College of Education and Human Development makes their elementary dual-language curriculum available to classrooms across the country through a licensing agreement with Frog Street, an early childhood education publisher.
By Alyssa Gafford-Gaby
The Texas A&M System, through one of its member commercialization offices, Texas A&M University Innovation Partners, recently licensed copyrighted material for educational curriculum created from research developed by Rafael Lara-Alecio, Beverly J. Irby, Fuhui Tong, Cindy Guerrero, through the Center for Research & Development in Dual Language & Literacy Acquisition the College of Education and Human Development to Frog Street Press, LLC, an early childhood education publisher.
The license agreement marks a milestone for the college. While several faculty and staff have been involved in industry partnerships and other licenses of university intellectual property, this is the first commercial agreement where the College was the principal in the licensing deal.
The curriculum developed by the CRDLLA is called STELLA, an acronym for Storytelling and Retelling and Higher-Order Thinking for English Language and Literacy Acquisition. STELLA is an “evidence-infused, dual-language science curriculum,” that over a number of years has been created, researched and tested in schools with English learners in various types of bilingual classrooms.
STELLA offers carefully selected child-centered, personal learning experiences with diverse literature to build strong academic vocabulary and oral and written language skills. It nurtures children’s natural curiosity of the world around them and also includes directed maker spaces and 21st-century entrepreneurial skills development. Structured story reading with “story retells” addresses varied cognitive levels and needs as children reach mastery of the objectives of the lessons.
Frog Street CEO Ron Chase said the STELLA curriculum is a unique product when it comes to dual-language learning.
“STELLA is an outstanding curriculum for English Language Learners,” said Chase. “The research conducted on STELLA is unmatched in the education industry and we are excited about the opportunity to promote it to school districts, knowing the positive impact it can have on the young learners who have English as a second language.”
While the curriculum was developed by CRDLLA, Innovation Partners made the licensing of the educational material to Frog Street possible.
Senior Licensing Manager for Innovation Partners, Bobby Melvin, said in order to get the material out to more educators and students, they developed a license for virtual learning through Frog Street. According to Melvin, the licensing agreement protects the material so the college is able to have a financial gain from the license deal in order to continue research.
“Without some sort of identifiable intellectual property, there would be no way for the College of Education and Human Development and A&M as a whole to have a revenue source [from the educational material] to continue their research,” said Melvin. “We were able to identify the intellectual property that existed and put it in a form that could then be licensed to someone else. With that protection, the license then becomes valuable because they are the only ones who can put this online for other users.”
Innovation Partners works with several different schools and inventors at Texas A&M University to help with copyrighting material and licensing.
Daniel Odenweller, a licensing services coordinator with Innovation Partners, worked with the CRDLLA on the licensing of STELLA to Frog Street. Odenweller explained that working with the people at the center is what helps to make his job so fulfilling.
“Over time we have a number of contacts in different fields. We have resources to help inventors and PI’s take their research and realize the different aspects that are marketable and the different parts that are protected under intellectual property law,” said Odenweller. “[But] my favorite part of this project was working with the people who created STELLA.”
In partnership with the College of Education and Human Development and Innovation Partners, the center was able to take years of research and publish an effective dual-language curriculum, while simultaneously creating an opportunity for Texas A&M to gain financial aid to further educational research.
Matthew J. Etchells, Director of Education Outreach, Marketing and Communications at the center, said STELLA is the product of millions of dollars of grant money and several years of research.
“The thing about this curriculum is that it’s been developed through multiple grants over the years, so we know it works,” said Etchells. “We have a product that we know works in terms of dual-language education and science literacy. What this [program] does is it starts to build the base of scientific language, which is something that children need because if they don’t have these building blocks, later they cannot access higher education because they don’t have the technical language.”
Etchells emphasized the incredible support he received from Rafael Lara-Alecio, Director of CRDLLA and Regents Professor, Beverly J. Irby, Co-Director of CRDLLA and Regents Professor, Fuhui Tong, Associate Director, Cindy Guerrero, Research Scientist; and Innovation Partners and how critical their assistance was to finalizing the licensing agreement with Frog Street. According to Etchells, without Innovation Partners, specifically Odenweller and Melvin, and the support of Brett Cornwell, executive director for Texas A&M Technology Commercialization, the licensing agreement would have never been accomplished.
“The really beautiful thing about working as a team is that Daniel [Odenweller] was excited about what we were doing,” said Etchells. “I felt like he was directly a part of our team, it didn’t feel like he was in another office that we had to go through to get a license. Having someone like Daniel [Odenweller] and Bob [Melvin] that would come in and help us to framework, understand and navigate the system was amazing. It was like having a tour guide to a license.”
Through Innovation Partners, the College of Education and Human Development and the Center for Research & Development in Dual Language & Literacy Acquisition were able to finalize a licensing agreement with Frog Street so educators and students around the world can have access to STELLA and further advance dual-language science education.
“We wouldn’t have the opportunities to develop in this way without the direct support of the College of Education and Human Development and the Texas A&M University System,” said Etchells.
Intellectual property arising from work conducted by faculty and staff in the College of Education and Human Development and the Center for Research & Development in Dual Language & Literacy Acquisition is managed through Texas A&M University Innovation Partners.
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