T-Mobile G1 Phone aka The Google Phone
The new T-Mobile G1 with software from Google could be the next great tool to bridge those "technology immigrants" (today's educators) with the "technology natives" (today's learners). The phone runs on the open-source Android platform, and, unlike the iPhone, it has a FULL QWERTY KEYBOARD that pops out from under the screen. This allows for full "thumb typing." A little shelf that houses the trackball and a row of buttons is called the "LENO CHIN." The G1 also comes standard with an onboard camera and GPS and is compatible with all online Google apps and runs on the 3G network.
The G1 could make a good introduction to cell phones in the classroom. Because the G1 runs on the open-source platform, it is a true minicomputer that also gives developers the opportunity to develop all types of applications. The onboard camera and GPS system make it a perfect data collection tool for activities outside the classroom.
Price: $179.99 with a two-year contract, www.t-mobile.com
Investing In Invention
What do a durable filtration system, a sensing cane for the visually impaired, and a solar-electric watercraft have in common? All were projects dreamed up by high schoolers and awarded $10,000 development grants from the InvenTeam initiative at The Lemelson-MIT Program last month.
"[This] is a fun and educational way to promote the value of inventive thinking and doing," says Leigh Estabrooks, the Lemelson-MIT Program's invention education officer. "The initiative challenges students to identify real-world issues and develop practical solutions that integrate science, technology, engineering, and math combined with creative thought."
"Since our students have a FIRST robotics background, they wanted to invent something that would complement their strengths—mechanical contraptions," says Tom Moser, Teen Technology InvenTeam. "After brainstorming, we decided to invent an adaptive grain dehuller for use in remote poor villages."
Students are encouraged to seek out mentor relationships with established community professionals. In many cases, local companies support InvenTeams' projects with additional funding and materials.
"Citrus crops are a major part of the Florida economy, and freezes can cause devastating losses for farmers," says Troy Soos, Oviedo High School InvenTeam. "By choosing this particular subject for our invention, my students are now networking with local scientists and farmers to experience the collaborative nature of technological innovation."
In June, the InvenTeams will show their wares at EurekaFest, presented by the Lemelson-MIT Program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) campus in Cambridge, MA.
"When students are asked to solve problems they don't have answers to at the back of the textbook, real learning takes place," says Mark Westlake, Saint Thomas Academy InvenTeam. "The grant money allows us to fail more often and then find ways to overcome those failures. Our students were pushed to realize that there are many ways to answer a problem."
Think the bright minds in your classroom have what it takes? 2009 applications are now available, with a Spring submission deadline. Past winners can apply to renew grants to reinvigorate local community involvement and motivate dedicated students to continue in their STEM-related pursuits.
Sites We Like:
Teacher Survival Central
This new Web site offers tips, tricks, tools, and practical suggestions for easing entry into the teaching field. Educators will find classroom management techniques, lesson plans, peer-networking resources, tools to create engaging learning centers, and more.
A TOUCH OF E-LEARNING
North Carolina beta-tests iPod touch in Chapel Hill venture
There's a lot of anticipation in Chapel Hill, NC, where an elementary and a middle school are working with North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS) to develop courses based on using the iPod touch.
Culbreth Middle School has jumped into the new program with teacher training and student involvement. Principal Susan Wells seeded with $30,000 (of what eventually could be as much as $300,000) via NCVPS and has delivered Apple's iPod touch to students who are part of AVID (Advancement via Individual Determination), which places academically average kids in advanced classes and gives them support to succeed in those classes and go to college.
Bryan Setser, NCVPS executive director, says, "We went to the strongest academic district. We're the hub and Chapel Hill the beta site. We're a course developer, using our partners. This is really no different than funding classroom resources like textbooks."
Principal Wells believes they could not access information through any learning tool in a more engaging way. "Desktops are not where we are; smart computers are it. Students are accustomed to being connected."
All of Culbreth's staff of 80 already have an iPod touch and is working with Apple on course development. Hundreds of apps are available—quick tutorials on math, a thesaurus and dictionary, and formulas. Wells says, "We're creating very small pieces on writing and so forth, not really grade-specific, more on content. For instance, physical education teachers may want videos for students to practice exercises."
In Culbreth's 50-minute class periods, teachers use different apps in guided breakout groups, rotating assignments. Wells says, "Students function from this mobile place; we want to marry it as one of a number of learning tools."
Steering teams of teachers participate in research and design. The master team in Chapel Hill is supported through blogs and discussion boards. Student feedback comes in the spring.
As her program begins, Wells will keep iPods onsite, but plans for home use are being explored.
Teaching in the Digital Age: Using the Internet to Increase Student Engagement and Understanding
By Kristen Nelson, Corwin Press, 2008
This book illustrates how teaching and learning are strengthened when Web resources are integrated with brain-based instruction to meet students' individual learning needs. The author supplies the tools and framework for using Internet-based, brainfriendly activities to promote students comprehension across content areas.
Physical Education Technology Playbook
By Darla Castelli, Leah Fiorentino, Human Kinetics, 2008
Promote healthy physical activity choices among physical education teachers and students through the integration of technology.
Economics of Distance and Online Learning: Theory, Practice and Research
By William Bramble, et.al., Routledge, 2008
Provides a comprehensive overview of the organizational models of distance and online learning from an international perspective and from the point of view of economic planning, costing and management decision-making. The book promotes further understanding and critical reflection on the part of administrators, practitioners, and researchers of distance education and training.
WORLD REPORT: AFRICAN ARTS
A team of Canadian educators is working with a Tanzania-based nonprofit organization to teach the use of cameras and Adobe Photoshop to children, elders, and teachers in the remote Tanzanian village of Maasai. The tribe has no written language, so photography was a natural addition to their oral culture while modernizing their education system. More than 500 villagers took over 5,000 pictures and planned to use photography for teaching math, horticulture, and health awareness. The organization's longterm goal is to establish an arts school that includes both a photography and an Adobe room. To learn more, please visit www.villagegalleries.org.
CONTESTS AND GRANTS
GRANT: Multimedia Classroom Grant Program (www.calypsocontrol.com)
AWARD: Recipients receive up to $1,200 toward the purchase and installation of Calypso's ezRoomClassroom Bundle.
DESCRIPTION: The ezRoom Classroom Bundle is a pre-assembled A/V solution that combines a projector, screen, and audio-visual source devices quickly and cost-effectively. Calypso's grant program helps school districts test integrated classroom technology solutions and evaluate today's classroom technology needs. Additionally, the program gives districts the opportunity to beta-test a solution and then to develop a strategy for installing the resources without any risks or commitments.
DEADLINE: Applications are ongoing; visit www.calypsocontrol.com for the grant application.
GRANT: Target's Take Charge of Education Program
DESCRIPTION: Now in its 11th year, Target's Take Charge of Education school fundraising program has given over $246 million to more than 100,000 American K-12 schools. The funds are donated to America's eligible Kâ€“12 schools in March and September, and can be used toward a school's most urgent needs such as books, school supplies, hiring substitutes, and classroom technology.
HOW IT WORKS: Target guests choose an eligible school to which Target will then donate one percent of the customer's REDcardSM purchases made at Target and Target.com. Thay also donate 0.5 percent of all Target Visa Credit Card purchases.
FOR MORE INFORMATION: To enroll, choose a school, and check the status of payouts, Target cardholders and school representatives can visit www.Target.com/tcoe or call 1- 800-316-6142.
CONTEST: The Kids' Science Challenge (www.kidsciencechallenge.com)
AWARD: The first 1000 entries receive free science activity kits.
DESCRIPTION: The Kids' Science Challenge is a nationwide competition that encourages students to submit experiments and problems for a group of scientists and engineers to solve. Using podcasts, virtual communities, after-school activities, and online games, the Kids' Science Challenge is designed to inspire third to sixth graders to discover the fun of science.
DEADLINE: January 31, 2009.