Techlearning News(3)

  • The Madison City (AL) Schools decided to go paperless this year, giving every teacher a CD-ROM that contained all the information they used to receive in huge three-ring binders. Read about teachers’ reactions.
  • With the help of their teacher, fifth graders at Florida’s Pinellas Park Elementary School are becoming accomplished bloggers, sharing their daily classroom activities and thoughts with one another and their parents.
  • Given the chance to purchase the Apple I Books they had used for the last four years, more than 1,1000 recent Henrico County high school graduates did so, paying $50 for the used laptops.
  • New technology has given Nashville school libraries more flexibility, allowing librarians to work more closely with classroom teachers to plan lessons and make connections for students between classroom and library activities. Learn about the results.

Alabama District Goes Paperless

Every year as school opens, teachers are used to getting huge three-ring binders filled with information about school policies, samples of forms, district personnel information, etc. This year the Madison City (AL) Schools are trying something different and saving a few trees along the way. Each teacher received a CD-ROM with all the essential information, including the "acceptable use policy" for city schools' computers, a technology section that tells teachers how to set up an e-mail account and how to use voice mail, and a section that tells them how to use the online program to input student grades, among other information. Teachers were walked through the CDs as part of their orientation. The district technology coordinator says she has been trying to convince the Board of Education to go paperless for a while, since every district employee has a computer. Teachers say that the CDs are less overwhelming than the traditional notebooks. They’re easy to store and easy to search for specific information. The move also saved the district money. The only expense was about $5 for labels, as opposed to an estimated $500 to $700 for printing the manuals in past years.

Source: The Huntsville Times

The Blog's the Thing

Parents at the Pinellas Park Elementary School in St Petersburg, FL are able to use the school’s web site to keep close track of their children’s progress. They can even get closed to real-time test scores for regular assessments like the weekly spelling test. But parents with students in Fred Roemer’s fifth grade are likely to say that their favorite thing is the student-authored blog. Relatively few elementary schools teachers maintain blogs, but as teachers learn more about the technique, their use can be expected to increase. A classroom blog might prove to be very effective at improving that elusive link with parents that teachers and schools prize so highly. Roemer started a classroom web site in the mid-90s, posting classroom information and a few pictures. Today, however, he has his students update the class blog daily. Students are free to write about whatever they want and there is plenty of imaginative material, but students also write about what goes on in the classroom, describing about math lessons, what they’re studying in social studies and their assignments. Parents can get a pretty clear picture of what goes on day to day. Teachers using blogs with students have to set up appropriate policies and safeguards. For example, children in Roemer’s class are identified only by their first and last initials. Though anyone can read the blog, only students and parents who register can post to it or access its other, private features, such as grade postings. While some parents may never see the blog, especially those without computer access, all students participate in its creation.

Source: St. Petersburg Times

Henrico Students Buy Their Old Computer

While there were some disgruntled buyers, most recent Henrico County high school graduates who went to the Richmond International Raceway last week left with a $50 used laptop. Most students went to the sale expecting to purchase the same Apple iBook they had used for the last four years. Henrico County provided laptop computer for all its high school students starting in September 2001. More than 1,100 laptops were reserved by graduating seniors. An additional 1,000 will be available to Henrico residents and taxpayers on a first-come, first-served basis. The district planned to give students their original laptops back, but some computers with hardware problems were saved for parts. About 10% of the computers handed out had some type of technical problem, typically with the operating system, but district technology staff was on hand to trouble shoot and only a handful of students had to wait a few days to pick up laptops that needed more extensive work. Students who got a machine other then the one they had used during high school worried about how that computer had been treated and what problems it might develop. But at $50, most students expect to use the computers to listen to music, surf the Net, take notes in college classes or give it to a younger family member.

Source: Richmond Times-Dispatch

Technology-Enhanced Libraries

Research shows that good school library programs contribute to improved student achievement. Nashville schools are finding that to be the case. New technology has allowed the libraries to function with more flexibility and allows librarians to work more closely with classroom teachers to plan lessons and find appropriate resources to enhance students’ learning experiences. The joint planning means that librarians are better able to draw connections for students between what happens in the classroom and the relevance of their library experience. And it’s that connectedness that is making the difference. The district has been able to prove that test scores are higher in the flexible schedule schools than they are in others still using a fixed schedule. A new library automation system has made it easier for librarians to manage their collections, moving toward the district goal of having a more current collection, particularly in the non-fiction arena. At the middle school level, the majority of items in the non-fiction collections now have copyright dates of 1995 or later. Twelve middle schools have non-fiction collections no older than five years. A partnership with Barnes and Noble has helped put new books on library shelves. More than 900 books worth $7,782 were donated to 84 different school libraries through the initiative.