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Week of: November 5, 2007 Online Support for Spanish-Speaking High Schoolers The Clarke County (GA) School District is using Plaza Comunitaria software, provided by the Mexican government, to help its Spanish-speaking students reinforce what they learn by reviewing it in
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Week of: November 5, 2007

  • Online Support for Spanish-Speaking High Schoolers
    The Clarke County (GA) School District is using Plaza Comunitaria software, provided by the Mexican government, to help its Spanish-speaking students reinforce what they learn by reviewing it in Spanish.
  • Native American School Melds Tradition and Technology
    The state-of-the-art Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School on the Seminole Tribe's Brighton Reservation is providing students with a 21st century education and respect for tradition.
  • Distance Learning Serves Needs of Gifted
    Distance learning is allowing Maryland's Anne Arundel County Public Schools to address the needs of highly gifted students and distribute resources more equitably.
  • Game Players Did Best
    Scottish students who played mini-games focused on learning skills before class everyday improved their math test scores.
  • High Turnover Among Math, Science, Computer Teachers
    According to a state survey, Arkansas teachers certified in math, science or computer science are twice as likely as other teachers to leave the classroom for other employment.

Online Support for Spanish-Speaking High Schoolers

The Clarke County (GA) School District is using Plaza Comunitaria software, provided by the Mexican government, to help its Spanish-speaking students reinforce what they learn by reviewing it in Spanish. Beginning in January and supported with a $15,000 grant from the Mexican consulate, Clarke Central High School will offer the resources of Plaza Comunitaria to its Spanish-speaking students, who will be able to access the Georgia high school curriculum in Spanish. Students can use the Spanish language instruction to reinforce lessons learned during the day. Reviewing difficult concepts in their native language will help students overcome the barrier that academic language — the language used to explain chemistry or biology or the ideas behind American history — presents for students for whom English is not a first language. For students who move to the U.S. as 9th or 10th graders, the challenge of learning both English and the content of their academic courses can be daunting. In Clarke County, roughly 70% of the district's ESOL students don't graduate on time. The district's goal is to have its ESOL students graduate with a Georgia high school diploma, but some students, like those entering in the 11th or 12th grade, can use the Plaza Comunitaria software to work toward a GED or to earn a equivalency diploma granted by the Mexican Ministry of Education. The school district can also use the software for students studying Spanish as a foreign language and to increase parental involvement. Plaza Comunitaria offers educational resources starting from basic literacy, elementary education, middle and high school classes, ESOL, parenting mini-courses as well parent education modules to help adults complete their education.

Source:Online Athens

Native American School Melds Tradition and Technology

The state-of-the-art Pemayetv Emahakv Charter School on the Seminole Tribe's Brighton Reservation in Florida, puts some of the tribe's casino earning to work providing students with a 21st century education. The school, which opened in August and cost $10 million to build, sports laptop computers, iPods, highly-qualified teachers and a marked respect for the students' culture. While students in one classroom use podcasts to learn language arts, others are busy learning Creek, the Seminole language. Tribal elders know they are educating children who will take over the tribe's extensive business holdings, but they want these future leaders to be rooted in Seminole tradition. Central to maintaining tradition is the effort to keep the Creek language alive. Not only are the children learning , but so are parents, many of whom do not speak Creek and have to turn grandparents and other tribal elders for help. Pemayetv Emahakv is operating as a charter school, building on an earlier "pull-out" program the tribe operated that allowed Seminole students attending nearby public schools to remain on the reservation once a week for cultural classes. Like all Florida schools, Pemayetv Emahakv students will take the FCAT, but operating as a charter allows teachers more freedom to tailor instruction to students' needs. And technology is a big part of individualizing instruction at Pemayetv Emahakv. Teachers say that students are much more focused when using technology tools and seem to take in more information. To prevent problems, the school's iPods are programmed to work with only school approved material, like a hip- hop multiplication tables program and maps that display on the iPod screen.

Source:The Miami Herald

Distance Learning Serves Needs of Gifted

Distance learning is allowing Maryland's Anne Arundel County Public Schools to address the needs of highly gifted students and distribute resources more equitably. The district has invested in technology to allow teachers like Josh Dorsey to reach students with his Calculus 3 course. Dorsey's class is broadcast real-time to six schools and heard by 11 students. Students can hear and talk to Dorsey using headphones and microphones that hook into their computers. Students use electronic tablets that display their work to the entire class. Younger students are also benefiting. Five eighth graders at four different middle schools are taking Algebra 2 via the distance learning system. Before implementing the distance learning program, the district used three traveling math teachers to meet the needs of advanced middle school students, reaching one or two at a time. The district team of six itinerant math teachers cost $330,000. In contrast, the district paid $37,428 for the distance learning software and has spent $193,000 implementing and supporting the program. Currently, the district is offering only math instruction via distance learning, but there is discussion about adding foreign language instruction. Superintendent Kevin M. Maxwell has proposed offering Advanced Placement or International Baccalaureate classes in Chinese to the district curriculum, with the goal of preparing students for the global marketplace. One way of meeting that goal would be to use the district's distance learning system.

Source:Baltimore Sun

Game Players Did Best

Scottish students who played mini-games focused on learning skills before class everyday improved their math test scores. The 10-week project, devised by Learning and Teaching Scotland (LTS), involved three groups of nine and 10 year olds. The first group spent 15 minutes every morning playing More Brain Training game on a Nintendo DS console. The Nintendo mini-games included activities such as number challenges, reading tests, problem-solving exercises and memory puzzles designed to exercise the brain by increasing blood flow to the pre-frontal cortex. The second group used Brain Gym - a series of exercises designed to increase brain activity and enhance learning - three or four days a week. The third, control group received no treatment. All the students were given a math test at the beginning of the project and took the same test after the 10-week project closed. Test scores improved in all three groups, but the most dramatic improvements occurred in the group of game players, where the average score went up 10 points from 76/100 to 86/100. Students in the game-playing group who had low scores on the first test did particularly well. There was also a noticeable impact on children's behavior and levels of concentration throughout the school day. LTS hopes to repeat the experiment on a larger scale early next year. If successful, it is hoped that more local school authorities will adopt the model.

Source:BBC News

High Turnover Among Math, Science, Computer Teachers

According to a state survey, Arkansas teachers certified in math, science or computer science are twice as likely as other teachers to leave the classroom for other employment. The Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research conducted the survey as part of its efforts to get a better understanding of teacher attrition in the state. Overall, Arkansas looses between 6% and 8% of public school teachers annually. The largest number of teachers who had recently left the classroom (42%) cited family or child rearing as the reason. More than 30% said they left because of low salaries and benefits, followed by student discipline problems (27%), lack of administrative support (25%) opportunities in other fields (21%) inadequate preparation time (16%), irrelevant professional development (15%) and excessive paperwork and hours (12%). Legislators expressed concern over the high turnover rates, which result in many children being taught by inexperienced teachers. State Education Commissioner Ken James told legislators that a certain amount of attrition may be unavoidable. In a world where workers move freely from job to job, making as many as five to seven career changes over a lifetime, it's unlikely that education will keep people for 25 to 30 years. A related study in Texas reported that math and science teachers at schools reporting impressive results in math and science typically earned about $3,000 a year more than other teachers at their schools. School districts paid those supplements using incentive pay or special stipend programs. Since the Arkansas study implies that math, science and computer teachers have more career options, increasing their pay may be one way of keeping them in the classroom.

Source:Arkansas News Bureau

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