Week of: November 12, 2007
- Podcasts Support Students Learning
Trendy or not, podcasts are cropping up everywhere and helping children learn content that otherwise might seem boring or inaccessible.
- Seven Illinois Schools Pilot Laptop Program
Southeastern Middle School is one of seven schools participating in Illinois' new Technology Immersion Pilot Project (TIPP).
- Group Argues for Adaptive Testing
A group of Delaware educators are lobbying for the right to use computer adaptive tests to measure student progress under No Child Left Behind.
- Tech-IT Expands to West Coast
St. John the Baptist Catholic School in California's Napa Valley is the first school on the West Coast to pilot Tech-IT, a school wide technology program.
- Carnegie Mellon Wins Robot Car Race
Carnegie Mellon University's Tartan Racing Team won the DARPA Urban Challenge autonomous vehicle competition, collecting $2 million for its first place finish.
Podcasts Support Students Learning
Trendy or not, podcasts are cropping up everywhere and helping children learn content that otherwise might seem boring or inaccessible. In a fifth grade classroom at Ervin C. Whitt Elementary in the Grand Prairie (TX) school district, the teacher has created a rock song about solids, liquids and gases. Using software that allows users to record, edit and mix their own songs, the teacher is using her song to teach her students the science associated with gases, liquids and solids. Grand Prairie is following in the footsteps of Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD, one of the first school districts in the area to use iPods and podcasting with students. Carrollton-Farmers Branch now has roughly 4,000 iPods in use. Grand Prairie purchased 321 video iPods at the beginning of this school year at a cost of $73,114. Podcasts are particularly popular as a way of helping teach English to English Language Learners or in foreign language classrooms, where teachers can make recordings modeling proper pronunciation. Grand Prairie is taking advantage of the ability to play videos on their new iPods. After discussing the changing seasons, first graders watch videos that illustrate the changes. The music, art and physical education teachers teamed up to create a video about the planets, using hula hoops and planets created by the art teacher that rotated around the hoops. Fifth graders have produced their own video on the American Revolution. Roughly half of Whitt's 18 teachers are using the iPods with students, but after seeing the students' reactions, others are beginning to express interest.
Source:Dallas Morning News
Seven Illinois Schools Pilot Laptop Program
Southeastern Middle School is one of seven Illinois schools participating in Illinois' new Technology Immersion Pilot Project (TIPP). Every sixth grader in the participating schools has received a laptop computer. Over the course of the three-year pilot, students use the computers at school and are allowed to taker them home. By the end of the pilot period, every sixth, seventh and eight grade students will have computers. TIPP grants also provide funding for improved infrastructure and professional development. At Southeastern, an outside expert worked with teachers to help them devise ways to use the technology to support a more hands-on learning environment. Though Southeastern is one of the smaller and more rural schools participating in TIPP, students are producing sophisticated projects. For example, science teacher Sara Ramsey had students take pictures as they dissected frogs. They then integrated the pictures with step-by-step information on the dissection process and compared and contrasted the frog and human anatomy. Ramsey says the computers have allowed teachers to create projects that challenge students to go above and beyond what they might have ordinarily done, learning to collaborate and problem solve in the process. During the course of the pilot teachers will gather information on student projects. Long-term, schools will track student attendance, ISAT and achievement scores and graduation rate of students who participated in the pilot project.
Source:Hancock County Journal-Pilot
Group Argues for Adaptive Testing
A group of Delaware educators are lobbying for the right to use computer adaptive tests to measure student progress under No Child Left Behind. A bill has been introduced in Congress that would give states the option of using adaptive testing. Delaware is one of 10 states currently approved to use the growth-model approach to measuring student progress under NCLB, allowing it to recognize student progress over time even though students may not yet have reached proficiency. The Steering Committee of the Delaware Statewide Academic Growth Assessment Pilot argues that while growth models are an improvement, they do not go far enough, since they still rely on single-grade-level assessments. For both high- and low-performing students, grade-level assessments become less and less helpful at documenting progress the further away from grade level that progress occurs — so that even an exceptional performance by a student who starts out either well below or well above grade level will be tracked inaccurately. The Steering Committee commissioned a report that compared Delaware Student Testing Program and adaptive-test scores and found that multigrade adaptive growth assessments provide a far more accurate measure of student and school improvement. Computerized adaptive tests adjust difficulty based on how a student answers. They include questions from a broad range of grade levels so that the current performance level of each student can be determined in addition to grade-level proficiency.
Tech-IT Expands to West Coast
St. John the Baptist Catholic School in California's Napa Valley is the first school on the West Coast to pilot Tech-IT, a school wide technology program. The program provides an integrated technology curriculum in which students acquire technology skills through standards-based projects. St. John's is partnering with Boston University and the University of Richmond who support Tech-IT programs at 130 schools on the East Coast. Teachers will receive training as part of the program, but since TECH-IT is designed to support teaching relevant academic lessons, it reinforces what teachers are already doing. The Tech-IT curriculum includes graphic design, multimedia, operating systems and Web page design with an emphasis on Internet research, PowerPoint presentations and digital video. Students have access to an "online locker" that allows them to save their work online and provides parents with quick access to their children's work. St John's students will also store their work on individual flash drives. The faculty at St John's believes that the technology emphasis will help prepare students for high school and college while providing skill necessary to compete in an increasingly technological world. St John's will serve as a host school, providing reference and host seminars to other interested schools.
Source:Napa Valley Register
Carnegie Mellon Wins Robot Car Race
Carnegie Mellon University's Tartan Racing Team won the DARPA Urban Challenge autonomous vehicle competition, collecting $2 million for its first place finish. Stanford University's Stanford Racing team came in second and Virginia Tech's Victor Tango team claimed third place. The Urban Challenge is an autonomous vehicle research and development program featuring autonomous ground vehicles maneuvering in a mock city environment, executing simulated military supply missions while merging into moving traffic, navigating traffic circles, negotiating busy intersections, and avoiding obstacles. An autonomous ground vehicle is a vehicle that navigates and drives entirely on its own with no human driver and no remote control. The vehicles use a variety of sensors and positioning systems to determine all the characteristics of its environment, like recognizing the presence of an obstacle. Eleven teams started the race and six finished the 60-mile course within the six-hour time limit. DARPA has held two previous Grand Challenge autonomous vehicle competitions. The first Grand Challenge event was held in March 2004 and featured a 142-mile desert course. Fifteen autonomous ground vehicles attempted the course and no vehicle finished. In the 2005 Grand Challenge, four autonomous vehicles successfully completed a 132-mile desert route under the required 10-hour limit, and DARPA awarded a $2 million prize to "Stanley" from Stanford University.