T&L News(126) - Tech Learning

T&L News(126)

Week of: April 21, 2008 Cell Division—To ban or not to ban? Some districts keep mobile phones from school grounds. Others write curricula for them. Since January, a high school in Craik, Saskatchewan, has instituted a pilot project to make phones a part of the curriculum.
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Week of: April 21, 2008

  • Cell Division—To ban or not to ban? Some districts keep mobile phones from school grounds. Others write curricula for them.
    Since January, a high school in Craik, Saskatchewan, has instituted a pilot project to make phones a part of the curriculum. So far, students have been using the phones' calendar and alarm functions for class, and texting responses to questions teachers pose about books they have been studying. The program's effectiveness will be evaluated this summer.
  • Cell Division—To ban or not to ban? Some districts keep mobile phones from school grounds. Others write curricula for them.
    Since January, a high school in Craik, Saskatchewan, has instituted a pilot project to make phones a part of the curriculum. So far, students have been using the phones' calendar and alarm functions for class, and texting responses to questions teachers pose about books they have been studying. The program's effectiveness will be evaluated this summer.
  • Get that Grant—Five steps you can take this summer to find the money for your classroom.
    As summer approaches, teachers often have more time to plan activities and look for ways to fund them. What can you do during the summer months to get ready for new grant opportunities?
  • New math activities for K-5
    Kidspiration 3 is to grades K-3 what the visual learning software Inspiration is to older students. While its new math activities address K-5 math skills, the program's graphical interface will appeal to younger children.
  • What's New—A look at ed tech products and services released this week.
    Epson introduces five new powerful and bright projectors offering advanced capabilities and industry-leading 3LCD technology to meet even the most demanding presentation needs in large auditoriums, university classrooms, and conference rooms.

Cell Division—To ban or not to ban? Some districts keep mobile phones from school grounds. Others write curricula for them.

Correlieu Secondary School in Quesnel, British Columbia, has banned phones in response to a flurry of schoolyard fights that were recorded by cell phone cameras and then posted to YouTube. The Quesnel School Board is considering a measure that every school have a policy on "electronically posting material on the Web or transmitting material by cell phones that threatens, demeans, or bullies another student, staff member or the school."

Three middle schools and three charter schools in Brooklyn, New York, started a pilot program in direct opposition of New York City's public schools' cell phone ban. The schools gave 2,500 free cell phones to students, preloaded with 130 minutes of talk time. Students will be rewarded with additional minutes in return for good behavior, attendance, homework, and test scores. Teachers, meanwhile, can send text messages to students to remind them of assignments or upcoming exams. The $2 million program was funded by private donors through the Fund for Public Schools.

In Florida's Hernando County, 27 students recently had the results of their Florida Comprehensive Assessment Tests invalidated for violating a state ban on cell phones and electronic devices during testing that went into effect last fall. Students will also face school discipline for ignoring the rule.

Even people driving by schools are feeling the heat. Several Texas districts, including those in Dallas, Duncanville, Highland Park, University Park, and Flower Mound, have approved measures to issue citations to drivers specifically using handheld cell phones in school zones. In West University Place, Texas, the ban has been extended to hands-free phones as well.

Get that Grant—Five steps you can take this summer to find the money for your classroom.

Create a toolkit.
If at first you don't succeed…you probably tell your students to keep trying, but do you practice what you preach? Vacation is a good time to create a grant toolkit. Your toolkit will include a basic proposal refined and polished (reviewed by friends), a list of target grants, and a calendar of deadlines.

Schedule research time.
So many resources, so little time. The Internet is filled with grant listings, workshops, guides, and people who can help with grant writing and research. The amount of information can be overwhelming. If you schedule some time and set a few goals, you can narrow your research more quickly and focus on what will help get funding for your classroom.

Set your own deadlines.
Many foundations offer ongoing grant giving programs with rolling deadlines or no deadlines. They often fall below the radar without a pending date to apply. When you discover one of these programs, set your own deadline during the summer and be sure to apply.

Work together.
Exciting projects that require team teaching often don't happen because of a lack of planning during the busy school year. If you and your colleagues have a great idea, schedule time during the summer to make a plan for the next year. Working together on researching and writing grants makes the process more fun, more creative, and often more successful.

Subscribe to a grants bulletin.
When the year gets started again, it's easy to lose track of the deadlines for the best grants. There are many grants bulletins and alerts that can help. Find one that has the most relevant grants and sign up.
—Karen Greenwood Henke

Karen Greenwood Henke runs Grant Wrangler, a grants and awards listing service for teachers.

New math activities for K-5

New with this version is a Math View, featuring five interactive, kid-friendly tools supporting K-5 National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Curriculum Focal Points. Math activities target problem solving, reasoning, and critical thinking in numbers and operations (for whole numbers and fractions), geometry (angles, orientation, and both 2-D and 3-D shapes), measurement (including area and length), and even algebra (multiples, factors, patterns, and number sequences).

Math View tools permit students to have multiple pages in a single document. With this feature, they can solve problems in different ways. Additionally, before youngsters choose to work with a particular math tool, they can click the Use Steps box on the Math Tools menu so they can show each problem-solving step as they work through an assignment. When teachers prepare a custom math activity for their students, they can lock one or more items in the workspace to prevent students from altering the layout. A workspace math activity area allows for self-paced, open-ended exploration. A completed math activity can be exported as a bit-mapped image, GIF, JPEG, or HTML file.

To support tactile learning, Kidspiration 3 invites youngsters to represent ideas by dragging colorful pictures, photos, and animated images from symbol libraries into the program's Picture View or Math View workspaces. With the new Math Tools, students can drag and drop digital color tiles and pattern blocks. To support auditory learning, the software will read most text aloud. When students place the pointer on a toolbar tool or menu item in any view, the program identifies the item by reading it aloud. Users also can record words or narration for audio feedback.

Kidspiration online teacher resources provide additional literacy, social studies, science, and math activities.

Kidspiration 3 has it all—Web diagrams, idea maps, writing tools, and math manipulatives—neatly bundled in a colorful, user-friendly digital learning environment that helps youngsters both learn and practice standards-based lesson content.
Carol S. Holzberg

Carol S. Holzberg, PhD, is a technology coordinator for Greenfield Public Schools in Massachusetts. You can reach her at cholzberg@gmail.com.

What's New—A look at ed tech products and services released this week.

New to Epson's award-winning projector lineup are the Epson PowerLite 6110i and 1825 projectors. New as well are the PowerLite Pro series with three models: the Epson PowerLite Pro G5150NL, G5350NL, and G5200WNL. The PowerLite Pro G5150NL and G5350NL offer XGA resolution as well as 4,000 and 5,000 lumens respectively (ISO 21118 standard). The PowerLite Pro G5200WNL offers 4,200 lumens and delivers WXGA (1280 x 800) widescreen resolution. The new PowerLite 6110i and 1825 projectors both offer XGA resolution and 3,500 lumens of brightness. All five models feature Epson 3-chip 3LCD high aperture panels for more intense and sharper images.

Pokémon USA, Inc., adds a lesson on cyberbullying to the Pokémon Learning League Internet Safety Program, developed in collaboration with the Virginia Department of Education. Students, educators, and parents can use this new high-quality educational resource in the classroom and at home. Pokémon Learning League is an online suite of animated, interactive lessons in math, science, language arts, and life skills.

The Internet Safety Program teaches students to think critically about their online activities. The two-week unit consists of lessons in online safety, media literacy, and cyberbullying; upper and lower elementary lesson plans and a unit quiz; tips for parents; a printable course-completion certificate for students; a printable poster to remind students how to stay safe online; plus, a teacher's guides to help educators integrate the lessons into classroom planning.

The new Classroom Jeopardy! StandardsLink for Science from ETA/Cuisenaire provides a familiar way to review content and reinforce skills based on state and national science education standards. The games, which are based on the popular game show, cover life science, Earth science, physical science, unifying concepts and processes, and the history and nature of science. What sets these games apart is that the clues and responses for each game have been carefully customized to curriculum standards in Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, and Texas to ensure that educators are reviewing the specific science content in their state curriculum frameworks and testing on their high-stakes assessments. In addition, a national version of the games is aligned to National Science Education standards for use in other states. For more information, call (800) 445-5985 or visit www.etacuisenaire.com.

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