T&L News(146)

Leader of the Year Profile; Top Online Degrees Help Top Educators; Buzzterm of the Month: Response to Intervention (RTI). What it is and why you need it; Contest: Technology in Motion 2: Community of the Future; Put to the Test: Joe Huber reviews SAS Curriculum Pathways
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Week of: September 15, 2008

  • Leader of the Year Profile
    Leader: Debby Martin, Business Education Teacher, Phoebus High School, Hampton City Schools, Hampton, Va.
    School Snapshot: 1480-student high school in district with high poverty rate; designated school for nearby Army base.
  • Top Online Degrees Help Top Educators
    Feeling stagnant in your current position or considering expanding your knowledge base (and salary potential!)? The thought of schlepping down to a local university after a long day in the classroom might seem daunting. For some, "local" could meet hours of commuting that just doesn't fit in a busy teacher's schedule. Thanks to the emergence of techno-savvy universities, online degrees can offer the same benefits as those taught on campus.
  • Buzzterm of the Month: Response to Intervention (RTI). What it is and why you need it
    More states are requiring school districts to put response to intervention (RTI) processes into place and yet many administrators and teachers are uncertain on how to get started. The RTI process matches high-quality instruction and interventions to unique student needs. Students are screened and those students identified as at risk or struggling in academics or behavior become a part of a problem-solving process. If a problem is identified early and targeted intervention is provided, this could get a student on track, and improve achievement.
  • Contest: Technology in Motion 2: Community of the Future
    Sponsor: Sony Creative Software
    Under the Community of the Future theme, students can share their vision of how technology will shape their neighborhoods in the future and are encouraged to interact with their local city council, mayor, city employees, community centers, or other groups to create their film. Contestants are required to use the provided Vegas Pro 8 software to produce their videos, but all other creative details are up to the students' own creativity.
    Deadline: October 15, 2008
  • Put to the Test: Joe Huber reviews SAS Curriculum Pathways

    An online instruction system that coversthe four basic core areas of the curriculum.

Leader of the Year Profile

By T&L Editors

She's Got Game

Debby Martin knew she had something when she saw that community colleges were offering game design courses. "Once that happened it was time for high schools to jump in," says Martin, who teaches business and technology classes at Phoebus High School (PHS) in Hampton, Virginia.

Whether teaching Web design or prepping students for the latest industry certification, Martin strives to stay one step ahead of the market her students are entering. So once the idea for an Introduction to Video Gaming class took hold, there was pretty much no stopping her.

The class kicked off last year with a curriculum focusing on four areas: the history of computer programming, including major companies and programmers in the field; an introduction to the Java programming language; training on Game Maker software; and instruction in Alice—a 3-D programming environment developed by Carnegie Mellon researchers with novice programmers in mind (Carnegie Mellon offers free downloads of Alice software along with teaching materials at www.alice.org.) "My vision for the class is the same as that of the creators of Alice," says Martin. "To 'head fake' students into learning a difficult subject matter by providing an exciting, engaging environment to learn in."

The classes are business electives that students choose to take as part of their school day. The Web design classes (Web Page Design, Advanced Web Page Design) and Introduction to Video Gaming classes are "dual enrollment" classes, which means they take classes at the high school and earn college credit from the local community college. In addition, the Web design classes provide an industry certification exam if they pass the course.

Martin reports that students responded positively to the class in its inaugural year. She's expecting even greater outcomes this year after training this summer—thanks to a National Science Foundation grant—with two computer science professors who support educators' use of Alice software: Susan Rodgers of Duke University and Don Slater of Carnegie Mellon.

Martin encountered some initial resistance to the classes. Some were worried kids would be sitting around playing video games all class. Others were concerned that the games created would have violence, blood and gore. But once she made her case that it was an effective way to introduce students to computer programming/computer science, the idea took off. "Now I teach the other teachers at the other high schools the course so that they would be prepared to offer this course this coming year," she says.

Martin's core belief is that learning is most powerful when it pairs real-world application with community involvement. Nowhere is this better illustrated than in her Advanced Web Page Design class. Last year the class approached a local homeless shelter (www.helphouse.org) to see if it might like a Web makeover. The nonprofit happily accepted, and with that the "Building Bridges to the Community" project was born. By year's end students had built 10 Web sites for community organizations, including one for the local Kiwanis club that won a state award.

Given Martin's accomplishments, it's not unexpected that she was named Hampton City Schools' 2007 teacher of the year. What is surprising, however, is that she was once herself a struggling student, enlisting in the Air Force before graduating from high school and becoming a single mother at the age of 19. "I know that when a student acts out it could be because of the other things they bring to school with them: family problems, financial hardships, and even homelessness," says Martin. "I cheer them on and let them know that no matter how bleak things may look now, it is something they can learn from."

Learn more at: www.phoebushighschool.com

Last Byte: "I really believe that it is my responsibility to teach students how to be prepared for life, not just Web page design or video game design."

Top Online Degrees Help Top Educators

By Sascha Zuger

Feeling stagnant in your current position or considering expanding your knowledge base (and salary potential!)? The thought of schlepping down to a local university after a long day in the classroom might seem daunting. For some, "local" could meet hours of commuting that just doesn't fit in a busy teacher's schedule. Thanks to the emergence of techno-savvy universities, online degrees can offer the same benefits as those taught on campus.

Many students feel they get more interaction with both professor and peers in the online format, as the flexibility of an unlimited connection isn't restricted to a once-a-week two-hour session. A number of traditional universities now offer online options, which can make sifting through the long list of offerings intimidating. We've highlighted some of the top programs below.

University of Illinois
http://www.online.uillinois.edu/
http://illinois.edu/

More than 1,000 educators have graduated from specialized programs like "Middle Grades Endorsement," earning necessary certification to work in a departmentalized middle grade setting and "Global Studies in Education," assisting P-16 educators to work with educators around the world to incorporate global perspectives into their curricula and challenge their students to develop a more international outlook. New Master's Degree programs include "Educational Leadership and Policy," "New Learning and New Literacies" and "Teaching Critical Thinking."

"Our online programs have the same admission criteria, course requirements, and instructors as campus programs," says Scott Johnson, Associate Dean for Online Learning. "There is complete flexibility, however, we require weekly 'virtual class meetings' where students and the instructor interact live using video and audio technologies. Learning to work with others in a virtual environment is a critical skill for the future."

Jones International University School of Education
http://jonesinternational.edu/

Six hundred and sixty students have successfully completed MEd degree programs such as Elementaryor Secondary Curriculum—Instruction and Assessment, MEd in K-12 Instructional Technology and Education Leadership and Administration with a 95% placement rate. Those seeking initial licensure as teachers or in administration have an additional four programs to choose from including the MEd in K-12 Instructional Technology which addresses the field's current need for tech savvy teachers.

"The Master of Education (MEd) degree programs offer students a project-based curriculum. Students explore theory and its application to the solutions of important education challenges," says Dr. Robert Fulton, Dean of the School of Education. "Each course offers students the opportunity to work closely with a mentor—a leader or leadership team in the field—who helps them to network within their local contexts and complete projects that address relevant, authentic problems."

University of New England
http://www.une.edu/admissions/online.asp
http://www.une.edu/

University of New England's online graduate programs have a current roster of 450 students with a 99% retention rate, credited to the programs' flexibility in working with teachers on the job.

"University of New England is unique in offering six starts every year,"says Douglas J. Lynch, Ph. D., Professor of Education, Chair. "The program is a manageable 18 months and allows students to work full-time. We require access to a classroom as a great deal of what we teach is experiential. Students graduate with a degree achieved by real-world experience."

"This course [highlighted] the importance of choosing assessments. At times, assessments are mandated and then tucked away in a child's folder," says Pam Mulcahy, second grade teacher and curriculum coordinator. "I plan to use portfolio assessment so students can take more ownership of their learning and I can show parents their child's growth over time."

Grand Canyon University
http://online.gcu.edu/
http://www.gcu.edu/

Known regionally as a teacher's college, Grand Canyon University has a sixty-year history, bringing 6,500 students to certification as educators. Many on-campus professors pull double duty in picking up online courses, while remote capabilities allow GCU to pull in international talent. With an emphasis on field experience, the college requires students to experience a wide variety of classrooms and schools.

"My education at Grand Canyon University definitely prepared me to be accountable for student learning," says Maggie Kipp, 2007 College of Education alumnus. "I feel very competent in aligning to standards, building performance assessments and analyzing student achievement."

The program concentrates on competency based assignments. The creation of eportfolios helps manage assignments and submitted work projects, giving students comprehensive feedback on their progress. The eportfolio, edited by student and advisor on graduation, offers prospective employers an impressive package which contributes to successful placement.

Wilkes University
http://www.wilkes.edu/

"The Classroom Technology Master's Program is offered to certified teachers who want to learn more about how to use technology to enrich the learning environment for their students and increase student performance to meet increasing accountability demands," says Barbara Moran, Program Coordinator.

"Wilkes has also partnered with Discovery Education to offer free accounts to DE Streaming in several required courses in the program. Students can apply what they are learning in their own classrooms. A new program offering, Master's of Science in Instructional Media, will prepare teachers to engage today's students in learning through digital media."

"The program encouraged me to stay up to date on current technology and teaching practices," says Tammy Dutton, Bethlehem, PA middle school teacher. "I created some unique projects involving my current students, including an archaeology podcast. I would not have been inclined to attempt this if I had not been taking the course."

The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership at Walden University
http://www.waldenu.edu/

With a 38-year-history and over 18,000 earned graduate degrees, Walden offers the largest online program by enrollment for teachers and aspiring teachers to explore options for career development. Students choose from a wide offering of programs, from BS to PhD level, to either transition into teaching or a new area of teaching, or to increase skills and qualifications to advance their career and earning potential.

"At Walden, we firmly believe that as your knowledge grows, your influence multiplies—in the classroom, among peers, and throughout the education community," says Dr. Kelley Costner, Associate Dean – Masters Programs. "The landscape of education is changing. Walden has built upon its curriculum themes to address topics that are prevalent in today's classroom. These prepare educators to take leadership in improving the quality of education for an increasingly diverse population of students."

Fresno Pacific University
http://www.fresno.edu/cpd/online/
http://www.fresno.edu/

"The 'Clickers in the Classroom' [eInstruction's Classroom Performance System clicker] allows busy teachers to earn certificates in technology that demonstrates to their colleagues and principal their expertise in integrating technology into the classroom," says Matt Gehrett, Executive Director. "Our courses are led by master teachers who currently are or have been in the classroom."

"Many teachers find it difficult to have a piece of hardware or software dropped in their lap without any training or guidance as to how to use it to make a difference with their students. This meets that need for training." says Ed Warkentin, Middle School English Teacher and Clicker Instructor. "Students interact with each other, and other users of "Clickers" around the world, solving technical problems, sharing management tips, lessons, and best practices."

Western Governors University
http://www.wgu.edu/

Western Governor's University is the only exclusively online teacher education institution in the nation to receive NCATE accreditation. Its broad licensure program includes a comprehensive collection of BA degrees geared toward specific subjects and continues with online master's, and post-baccalaureate teacher preparation programs.

"WGU's Master of Education (Learning and Technology) graduate degree fit very well into my current work experience," says Charice Black, Distance Education Specialist for Utah Education Network. "I was able to work my studies around my busy schedule. My mentor was a huge help and provided me with the best support system."

WGU Interdisciplinary Studies grad and current M.S. in Special Education student Jennifer West agrees. "The competency-based assessments allow you to master the material because you have to get to a certain performance level before you can move on."

Sascha Zuger is a freelancer, public radio commentator, and author of Girl Overboard, a young adult novel, under the pseudonym Aimee Ferris.

Buzzterm of the Month: Response to Intervention (RTI). What it is and why you need it

By Dr. Christy A. Chambers

More states are requiring school districts to put response to intervention (RTI) processes into place and yet many administrators and teachers are uncertain on how to get started. The RTI process matches high-quality instruction and interventions to unique student needs. Students are screened and those students identified as at risk or struggling in academics or behavior become a part of a problem-solving process. If a problem is identified early and targeted intervention is provided, this could get a student on track, and improve achievement.

RTI is important not because the concept is promoted by legislation, but because it has the potential to unify education by promoting the sharing of resources, intervening early, and breaking down the walls of special ed. Essentially, RTI can build an "Every Ed," a system where students benefit from targeted interventions and frequent progress monitoring designed to enhance the achievement of all students.

There are three significant ways that the use of a software program is key to successful implementation of an RTI process:

  • Use multimedia techniques: Technology can provide Universal Design for Learning (UDL), the framework that provides equal opportunities to learn by making the curriculum accessible for all learners. For example, a teacher can provide digital text with vocabulary definitions or animated coaches that assist students with comprehension.
  • Assess year-round: Rather than just use twice-a-year assessments to see where students fall, RTI requires teachers to implement multiple scientifically based interventions and frequently monitor student progress. Data collection and analysis programs that include ongoing training help make sure every student gets the intervention needed, when it's needed.
  • Use data more effectively: Schools can meet achievement and AYP (adequate yearly progress) goals by tracking, disaggregating, analyzing, and reporting student achievement data throughout the school year. Implementing a system to track all student achievement data may seem daunting, but, in reality, data management tools streamline assessment work. These tools eliminate duplication of efforts and help schools meet accountability requirements.

Dr. Christy A. Chambers is the immediate past president of the Council of Administrators of Special Education and CEO, Beyond the Box, an education consulting group providing technical assistance and training.

SIDEBAR: Intervention Programs

AEC, A+nyWhere Learning System®
Autoskill, Academy of MATH
Cambium Learning, Language! The Comprehensive Literacy Curriculum and Read Well
Carnegie Learning, Math Prep
CompassLearning, Odyssey Math
Curriculum Associates, RTI: Response-to-Intervention
Harcourt Achieve, NorthStar Math
HOSTS, Mentoring and Intervention program
Houghton Mifflin, MathSteps
Imagination Station
Kaplan, Reading and Math Empowerment
Lexia
McMillan/McGraw Hill: Reading Triumphs
Pearson, AMP Program (Achieving Maximum Progress)
PLATO Courses
Princetone Review
Recorded Books, Plugged-in to Reading
Scholastic, Read 180
Scientific Learning, Fast ForWord
SRA/McGraw-Hill, Number Worlds
Steck Vaughn/Renaissance Learning, Read Now Power Up! or steckvaughn.harcourtachieve.com
Summit Interactive, GraspMath Interactive Video Tutor
The Princeton Review, SideStreets
Touch Math
Voyager, Expanded Learning, Passport, Journeys, and VMath

Contest: Technology in Motion 2: Community of the Future

Sponsor: Sony Creative Software
Under the Community of the Future theme, students can share their vision of how technology will shape their neighborhoods in the future and are encouraged to interact with their local city council, mayor, city employees, community centers, or other groups to create their film. Contestants are required to use the provided Vegas Pro 8 software to produce their videos, but all other creative details are up to the students' own creativity.
Deadline: October 15, 2008

Contest: Interactive Classroom Makeover Contest

Sponsor: eInstruction
Prize: A complete interactive classroom makeover, which consists of a Next Generation Interwrite Board and much more.
Description: Participants of this contest create a short music video demonstrating how classes currently use or would like to use technology to enhance instruction.
Deadline: October 24, 2008

Put to the Test: Joe Huber reviews SAS Curriculum Pathways

Description: An online instruction system that covers the four basic core areas of the curriculum.

How to use in the classroom: An instructor can create a lesson for a class or an individual student and assign it to them to be complete and submitted online. The instructor can also create a blog for the class; parents and students can subscribe to the blog to keep up-to-date on what is going on in class. The teacher can also add individual notes (called flags) to lessons to customize them for the class or the student.

Pros: The interface is easy-to-use. I like the blog feature. The ability for the instructor to set flags (make personal comments) is also a good. It uses SAS Strategic Performance Management and SAS Human Capital Management. These data collection tools are where SAS shines above many of the competitors.

Cons: The program only links to national standards, not state standards as do some of the competing products. It was also very easy to navigate away from the main site when view some of the demos. This will allow students to drift to other subjects rather than stay on task. The program does not allow an instructor to create a podcast and videocast.

Overall Impression: There are many products like this on the market, many with more features that are relatively low-priced (two that come to mind are nettrekker and SchoolFusion). The fact that the program is not coordinated to state standards is disappointing since remediation is a huge use for this product, and meeting AYP depends on meeting state standards notional standards. However, if a school can work with national standards, the SAS Curriculum Pathways does have excellent data collection tools.

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