- Philadelphia Celebrates School of the Future Opening
Philadelphia's new School of the Future is now open for business, welcoming the 170 freshmen who make up its inaugural class. The $63-million building abounds with new technology.
- Home Schoolers Find a Home Online
A number of home school families are turning to virtual online schools to find the support they need to be sure their children get the best possible education.
- Teacher Blogs Help Parents Keep in Touch
Teachers have begun to blog as a way of keeping parents in touch with what is going on in the classroom. It takes just a few minutes to post a quick note about the day's science experiment or to share one of those "too good to miss" stories.
- NASA Resources Enrich Middle School Science
Science class is about to get more exciting for some Texas middle school students whose teachers participated in the Middle School Aerospace Scholars Program at NASA in Houston this past summer.
- New Federal IDs Get More High Tech
Faced with the need for improved security, the government is turning to biometrics to help secure personal IDs issued to federal employees.
Philadelphia Celebrates School of the Future Opening
On Thursday, September 7, Philadelphia's new School of the Future opened for business, welcoming the 170 first-year students who make up its inaugural class. Three year in the planning and construction, the $63-million building abounds with new technology and innovations. Each student will receive a laptop computer, lockers open with the swipe of a smart card, ceiling-mounted projectors are plentiful and photovoltaic panels in the windows and roof convert sunlight into electricity. Students will each be issued a smart card that they will use for a number of purposes, from purchasing lunch to checking out library books. Students were selected by lottery, with 75% coming from the school's West Philadelphia neighborhood and the rest selected citywide. The school will follow a traditional academic curriculum, with an emphasis on project-based interdisciplinary learning. Drexel University, one of the school's university partners, will provide staff and student resources. About 200 honor students from Villanova University will serve as online tutors. Two professors from the University of Pennsylvania will teach classes - one in robotics, the other in urban design. Students who attend the school will be required to apply to at least one college as they near graduation. The requirement is emblematic of the intent to raise the bar for School of the Future students; no other high school in the city has such a requirement. The school is the result of a partnership with Microsoft Corp, under which the technology company provided consultative resources and dedicated project management. The district had access to Microsoft personnel and research in the areas of data integration and management, collaboration and communication, streaming media, organizational efficiency, and leadership development. The company did not pay for the building or its equipment, though it has donated $100,000 for naming rights to an area of the building. The district will be incorporating School of the Future design features into other new schools it is planning. It has also modernized 1,000 classrooms, so that as many children as possible will learn in a Classroom of the Future.
Source:The Philadelphia Inquirer
Home Schoolers Find a Home Online
Once the decision to home school spelled a clean break with the public school system and a lot of time searching for appropriate curriculum materials. But as more virtual school options become available, home school families are able to more easily find the support they need to be sure their children get the best possible education. Families decide to home school for a variety of reasons â€“ religious beliefs, health issues, concerns about bullying or undesirable influences at school, individual children's learning styles and needs. As children grow older, providing appropriate instruction becomes harder for parents to do on their own. In Utah, parents can turn to the resources of Utah Online Academies for K-8 students or the Utah Electronic High School. Utah Online Academies is run through a partnership between Davis, Alpine and Washington school districts. The service, which provides a complete K-8 curriculum, all necessary learning materials and access to an online teacher, is available to all Utah families at no cost. Learning materials, such as books, maps, paper, arts supplies flash cards, musical instruments and science materials are delivered directly to the student's home. The Electronic High School (EHS), which is also free to in-state students, offers an accredited online high school program from which students can earn a Utah high school diploma. EHS offers more than 60 courses, including core subjects such as calculus, English and chemistry, and electives such as digital photography, Web page design, Navajo language and horse management. EHS also serves many students who are enrolled in Utah high schools and who use its resources to make up credits, take courses not available locally or resolve a schedule conflict. Some 54,000 Utah student stakes course through the Electronic High School.
Source:The Salt Lake Tribune
Teacher Blogs Help Parents Keep in Touch
Teachers have begun to blog as a way of keeping in touch with parents. It takes just a few minutes to post a quick note about the day's science experiment or to share one of those "too good to miss" stories. Parents turn to these teacher blogs to get a glimpse into what the school day was like for their children. In some cases the blog becomes an active classroom community, with parents posting questions and comments on what the teacher has written. Teachers typically avoid identifying children, instead describing lessons that the class excelled at or struggled with, events like the arrival of a class pet and student reactions, and personal reflections. Teachers who are blogging in this informal way believe that letting parents know what's going on — the big and little events of each day or week — can help prevent misunderstandings and garner active parental support. Being aware of what went on at school helps parents engage their children in conversation. Knowing that a child is learning a new skill — like telling time — let's parents find natural ways to allow the child to practice the new skill or show off his or her accomplishments. If students participate in the class blog, teachers exercise caution and some control, both to protect privacy and to be sure that no online bullying takes place or inappropriate entries are posted. Some schools block comments or make blogs available only to member of the school community, via password.
Source:The Boston Globe
NASA Resources Enrich Middle School Science
Science class is about to get more exciting for some Texas middle school students whose teachers participated in the Middle School at NASA in Houston this past summer. The program is designed to help link teachers with the classroom resources that NASA provides and teach them how to integrate NASA instructional materials into the classroom curriculum. The program is funded by the State of Texas and administered by NASA Johnson Space Center. Teachers apply online as teams of 2 or 4 from the same school. Teams of 2 consist of a math and science teacher. Teams of 4 consist of a math, science, language arts, and social studies teacher. During the weeklong workshop, teachers leaned how to use videoconferencing and webcasting technology to connect to NASA facilities and experts. Teachers believe what they have learned and the resources they will be able to bring to the classroom, ranging from lesson plans, videos and access to live NASA live experts, will help their students get more interested in science. Each Aerospace Scholars Program school will participate in three distance learning programs during the school year, giving students an opportunity to interact with experts in the space program.
New Federal IDs Get More High Tech
The stuff of spy movies is coming to life in the real world. Faced with the need for improved security, the government is turning to biometrics to help secure personal IDs. Federal employees will be getting new IDs this fall that will include fingerprints and, depending on the agency, possibly some other forms of biometric identification, like a retinal scan. The cards are also likely to incorporate a computer chip that will store personal information, magnetic strips, personal identification numbers and digital photos, as well as holograms and watermarks to deter forgery. The hope is that including multiple methods of identifying the legitimate bearer will make it harder for anyone else to use the card to gain entry to secured premises. Similar cards are planned for transportation workers, first responders and visitors to the United States. Private industry, especially banks, retail stores and the health industry, are watching the government program carefully. In addition, last year's Real ID Act calls for standardizing security features on driver's licenses by mid-2008. The standards, being developed by the Department of Homeland Security, are expected to be considerably less rigorous than the new federal ID standards, but a solid step up from current practice. While the new IDs may make some people feel safer, they raise concerns among privacy advocates. The card's computer chip could also be used to store other information, such as an employment history, medical records, even employee evaluations. As the amount of information gathered increases ands the databases that store that information get more sophisticated and better able to communicate with each other, the nation moves closer to a de facto national identity system, something that the American public has always resisted.
Source:The Washington Post