- WA Triples Online Learning
The number of Washington students studying online more than tripled over the past five years. One reason could be that the state no longer requires face-to-face meetings for students enrolled in alternative programs.
- Libraries Reach Out Online; Language Lab 2.0
Myowncafe.org, the Southeastern Massachusetts Regional Library System new web site, is an attempt to reach out to the regionâ€™s teens, bringing library services and communication tools directly to them.
- Language Lab 2.0
North Rockland (NY) High School's new $185,000 language lab offers new benefits to language learners.
- Board Meetings Online
Citizens in Mobile County AL can watch Mobile County school board meetings online. It's not quite in real-time, but videos are posted to the districtâ€™s Web site within several days of the meeting.
- Is Pre-History Repeating Itself?
Massive soil erosion may have contributed to the great â€die off,â€ when as much as 90% of Earthâ€™s marine life and 70% of terrestrial life died out 252 million years ago. In the last 40 years, soil erosion has caused the loss of a third of the worldâ€™s arable land.
WA Triples Online Learning
Washington State was slow to adjust its policies to accommodate virtual school programs, but that didnâ€™t keep districts from moving forward with online schooling. The number of Washington students studying online and receiving course credit from public schools has more than tripled over the past five years: from 3,012 in 2000 to 10,161 last school year. Now that the state has changed the rule that required students and teachers in alternative programs — including online classes — to meet face-to-face, more districts are likely to join the ranks of the original virtual school pioneers. Conditions appear to be right to support more growth. For one thing, students, parents and school counselors are more aware of the available online options. The quality of course offerings has improved and courses have expanded to include more grades and more subjects. Steilacoom Historical School Districtâ€™s Virtual Academy serves kindergarten-through-eighth-grade students, offering a complete school program. It has attracted families that had been home schooling as well as families with special needs children whop do better study at home. Since the students are younger, parents take on the teaching role, supported by an online teacher who monitors student progress and steps in as needed. Older students work independently, communicating by e-mail with a district instructor, who monitors attendance and academic progress and occasionally meets with them individually or in small groups. Districts see online instruction as an opportunity to serve students whose needs may not be met by more traditional schools. But online schooling is not for everyone. Students need to be motivated, well organized and have strong reading skills to have a successful online experience.
Source: The News Tribune
Libraries Reach Out Online
If teens donâ€™t come to the library, why not take the library to them? Thatâ€™s what the librarians at the Southeastern Massachusetts Regional Library System decided to do. Knowing that teens are spending a lot of time online, they spent the last two years building a web site designed to attract teenaged users &mdash' Myowncafe.org. In addition to traditional library services, the site includes a community calendar detailing activities throughout the region, college and career information, and message boards where teens can post their views on a variety of subjects. For teens accustomed to instant messaging, the message boards may seem old fashioned, but the choice was dictated by a concern for safety. To further enhance security, teens will need to have a library card to access or post information and will not be able to post photos of themselves on the message boards. The boards will be moderated by students, who will help keep the discussion moving and on topic.
Myowncafe.org is up and running now, though it wonâ€™t be officially launched until February. The developers know that the key to success will be keeping teens coming back for more. One feature that may help is the opportunity for young musicians to share their music with listeners from across the region. Some of the electronic versions of traditional services should also prove attractive — such as 24-hour â€œask-a-librarianâ€ research help and easy access to library catalogs and online magazines. Teens helped plan and design the site and they will continue to be involved in its evolution.
Source:The Boston Globe
Language Lab 2.0
The language lab has been transformed by technology. North Rockland (NY) High School's new $185,000 language lab has 30 individual cubicles, computers with flat screen displays and headsets, AV equipment, and a teacher workstation that controls everything. The lab offers students the chance to work individually, under teacher direction. They can listen to good models of the language they are learning, record themselves practicing words and phrases and play back those recordings to see how they are doing. The teacher can monitor what is going on at any individual workstation and intervene by speaking into the studentâ€™s headphones. Because every student is working on their own, they get much more time to listen to and speak the language than they did in the traditional language classroom, where they had to wait their turn. Right now, the lab is being used for upper-level foreign language instruction, but within the month it will also be available to students learning English. In both cases students benefit from the opportunity to hear and speak the language they are learning. For ESL students, the ability to move through exercises at their own pace, to practice saying words and phrases, and to hear themselves speaking in English is invaluable. An added benefit for the ESL students, many of whom are not computer savvy, is that the lab serves as an introduction to computer literacy.
Source: The Journal News
Board Meetings Online
Citizens in Mobile County AL can now watch Mobile County school board meetings online. Not quite real-time, the meetings are recorded and the video is posted to the districtâ€™s Web site within several dates of the meeting date. The district had been considering televising the meetings for several years, but that would have required the purchase of new cameras and editing equipment. The web offered a less expensive way to respond to the Boardâ€™s interest in improving communication with the public. Two school system employees, one a former television news producer and the other a videographer, take turns filming the board meetings. The video is not edited, but it does take a few days to code the video for the Web site. While some board members would prefer cable or television as more accessible to the entire community, the Web posting are an improvement. Previously, the only information on Board meetings came from short clips on the news and summaries in the newspaper. The Mobile County Public School System is working to increase community outreach. It produces a television show designed to tell stories about what is happening around the district. The show airs twice weekly on a local cable access channel also available on the system's Web site. Schools are also encouraged to send in stories about their events, which are posted on the districtâ€™s Web site.
Source: Mobile Register
Is Pre-History Repeating Itself?
Despite itâ€™s having happened some 252 million years ago, scientists are still fascinated by the story of the great â€œdie-off,â€ the period in Earthâ€™s development when as much as 90% of marine life and 70% of terrestrial life died out. At about the same time, there was a sustained period of volcanic activity during which a vast up swelling of magma covered between one million and four million cubic kilometers of what is now Siberia. Scientists now have evidence that may link the two events. Sedimentary rocks from that period contain unusually elevated levels of organic material from soil and plants, suggesting that a great flood of such terrestrial organic matter reached the sea and essentially swamped it, suffocating marine life. The theory posits that the deadly gases of the Siberian eruption killed vegetation across the globe. Without roots to hold the soil in place, rivers and streams washed most of the dead vegetation to the sea where it then blocked the sun's light and sucked up all the oxygen. The theory also sheds some light on modern soil loss. Increased human activity is causing land degradation. The resulting soil erosion has caused the loss of a third of arable land over the last 40 years.