- A number of school districts in the San Diego metro area are equipping their classrooms with state-of-the-art technology — document cameras, ceiling-mounted projectors, DVD players, web cams and interactive white boards. Learn how this impacts teaching and learning.
- Arizonaâ€™s Tempe Elementary and Scottsdale Unified school districtsâ€™ new math and science textbooks can be accessed online, but that doesnâ€™t mean that the districts have given up their print editions. Mostly, they are using the online games and quizzes that accompany the texts.
- South Fayette Elementary used a $10,000 grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to equip a classroom of third graders with handheld computers. Learn how their teacher uses the devices.
- Teachers are beginning to incorporate blogging into their lesson planning, turning the popular Web technique to their own educational ends. But blogs can be complex to manage. Read about the good and the bad.
- The Mars rovers are now roughly a month short of a uniquely Martian milestone. On Nov. 21, Spirit will have spent an entire Martian year exploring the red planetâ€™s surface, with Opportunity following in turn on Dec. 11.
Technology Transforming CA Classrooms
A number of school districts in the San Diego metro area — Rancho Santa Fe, Solano Beach, San Dieguito, Poway and San Diego itself — are using state-of-the-art technology to enhance learning. Classrooms are equipped with document cameras, ceiling-mounted projectors, DVD players, web cams and interactive white boards. Teachers can check out carts of wireless laptop computers. And the districts are working hard to provide the professional development that will allow teachers to become comfortable with the technology and integrate it seamlessly into ongoing instruction. When that happens, classrooms are transformed. Claudio Zavalaâ€™s fifth grade classroom at Herbert Ibarra Elementary School in City Heights is such a place. Zavala wears a clip-on microphone and uses a presentation station equipped with a document camera linked to a ceiling mounted digital projector. Moving around the classroom, he uses a wireless pad that allows him to control and annotate computer applications and highlight images projected onto an 84 by 84-inch screen. Students actively participate in lessons, using the microphone to share their thoughts and presenting projects using Power Point and other digital media. Studies suggest that when technology is effectively integrated into the curriculum, it improves performance. Teachers also point out that technology increases student engagement and enjoyment.
Source:San Diego Union Tribune
Online Textbooks — Almost
Arizonaâ€™s Tempe Elementary and Scottsdale Unified school districts are experimenting with online textbooks. The districts purchased new math and science textbooks this year, which can be accessed entirely online. The books also include links to Internet sites for each topic they cover, include interactive games and online quizzes. While teachers and students still rely on their traditional print textbooks, they are using the Web-based resources to ensure that they have access to the most up-to-date information and to provide interactive learning opportunities. The hands-on, interactive aspects of the resources keep students engaged and encourage practice and exploration. To address equity issues, most school libraries are open for use before classes start. Teachers say that parents have supported the combined approach, aware that the Internet based-activities and quizzes will help students prepare for Arizona's Instrument to Measure Standards (AIMS) test. A significant portion of the AIMS focuses more on how students get and use information than on what they know.
Source:The Tempe Republic
Hands on Learning
Third graders at South Fayette Elementary School are becoming real pros when it comes to handheld technology. The school is one of only 100 Pennsylvania districts to receive a Hands On Learning grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Education. The $10,000 grant, which required a 25% district match, allowed South Fayette to purchase 30 handheld computers for the third graders. The handhelds include a 1.2 megapixel camera, MP3 player, voice recorder, and built-in calculator, calendar, notepad, spreadsheet, slideshow and animation software and feature an infrared port for sending information and pictures from one user to another. Teacher Scott Sundgren, who wrote the schoolâ€™s grant application, incorporates the handhelds into his daily lesson plans. Now that the student shave become familiar with the devices, Sundgren will be creating assignments on his device and beaming them to the students. Students can complete their assignments using either the stylus included with each device, a built-in keypad or a portable keyboard that can be attached to the device. When they finish, students upload their work to a desktop computer. Sundgren checks the work and beams it back to students. The district plans to evaluate the studentsâ€™ progress throughout the year to determine how effective handhelds are, particularly in improving studentsâ€™ writing skills. The district hopes the handhelds will engage the students more and get them excited about learning. Students report that the handhelds are â€œa lot more fun than using pencil and paper.â€
Source:Bridgeville Area News
Blogs the Thingâ€¦
Teachers are beginning to incorporate blogging into their lesson planning, turning the popular Web technique to their own educational ends. A middle school teacher in Snow Lake, Manitoba has set up individual blogs for each of his seventh and eighth grade students. At Hunterdon Central Regional High School in Flemington, N.J., at least 10% of the teachers have worked blogging into their lesson plans. Fifth graders at J.H. House Elementary in Conyers, GA spend two hours every week writing about current events on their blogs. The writing gives students the chance to practice skills taught in English class, but in the context of addressing a real online audience. Students learn to shape their writing and to develop a unique online voice. Students especially like hearing back from their audience and the Web gives them a worldwide reach. But blogs are not without their problems. To protect students, teachers may limit who can see or comment on their studentsâ€™ blogs and others exercise some control over what students can post. The control issue is one reason why some schools see blogs as a teacher tool, using them to relay information to students and parents. Blogging is likely to be a moving target for some time to come and teachers will have to decide how much they want to be involved.
They Just Keep Going and Goingâ€¦
The Mars rovers are approaching an unanticipated anniversary. Spirit and its twin rover, Opportunity, have been exploring opposite sides of Mars since landing in January 2004, long outlasting their primary, three-month missions. The robotic explorers are now roughly a month short of a uniquely Martian milestone. On Nov. 21, Spirit will have spent an entire Martian year exploring the red planetâ€™s surface, with Opportunity following in turn on Dec. 11. The Martian year is about 687 days long. While the rovers are showing their age — the rock grinding bits of Spiritâ€™s rock abrasion tool are so worn, theyâ€™re only useful for brushing targets clean — they are still generating ample supplies of power and responding well to their NASA handlers. Spirit has just started its descent from the 270 foot height of Husband Hill, part of the seven-rise Columbia Hills chain. The descent could take two months, depending on the number of interesting spots Spirit turns up on the way down. Spirit is headed toward a basin to the south which appears to contain rock layers that NASA wants Spirit to investigate to determine whether they are water-deposited sedimentary rock. The basin is also a region where Spirit can â€˜over-winter' on slopes that face north allowing the roverâ€™s solar arrays to be angled toward the Sun to collect the most sunlight. Spiritâ€™s partner, Opportunity, is exploring the opposite side of the planet, moving across the plains of Meridiani Planum. After a few glitches, including a pause caused by extreme slipping of the roverâ€™s wheels in the Martian sands, Opportunity is again moving west toward the Erebus crater, its next objective.