- Waco Launches New Technology Plan
The Waco Independent School District plans to spend $3.7 million over the next three years to upgrade computers and bring all types of electronic devices into the classroom.
- Schools Struggle with Cyberbullying
Many states have laws that require school districts to have policies in place to deal with bullying. Now state legislators are acting to add cyberbullying to existing legislation.
- Preparing Girls for Science Careers
The new University of California, San Diego Information Technology – Engineering and Environmental Education Tools project is an effort to keep middle school girls excited about science and hopefully start them thinking about career in engineering and science.
- Audio Enhancement Aids Learning
A simple technology tool — audio enhancement — is making teaching and learning easier for everyone in Florida's St. Johns County School District.
- Learn from Grammar Girl
Podcasts that deliver instruction on the finer points of grammar are one of the surprise hits of cyberspace. Since July, they have been downloaded more than 1.3 million times.
Waco Launches New Technology Plan
The Waco Independent School District plans to spend $3.7 million over the next three years to upgrade computers and bring all types of electronic devices into the classroom. The district is examining ways to integrate electronic messaging and handheld electronics, such as the iPod, into classroom instruction. District technology leaders point out that online chats, text messages and blogs are a natural part of the outside-of-school experience of most students. The question is how to harness those technologies to support student learning. Over the past several years, the district has focused on providing network infrastructure and Internet access to all of its 33 buildings. Under the new three-year technology plan, the focus is shifting to getting technology into the hands of students. To that end, the district will be upgrading a substantial portion of its computer equipment. To help teachers feel more comfortable with the transition, the district has set up a “virtual classroom” where teachers can experiment and train using new technologies, things many students may already be comfortable using. District technology leaders are also planning to develop model lesson plans using video iPods, so that teachers can see first hand how they might use new technologies in their classrooms.
Source:The Waco Tribune-Herald
Schools Struggle with Cyberbullying
Many states have laws that require school districts to have policies in place to deal with bullying. Now state legislators are acting to add cyberbullying to existing legislation. In doing so, they walk a fine line between giving schools the right to control the school’s environment and violating students’ first amendment rights. Online access has greatly extended the reach of the bully and the potential impact on the victim. While much of the activity associated with cyberbullying takes place on home computers and students’ personal cell phones, the impact often spills over into the school. Laws in South Carolina, Idaho and Arkansas have expanded the definition of bullying to include “electronic acts.” But that still leaves open the question of whether school officials can intervene when the activity itself takes place outside of school. In Oregon last year, the state association of school boards consulted with the state Justice Department to draft policy language specific to cyberbullying. The resulting guidance leaves open the possibility that the schools’ reach could extend off campus. The Arkansas House just passed a bill that added the term "by an electronic act" to the current definition of bullying and stipulates that cyberbullying could occur on or off school grounds. Ultimately, it is an area of law that will likely be decided by the Supreme Court.
Source:The Wall Street Journal
Preparing Girls for Science Careers
Middle school students in San Diego will soon be able to work side by side with University of California, San Diego (USCD) engineering faculty and students to monitor air quality, solar radiation, and other environmental factors surrounding their own schools. Funded through a new three-year, $1.2 million National Science Foundation, the UCSD Information Technology – Engineering and Environmental Education Tools project (IT-E3 Tools) is an effort to keep middle school girls excited about science and hopefully start them thinking about careers in engineering. To connect the science learning to students’ own lives, UCSD undergraduates will design low-cost environmental sensors, which teachers and their classes can build and deploy at their school sites. The San Diego Supercomputer Center will host a website where data can be collected from classes across the county. Web-based user interfaces will allow students and teachers to interact with and analyze the scientific data. To help teachers integrate this hands-on learning experience with their science curricula, UCSD will host summer workshops and monthly professional development meetings, and UCSD student interns will provide in-class support. USCD will use the environmental research concepts and techniques to create a multi-player online science challenge game designed specifically for 12-15 year-old girls. The game will allow users to create for themselves an avatar, or character, and set out to solve challenges. Many solutions will require the players to work together. Incentives at each level completion include “Talk to a Scientist” to enrich the mentoring aspect of the game. As girls gain proficiency, they will become mentors for new visitors to the game space.
Audio Enhancement Aids Learning
A simple technology tool — audio enhancement — is making teaching and learning easier for everyone in Florida’s St. Johns County School District. Teachers wear small microphones that they control with the flip of a switch. When turned on, the mics transmit sound to a small amplifier mounted in a corner of the classroom, which plays the sound through four speakers located in the classroom ceiling. The amplification makes it possible for the teacher to speak quietly and still be clearly heard by every student. Sound enhancement shows particular promise for students who have dyslexia, who suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder, or those who are English Language Learners. Studies have shown an increase in test scores and better-behaved students. When children hear the small click that signals that the system has been turned on, they know it is time to be quiet and turn to their teacher. Additional portable microphones make it possible for students to use the system. The audio enhancement systems are in place in nine of the district’s schools at a cost of $528,000. The technology has proven to be so popular that the district plans to equip every classroom with the audio enhancements systems.
Source:The St. Augustine Record
Learn from Grammar Girl
Podcasts that deliver instruction on the finer points of grammar are one of the surprise hits of cyberspace. Since July, they have been downloaded more than 1.3 million times. "Grammar Girl's Quick & Dirty Tips for Better Writing" is the creation of Mignon Fogarty, a technical editor. Fogarty says that in her work she sees so many grammatical errors, it just became obvious that she had an expertise that lent itself to the podcast format. She tries to make her grammar lessons fun and users say that she has the knack of simplifying complex rules. Fogarty also posts her podcasts so that users can review the transcripts if they need more time to absorb the lesson. Her audience has largely grown by word-of-mouth. Fogarty reports that her audience ranges from schoolchildren in China to CEOs in the United States. Buoyed by her success, Fogarty publishes two more podcasts "Mr. Manners' Quick and Dirty Tips for a More Polite Life" and "Money Girl's Quick and Dirty Tips for a Richer Life." She said she's started selling ads and is even getting some interest from book publishers.