- Michigan Virtual High School Offers Mandarin Chinese
Michigan Virtual High School is piloting an online Mandarin Chinese course that it hopes to roll out to all the stateâ€™s high schools in the fall.
- Ancient Music Goes Modern
Presentations that sixth graders at Californiaâ€™s Sycamore Ridge Elementary are creating to culminate a unit of study about Africa, complete with recorded drumming sequences performed in music class, will be shared as podcasts.
- Parent Portals Multiplying
School districts across the Boston regional area are using technology to enhance communication with parents, creating portals that give parents easy and secure online access to information about their children.
- Iditarod Teacher on the Trail To Share Race Experience
The 2006 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail, a Wisconsin physical ed teacher, will share her experience of following the Iditarod dog sled race with students worldwide.
- Inventor Honored
Carl Dietrich, a MIT Ph.D. student, received this yearâ€™s Lemelson-MIT Student Prize for a portfolio of novel inventions, including a new Personal Air Vehicle, a desktop-sized fusion reactor, and a lower-cost rocket engine.
Michigan Virtual High School Offers Mandarin Chinese
The Michigan Department of Education has just established an endorsement for teaching the Chinese language, but to date there are no applicants. That hasnâ€™t stopped Michigan Virtual University (MVU) from adding Mandarin Chinese to its list of online offerings. MVU is devoted to expanding the course offerings that Michigan high schools are able top provide to students. Operating through its Michigan Virtual High School division, MVU serves more than 400 high schools, offering nearly 8,000 courses and thousands of test reviews. The Mandarin Chinese pilot is serving 30 students at 21 high schools across Michigan. The online class is being taught by a doctoral student from China studying at Michigan State University's College of Education. The instructor has worked as an interpreter in China and an English tutor. If the pilot is successful, the class will be available to all Michigan high schools in fall 2006. If demand is high, MVU is prepared to seek instructors in China. While the pilot is free, the full semester course planned for the fall would cost schools $300 per students. According to the Asia Society, which has just published a report on state initiatives to increase students' global knowledge and skills, only 24,000 American students in grades seven to 12 study Chinese.
Ancient Music Goes Modern
Sixth graders at Californiaâ€™s Sycamore Ridge Elementary are learning to bridge divides. As part of their study of Africa â€“ where theyâ€™re learning about geographical and cultural aspects of the tribal and modern continent â€“ they have been exploring the ancient art of drumming. Under the direction of their music teacher, Jerry Foust, theyâ€™ve worked in groups to research different regions of the country, conducting interviews, writing scripts and selecting the accompanying music. Each group is preparing a final 10-minute presentation to culminate the unit. Though originally these presentations were to be oral reports, Foust was inspired by a San Diego State University course on educational technology to explore the use of podcasting. As a result, the studentsâ€™ presentations will be podcast, complete with recorded drumming sequences performed in class and led by Foust, an experienced percussionist. Once the recordings are posted online, anyone can download them to a computer or directly to an iPod or MP3 player. The studentsâ€™ podcasts will be available in March through iTunes, ODEO.com and on the school's Web site, www.dmusd.org/sycamore.
Source:The Union Tribune
Parent Portals Multiplying
School districts across the Boston regional area are using technology to enhance communication with parents. While district have tracked student information for many years, an effort that has intensified since the advent of No Child Left Behind, opening that information to easy parent access is relatively new. Some districts are using homegrown systems and others use sophisticated commercials releases, but the end result is the same. Parents have real-time access to information about their children and are able to head off impending problem. Greater Lawrence, Shawsheen, and the North Middlesex Regional School District have been pioneers in the effort. In 2003, a high school technology coordinator in the Greater Lawrence District designed and wrote software for interfacing the school's database with its website, creating a centralized communication resource. The web site provides secure information to parents about their childrenâ€™s report cards, progress reports, attendance, and discipline records. North Middlesex initiated a portal for its middle school parents three years ago. Commercial systems, such as that used by the Methuen public school system can also track employee attendance, benefits, and all other human resource records. Some districts in the region are still planning for the implementation of their parent portals, taking time to build up the required infrastructure, such as adequate network servers, firewalls, and security systems, to ensure a successful launch.
Source: The Boston Globe
Iditarod Teacher on the Trail To Share Race Experience
Terrie Hanke, a physical ed teacher at Wisconsinâ€™s Eau Claire North High School is sharing her experience of the Iditarod dog sled race in Alaska with students around the world. She will follow the 1,149-mile race by snowmobile and bush plane as the 2006 Iditarod Teacher on the Trail. Over the month-long course of the race, Hanke will juggle her race duties — handling sled dogs and volunteer at the checkpoints — with writing lesson plans and producing a daily story to share with students. Hanke has her laptop with her and hopes to be able to use the Internet capabilities of local schools to upload her stories and communicate with students. The Iditarod Teacher on the Trail program was started in 1999 as a way to help teachers use the Iditarod as a theme for students to learn a variety of skills. After attending Iditarodâ€™s Summer Professional Development Conference for Educators and Fans in June 2003, Terrie implemented Iditarod as a thematic tool to deliver curriculum. She was selected as the 2006 Teacher on the Trail last year after flying to Anchorage, Alaska for 10 days with two other finalists to audition, which included making presentations to a conference of teachers and a five-member selection committee.
Amid concerns about Americaâ€™s ability to compete, comes the story of Carl Dietrich, winner of this yearâ€™s Lemelson-MIT Student Prize. The Ph.D. candidate in the Massachusetts Institute of Technologyâ€™s Aeronautics and Astronautics program received the prestigious award for a portfolio of novel inventions, including a new Personal Air Vehicle, a desktop-sized fusion reactor, and a lower-cost rocket engine. The Personal Air Vehicle is a flying car that provides an alternative for trips that range between 100 and 500 miles. The SUV-sized vehicle can be stored in most home garages and has folding wings that enable it to operate both on the ground and in the air. It can be driven on any road, requires only a sport pilotâ€™s license to fly and will ideally fly into and out of the nationâ€™s thousands of underutilized public-access airports. It can carry two people with their bags up to 500 miles on a single tank of premium unleaded gasoline. Dietrich also holds patents for his Centrifugal Direct Injection Engine (CDIE), a low-cost, high-performance rocket propulsion engine and for a desktop-sized Penning Fusion Reactor. The $30,000 Lemelson-MIT Student Prize is awarded annually to an MIT senior or graduate student who has created or improved a product or process, applied a technology in a new way, redesigned a system, or demonstrated remarkable inventiveness in other ways.