Week of: June 4, 2007
- But Do They Work?
New research from the Maine Education Policy Institute may help with the ongoing debate about the effectiveness of one-to-one computing programs.
- Teens Take the Global Challenge
During the 2007 Global Challenge, teams of US high school students collaborated with international counterparts to address the theme of Global Climate Change and the Future of Energy.
- Never Too Young
First graders at Westmount Elementary School in Moose Jaw, Canada learn to blog right along with their math facts and writing lessons.
- Gateway to the Future
In Gateway High School's Classrooms of the Future, interactive white boards are an important element in helping teachers integrate technology with everyday instruction.
- Google To Digitize Indian Manuscripts
Google will digitize some 800,000 books and manuscripts for the University of Mysore, in Karnataka, India, including some written on palm leaves.
But Do They Work?
The debate about the effectiveness of putting laptop computers into the hands of all students continues. While many districts are implementing laptop programs or pilots, others are backing away, citing the high costs of repairs and students' misuse and abuse of the computers. In Maine, the oldest of the statewide laptop implementations, where every 7th and 8th grader has a computer, support remains strong. Educators report little abuse of the equipment and only the typical attempts to get around the Internet filters. Last year when the state renewed the program for another four years (at a cost of $41 million), every middle school in the state elected to continue to participate. Fourteen districts have extended the program to the high school level, using their own money. But like everyplace else, the goal of improving student achievement has remained elusive, with students' reading and math scores on the Maine Educational Assessment staying flat over the last four years. But that may be about to change. Research from the Maine Education Policy Institute at the University of Southern Maine, to be published this summer, shows academic gains. Students in classrooms taught by math teachers who had received two years of training to help them adapt the laptops to their teaching, tested up to four months ahead in mathematics skills compared to students with teachers who had no professional training. Similar improvement was seen on writing scores when teachers knew how to use the laptops as a tool for editing and revising, not simply as a word processor. Researchers also point out that the writing test is the only portion of the state test in which students are called upon to use the problem-solving and analysis skills that benefit from effective laptop learning.
Source:The Portland Press Herald
Teens Take the Global Challenge
During the 2007 Global Challenge, teams of US high school students collaborated with international counterparts to address the theme of Global Climate Change and the Future of Energy. Teams of four students aged 14 to 17 worked together across the globe to create a feasible plan for a global business that addressed the issues. The team goal was to create an innovative solution to address global climate change and a presentation that shows each team member's understanding of the science, technology, engineering and mathematics of their solution as well as its global business potential. Winning teams received individual awards ranging from $50 to over $3000 including international travel, tuition at the Governor's Institute on Engineering at the College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences University of Vermont, and cash awards for college funds. It's a lot of work, but students find that in addition to strengthening academic skills, they learn a lot about working with students from other cultures. This year, 58 American teams participated in the challenge, joining with students from China, India, Japan and Mexico. Teams chatted online, consulted with advisers and finally wrote a professional business plan. Launched two years ago for students in Vermont, a $900,000 National Science Foundation Grant allowed the Challenge to expand worldwide this year. Organizers expect to add more structure to the program and add support personnel in China to help with coordination. Pre-registration for the 2007-08 Global Challenge is open now.
Source:The Washington Post
Never Too Young
First graders at Westmount Elementary School in Moose Jaw, Canada learn to blog right along with their math facts and writing lessons. Teacher Kathy Cassidy was not a technology whiz when she started the program, but she did want to use every resource available to her. So when she received five new classroom computers in 2000, she set out to be sure that they were used well. After creating a class web site where she could post lessons and education games, in 2005 she launched the blogging program, wanting to challenge her students to go beyond game play. She seems to have achieved that goal. Within a few months of entering first grade, students learn how to create and post their own blogs and by Christmas they are running the blogs themselves and even updating them from home. Once they've got the basics down, each student gets a personal page on the class Web site. Parents can access students' blogs on the protected page and leave comments. The students have used their blogs to talk with classes in New Zealand and Wales. Cassidy says students are very excited — and motivated — by knowing their writing will be on the Web. Blogging with children so young has earned Cassidy a lot of attention. She recently won the Canadian Regional Award for Reading and Technology.
Gateway to the Future
In Gateway High School's Classrooms of the Future, interactive white boards are an important element in helping teachers integrate technology with everyday instruction. The Gateway School District received more than $400,000 from the Pennsylvania Department of Education to equip 16 Classrooms of the Future at Gateway High School. Gateway is one of 103 schools statewide participating in the $20 million pilot of Gov. Ed Rendell's three-year plan to furnish high schools with high tech tools, including a laptop for each student. Gateway opted to equip all of its science classrooms first and has applied for second round funding to extend the program into its 37 other classrooms. Each Classroom of the Future has an interactive white board, document and video camera, digital cameras and laptop computers for students and individual student response systems. The interactive whiteboard interacts with the teacher's computer, the student laptops and a number of wireless control devices. Teachers can have students use their remotes to answer short quizzes and instantly see the results, helping them to target instruction more effectively. They can project images and diagrams that can be manipulated in a number of ways and save final result in a file that can be uploaded to the class webpage for students to use in further exploration. Teachers can also upload assignments and students can return completed assignments electronically. Students are engaged by the technology integration and teachers find that the technology enhances their planning and classroom management.
Google To Digitize Indian Manuscripts
Google will digitize some 800,000 books and manuscripts for the University of Mysore, in Karnataka, India, including some written on palm leaves. Among the manuscripts is India's first political treatise, the Arthasastra, dating from the fourth century BC. There are also many manuscripts on ayurveda, mathematics, medicine, science and astrology, written in either in Sanskrit or Kannada. By cooperating with Google, the University ensures the preservation of this rich cultural heritage, while Google gains the ability to link to these documents once the project is completed. Google will do all the work for free, supplying software and personnel for the digitization work. Mysore University will train some of its select Physics students to help in the digitization process. The Mysore project joins a growing list of Google scanning efforts overseas including a library-scanning endeavor for the University of Oxford and five more similar institutions overseas, including a recent agreement with the University of Lausanne to scan a large collection of French-language works. Google will employ optical character recognition to translate the handwritten manuscripts into searchable characters. Google has developed open-source tools to address problems like the ones this project presents. No time line has been established for the completion of this project.