Thursday, March 29, 2007

Combating students' lack of technology skills

I recently read an article that summarizes my concerns with regards to the lack of technology instruction in our schools.

Highlights of the article:

  • "Starting next February, federal law requires every school district nationwide to grade the technological literacy of its eighth-graders."
I feel like this is news to me! But also like it's something I should have known about.... how did I not realize this??
  • Unlike No Child Left Behind’s academic expectations — a cornerstone of the accountability movement that penalizes shortfalls with sanctions — falling short on technology will not have consequences.
Ahhh, this may explain why I didn't realize the federal mandate for technology skills--- it's not being enforced. I know that Maryland has been hard at work on defining the technology standards for students, teachers and administrators. I'm excited to see the goals they have established... and curious to see how they will be implemented in schools.
  • "This may be the millennial generation that texts, IMs and blogs with ease. Yet teaching today’s tech-savvy kids to search and scrutinize information in an academic way — skills they will need to survive in an increasingly technical work force — is another matter entirely, experts said."
BINGO! Kids know how to use technology socially. That's extremely different than using it to do research, being able to evaluate sources, and to create documents/presentations/products.

With such a strong emphasis on testing and achievement in math and reading, technology just doesn't seem to rank high enough to warrant a class of it's own. However, in a previous post, I mentioned that students are REQUESTING these classes--- they want to learn how to use the internet correctly (and safely), how to create good presentations, how to work with multimedia, etc.... Furthermore, our students NEED these skills. Once they enter college they will be required to create presentations, to sift through knowledge and determine what's valid and what's false, etc.... Technology is a significant part of our student's lives, so we need to train them while they are with us in school how to use it appropriately and effectively.

One local school system has started to do just this. At the e-Communities Summit I attended this week, I sat in on a session called Impacting Student Achievement and learned of a course that Prince George's County has been implementing with their middle school students. Get this... they teach them how to type, the course is a hybrid that exposes them to Blackboard and online learning, students learn word processing and Power Point in the context of content! I was so impressed by this initiative that I emailed Barbara Liedahl, the presenter, and requested e-copies of the documents she shared in her workshop so you could see them too (but you'll have to email me if you want to see them because my free blogger account doesn't seem to let me upload docs)! In our email exchanges, I was fascinated to learn that this is step one... they plan to continue with a Year 2 and even 3 Course where they hope to touch on more advanced topics like wikis, blogs and podcasting!!! How exciting! Hopefully other school systems are developing similar courses so that this education becomes part of the expected educational experience for every American student.

Way to go PGCPS and Barbara Liedahl for paving this path of technology education for students!!

Stem Conference thoughts continuted

Amazing how when you attend a conference or have topic brought to your attention how you hear all sorts of things about that topic in the days and weeks that follow. That's what's happened with STEM lately. Seems that everywhere I turn I am reading something else about STEM initiatives and activities ..... some of those links will be in the next post. Today I want to wrap up my thoughts about the conference.

One of the most memorable speakers from the conference was Emma Call. A senior at Baltimore's Polytechnic High School. Initially, it might be surprising to hear that a 12th grade student stands out as a superior presenter at a conference with esteemed professionals presenting. It's not that they weren't good--- as I noted in my previous blog-- but she was really good and she embodied the purpose of our gathering. It was almost a as if she was living proof that if we focus intently on STEM initiatives all students could experience similar successes.

So a little about Ms. Emma Call. Identified as GT and nurtured throughout her middle school career, Ms. Call felt that teachers had really helped foster her growth early on and steer her educationally starting in middle school. Soon after arriving at Poly, Emma started working at "her" lab with a JHU professor as her official mentor (special emphasis on "her" as one of the professors at my lunch table chuckled about how a high school student claimed ownership of the lab--but keep reading--she deserves to feel like she's a vital part of this lab). Her mentoring relationship allowed her to be working directly in the field she was interested in. She mentioned how she would attend the professor's advanced college classes, with only a background in high school biology, but her that brought up more questions and inspired her to learn more (content technically way beyond her high school level). Since then, she has posed her own research questions, written papers and been published in the professional community. Additionally, she has had the opportunity to compete nationally in things like the Intel Talent Search and many others.
She placed 10th in the Intel Talent Search:

Emma Call - Tenth place, $20,000 scholarship
Emma's project focused on the fabrication of 3-D microcubes, which have potential use as novel drug-delivery devices. She plans to move on to Case Western Reserve or Johns Hopkins after graduating from Baltimore Polytechnic Institute in Baltimore, Maryland.
(Also check out the news post on her school's website) She's the 3rd Poly Intel top 10 winner in 3 years, first female-- go Emma!
Her future is bright ---she has excellent choices for her college education and already has a real idea of what college will be like. She has not only been adequately prepared for college, she's lived the experience. Add to that, she's networked across the country with professionals in her field of interest. She's already learned how to write professionally, how to give and take constructive criticism, and how to learn what she needed to know when a gap in knowledge may have existed.

Needless to say, I was very impressed with Emma. Sure it's easy to say she was a gifted student and received lots of extras that most kids don't/won't/ can't get.... but why?? We need a lot to make it happen.... things like:
  • Professionals supporting our schools and students. Take these kids out of the classrooms occasionally to show them how what they are learning will prepare them for their future.
  • Early identification procedures for GT, interest/propensity for success in STEM fields or others---so we can hook them early and inspire them (to be curious perhaps!).
  • Access for all students to interesting, challenging opportunities (some in STEM Fields, some not).
Sometimes I think it's not possible.... but I know that's not true. The more we talk about it, the more we hear from the Emma Call's out there, the more we force the issue with policy leaders and funders ... the more likely we are to make it happen.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Interesting Article: U.S. no longer 'technology king'

Ok, so between the STEM Conference on Friday, the e-Communities Summit yesterday and a few random topics taking shape in my mind, I have tons of posts I could be writing now..instead... an internet search took me on a tangent and I read this article in the BBC News. And my disclaimer, this article is definitely outside of my education realm as it focuses on global business/technology issues.

The first two paragraphs do a good job of summarizing the idea:

"The US has lost its position as the world's primary engine of technology innovation, according to a report by the World Economic Forum.

The US is now ranked seventh in the body's league table measuring the impact of technology on the development of nations."

Interestingly enough:
  • "Despite losing its top position, the US still maintained a strong focus on innovation, driven by one of the world's best tertiary education systems and its high degree of co-operation with industry"
The US is always credited for innovation. It is said that our schools do a good job of teaching kids to think outside the box and to be creative. This seems to agree. But how is that?? I don't feel like the schooling I went through in my K-12 years or at the college level OR the curriculum that I taught to 5th, 6th and 8th graders inspired innovation or thinking outside of the box.
  • "Denmark is now regarded as the world leader in technological innovation and application"
Loosely connected to this idea (since I didn't make it to Denmark), Iceland is ranked 8th (previously 4th). I remember their strength in technology being explained to me during my visit to Iceland last year. Something about a result of several factors..... one being that since they waited in the initial wave of wiring the country, the wiring is top-notch and allows for faster, more wide-spread connection. Then there was also a strong emphasis on education in the country. Not sure how it all relates to innovation and technology application, but I'm sure it does! Education always leads to success. :-)
  • Factors cited in Denmark's success: "The country's efficient market environment, conducive to the availability of venture capital, and the sophistication of financial markets, was also given recognition."
Is the converse of this true? Does this imply that the US has a less efficient market environment and is less conducive to the availability of venture capital, etc....
  • "China was knocked to 59th place, nine positions down, with information technology uptake in Chinese firms lagging."
This surprises me... I guess as much as I hear about China and all that's happening there I would expect them to be higher on the list and to see that more innovation is happening there. Apparently I'm wrong!

So this is all entirely over my head. I don't understand the factors involved in these matters. But I do find it interesting. Especially in light of the focus on STEM topics in recent years (and the conference I attended last week).

Monday, March 26, 2007

Perhaps I'm Curiously Hopeless...or Hopelessly Curious

I came across this quote earlier this week and had to stop and think....
"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity."
I've always been curious. This means I'm always asking questions. And, one rabbit trail leads to another and another. It also means that I'm frequently sharing tid-bits of information with friends and asking more and more questions to learn things from as many perspectives as possible. And then wondering even more.... it's a vicious cycle :-)

One of my passions as a teacher was to determine ways to make my students more curious. Curiosity leads to questioning, to action, to a quest for knowledge. During my first year of teaching, I read a book called Developing More Curious Minds. (I highly recommend it!) Great book--lots of neat ideas. While curiosity isn't one of those traits that you can learn about in a book, this book does have many great ideas about how we can infuse curiosity into our classrooms and curriculum. We don't need to dump information into students' heads... we need to make them wonder, to spark questions in their minds, to ignite their own passions.

I'm still stumped with regards to curiosity. I think I agree that there's no cure for it, for to cure curiosity is to kill inquiry and passion. But I'm not so sure that there's a way to make someone curious either. I was always convinced that teachers had the power to do so.... but not all kids are inspired to curiosity. However, those who come to us curious or who develop a deep sense of curiousness while with us are empowered to greatness!

Excellent STEM Conference..ponderings, resources and links

On Friday I had the opportunity to attend the STEM Education in Maryland Conference at Mt Washington Conference Center in Baltimore, MD. Jointly sponsored by The Maryland State Department of Education, Johns Hopkins University (my alma mater) and Morgan State University, the conference aimed to spotlight exemplar STEM programs and to assist counties that are in the start-up phase. I stumbled upon this conference while looking for a new post-grad program. Long story short, I kind of invited myself, but was warmly welcomed to attend! Am I ever glad I did!

The welcoming remarks were offered by an inspiring compilation of renowned leaders including, Dr. Ralph Fessler (Dean of the School of Education at JHU), Dr. William Brody (President of JHU), Dr. Nancy Grasmick (Maryland State Superintendent of Schools), and Dr. Patricia Welch (Dean, School of Education, Morgan State University). On a side note, when he was introduced, Dr. Brody's hobbies, among others, were listed as piloting and learning Mandarin Chinese. This information alone set my mind a-wondering..... in addition to leading one of the most prestigious universities in the world, and being a noted engineer and doctor, this man takes the time to learn a new language and to pursue other hobbies! I was inspired. :-) (Along those lines...go ahead and take a minute to read the bio's of each of those listed here--- talk about success!)

Dr. Brody's mantra, entitled the Calculus of Innovation:

Knowledge drives Innovation. Innovation drives Productivity. Productivity drives Economic Growth.

Dr. Grasmick's remarks were also thought provoking. She discussed the impending BRAC initiative set to greatly impact Maryland with over 45,000 new jobs (most paying over 70K annually) -- (this affects my county with a significant influx of students). I also learned that Dr. Grasmick was the only voice representing K-12 in the recent report Rising Above the Gathering Storm. On a very promising note, Dr. Grasmick unveiled the fact that STEM funding, while technically still pending in the State Legislature, has been awarded for next year. This funding will provide financial assistance for counties in the start up phase as well as larger grants for counties in the implementation phase. --- I always love to see it when money is supplied to help schools reach the goals set before us.

After being warmly welcomed, we were introduced to several phenomenal proponents of STEM education--mostly professionals with careers that require these skills. Marc Donohue, Associate Dean of Engineering at JHU, launched this 'panel discussion' (although it was not a panel discussion) by defining STEM as a meta-discipline, not 4 separate silos, and stated that today's problems are trans-disciplinary. While they started as individual content areas (math and science), they quickly grew to multiple areas (math, chemistry, physics and biology). However as time passed, new disciplines began to develop within and between these... such as organic chemistry. We are now at a place where these disciplines do not stand alone. Problems are no longer simply related to biology or math, but encompass aspects of each of these disciplines. For example, he discussed the IED Detection problems in the war in Iraqi and also the field of Nano-Bio Technology. (Unfortunately, we still teach them as separate units in elementary/secondary school). He had a neat graphic to show this....

By the completion of Dr. Donohue's explanation I was able to clearly see the difference between inter-disciplinary (aka multi-disciplinary) as we know it in education--- and this concept of trans-disciplinary.

I'll have to save the rest of my notes/thoughts for another post as I'm out of time today. Up next--Emma Call, senior at Baltimore's Poly Tech HS. Wow--- was she ever impressive!

Enormus Pride at the Student Play

On Friday, I had the privilege of attending the Severna Park Middle School play 'Schoolhouse Rocks LIVE.' Now I may be a little biased in my rendition of this experience since I taught there...but I think that SPMS puts on the most incredible middle school play in the country. The talent represented by both students and staff is extremely impressive. Take Mr. Cheezum and Mr. Cummiskey.... they work tirelessly for months on this production. And it's evident that they are very, very talented. Then toss in the talents of Mrs. White (math teacher) who helps choreograph the play and Mrs. Fowler (math teacher) who played the violin in the orchestra. (Go Math Department!)

But of course, it's really all about the students. The sheer amount of students involved is amazing. While I don't have an exact number, I do know that it's a significant percent of the 1400 students who attend the school. The vocals, the dancing, the acting, it's all superb. Throughout the play, I sit back and remind myself that 'it's a middle school play.'

Perhaps this is the last year that I will experience such an enormous sense of pride at a school play, since this is the last year that I will have taught any of the students in the play.

On a funny side note, Liz and I were enjoying the songs from our past--although I really don't remember watching much of School House Rocks on TV as a child. However, I do own the collectors addition DVD and did use it in my teaching years. So at one point, during a grammar song, I looked at Liz and said "I think I just learned something" and she quickly replied "I was just thinking the same thing!" While I don't remember the fact that I learned it had something to do with the part of speech that question words are. Amazing the power of multimedia -- lessons can be taught/learned through songs-- even teachers can learn something new in a middle school play!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

For every teacher who has ever worked with a challenging student...

My new position with Montgomery County Public Schools has introduced me to something I've not had since I was in college-- a long commute (and for the record, the long part doesn't bother me as much as the stop and go congestion). Being proactive, I decided to finally jump into the deep end with podcasts by subscribing to lots of interesting shows so I could pass my time in an enjoyable and educational way. This has really been working for me.

On my way in to work very early this morning, I was listening to This American Life. The episode is called By Proxy. While the entire show is interesting, he last segment really hit me. This is not an educational technology, or even general education, podcast. However, the third segment part of this podcast, Redemption by Proxy, is about a teacher and a challenging student she once taught. If you've ever taught a challenging student---the kind that you pour your heart and soul into, the one you hope will listen to you and actually hear you, the one you pray will find his/her way and be successful, --- the one that occasionally makes you want to rip each and every hair from your head-- then you will want to listen to this chunk of the podcast.

If you want to hear just this section about the teacher, let the show fully load, then fast forward approximated 3/4 of the way through the show.... (unfortunately, I'm listening to it streaming right now and can't cite the specific time stamp) ... Here are a few auditory cues--- it's after the Iraqi Translator's story, then there's a song, then a brief transition talking about reputation.

Hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Excellent Article: Recalculating k-12 Math

eSchool News recently published an excellent article entitled Recalculating K-12 Math documenting the controversy and reform discussions occurring regarding math instruction in the US.

To point out the urgency of this topic.... Did you know that nearly 7,000 students drop out of school every day?? I knew the number was significant, but I didn't realize it involved that many students. Hearing the statistic on a 'per day' basis really drives home how huge the problem is becoming. The article claims that many of these students cite their struggles in math as a major reason for dropping out. I'm struggling with this idea because there are SO many other factors that influence the decision to drop out that I'd be leery of linking drop out rates to math. However.... it does raise an interesting concern. .... Math courses are required. If a student lacks the skills necessary to pass more advanced courses like Algebra and beyond.... perhaps a serious math deficit could cause a student to seriously contemplate dropping out. So what's happening in our classrooms that is causing students to feel (or actually be) unsuccessful in mathematics? Math has always had a bad rap in our society--- perceived as one a content that you were either skilled in or not skilled in. Instead of that blanket statement of "I'm not good at math," could it be something bigger? Could it be the curriculum? A fundamental flaw in our approach to teaching math?
"One of the reasons kids fail in algebra is they haven't mastered the skills they need--the basic fractions, decimals, percents, proportional reasoning," says Doug MacGregor, manager of instructional design for AutoSkill, a Canadian provider of math and reading software. "Without that, they can't succeed."
To address this critical issue of math instruction, President Bush created the U.S. Department of Education's National Mathematics Advisory Panel to advise "U.S. policy makers and educators on the effectiveness of various approaches to teaching mathematics." " Although the group's preliminary reports on Jan. 10-11 did not include any specific recommendations--those are expected with the panel's final report, due out in February 2008--it was clear from these early reports that panel members aim to achieve a healthy balance between computational fluency and conceptual understanding of mathematics, an area that underpins much of the current debate."

Other interesting quotes from the article:
  • "teachers often are not taught, themselves, how to teach math"
Oh how true! I vividly remember suffering through the 'how to teach reading' course in college, but the 'how to teach math' wasn't quite the same. We didn't really learn methods. We learned how to use manipulatives, but we never really learned HOW to teach math. Those of us who enjoyed math found our own way, but many of my peers in the cohort resorted to the old standby line of "I never liked math and never did well with it" and ultimately concluded " I don't want to teach math, especially above 2nd grade." Hopefully, this is changing in teacher prep courses across the country. Pre-service teachers need LOTS of experience in how to teach math and they also need to understand how students learn math.

  • "The advent of technology, too, is an important development in math instruction--not only because it can help teachers teach math, but because it has changed what students need to learn."
Technology will be a key piece. Computers have the ability to watch what each individual student is doing and to modify instruction accordingly, instantaneously. The potential exists for these programs to motivate students to want to learn and to push themselves further (using the gaming theory of getting to the next level).

The key point that I am walking away from this article with is that this panel is dedicated to finding a balanced approach that incorporates both computation and basic skills as well as a focus on real-world problems that provide motivating learning experiences. Also, they clearly understand that technology can and must play an important role in any suggested reforms. What an exciting time for math instruction!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Happy Pi Day!! (a little early!)

As only true math geeks can appreciate, March 14th is Pi Day! After a few years of teaching middle school math, I am used to a full blown celebration for this holiday, complete with pies and all sorts of other goodies. In addition to all the fun and food, we also used the day to truly explore and celebrate Pi. While there are several great video clips available that pertain to Pi, but there are also many other fun sites that celebrate this fun number. In the spirit on the holiday, I'd like to share a few links I've received lately.

Please post a comment if you know of any others that math teachers can use with their students or math geeks can use to celebrate the festive day! --- make sure your speakers are on! (Thanks, Joy!!)

Washington Post article about Pi Day. (Thanks, Dad!)

Friday, March 9, 2007

Korea Launching Digital Texbooks Nation Wide

This looks pretty cool! Korea has been developing a digital textbook that will replace traditional paper textbooks. This new technology, which has already been piloted with several hundred elementary students, will allow students to have access to the most up-to-date content, in an electronic, interactive format.

Some of the really cool features:
  • "Students will be able to interact with teachers regardless of time and space and study according to their ability through computers as the nation plans to adopt the digital textbook."
  • "... this new form of medium that provides the multi-functionality of textbook, workbook, exercise book and dictionary"
  • "It can go beyond conventional paper textbooks by using such features as video clips, animation and virtual reality."
  • "The digital textbook contents will be updated whenever needed. The textbook will also allow network connection to databases of organizations in society, enabling students to use much more information than just textbooks."
I'm impressed! Recognizing that, "In this rapidly changing society and massive flood of information, the government needs to revise textbook contents as the occasion demands," the Korean government has proactively developed a plan to tap into the power of technology to solve several problems at once (providing the most up-to-date information to students, differentiating instruction, connecting students with teachers, the ability for sick students to learn the same content they would have missed in a traditional classroom, technology infusion in instruction, etc....). Most importantly, they have backed their plan with lots of money (66 billion won).

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

My Concerns about the Future of Books

As technology permeates nearly every aspect of our lives, what is the future of books? This question has been on my mind for many years....however, this morning I started a new book that ignited this question anew. The book entitled The Book that Changed My Life is a compilation of short essays written by authors/writers describing the books that matter to them most.

I haven't even made it to the first essay. The introduction fired up my mind with questions relating to reading instruction, the emphasis on novels/reading, how technology is changing reading habits, and what the world would be like without novels as we know them.

In the introduction, Roxanne Coady (bookstore owner and editor/inventor of this book) discussed how she came to love reading and how her own deep passion for reading, cultivated when she was very young and sustained throughout her life. She says:
"I was excited to talk with friends about the books I was reading, always eager to hear about what they were reading, and inevitably lending my books out all the time. Reading was my passion. "
How many students today would say this? I would venture to say that the number has fallen dramatically in recent years/decades. I do know students who enjoy reading, but I know far more who are passionate about their computer games, IM, cell phones, etc... who rarely ever touch a book voluntarily. These technologies, or new passions, that our students are pursuing don't necessarily replace books however. While they will fill time, and perhaps teach new skills, they don't create the same experience. I love this quote from Roxane Coady (in the introduction):
Reading is a way to live more lives, to experience more worlds, to understand others and develop a compassion for what they confront and endure. It is a way to learn how to knit or build a house or solve an equation, a way to be moved to laughter and wonder and to learn how to live.
She goes on to describe her motivation for compiling the essays for this book and delves into the issue of childhood literacy (including mention of the foundation she started). For those of us who grew up surrounded by books, lived in families who modeled excellent reading habits and inspired us to pick up a good book just because, and attended schools that carefully selected novels that would capture our attention, captivate our imaginations and teach us valuable literacy skills and life lessons, it can be easy to assume that all children had/have this same experience. However, this assumption would be dramatically incorrect. There are many, many children who do not have this experience at all. So.... perhaps (hopefully) America's schools are ensuring that student's are exposed to great books and encouraged to develop a passion for reading. I'd like to think that too. But I know this wasn't the case when I was teaching. We moved totally away from novels at the elementary level when we adopted a very prescriptive reading program. That's not to say that we didn't find ways around this-- read-alouds right after recess to re-focus everyone, reading incentive programs to reward reading, family reading nights, etc.---- But when it was all said and done, our students weren't reading very many books. And schools aren't --and can't be-- held accountable for inspiring students to read, only ensuring that students can read. Schools have enough on their plate as it is. Families, communities, organizations, high profile celebrities, politicians, and everyone else involved in the lives of children need to rally behind early literacy initiatives and passionately persuade children to develop a passion for reading using all possible methods!

Concluding her introduction, Roxane Coady leads her readers into the essays by saying:
Apart from the sheer beauty of the essays, they are a dramatic reminder that everywhere, every day, someone is changed, perhaps even saved by words and stories.
How true is that! Somehow, for me, it's different when these words and stories are complied into a tangible book format. My reading habits on the internet are typically very different than when I am holding a book, lost in its narrative. Is this the same for our students? Or do digital natives process internet reading differently?

I'd love to hear your thoughts about students' reading habits, technology's impact on reading habits, and what books matter the most to you.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Think Tank --"Schools are failing students and putting nation's cometitiveness at risk"

Today's Washington Post has an article stating the opinions of 2 non-education groups "The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the world's largest business federation, and the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank" were "at loggerheads on a number of other issues, said they came together" regarding concerns with the US education system.

Their conclusions: "U.S. schools are failing children and putting the nation's competitiveness in the global economy at risk."

Their recommendations:
  • "Among the document's most controversial proposals is a call for states and school systems to "fairly and efficiently remove ineffective teachers."
I think they are on to something here. When I taught, we earned our tenure after just two years of successful teaching. Once you were tenured, you were set for life. Job security is a wonderful thing, but it also breeds mediocrity, if not worse. I don't think the majority of teachers need any more demands placed on them, however, those ineffective teachers need to know that their employment can be terminated if they don't meet expectations. It works in the business world-- you don't do your job to the satisfaction of your employer, you are dismissed. Why aren't schools similar?
  • The platform also urged the development of statewide data systems to help track student achievement and teacher effectiveness.
Using data is great. However, it should never be used as the only measure of achievement for students or teachers.
  • It also called on schools to expand student learning time -- which encompasses classroom time, tutoring and after-school and experiential programs --
Sounds good to me. Imagine what could be done with all the extra time! More time for the arts, more time to teach students about technology, perhaps more interdisciplinary learning adventures. .... The possibilities go on and on, but are bound to be rather expensive. Teachers are already working 40 hours a week, so this means we need additional staff and programs...which cost money.
  • and called for states to adopt a common definition of graduation rates.
Makes sense. We may as well all be aiming for the same goal and be compared based on the same criteria.

This is all very interesting... especially in light of a recent article that I read stating (again) that more and more high school students are bored with school and many seriously contemplate dropping out. We're missing the mark somewhere. Learning should be FUN. Learning should be COMPELLING. Learning should be ENGAGING and MEANINGFUL. Most importantly, students should be LEARNING-- as documented by gains in local, national and international tests.

I fear that we are still in the understanding the problem phase of this crisis when we need to be acting on some of the more reasonable theories of school improvement.

Saturday, March 3, 2007

ISTE's Technology Integration Lead Teacher Initative

I saw this over at A Flowing River by Miguel Guhlin. Technology Integration Lead Teacher or TILT, sponsored by ISTE, is an awesome program that is definitely worth mentioning to any innovative teachers you know who teach in grades 4-10, in a core content area and use technology.

Actually, it's worth re-posting Miguel's blog here:

ISTE NET Refresh Powerpoint

Are you a classroom, core-content teacher in grades 4-10? If yes, then you are eligible to participate in the Technology Integration Lead Teacher (TILT) Initiative. The purpose of TILT is to support classroom, core-content teachers as they develop technology applications skills. To facilitate this, the eighteen teachers accepted to the program will participate in ISTE-based NETS Certification program. NETS is described as:

The primary goal of the ISTE NETS Project is to enable stakeholders in PreK-12 education to develop national standards for educational uses of technology that facilitate school improvement in the United States. The NETS Project will work to define standards for students, integrating curriculum technology, technology support, and standards for student assessment and evaluation of technology use.

The NETS are changing to reflect a changing this classroom video to get an idea of how much. The TILT Initiative is intended to help teachers refine their classroom practice to reflect that changing world. To that end, TILT teachers will receive the following incentives:

  • $1300 Dell Computer Laptop*
  • $1400 wireless digital projector*
  • ISTE National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) Certification (Note: graduate credit is available at participant's expense)
  • Necessary software (e.g. Photostory, Moviemaker, Skype)
  • Workshop Projects' Stipends (pending funding availability)

Expectations for Participants:

1. Letter of Commitment

2. Complete a Pre- and Post-TILT Assessment Survey

3. Complete all PBS TeacherLine classes with the intent of earning an ISTE NETS Certificate^. More information regarding expectations will be forthcoming.

4. Provide two campus staff references (e.g. one being your campus administrator) expressing support for your participation in the program.

5. Maintain a learning web log that includes projects, lessons, photos and reflect on practice and engages others in dialogue about what you are learning and teaching for two years after online courses end.

6. Help add links to your created content to the TILT web site (workshop outlines, lesson plans, resources, etc.).

7. Provide 1 staff development session for your campus per 9 weeks; Instructional Technology will provide a project stipend as funds permits.

8. Publish copies of your workshop outlines, student lesson plans, and workshop feedback forms for sessions you facilitate via ePath.

^Note' that professional learning sessions may count towards graduate credit hours. Participants will have to pay for this credit on their own.