The Navajo Education Technology Consortium
Senator Lamar Alexander holds a hearing on "Pell Grants for Kids"; OII releases a fact sheet that explains how those who opt for alternative certification can receive Federal Student Aid; the U.S. Department of Education holds a Leadership Summit on Technology; 200 teachers attend the Department's Teacher-to-Teacher Workshop on using research-based methods to raise student achievement; SchoolMatters.com.org adds information on NCLB for 18 states; Victory Schools' Roosevelt Children's Academy is recognized as New York State's highest performing school serving students in need; and the DaimlerChrysler Fund donates $100,000 for mentoring programs in schools in Pontiac, MI.
Innovations in the News
A new study from the Education Commission of the States finds that 48 states have met, or are working toward meeting 75% of No Child Left Behind requirements, plus information on charter schools, education technology, school choice, and Teaching American History grantees.
Navajo Education Technology Consortium Carries Native American Culture Overland via the Internet
The tract of land that stretches across 14 million acres and covers three southwestern states is dappled with the homes of the 200,000 members of the Navajo Nation. Such distance impedes everyday communication, so the Navajos often use modern technology to reach other tribe members in faraway areas. The Navajo Education Technology Consortium (NETC) uses similar technologies to conduct distance learning to serve 23 K-12 reservation school districts and local education agencies in Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah.
NETC seeks to assist Navajo students who have partially assimilated into U.S. culture, while reinforcing their traditional upbringing. To preserve, rather than replace, American Indian traditions, NETC integrates technology into education with the goal of improving the quality of learning for the tribe's youngest members.
To ensure a complete education on isolated reservations, NETC incorporates both district standards and culturally relevant materials into its two main organizational and functional units: TECH Share and the Education Technology Improvement Plan (ETIP). The TECH Share project allows teachers to develop culturally relevant lesson plans using the Internet.
For example, one teacher, Mark Galbraith, wrote a plan to teach figurative language that includes having students watch a clip of Navajo humorist Vincent Craig and then breaking the students up into groups to discuss the differences between literal and figurative meanings of Craig's words. Students then use metaphors, personification, and alliteration to analyze Craig's song, which states, in the Navajo Nation, "There are no roses without thorns in this desert where I was born."
Galbraith posted his lesson on the NETtrain, a website that provides teachers with teaching methods, timelines, materials, and resources necessary for lesson plans in language arts, as well as math and science. The site also provides a search engine to assist teachers in finding teaching modules linked to specific state standards or keywords.
Realizing that many of the teachers in the Navajo Nation were not computer savvy enough to rely on lesson plans that were so heavily Internet based, NETC director Elvira Largie spurred the consortium to develop a technology-based teaching program, which assists teachers in curriculum and professional development.
Known as the Education Technology Improvement Plan (ETIP), the program instructs teachers on the Internet and the use of multimedia technology, using a four-year "scaffolding" approach to learning. In other words, every year, institutional partners such as Northern Arizona University, New Mexico State University, Arizona State University, Diné College, and the National Indian Telecommunications Institute, build on previously taught technology knowledge, so that learning is systematic and sequential, and thus, easier for busy teachers to retain. This aspect of ETIP reinforces state content and cultural standards by promoting the infusion of technology into daily lesson plans. TECH Share and ETIP allow teachers to craft a unique combination of traditional Indian culture with technology, thus drawing from both the modern and historical perspectives.
The use of the TECH Share and ETIP programs within NETC has had a positive effect on student achievement. NETC coordinators have found that students' pre- and post-test scores at the 23 member schools increased from 57 to 79 percent across all curricula in one year.
The Navajo Education Technology Consortium's TECH Share project has been funded by an OII Star Schools grant and ETIP has been funded by an OII Technology Innovation Challenge Grant.
Resources: Note: The "Model Classroom" evaluation study was conducted in years 4 and 5 of the TECH Share project. The study included the development and design of pre- and post-tests for selected lessons. The embedded selection method of collecting data provided initial measures of student learning together with qualitative and quantitative feedback from teachers and students.
"Pell Grants for Kids" Proposed
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) held a hearing on his "Pell Grants for Kids" proposal, PDF (770K) which would provide an annual $500 federal scholarship for every middle- and low-income child in America to purchase educational resources of the parents' choosing. Others who testified include Michael Bell, Miami-Dade County Public Schools; Catherine Hill, DC Parents for School Choice; and Robert Enlow, Friedman Foundation. (July 15)
Federal Student Aid Available for Individuals Enrolled in Alternative Routes to Teacher Certification
Federal student aid is available for people enrolled in alternative routes to teacher certification. Financial aid may include Federal Pell Grants, Federal Perkins Loans and/or Stafford Loans under the Federal Family Education Loan or Direct Loan Programs. The loans may be the most beneficial for those who plan to teach in high need schools or in subject areas where there is a demonstrated need for teachers. OII has just released a new fact sheet that explains how alternate route candidates can take advantage of this aid. (July 14)
No Child Left Behind Leadership Summit on Technology
The U.S. Department held a No Child Left Behind Leadership Summit on Technology, which included a "virtual schoolhouse," highlighting distance and other technology-driven education and white papers on trends in educational technology. One of the presenters was from the Navajo Educational Technology Consortium (see feature). U.S. Department of Education Secretary Rod Paige addressed the Summit and the Teacher-to-Teacher workshop (see below), saying, "Virtual schools offer options for engaging students and expanding course offerings." (July 12)
SchoolMatters.org Adds 18 Additional States
The website http://www.SchoolMatters.org, which features user-friendly information on school performance under No Child Left Behind, has added 18 states—Arkansas, Arizona, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, New Jersey, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, and West Virginia—to the database. The website is supported by a grant from OII. (July 12)
Victory Schools Roosevelt Children's Academy Ranked #1
A Victory Schools-managed charter, Roosevelt Children's Academy, was ranked by New York State as the highest-performing "new charter school serving high need populations," with 87 percent of all students scoring in the top two levels of the English Language Arts test and no students scoring in the bottom level. (July 13) (see also the feature in the April 19, 2004, Innovator)
DaimlerChrysler Fund Supports Mentoring Program
The DaimlerChrysler Fund has donated $100,000 and partnered with Pontiac, MI, schools and the Pontiac Alumni Foundation to provide a mentoring program for middle school students aimed at improving student achievement, while decreasing destructive behaviors like drug abuse. (July 13)
Innovations in the News
Influenced by the success of charter school networks like Pembroke Pines in Florida, citizens in Port St. Lucie are considering establishing their own charter school system. Proponents of the plan say that charter schools would provide additional options for parents and relieve school overcrowding. [More-Palm Beach Post] (July 10)
A report released by the Reason Public Policy Institute (RPPI) concluded that California charter schools do a superior job of educating students with disabilities because of their individualized curricula, smaller class sizes, and early intervention strategies to keep all students on track. However, the report also found that charters are not getting their fair share of special education dollars. [More-Business Wire] (July 8)
Two new charter schools in Indianapolis will focus on the fine and performing arts. [More-WISHTV] (July 7)
The Anishinabe Academy, a school in Minneapolis that serves a predominantly American Indian population, reinforces discipline with strict rules on student behavior. In history and social studies classes, students learn the same information taught in other schools, but the lessons tie into Indian culture. [More-Star Tribune] (July 6)
Twenty schools, including two charter schools, have been named as Intel/Scholastic Twenty-First Century Schools of Distinction Award winners. The honors, awarded to schools that exhibited excellence in the use of technology and professional development, were administered as a part of the Intel Innovation in Education initiative in partnership with Scholastic Inc. and the Blue Ribbon Schools of Excellence Foundation. [More-TMCNet] (June 22)
No Child Left Behind
A study released by the Education Commission of the States evaluates the success of No Child Left Behind legislation. Overall, the study found that 48 states have met, or are working to meet 75% of the law's requirements—a 109 percent increase from 2003. [More-USA Today] (July 14)
To inform parents about their educational options under No Child Left Behind, the Greater Educational Opportunities Foundation will use billboards and direct mail, and will go door-to-door. This outreach effort, primarily within the Indianapolis Public Schools boundary, is funded by a grant from OII. [More-Indy Star] (free registration) (July 13)
For more than a decade, Dayton, OH, parents could choose from two school calendars: traditional or year-round. Due to rising costs, the district has developed a hybrid calendar that will combine elements of both in a unified schedule for all students in 2005-06. [More-Dayton Daily News] (July 15)
Teaching American History
"Expanding America," a professional development course for teachers of history in northwest Ohio, will help educators in grades 4-12 incorporate new state standards that focus more intensely on American history. The program, which is a partnership between Bowling Green State University, the Hayes Presidential Center, and northwest Ohio schools, was one of five Teaching American History (TAH) grant proposals in Ohio to receive a grant from OII. [More-News Messenger] (July 14)
Three TAH grants were awarded to schools in the Chicago Metropolitan area. The grants will be used to form partnerships with museums, historical groups, and colleges to aid local teachers in forming a better understanding of the state-required history curriculum. [More-Chicago Tribune] (July 13)
In cooperation with Colorado State University in Pueblo, CO, School District 70 received a TAH grant to implement professional development projects for teachers. The grant is just $100 shy of $1 million, so the five District 70 school board members each agreed to donate $20 to bring the grant to an even $1 million to be used for programs. [More-Pueblo Chieftain] (July 14)
Last Modified: 02/17/2009