The Education Innovator #1
Volume V
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The Education Innovator
 February 8, 2007 • Number 1
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Editor's Note: Since it began in 2002, The Education Innovator has brought its ever-growing readership insightful features on more than 150 promising programs and practices, along with a timely and comprehensive run down on innovations both by and for the researchers, educators, administrators, and policymakers who are the Office of Innovation and Improvement's customers. A major contributor to this impressive job of reporting has been Tiffany Taber, the Innovator's researcher, writer, and editor. As of last month, Tiffany joined the Department's Office of Communications and Outreach, where she will be responsible for a number of important initiatives, including the Department's own Inside ED newsletter and a regular series of Department-wide policy briefings. Her colleagues in OII wish Tiffany every success in her new role at the Department.

What's inside...

The Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE)
What's New
Innovations in the News

FREE Undergoes an "Extreme Makeover" and Offers Resources for Black History Month
February marks the celebration of Black History Month, an annual observance that has been in existence for over 80 years. African American author, historian, and scholar Dr. Carter G. Woodson organized a "Negro History Week" in 1926, noting, "Those who have no record of what their forebears have accomplished lose the inspiration which comes from the teaching of biography and history." The first observances of Negro History Week took place during the second week of February because that time coincided with the birthdays of Frederick Douglass and Abraham Lincoln – two men who had a profound impact on the black population in the United States. Over time, the week–long observance transformed into Black History Month, a four–week celebration of African Americans, their accomplishments, and how they fit into the mosaic of the American experience.

Now, during this period in schools across the country, the faces of Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman are posted on classroom walls and quotes from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., bedeck hallways. Teachers looking for activities that stimulate a deeper understanding and appreciation of black history than standard textbook readings and discussion questions typically provide may find a plethora of resources online. One of the most popular K-12 Internet sites maintained by the U.S. Department of Education is a one-stop source of lesson plans, teaching ideas, primary documents, and publications. The site was recently overhauled to make it even easier to navigate and, best of all, it's "FREE."

Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE) is a portal that enables users to conveniently find teaching and learning resources from the federal government at no cost. More than 1,500 federally supported resources are included on the site from nearly 60 participating agencies such as the U.S. Department of Education, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Endowments for the Arts and Humanities, and the White House.

The History of FREE and its New Makeover

FREE was originally conceived in 1997 after the administration asked federal agencies to identify resources that would enrich the Internet as a tool for teaching and learning. In response, a working group was formed and FREE was launched one year later. In November 2006, the site was redesigned and re-launched to increase its usability. Now a display of photographs and illustrations greets visitors upon their entry into FREE, making each of the resources easy to identify. Also, a "What's New" section collects 20 of the most recent resources on the website and organizes them chronologically by posting.

The Office of Communications and Outreach and the Development Services Team in the Office of the Chief Information Officer at the U.S. Department of Education are responsible for the management of the site. Kirk Winters, one of the site's lead managers, notes, "I continue to be amazed at how many great teaching resources federal organizations and agencies offer on FREE. There are visualizations of the moon's phases, videos showing how cancer spreads, animations of math concepts, and thousands of primary documents and lesson plans. We in ED are privileged to make the task of finding these resources a little easier for teachers, parents, and students."

FREE Offers Resources for Various Subject Areas

Currently, FREE resources are divided into seven subject areas: Arts and Music , Health and Physical Education , Language Arts , Math , Science , Special Collections, and History and Social Studies . All subject areas are listed on the homepage with a " subject map" that details a breakdown of sub-topics.

For example, in Arts and Music, visitors may peruse resources for visual arts, prominent artists, and jazz, gospel, and African American folk music. The Math and Science subject areas display resources for algebra, data analysis, applied sciences, space sciences, and other subjects. In the Health and Physical Education section, visitors learn techniques for teaching about the prevention of substance abuse and the value of nutrition and exercise. Additionally, literature buffs may find ample information and activities for their classrooms with over 86 resources in Language Arts. The Hare and the Water , for example, is a Tanzanian story that helps students see how folktales can reflect the values and beliefs of contemporary society. Another resource, the Literature and Poetry Community Center, brings the writings of Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston to life through photographs and audio recordings. Of particular interest for Black History Month, the Special Collections feature information regarding the Brown v. Board of Education case and the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

By far, the subject area with the most extensive supply of resources is History and Social Studies. It is divided into sections for U.S. Time Periods , World Studies , and U.S. History Topics . Visitors to World Studies may find 28 resources dedicated to Africa and its people. Here, visitors can view Islamic manuscripts from Mali or learn how to enhance a geography lesson with an interactive website that explores the uses of water in 24 African countries. The sprawling section for U.S. History Topics rounds out the History and Social Studies subject area , encompassing sub-topics in Business and Work , Famous People, Movements (with a focus on civil rights), Government, States and Regions , Wars , and other topics such as geology, natural disasters, and anthropology.

Yokomi's classrooms are equipped with at least one laptop computer, a digital projector, and document cameras. Students in kindergarten through second grade learn basic keyboarding skills on special word-processing laptops, while older students use traditional laptops as learning tools. Additionally, teachers wear wireless microphones that amplify their voices through surround-sound systems so students are able to clearly hear lesson instructions. Possibly the most frequently used piece of classroom equipment is the Smart Board. This interactive whiteboard looks much like a traditional mounted writing surface, but the touch-sensitive display enables teachers and students to access and control computer and multimedia applications, the Internet, CD-ROMs, and DVDs with their fingertips. The Smart Board may be connected to a computer and projector so that it functions as a giant computer screen. Teachers and students can write on the whiteboard with digital "ink" and save their work for future study or review.

It is within another one of these U.S. History sub-topics, Ethnic Groups, that educators may discover a trove of instructional treasures for Black History Month. Over 60 resources are available for teachers to help their students learn more about African Americans and their contributions to American society.

A National Park Service Website Stands Out for Black History

One of these resources is a website operated by the National Park Service, Our Shared History: Celebrating African American History and Culture. The warm backdrop of the homepage is accented by a photomontage of famous African American leaders juxtaposed against the silhouette of the United States. Running down the left side of the page is a list, underscored by the red, black, yellow, and green colors often found in African flags, that details the website's six sections: Travel , the Underground Railroad , Exhibits and Collections , Tools for Learning , Parks , and Publications . Through these sections, visitors may take a tour of the historic South, find detailed information about the routes that slaves used to escape to freedom, and read profiles of national historical sites and landmarks dedicated to African American leaders.

For example, in the Travel section, visitors may embark on a virtual adventure to places where African Americans have figured prominently in history. Visitors may choose to travel by theme and discover different styles of blues played by musicians in the Lower Mississippi Valley or travel by city and tour important sites in Chicago, Detroit, and Washington, DC. By selecting the Underground Railroad section of Our Shared History , visitors can explore a National Register Travel Itinerary for the Underground Railroad. The itinerary provides descriptions and photographs of 64 historic places that are listed in the National Park Service's National Register of Historic Places, the official list of important historical sites in the United States worthy of preservation. It also includes a map of the most common directions of escape taken on the Underground Railroad and maps that mark locations of historic properties.

FOSS has three goals: 1.) to promote scientific literacy by providing all students with science experiences that are grade-level appropriate and that serve as a foundation for more advanced ideas; 2.) to be instructionally efficient by providing teachers with a complete, easy-to-use science program; and 3.) to promote systemic reform by providing real experiences for students that reflect National Science Education Standards.

In the Exhibits and Collections section, visitors may read full-text versions of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speeches, see and hear the sights and sounds of the Birmingham Jail, and view items that Dr. King left behind. Through the Lost, Tossed and Found resource site, visitors can "excavate" remains in and around Manassas National Battlefield Park (VA) from the comfort of their own computers. Digging around Portici, a "middling plantation" that was destroyed by fire in 1863, enables visitors to examine a carved finger ring of ebony that likely came with its owner from Africa. Continuing with the excavation at Brownsville, another plantation, visitors can unearth a hand-made, clay tobacco pipe that suggests local manufacture by African Americans. Lost, Tossed, and Found is meant to spark interest in archaeology and teach students that the past can be preserved nearly everywhere. A chubby bumblebee named "Bee Ann Explorer" and her sidekick dog "Arf T. Fact" lead younger students through games and activities related to their virtual excavation. After completing the activities, students may take an online examination and earn an "Explorer Certificate" from the National Park Service.

The final, fully interactive section of Our Shared History is Tools for Learning. This section includes links to websites that tour the Lower Mississippi Delta and a Great American Landmarks Adventure in which students can analyze and color drawings of African American landmarks that were created by Roxie Munro, an author and illustrator of children's books. Also in this section are lesson plans compiled by "Teaching with Historic Places." Created by National Park Service interpreters, preservation professionals, and educators, these lesson plans are free and ready for immediate classroom use. One lesson, From Canterbury to Little Rock , highlights the African American struggle for educational equity both before the Civil War and before the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. In this lesson, students examine photographs of the Prudence Crandall Museum (CT), which opened as a boarding school for African American girls in the early 1830s, and Central High School (AR), which captured the nation's attention in 1957 when nine African American students attempted to integrate schools in Little Rock. Students also read accounts of events that happened at each site and map the historic Canterbury and Little Rock areas.

The last two sections of Our Shared History, Parks and Publications, list African American national park sites as well as readings related to famous African American people, places, and topics (such as Harper's Ferry and the Niagara Movement). The Stories to Tell link takes visitors to a site where America's westward expansion and various military engagements are explored through the words of African Americans who experienced the events firsthand.

With the advent of the Internet and other technology, teaching about black history has come a long way from the one-week celebration Dr. Carter G. Woodson envisioned. The plethora of instructional tools available through Our Shared History and other websites in the Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE) portal show how Black History Month can be embraced in schools. Through the use of engaging activities and lessons, teachers can help their students see how African Americans have been shaped by America and how America continues to be shaped by African Americans.

Resources: Note:The Federal Resources for Educational Excellence (FREE) website is designed to make federally supported teaching and learning resources easier to find. It is offered as a convenience for teachers, parents, and students. The inclusion of particular resources is not intended to reflect their importance, nor is it intended to endorse any products, services, or views expressed herein.


What's New
From the U.S. Department of Education

U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings kicked off a national dialogue in Chicago (IL) to promote the policy bookdownload files PDF, (576KB) , Building on Results: A Blueprint for Strengthening the No Child Left Behind Act. The Secretary's visit to Chicago comes on the heels of President Bush's call for Congress to reauthorize the law in his State of the Union Address. The policy book and corresponding fact sheets are available online. (Jan. 25)

At the Northeast Leadership Forum Annual Luncheon (TX), Secretary Spellings touted the success of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and encouraged business and community leaders to support the reauthorization of the law. (Jan. 19)

Secretary Spellings met with business leaders of the Business Coalition for Student Achievement to express her appreciation to them for their support of NCLB and to discuss the shared goal of reauthorizing the law this year. (Jan. 18)

To mark Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Secretary Spellings visited M. Hall Stanton Elementary School in Philadelphia (PA) and commended students, teachers, and administrators for their success in narrowing the achievement gap. The Secretary also released a statement commemorating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Jan. 14)

The 22 cities that will host the fourth annual Teacher-to-Teacher summer workshops have been announced by Secretary Spellings. The workshops are designed so that teachers may learn best practices from fellow educators who are successful in raising student achievement. The Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative supports teachers in a variety of ways, including keeping them informed about the latest strategies and research for helping all students meet high standards. (Jan. 9)

Secretary Spellings announced that the U.S. Department of Education is seeking nominations for its fourth annual American Stars of Teaching award sponsored by the Department's Teacher-to-Teacher Initiative. The award program recognizes stellar teachers who raise student achievement, use innovative classroom strategies, and make a difference in their students' lives. Nominations for American Stars must be submitted to the Department by March 31. The nomination form and more information are available online. (Jan. 9)

NCLB celebrated its fifth birthday on January 8, 2007, and Secretary Spellings celebrated the event with an address to education and business leaders at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The Secretary referenced examples of the gains made by the country's fourth graders in reading and mathematics, according to the 2005 Nation's Report Card, as well as other promising gains in student achievement since the advent of the landmark education law. She also reminded the audience that NCLB's reauthorization remains one of President Bush's top priorities. (Jan. 8)

The latest National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) report on crime and safety in schools in the United States presents national-level information as reported by school principals, including the frequency of criminal incidents at school, the use of disciplinary actions, and efforts to prevent and reduce crime at school. Data come from the 2003-2004 School Survey on Crime and Safety (SSOCS:2004). (Dec. 28)

In 2003, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) included a special focus on problem solving. An NCES report reviews the problem-solving aspects of each study in order to compare and contrast the nature of problem solving in each assessment. (Dec. 26)

A restricted-use Data File Documentation from NCES reports on the procedures and methodologies employed in the transcript component of the first follow-up to the Education Longitudinal Study of 2002 (ELS:2002). The document is designed to provide guidance for users of the transcript data as released in Electronic Codebook (ECB) format (NCES 2006-351). (Dec. 8)

Dropout Rates in the United States: 2004 builds upon a series that began in 1988 of NCES reports on high school dropout and completion rates. It presents estimates of rates for 2004, and provides data about trends in dropout and completion rates over the last three decades (1972-2004), including characteristics of dropouts and completers in these years. (Dec. 7)

From the Office of Innovation and Improvement

The following grant competitions are currently open:

Charter Schools: This program provides financial assistance for the planning, program design, and initial implementation of charter schools, and the dissemination of information on charter schools. The application deadline is February 16. (Jan. 8)

Teaching American History: This program is designed to raise student achievement by improving teachers' knowledge, understanding, and appreciation of traditional U.S. history. The application deadline is March 9. (Jan. 8)

Transition to Teaching: This program provides grants to recruit and retain highly qualified mid-career professionals (including highly qualified paraprofessionals) and recent college graduates as teachers in high-need schools, including recruiting teachers through alternative routes to teacher certification. The application deadline is March 26. (Jan. 8)

American History

Each year, The History Channel honors exceptional teachers and students for their commitment to history education and historic preservation. Elementary, middle, and high school teachers and students are eligible to apply. Guidelines, entry forms, rules, and a list of prizes are available online. Entries are due by March 30. (Feb. 8)

If honors aren't enough, The History Channel also is launching a grant competition for the 2007-2008 cycle. This year, $250,000 is available to fund hands-on projects that teach students about their local history and actively engage them in its preservation. Elementary, middle, and high school teachers are eligible to apply. Applications are available online and are due by June 1. (Feb. 8)

Arts Education

The National Partnership for Quality Afterschool Learning at the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) and Big Thought, a learning partnership based in Dallas (TX) and a recipient of OII's Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination grant, have collaborated to create an online Afterschool Training Toolkit focused on the arts. The toolkit is designed to build common knowledge about the arts for after-school staff and increase the capacity of after-school programs to deliver arts education. (Jan. 12)

Charter Schools

The National Alliance for Public Charter Schools will host the 2007 National Charter Schools Conference from April 24-27 in Albuquerque (NM). The conference will feature more than 120 breakout sessions, focusing on quality, policy, advocacy and capacity. For questions, please call 206-463-3344. Those interested in attending should register before March 1 to avoid late registration fees. (Feb. 8)

A report download files PDF, (11.1MB) from the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF) summarizes the benefits and challenges that charter schools may experience when sharing facilities with other organizations. LIIF's education program aims to help schools create stable, sustainable learning environments by providing flexible and affordable financing to educational organizations. (Dec. 2006)

The Center on Reinventing Public Education's National Charter Research Project has issued a set download files PDF, (848KB) of essays on the state of charter schools in the United States. Essays highlight topics such as charter authorization, a profile of Dayton (OH), and the best strategies to judge the performance of charter schools. (Dec. 2006)

The Progressive Policy Institute has released a report download files PDF, (235KB) on "alternative" charter school authorizers. An alternative authorizer is defined as a group functioning outside the traditional realm of public K-12 school governance. Currently, 14 of 41 states and Washington, DC permit alternative authorizers. (Dec. 2006)

Education Reform

The Hamilton Project, an initiative of the Washington, DC-based Brookings Institution, is offering $25,000 in prizes for the best innovative policy proposals written by undergraduate and graduate students. Winners will be invited to present their proposals to the Hamilton Project Advisory Council and potentially turn their proposals into discussion papers issued by the Project. Proposals in the areas of education, health care, social insurance, science and technology, tax policy, and energy are particularly welcome. The deadline for proposals is June 1. (Feb. 8)

The Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, with support from the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, has released Influence: A Study of the Factors Influencing Education Policy download files PDF, (1.70MB). Using a two-stage survey methodology, leading education-policy experts were asked to identify and rate highly influential agents across four categories: studies, organizations, people, and information sources. The study reports influence scores and rankings for the leading nominees in each category. Check out page 86 for a mention of The Education Innovator.(Dec. 2006)


New Leaders for New Schools is seeking over 130 highly motivated individuals nationwide to become New Leaders in Baltimore (MD), the Bay Area (CA), Chicago (IL), Memphis (TN), New York (NY), and Washington, DC. Applicants must have a record of success in leading adults, K-12 teaching experience, a drive to lead an urban school, and a belief in the potential of all children to achieve at high levels. The final application deadline is March 1. (Feb. 8)

Raising Student Achievement

The National High School Alliance issued a new resource guide that allows policymakers and educators to access strategies, research, and other tools to transform high schools to meet the needs of students. The guide is based on the six core principles of the High School Alliance's A Call to Action: Transforming High School for All Youth, download files PDF, (141KB), a framework of principles and recommendations meant to guide leaders in transforming the traditional, comprehensive high school to prepare all students for postsecondary education and the workforce. (Feb. 8)

A New Day for Learning download files PDF, (2.60MB), areport from the Time, Learning, and Afterschool Task Force and funded by the Charles Stewart Mott Foundation, calls for immediate action to design a comprehensive learning system throughout the day and year round. Task force members include researchers, foundation leaders, after-school experts, education leaders, and others. The report is available through The George Lucas Educational Foundation, which is a media partner for the report. (Jan. 2007)

Teacher Quality and Development

Each year, the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) offers K-12 educators a wide range of summer professional development opportunities through its Summer Seminars and Institutes program and its new Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops. Full-time classroom teachers in public, private, parochial, and charter schools, as well as home-schooling parents, are eligible to participate, as are librarians and school administrators. The deadline to apply for Summer Seminars and Institutes is March 1. The deadline to apply for Landmarks of American History and Culture Workshops is March 15. (Feb. 8)

The number of National Board Certified Teachers has climbed past 55,000. Nearly 7,800 teachers earned National Board Certification in 2006, a seven-percent increase from the previous year. The states with the highest number of teachers who recently attained National Board Certification were North Carolina, Florida, South Carolina, Illinois, and Washington. (Jan. 9)


Atlanta-based children's network, Connect with Kids, has launched a new online community called "Parents & Company," giving parents and teachers a space to meet online, share stories, write online journals, give and receive advice, and stay abreast of the latest news about children. (Feb. 8)


Innovations in the News

Closing the Achievement Gap
Ralph Bunche Elementary School in Compton (CA), named for the African American diplomat who won the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize, is breaking down the stereotypes that surround predominantly low-income, minority public schools. Bunche Elementary has blown past the target score of 800 on the state's Academic Performance Index with a score of 868, which compares favorably to the scores at schools in more affluent areas such as Beverly Hills and San Marino. A school would earn a score of 870 if every student scored "proficient" on standardized tests. Much of the school's success is due to the hard work of Principal Mikara Solomon Davis, who arrived at Bunche Elementary in 2000. Since that time, she has put in place a monitoring system for teachers' lesson plans and bases top grades in each class on the state standards for each grade level. [More-The Los Angeles Times] (Jan. 15)

Raising Student Achievement
At Ruby Young Elementary School in DeSoto (TX), students can register for courses of interest just as if they were attending college. The special curriculum, called the "University of Enrichment," allows students to enroll in classes that are taught in four, nine-week units. One unit focuses on skills needed for the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS), while other units allow students to gain skills as journalists, scientists, musicians, and investigators. [More-Dallas Morning News] (Jan. 19)

Citizen Schools (see Innovator, May 12, 2003) is an apprenticeship program offered outside of school hours that seeks to build students' academic and leadership skills by connecting them with professionals from various fields. Launched in Boston (MA) in 1994, the program targets middle school students through a structured mix of academic tutoring and mentoring. It now serves 2,000 students, the vast majority of whom are from disadvantaged backgrounds, in 30 schools and five states. According to a 2005 outside evaluation of Citizen Schools, participants at some grade levels saw improvement in their reading and mathematics test scores and their grades. Grade-to-grade promotion and attendance rates also improved, as did performance in high school. [More-Education Week] (Jan. 17) (subscription required)

There is a growing gender gap in college enrollments and outcomes, but no single, simple explanation or potential solution exists. A new survey of incoming freshmen, however, suggests that those concerned about the college performance of men might focus their attention on getting high school boys to turn off their video games and start studying. The 2007 National Freshman Attitudes Report, a survey of nearly 100,000 incoming freshmen at 292 public and private two- and four-year colleges, finds that men and women share high expectations for getting a degree, "no matter what obstacles get in [their] way." Despite this expectation, male students at the same time report coming into college with far less ambitious intellectual interests and study habits than their female counterparts. [More-Inside Higher Ed] (Jan. 15)

Ninth-grade students at West Roxbury Education Complex in Boston (MA) break into small groups and use clear acrylic blocks, glass rods, and miniature laser pointers to trace the path of light beams with graph paper. Today's lesson in Matthew Anthes-Washburn's physics class explores refraction, and Mr. Anthes-Washburn believes that a laboratory activity like this before lectures or textbook readings helps his students better grasp the science content. Hardly anyone will discount the importance of laboratory work in science classes, but a national study by the National Research Council in 2005 concluded that most high school students are not exposed to high-uality science labs. [More-Education Week] (Jan. 10) (subscription required)

Azure Warrenfeltz is fluent in Japanese and Spanish. She also can understand bits of French, German, Arabic and Italian, and she soon hopes to learn some Mandarin Chinese. Azure is four years old. Not only is learning a foreign language easier for children than it is for adults, but children who are exposed to other languages also do better in school, score higher on standardized tests, and are better problem solvers, says François Thibaut, who runs The Language Workshop for Children (TLWC). TLWC is a program for learning foreign languages that has nine schools around the East Coast. The schools serve students six months to nine years old and offer courses in Spanish, French, Italian and, this year, Chinese, which Mr. Thibaut says is becoming the most requested class. [More-USA Today] (Jan. 10)

Sandra Petrovich, principal of George D. Gilbert Elementary School in Gwinn (MI), reflects on how NCLB has spurred her district, the Gwinn Area Community Schools, to create a framework for improvement. Since the advent of the law, the district has implemented data-driven professional development and "Community Reviews" to improve teaching and learning and inform the local community about the successes and challenges at the district's schools. Since instituting these reforms, teaching methodologies have switched from lectures to project-based assignments, and all professional development activities focus on improving student performance. [More-Converge Online] (Jan. 2007) ( editorial )

Educators at Northview Middle School in Ankeny (IA) are using new digital recorders to enhance student learning. Teachers in special needs, English, foreign language, and other classes have begun to digitally record assignments, novels, and oral exams to help students improve test scores and comprehension. Gwen Sorensen, 14, said the recorders have helped her immensely in her French class because she is able to listen to her teacher's accent and perfect her own pronunciation. [More-The Des Moines Register] (Jan. 18)

Andrew Smith, 13, who has autism, demonstrates his paper-cup anemometer, a wind-gauge machine in front of his class at Capt. Nathan Hale Middle School in Coventry (CT). Andrew is one of the seventh- and eighth-grade students at the school who participated in projects "built" from a special profiling system developed by Joseph Renzulli and his wife, Sally Reis, at the University of Connecticut. Through the program, students spend 45 minutes responding to profile questions that pinpoint their academic interests. An online search engine with special "kid-friendly" filtering then selects from 13,000 pre-screened activities and develops an individualized curriculum for each student. The online system was originally field-tested with gifted students, but has been developed over 30 years so that it can be used with students of varying ability levels. [More-The Hartford Courant] (Jan. 17)

About 450 teachers from the Center Grove school district (IN) attended a "Technology Day" to help them catch up to their digitally savvy students. The 24-person Technology Day Committee, made up of teachers from across the district, formed when the teachers began to notice that there was a growing gap in technology knowledge across the Center Grove schools. During Technology Day, teachers could select three of the 57 sessions that ranged from basic Microsoft Word tutorials to more advanced classes in PowerPoint. Speaker Annette Lamb, an instructor at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, began the day by explaining how most teachers are "digital immigrants" while most students are "digital natives." [More-The Indianapolis Star] (Jan. 10)

Kentucky's new Individual Learning Plans program could be called a melding of "MySpace" and "" The new Internet-based program helps students track their current progress in school and map out their academic careers. Through the program, every student has his or her own webpage that lists test scores and the results of surveys designed to point students in the direction of potential careers. The program's career-matcher tool allows students to complete an interest survey that matches them to 40 professions. The tool then displays information about the professions as well as corresponding college majors along with the colleges that offer them. [More-eSchool News] (Jan. 1)

At 10 years old, Nation Bailey is writing his second novel. Nation is a fourth grade student at McKinley Elementary School in Beaverton (OR), whose teacher, Connie Greenlee, enlisted her class in a project for National Novel Writing Month. Every day in November, Ms. Greenlee's students worked for a half hour on their novels and charted how many words they wrote. On some days, Ms. Greenlee brought different items to class and asked her students to weave them into their stories. One day it was a golden spoon. The next day it was a pack of bubblegum. Ms. Greenlee's project was very popular among her students. According to Ms. Greenlee, the project helped boost students' scores on standardized writing exams. [More-The Oregonian] (Jan. 18)


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