Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Media Content from Learn360

Learn360 - Classrooms for the Future / MVHSLearn360 provides outstanding K-12 content from PBS, National Geographic, Standard Deviants, Slim Goodbody, Sunburst Visual Media™, and dozens of other educational video producers. Learn360 provides the resources you need to cover your curriculum.
  • Hand-selected video clips provide targeted curriculum support.
  • Easily accessible from school or home 24/7.
  • The only streaming service to offer slide show capability.
  • Cutting-edge digitization brings you the best quality streaming media in the classroom and at home.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Classroom Notetaking Tools

Five online tools for taking notes ...

Evernote - Allows you to easily capture information in any environment using whatever device or platform you find most convenient, and makes this information accessible and searchable at any time, from anywhere. There are syncing versions for most platforms as well as online.

Grade Genie - Share your class notes and easily edit them so that everyone has the same study guide. Includes contests to win prizes for using the service.

NoteCentric - Keep all of your class notes in one centralized location, and then share them with classmates by inviting them to view the notes. You can even distribute them via an RSS feed if you so choose.


Notely - Focuses on students and provides a very similar interface to Microsoft Word. It allows for formatting, highlighting passages, adding images and more. You can also keep track of your schedule to make sure you are never late again.

NoteMesh - A Wiki-based collaborative note system for people in the same class. Anyone from the class may delete, add or edit the notes for everyone toshare. If you don’t agree with a deletion that was made, no problem: it’s all stored in the page’s history.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Schools to Benefit from Stimulus Bill

Happy January the 20th 2009Image by m-c via FlickrThe economic stimulus bill currently facing a House vote includes as much as $120-$142 billion for public school systems over the next two years, more than infrastructure, healthcare, or energy.

Approximately 12% of that money would go to repairing existing school buildings bringing them up to an acceptable level. About a billion dollars would also go to classroom modernization and providing students access to broadband Internet, computers and other 21st century technology. Full funding (or nearly so) of NCLB and other big ticket federal programs may also be included.

The goal is to provide a positive educational environment for students and teachers, as well as to create new jobs. Some critics contend that it is not enough, however, as various estimates claim the cost to repair and modernize schools is between $100 billion and $360 billion.

The House has allocated the funds in an attempt to get the money to the schools with the greatest need. Thirteen billion dollars goes to Title I, the proxy the government uses to determine the school districts with the highest need for academic improvement. Another $13 billion is tagged for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Approximately $14 billion is directed to a school modernization and repair program, $1 billion to an education technology program, and as much as $79 billion to state legislatures.

A significant challenge will be to make certain that states don't merely reduce their own education budgets in expectation of big federal increases.

Of course, there are some strings attached. Schools who want the money must spend a portion of it to develop high-quality educational test, ways to recruit and retain teachers, and longitudinal data systems to track long term school progress.

If the government gets it right, most observers agree, this stimulus package could help transform learning environments across America, putting our students on a level playing field in the years to come.

Toppo, Greg. Stimulus gives schools $142B -- with strings. USA Today, Jan 19, 2009.
Goldman, David. Obama's school patchwork project. CNNMoney.com. Jan 15, 2009.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

Are You a Learner- or Curriculum-Centered Teacher?

A teacher writing on a blackboard.Image via WikipediaYour personal philosophy of education drives your teaching style. Your perception of your role as a teacher and the role of the students, as well as your overall view of teaching and learning will determine your teaching techniques.

The current emphasis on standards has resulted in a movement toward curriculum-based classrooms. In this model the objective is to eliminate content gaps. The same content is presented to all students in the same time frame without regard to varying levels of student development.

In the curriculum-centered classroom, content is the focal point. Covering a specific body of knowledge in a given time takes precedence. Student achievement is judged in comparison to how well others do. There may not be a clearly defined standard of success.

In this model, a teacher primarily works alone to develop lessons and teach them, with little or no collegial collaboration. The teacher's classroom organization, teaching practices, and assessment methods are the traditional ones to which they were exposed as students.

The constructivist philosophy argues that individual human experience leads to a personalized construction of knowledge and meaning. Because each person has different experiences, they come to class with varying levels of skill and knowledge. An adherence to this belief will influence a teacher to be more learner-centered.

The learner-centered classroom is goal-based. Student achievement is assessed by whether pre-determined, developmentally-appropriate objectives are reached. The teacher's role is as a facilitator, helping each student by providing opportunities for meaningful experiences. The teacher provides just-in-time help as needed.

This teacher spends time researching new ideas and acquiring new skills and knowledge. Sharing and collaboration are key concepts in the teacher's practice. Evaluation is less formal and more ongoing.

Virtually all teachers fall somewhere between these two models incorporating concepts from both to varying degrees. Teachers must find what works for them, but still be open to change and eager to learn.

TeacherVision, Learner-Centered vs. Curriculum-Centered Teachers: Which Type Are You?, Retrieved Jan 9, 2009

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