Gates offers schools a sweet reform deal

The man who helped put a personal computer on every desktop now wants to see more personalized high schools nationwide.

And Bill Gates’ billions may be enough to get it done–without the help of a single bureaucrat.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is offering Washington public high schools a deal: agree to chop yourself into a complex of independent smaller schools of no more than 600 students each, and get a windfall of around $500 per student.

On top of that, the Microsoft chairman’s foundation is offering $100 million worth of scholarships over the next 13 years–but only to students from the 10 to 15 selected schools.

“We hope that our investments have a catalytic impact” nationwide, Gates Foundation spokeswoman Carol Rava said. “That is the goal, that this conversation becomes as important as the one on class size.”

The program doesn’t specifically address class size. It’s aimed at helping minority and low-income students, who often get lost in the shuffle at schools with thousands of students, Rava said.

She cited recent studies that found “controlling the size of the school can lower poverty’s impact on achievement by up to 90 percent. That was one of the driving reasons behind this program.”

Schools can apply if 20 percent of their students are low-income.

“Big schools can become totally impersonal,” said Thomas Timar, an education professor at the University of California-Riverside. “Students get lost in them, particularly in urban areas where students tend to come from educationally disadvantaged backgrounds.”

Gates’ foundation is not the first to go directly to schools to promote reform, Timar noted, but it likely is the most ambitious effort by a single private donor.

“I can’t tell you how appreciative I am, because we can’t do it with our funding, our budget,” said Rosemary McAuliffe, education chairwoman in the Washington State Senate.

A Gates Foundation model for smaller schools that work is the Julia Richman Educational Complex on New York’s Upper East Side, which includes four independent high schools of 300 to 400 students, each in the same building.

“What we try to do is create a situation where the kids have some options, where they’ve really been able to get to know adults well, and they know where to go to ask for help,” said Ann Cook, principal of the Urban Academy in the complex, which receives Gates grant money.

About two-thirds of the Urban Academy’s students are low-income, Cook said. But it consistently ranks near the top of New York public high schools in graduation rates, with around 90 percent of graduates going on to college.

The foundation also funds the Small Schools Project, an information clearinghouse for small high school projects nationwide. And it makes grants like a recent one of $15 million to a small high schools effort in Oakland, Calif.

In Washington state, school administrators were weighing the foundation’s easy money against the effort it would take to create smaller, independent schools on their campuses.

“It’s very appealing,” said Cheryl Chow, former Seattle City Councilwoman and now principal at Seattle’s Garfield High School, which has 1,740 students.

“But the time crunch, the timeline expectation is a big challenge for us,” she said, noting the foundation’s Feb. 23 deadline for grant applications.

John Jackson, principal at Seattle’s Franklin High School, said the offer looked too good to pass up.

“They’re looking at closing the achievement gap, and in this age of standards-based education, we can use all the assistance we can get,” Jackson said.

Franklin has about 1,560 students. At $500 per student, that works out to a grant of about $780,000 over five years for redesign, plus an additional $100 per student for early-college awareness programs.

Chopping schools down to size should not mean adding more teachers or staff, and it should not require significant construction, the foundation says.

Grants will be doled out over five years, with 20 percent in the first year for planning, 30 percent in years two and three for actually breaking up schools, and 10 percent in years four and five for follow-up work. The foundation will give technical help throughout the process.

Deron Boyles, a professor at Georgia State University who studies minority education issues, stressed that if the program is aimed at helping minority students, it must include curriculum and other changes.

“Are the minority students still subjected to a curriculum that doesn’t show their faces or have their voices?” he asked. “I don’t think smaller schools alone is any sort of answer.”

The achievers program doesn’t require specific curriculum changes, but Jackson said Franklin High School has addressed course content with funding from another Gates Foundation grant.

About 500 scholarships will be awarded each year to low-income students at participating schools. Scholarships will cover four years of expenses, after federal grants and other aid have been awarded, to a maximum of $5,400 per year at state colleges and $6,400 at private schools.

The Gates Foundation, with an endowment of some $22 billion, is the world’s largest charitable foundation. It has focused on education and global basic health, last year doling out $995 million in grants, scholarships, and other funding.

Last year, the foundation pledged $350 million over the next three years toward improving K-12 education, including $100 million in state challenge grants for professional development activities for school leaders.

Links:

Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
http://www.gatesfoundation.org

Small Schools Project
http://smallschoolsproject.org

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eSN Bonus Report: Ed Sec. Paige talks technology at AASA conference

Education Secretary Rod Paige—who served as superintendent of the Houston Independent School District before joining the Bush administration—joined three other exemplary superintendents in discussing how technology can be used to break down barriers to student achievement at the 133rd annual American Association of School Administrators (AASA) conference in Orlando Feb. 16 to 18.

Paige said there are many ways technology can be used to enhance education: “It’s just a matter of the amount of imagination we bring to student learning.”

In addressing a question about linking student achievement to technology, Paige asked whether pencils or overhead projectors advanced student learning and warned that schools can’t view technology as an end to itself.

“Technologies are simply tools to help good teachers refine skills,” he said. “There are great uses of technology, and there are uses of technology that are completely meaningless.”

Paige was joined in the technology discussion by David Clune, superintendent of the Wilton Public School District in Connecticut; Raymond Yeagley, superintendent of the Rochester School District in New Hampshire; and Neil Pedersen, superintendent of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School System in North Carolina.

Paige encouraged administrators to set high standards, since this motivates people to do outstanding things. As Houston’s superintendent, his rule was “no school is going to be acceptable anymore”; instead, schools had to be exemplary.

He also said creative teachers are key to making good use of the internet in schools. “The very best way to get good use of the internet is to get creative teachers,” Paige said.

The Houston public schools use the internet to offer rare courses, such as Russian, through distance learning. Also, Apex Learning provides Advanced Placement courses, such as World History or microeconomics, to the district’s students via the internet.

“We can have that student stay in their own school and take that course,” Paige said. “It gives us an opportunity to maximize scare resources and ignore geographical boundaries.”

Pedersen said educators must reinforce the idea that anyone can publish material on the internet, so what is posted isn’t always accurate.

The AASA conference offered school administrators several opportunities to examine leadership in all areas of education—including dealing with parents, relating to the community, improving equality among students, and using technology to improve education.

“School leaders truly have a unique opportunity to shape and form our schools,” AASA President Ben Canada said during the opening session. “Leadership, it’s in our hands.”

He reminded school administrators that most is not all, and much more needs to be done to ensure that all kids succeed. “Our purpose is to educate ‘all’ the children,” Canada said.

Paige also was honored as AASA’s National Superintendent of the Year.

“The life span is so short for a superintendent,” Paige said during his acceptance speech. “We cannot solve long-time problems with short-term leadership.”

Paige said President George W. Bush is serious about his goal, “No Child Left Behind.”

“You and I both know some children are not getting an appropriate education,” Paige said. “You and I have an ‘appropriate education gap’ to close.”

He said the new administration will help educators close that gap by offering schools more flexibility, in exchange for greater accountability.

Exhibitor news

AOL Time Warner and online test preparation provider TestU have teamed up to offer free SAT preparation to all students through the AOL@School web site. In an effort to equalize the playing field for all kids going to college and also to increase its brand name, TestU has provided a four-week SAT “crunch” course on AOL@School, which receives millions of page views each month.

“AOL is this huge megaphone,” said Richard Bolton, TestU’s president and chief executive.

TestU’s SAT course diagnoses a student’s ability and then provides the student with a customized curriculum based on his or her strengths and weaknesses. Students who practice for the SAT with TestU’s service generally increase their scores by about 130 points, Bolton said.

Since students in kindergarten through second grade have limited reading skills, AOL@School has added a pictorial search tool that lets students search for appropriate web sites using picture buttons, such as an animal button. Also, AOL’s parental controls, which filter internet content, recently were rated No. 1 by Consumer Reports, the company said.

Learning.com, based in Portland, Ore., announced its online courseware that teaches core computer skills to students in kindergarten through grade five, called the Easy Tech Instructional System. This software program systematically teaches students computer concepts—such as typing, bolding text, and making graphs and spreadsheets—so teachers can focus on applying those skills, rather than teaching them.

Easy Tech is delivered over the internet, and its lessons are correlated to the International Society for Technology in Education’s National Educational Technology Standards (NETS) at each grade level. The lesson content draws from traditional subjects such as math and language arts, so the time students spend with Easy Tech reinforces other learning objectives, the company said.

NetSchools Corp. is providing a complete, bundled hardware package, called NetSchools Constellation, that gives every student a wireless, kid-proof StudyPro laptop made by Hewlett-Packard Co. The StudyPro lacks a disk drive, but because it’s wireless, students can beam their work to their teacher or the printer. The StudyPro laptop also comes with Microsoft Office, Netscape’s internet browser, and a patented anti-theft device which shuts the computer down completely if it hasn’t made a connection with the school’s network within eight days.

The NetSchools Constellation program also gives each teacher a fully functioning HP OmniBook notebook computer and a subscription to NetSchools Orion, which features links to more than 47,000 web sites correlated to state standards and an assortment of online tools, including eMail for keeping in touch with parents.

Plato Learning announced that it now offers computer-based courseware for students in grades K-12 as a result of its acquisition of Wasatch Inc., a provider of K-8 educational software. Wasatch, of Salt Lake City, provided software to a reported 1,500 schools in 600 districts.

“Plato will integrate the Wasatch K-8 courseware with its comprehensive Plato Learning System for middle and high schools to become [a] truly comprehensive and … contemporary online curriculum for the K-12 market,” said John Murray, president and CEO of Plato Learning.

The ScholarChip Co., which sells a smart card with a micro chip imbedded on it, launched at AASA. Not only does this card serve as an identification card, but students can use it to buy lunch, gain entry to locked areas, and to permit their access on the school’s network.

“Students who are receiving free or reduced lunch, for example, sometimes feel embarrassed,” said Roberta Gerold, superintendent of the Miller Place School District on Long Island. “The ScholarChip card can be used as a debit card—no one needs to know the lunch code is funded through personal dollars or through financial aid.”

TaskStream, which offers online staff development, announced the TS-Tracker, a tool that lets administrators monitor, manage, and assess the effects of professional development on classroom teaching. TaskStream’s professional development teaches educators a new skill and then helps them create a lesson to implement the new skill in their classroom. All the work is captured in TaskStream’s database. The TS-Tracker lets administrators see this information for purposes of evaluation.

Vantage Learning debuted its Intellimetric technology, which reportedly grades long-answer questions using artificial intelligence with the same accuracy as human scorers. The company says its technology lets teaches assign more writing assignments to students without the extra burden of marking or delays before students get any feedback. Intellimetric already is used by Edison Schools and the College Board, Vantage Learning said.

Links:

American Association of School Administrators
http://www.aasa.org

Houston Independent School District
http://www.houstonisd.org

AOL@School
http://school.aol.com

TestU
http://www.testu.com

Learning.com
http://www.learning.com

NetSchools Corp.
http://www.netschools.com

Hewlett-Packard Co.
http://www.hp.com

Plato Learning Inc.
http://www.plato.com

TaskStream
http://www.taskstream.com

Intellimetric
http://www.intellimetric.com

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New defense policy may keep used military computers out of schools

A new policy that may keep used military computers out of schools could hamper technology in some of the nation’s poorest classrooms and force schools to find additional funding for computers.

Deputy Defense Secretary Rudy de Leon issued a memo Jan. 8 directing all military agencies to destroy all hard drives and processors on computers they are no longer using, including computers that had not been used for classified work.

Since 1992, the department had required only computers that dealt with classified information to be destroyed. Hard drives on computers that dealt with unclassified information were supposed to be wiped clean and donated to schools through the federal government’s “Computers for Learning” program.

Each year since 1994, Utah’s Hill Air Force Base has donated $5 million worth of computers to schools in Utah, Idaho, Arizona, and Nevada, said Brenda Snyder, the alternative equipment officer.

Snyder said the new memo makes all computers that were to be donated this year worthless to schools because she must remove and destroy all hard drives, cables, and processors.

The base will continue donating monitors and printers to schools, Snyder said.

The new policy is overkill, said a spokesman for Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah.

“We see this as a typical federal government overreaction to deal with a real problem of security lapses,” said Bill Johnson, Hansen’s spokesman.

Johnson said this policy will hurt the federal Computers for Learning program. “It [Computers for Learning] has benefitted the public by donating millions of dollars of computers to schools nationwide,” he said.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he supports the new policy and does not believe the Computers for Learning program will suffer.

“I am encouraging the Department of Defense to continue looking for a reliable way to erase sensitive information from computers. But until the Pentagon can find one, I must support the decision to destroy hard drives before computers are given away to school districts as a responsible one,” Hatch said.

Susan Hansen, a spokeswoman for the Defense Department, said the department’s audit revealed that in some instances “sensitive information, such as lists of people’s names and their addresses,” had been left on hard drives of donated computers.

“Even unclassified defense information can be a serious risk if it is accidentally left on computers and somehow gets into the wrong hands,” Hatch said.

Susan Hansen, wife of Rep. Jim Hansen, said the Defense Department last year donated more than 74,000 pieces of computer equipment—totalling nearly $60 million—to schools nationwide.

Johnson said Rep. Hansen plans to “dig in and ask questions why they want to destroy perfectly good functioning computers” instead of donating the computers that did not handle anything more classified “than love eMails to wives.”

Clearfield High School, which is part of Utah’s Davis County School District, has 40 computers from Hill Air Force Base, and all the hard drives were wiped clean when the school received them, said Casey Brown, the school’s technology specialist.

Robin Marble, K-3 resource teacher for the district’s Hill Field Elementary School, said out of the 35 computers the school received in November and December, three of them still had some information on them “that was totally useless to us. I just reformatted them. We needed the computers.”

Marble said the donated computers run slower than the current models on the market, but much faster than the ones the school had before, and they are compatible with programs the students need now. The school’s old computers could not run the new educational programs.

Besides donating the computers, the base also donated the monitors and the Windows 95 license so the school could use the programs, Marble said.

Links:

Computers for Learning
http://www.computers.fed.gov

Rep. Jim Hansen, R-Utah
http://www.house.gov/hansen

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah
http://www.senate.gov/~hatch

Department of Defense
http://www.defenselink.mil

Clearfield High School
http://www.davis.k12.ut.us/chs

Hill Field Elementary School
http://www.davis.k12.ut.us/hillfield

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N2H2 drops sale of student web-use data

A major internet filtering company will stop collecting and selling the web habits of millions of schoolchildren who use its product after privacy groups howled and the Defense Department had second thoughts, the company disclosed Feb. 22.

N2H2 Inc., whose “Bess” internet filtering solution is used by a reported 14 million students in the United States and recently was voted as the best internet filter available by eSchool News readers, said it has stopped selling its “Class Clicks” list that reports the web sites students visit on the internet and how much time they spend at each one.

After N2H2 announced its deal with marketing research firm Roper Starch Worldwide last September, privacy groups called the filtering company a “corporate predator” and were incensed over reports the information would be sold to the Defense Department for recruiting.

“It is not the purpose of the public schools to abet corporations that spy on the web browsing of schoolchildren,” said Gary Ruskin of Commercial Alert, a Washington-based group targeting commercialism in schools.

The Bess filter is used by 40 percent of the schools that use internet filters to screen out objectionable web sites. N2H2 spokesman Allen Goldblatt said his company and Roper Starch “mutually decided” to drop the relationship.

“From our end, this was a distraction for us,” Goldblatt said. “What we do is work on filtering.”

Goldblatt said that no personally identifiable data about kids were ever collected or sold. Federal law prohibits collection or sale of a child’s personal information without parental permission.

“Our business is protecting kids. We never would, never have, and never will jeopardize anyone’s privacy,” Goldblatt said. “I think any time you have a great public debate about privacy issues …, this is a good thing.”

The company will stop providing all reports, Goldblatt said.

After writing to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld to stop the deal, Ruskin received a letter from the department saying that, while learning how kids used military web sites would be “appealing,” the department had second thoughts.

“Prior to the news articles that were recently published, we believed that Class Clicks was a commonly used market research service,” read the February letter from W.S. Sellman, the Pentagon’s director of accession policy.

“Upon further investigation, we realized that it is a new concept,” the letter continued. “At this point, we are delaying our decision about participating in the Class Clicks project, indefinitely.”

Ruskin called the announcement a victory, saying many school administrators did not know about the collection of data and objected to its use.

“It’s good that N2H2 is going to stop its schoolroom snooping,” Ruskin said.

For its part, N2H2 says it has been talking about—and distributing—this information for more than a year, including presentations at educational technology conferences and monthly dispatches of data to the education press for dissemination to educators.

The company said it began collecting the information to help educators use the internet more effectively during instruction. N2H2 subsequently explored ways to share and profit from the information—hence its business venture with Roper Starch.

The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) began investigating the Class Clicks list in January, asking the Defense Department and individual states for their records on the deal.

EPIC legal counsel Chris Hoofnagle said he was skeptical about N2H2’s commitment to privacy.

“EPIC believes that children should not be profiled while using the internet,” Hoofnagle said. “It’s not clear from what I know now that [such profiling] will end.”

A law passed during the closing moments of last year’s Congress requires libraries and schools to install internet filters, or lose federal funds earmarked for technology.

The law, called the Children’s Internet Protection Act, takes effect in late April, but the American Civil Liberties Union and American Library Association are challenging it in court.

Despite N2H2’s decision to stop selling its web-use data, privacy advocates worry there are no rules requiring internet filtering companies to disclose their business practices fully, especially since CIPA would require schools to use their products.

“We want to see broader protections for children,” Hoofnagle said. “There’s not adequate assurance that [information collected by filtering companies] will remain anonymous.”

Links:

N2H2 Inc.
http://www.n2h2.com

Roper Starch
http://www.roper.com

Commercial Alert
http://www.essential.org/alert

Electronic Privacy Information Center
http://www.epic.org

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‘Digital School Districts’ will model advanced uses of technology

Three Pennsylvania school districts will become “dynamic models of 21st century education” with up to $2 million each in prize money from the state’s first-ever Digital School District contest, in which 77 districts competed for funding to transform themselves with technology.

“I’m proud to announce three school districts that will help us invent the future of education in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Tom Ridge said Feb. 22. “Together, they will teach us powerful new ways to make sure all our children learn—and to help our communities to learn with them.”

The Carlisle Area School District, Quaker Valley School District, and Spring Cove School District—representing county, suburban, and rural areas—won the opportunity to infuse technology into every aspect of education and model it for other school districts.

“When you win something of this size, it validates your ideas,” said Supterintendent Gerald Fowler of Carlisle Area School District. “We can think big thoughts, and we do have a conceptual grasp of what kids need to enter the world.”

The Carlisle Area Digital School District proposed providing the internet to every family and then delivering services through its education web portal, including 24-hour student tutoring, customized lessons for every student, and virtual courses available to all community members.

“We love teaching others about what we learn,” said Dr. R. Gerard Longo, superintendent of the Quaker Valley School District. “We view our selection as a Digital School District as an extraordinary opportunity to benefit students everywhere.” Quaker Valley students in grades three through 12 will replace their heavy book bags with eBooks, Palm Pilots, and laptops. Quaker Valley also proposed piloting ePaper, a new technology from Xerox Corp. and MIT research labs that is a thin, paper-like device that displays text.

Spring Cove was chosen as a third winner because the district showed effective use of technology in a rural school where the digital divide is often the greatest, Ridge said.

How the contest worked

Gov. Ridge started the contest last September to change two Pennsylvania school districts into ones that are so revolutionary they would serve as examples for the rest of the nation. He invited the state’s 501 districts to submit a 10-page concept paper outlining their vision to accomplish this goal.

After receiving 77 responses, a team of evaluators gradually narrowed down the lot of contestants to 30 and then to six, based on which districts had the best ideas and capability to implement them.

The six districts included the winners as well as Hatboro-Horsham School District, Franklin Regional School District, and Owen J. Roberts School District.

“Our six finalists assembled their best teams to share their plans for using technology to redefine education in Pennsylvania and to become models for the nation,” said Eugene Hickok, Pennsylvania’s education secretary.

While many of the concepts presented by the districts have been done in some capacity across the country, no single district combines every aspect.

“What we don’t have is one district doing all of that,” said John Bailey, director of educational technology for the Pennsylvania Department of Education. “It was sort of collapsing all the best practices from across the state into one district.”

Many of the districts presented concepts in which the roles of the teacher and student were interchangeable. “Students are recognizing they are not just learners, they are also teachers,” Bailey said.

Other ideas mentioned in the presentations included using Carnegie Learning’s personalized, intelligent education system that assigns work according to how the student performs and grasps concepts; using various technology products to streamline the district’s administrative offices; and using eProcurement companies such as eschoolmall.com to make purchases online.

Some districts said they were investigating using a reverse auction, from FreeMarkets.com, in which customers specify what they need and suppliers outbid each other trying to make the sale. Bailey said he also liked the concept of data warehousing solutions that let districts analyze data in different ways, like businesses do.

The six finalists each had a half-hour to make their final plea to an international panel of educational technology experts. Representatives from each district did everything they could to warm the hearts of the 12 panelists, who included Lara Brown, education consultant for TechNet in Berkley, Calif.; Michael Byrne, CEO of Eircom Ennis Information Age Town in Ennis, Ireland; Margaret Meeker, education division coordinator for the Software and Information Industry Association; Sally Sargent, senior consultant for the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation; and Susan Waalkes, board member for the International Society for Technology in Education.

Bailey, who also served as one of the panelists, said some districts made videos, while others bought in students and senior citizens to testify. One district even bought four backpacks stuffed with letters from students explaining what their district would be like.

The presentations “captured elements of emotion and mood that you just can’t get on paper,” he said.

Based on the quality of responses, the Ridge administration decided to give three districts the chance to implement their proposals instead of two.

Since the districts essentially will become living laboratories where educators can visit and see demonstrations of how these various technologies work, it was important for the winning districts to prove they could serve as educational models for other schools.

“We want teachers saying, ‘Here’s the good and bad things about these products,'” Bailey said.

The districts had to demonstrate a willingness to form partnerships with high-tech companies to pilot their products, like the new Microsoft Digital Tablet. In addition, each district was required to partner with a research institution that formally will evaluate both qualitative and quantitative data.

“Part of this isn’t just to capture what works, but what doesn’t work,” Bailey said. The districts each will form a web site to show their progress, post preliminary research, and schedule visits with educators.

Bailey added that the winning districts had to prove they could live and function under a microscope. “There’s going to be a lot of media attention [placed on these districts], and a lot of people [are going to be] looking to see what works and what doesn’t,” he said.

Productive planning

Developing winning proposals and presentations for the contest demanded hard work and long hours.

“As I said to my board, I haven’t pulled any all-nighters since my college days,” said Carlisle’s Fowler.

Joseph A. Marrone, director of administrative services at Quaker Valley School District, agreed. His district worked with more than 300 community members to create their proposal.

“Trying to do your regular job and doing all the things this [contest] requires … has been hard,” Marrone said.

Superintendent James W. Scott of the Spring Cove Digital School District said the application process created some “productive tension” in his district.

“You go through a lot of bends and turns to get everybody to the same page,” Scott said. “There were a lot of late nights. There were some personality conflicts.”

All the districts that went through the process said it was the best strategic planning they’ve ever done.

“It helped us really plan for the future,” said Karen K. Florentine, director of personnel and curriculum at Owen J. Roberts School District, one of the six finalists. “We had plans in place, but this got us dreaming about the future.”

“Even if we hadn’t achieved this grant, this technology plan became superimposed over our current plan—it essentially became our new plan,” Fowler said.

Hickok agreed, saying the attitude among applicants is, “We’re not going back, win or lose.”

The state plans to award grants to some of the districts that didn’t win to help them work toward attaining their vision, Hickok said.

Carlisle Area Digital School District

Carlisle’s plan uses the power of the internet to transform the traditional notion of the bricks-and-mortar school district.

“It really isn’t a place, the digital school district of the future,” said Fowler. “It’s really about the web.”

The district will serve as a base for students, but not a place they’re required to be every day. For example, Fowler described how a student who is going on exchange will still earn high school credits through the district’s distance learning program.

“She’ll be able to be in Europe next year and still take courses here, and come back and still graduate with her senior [class],” Fowler said.

Carlisle proposed “close to 30 new initiatives,” Fowler said, including online courses for both students and adults, adding a human-rights curriculum, expanding the broadcasting program, creating a web portal, providing online career counseling, doing procurement online, and experimenting with both laptop and handheld devices.

Also, students who need extra help will get live, one-on-one tutoring over the internet after school. If the student’s family doesn’t have a computer, the school will provide one.

Several existing initiatives—including a technology plan developed with IBM, distance learning capabilities, small grants for teachers who want to pilot technology strategies, and 18 hours of mandatory technology training for teachers—set the stage for Carlisle’s proposal. The district also was the first in Pennsylvania to start a Cisco Networking Academy.

For its presentation, the district showcased its people. Some students performed a scene from Shakespeare infused with technology, while other students shared their perspectives. Fowler said the panel was impressed by their energy.

“We showed we had an eight-year history of moving forward,” Fowler said.

Quaker Valley Digital School District

All teachers at Quaker Valley already have a computer, large-screen monitor, VCR, and telephone at their desk. Each classroom receives 80 video and commecial TV channels. The district also is piloting interactive smartboards, wireless devices, and eBooks.

Teachers post their lesson plans online, and the school’s library contains an online database of 2,000 full-text periodicals so students can access them at home, at school, or in the library. The teaching of computer concepts—such as typing—starts in kindergarten. The district also built its own cart for a portable wireless classroom, and it uses distance learning to supplement classroom content and to teach rare courses such as Japanese. In addition, students and parents can call a homework hotline to find out what their teacher has assigned.

As a result of the Digital School District grant, each student in third through 12th grade will have a “QvePack” consisting of a wireless, networked notebook computer and an eBook, which will allow students to download and update textbook chapters, newspapers, and books daily.

Also, students and their families will have 24-hour access to learning resources via the internet, delivered to their homes by the district using wireless technologies. The district will deploy a tech support van to make house calls in the evening.

Spring Cove Digital School District

“We’ve always believed technology is a tool for learning,” said Superintendent James W. Scott of the Spring Cove Digital School District.

A three-year technology plan increased the district’s technology and brought the faculty beyond the awareness stage. The district has a state-of-the-art network, wireless computer lab pilots, and eMail and internet access for students and staff.

“We’ve got these resources in place, but it’s not enough to finish [the job] if you really want to be digital,” Scott said.

Spring Cove proposed extending internet access into the community to provide a seamless connection throughout the area. Parents will be able to check their children’s grades online and exchange eMail with teachers. The district’s libraries also will be connected. High school students will participate in a Senior-to-Senior program, in which students will help senior citizens use the internet.

The district plans to use CompassLearning’s Comprehensive Reading Program to offer remedial help based on individual students’ needs. It also will start an online purchasing program through eschoolmall.com, helping Spring Cove officials maintain better records while streamlining the procurement process. Finally, the district will use a student information system that analyzes its data—including spending, grades, and attendance—to increase accountability.

Links:

Digital School District contest
http://l2l.org/digitalsd/phaseone.html

Pennsylvania Department of Education
http://www.pde.psu.edu

Carlisle Area School District
http://www.carlisleschools.org

Quaker Valley School District
http://www.qvsd.org

Spring Cove School District
http://www.scsd.k12.pa.us

Franklin Regional School District
http://www.franklinregional.k12.pa.us

Hatboro-Horsham School District
http://www.hatboro-horsham.org

Owen J. Roberts School District
http://www.ojr.k12.pa.us

tags

Tech firms chip in millions for after-school programs

Realizing a commitment to education is not just the responsibility of school systems, some large technology companies—including Microsoft and Intel—are spending millions of dollars on after-school programs to augment the technology education that schools provide to better prepare kids for 21st-century careers.

Intel Corp. is spending $20 million over the next five years to build 100 Intel Computer Clubhouses in after-school programs across the country and around the world. Adobe Systems Inc., Macromedia, Hewlett-Packard Co., and Autodesk Inc. have joined Intel in this effort by committing a combined $10 million in high-speed networking equipment, software, hardware, and services.

Also, the Lego Co. is donating Mindstorms kits to all 100 clubhouses so kids can build robots and other interactive constructions, and Haworth Inc. will provide discounts on furniture.

“Intel, Adobe, and others recognize we can’t put the responsibility on schools alone,” said Gail Breslow, director of the Intel Computer Clubhouse based in Boston’s Museum of Science. “The school day is only a small part of a student’s day.”

The Intel clubhouses are intended to be after-school “invention workshops,” where students ages eight to 18 can express themselves through computer-based projects and learn valuable skills at the same time. They can create computer-generated art, music, and video; build robots; develop their own web pages; and program their own computer games.

“Schools have a lot of magical moments, but the Computer Clubhouse is about seeing those magical moments replicated a thousand times a day,” Breslow said. The computers are arranged in clusters, the chairs are on wheels, the lighting is subdued like in an artist’s studio, and walls are filled with student artwork to inspire other kids.

The clubhouses are self-motivated environments. “[Students are] there because they want to be there,” Breslow said. “We’re really seeing young people at their best, where young people and adults are working together.”

The driving force for these clubhouses is concern about not only the skill level of the 21st-century work force, but also its diversity.

“We need programs that help young people achieve,” said Rosalind Hudnell, worldwide community education manager for Intel Computer Clubhouses. “From our standpoint, it’s really important that all young people are developing themselves in technology.”

At the clubhouses, the focus is on learning, building confidence, and exposing kids to technology.

“If young people want to play video games, they have to play video games they created themselves,” Hudnell said. “It proves to them that they can do things that are perceived as hard.”

Kids who participate in these kinds of programs are more apt to finish school, go on to college, and enter into technology jobs, Hudnell said.

“We all recognize the need,” she said. “If we don’t collaborate and increase that pool [of technology workers], we are all going to suffer.”

Microsoft Corp. is another tech giant that sees value in after-school programs. In December, Microsoft donated $100 million to the Boys & Girls Clubs of America.

“It’s a great time to be a kid,” Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates told youngsters in the gymnasium of a Harlem Boys & Girls Club. “Working together, Microsoft and the Boys & Girls Clubs are committed to bridging the digital divide and providing all our children with the technology skills to succeed.”

Gates said his company’s donation of $88 million in software and $12.3 million in cash over the next five years will bring technology access and programs to more than 3.3 million children and teens through the Boys & Girls Clubs across the country.

“This is one of the largest gifts that Microsoft has ever given, and the impact on three million kids makes [this gift], every dollar of it, very worthwhile,” Gates said.

Companies that are donating money and equipment to create after-school technology programs may be following the lead of the federal government, which has made after-school programs a recent priority. The federal budget for FY2001 includes $846 million for the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which is accepting new proposals through March 30.

Schools can use these funds to provide after-hours technology education, as well as tutoring and homework help, academic enrichment, college prep activities, enrichment through the arts (including chorus, band, and drama), drug- and violence-prevention counseling, and supervised recreational opportunities.

A recent Justice Department report credited the expanded availability of after-school programs with helping to lower juvenile crime rates, according to the U.S. Department of Education.

Former Education Secretary Richard W. Riley recently issued a report on the 21st Century Community Learning Centers program. In his announcement, Riley said, “Why are after-school programs important? Because children’s minds don’t close down at 3 p.m., and neither should their schools.”

According to government statistics, an estimated 8 million or more school-age “latchkey children” go home to an empty house after school on any given day.

Links:

Intel Computer Clubhouses
http://www.intel.com/education/icc

Boys & Girls Clubs of America
http://www.bgca.org

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
http://www.gatesfoundation.org

21st Century Community Learning Centers program
http://www.ed.gov/21stcclc

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Scores jump when high-stakes tests are taken via computer

The Massachusetts Department of Education is considering whether to allow tech-savvy students to use computers to take certain parts of its high-stakes assessment. Reason: A recent study found students who regularly use computers for writing assignments scored up to 10 percent higher when tested via computers.

Partly it was a matter of what students were used to. Those accustomed to writing in long-hand did better when asked to complete writing assignments using that method. But overall, on an 80-item test, the computer users scored up to eight points higher than those who completed writing assignments in long-hand.

“The Department of Education will be addressing the matter in the coming years to determine if it is feasible and reliable” to permit computer use, said David P. Driscoll, the state’s commissioner of education.

But Driscoll said statewide computerized testing is still a long way off, because not all schools have equal access to computers.

“We’d have to make the availability and the keyboarding experience equal throughout the [state] for all children, and that’s going to take awhile,” Driscoll said. “For the foreseeable future, all students will have to take some form of paper-and-pencil writing assessment.”

Last year, Boston College researcher Michael Russell along with Tom Plati, director of libraries and educational technologies at the Wellesley, Mass., Public Schools, led a study involving 525 fourth-, eighth-, and 10th-grade Wellesley students.

Half were given the essay portion of the 1999 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) language arts test via computer, while the other half wrote their essays out with a pencil and paper.

Before the tests were scored, the written answers were typed so they looked the same as the others.

After studying the results, the researchers found that students scored higher when they took the exam using the technology they used on a daily basis, whether it was typing on a computer or writing long-hand. In addition, students who used computers wrote significantly longer essays.

The results—which were published in February in TCRecord.org, an online journal of Teachers College at Columbia University—showed the computer-users outperformed their pencil-using peers. This confirmed similar research conducted in 1995 and 1998 by Russell, who is affiliated with Boston College’s National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy.

“MCAS has the potential to help improve the quality of public education,” Russell said. “The test’s current paper-and-pencil format, however, does not allow students who are accustomed to working on computers to produce their best work.”

Plati agreed. “A lot of kids are not being measured accurately,” he said. “In three years, you’re talking about 10,000 [fewer] kids [who could be] failing the language arts test.”

The MCAS exam has been given annually to students in grades four, eight, and 10 since 1998 as a way to assess student performance and evaluate the state’s school districts.

Results have been disappointing each year, and more than one-third of all sophomores failed the 2000 exam. Beginning with the class of 2003, all students will be required to pass the MCAS to graduate.

Russell said students taught to write on keyboards from an early age are accustomed to using short cuts to edit and rewrite their work. When asked to switch to paper and pencil they quickly tire, get sore arms, and can grow frustrated, he said.

If students are accustomed to writing with paper and pencil, they should take the tests using paper and pencil, the researchers said. But if students are used to writing with computers, they should have access to computers during a test.

“What we are saying is, let kids use the medium they are used to using,” Plati said. “You’re hurting kids that use technology” by giving them a pencil-and-paper essay exam.

Some state officials have criticized the study for inaccurately representing the state’s demographics. Wellesley Public Schools has a student-to-computer ratio of 4.7 to 1. According to the Department of Education, most districts had an average ratio of 6.3 to 1 as of the 1998-99 school year.

In response, Plati and Russell called for the study to be recreated around the state. The findings, they said, will likely be the same.

“Allowing students the option of performing written items on computer or on paper would be an enhancement to any assessment program, but adding a computer option clearly presents logistical challenges and raises test security issues,” Russell acknowledged.

Indeed, Department of Education spokesman Jonathan Palumbo said the study’s findings were interesting, but it will take time before testing procedures can be changed.

“Our first concentration now is to help kids pass the test,” he said. “Not to say helping kids score higher isn’t important, but right now we first want them to pass the test so they can graduate.”

Links:

Massachusetts Department of Education
http://www.doe.mass.edu

Boston College’s National Board on Educational Testing and Public Policy
http://nbetpp.bc.edu

Wellesley Public Schools
http://www.wellesley.mec.edu

TCRecord.org
http://www.tcrecord.org

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CoSN, ISTE urge Washington to stay the course on ed tech

Two leading educational technology advocacy groups have sent a joint position paper to President Bush’s staff and to members of Congress, urging continued federal leadership on key ed-tech issues.

The document is a response to Bush’s education plan, which calls for a consolidation of technology funding into a single block-grant program that would be administered state by state.

The 14-page “Preparing the Classroom for the 21st Century: An Agenda for Federal Involvement in Educational Technology” was written by Leslie Harris & Associates, the legislative representative for the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) and the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN).

“We will use this as a ‘talking points’ document,” said Lee Jee Hang Lee, the firm’s senior legislative associate. “We wanted to map out how we feel about education technology, and we wanted to have a new document to provide guidance to the 107th Congress.”

According to Lee, the policy paper has been posted to both groups’ web sites and has been sent to key members of Congress, particularly to education-related committee members. It also was directed to the Department of Education and to President Bush’s domestic policy staff.

The paper references many of the findings of the Congressional Web-based Education Commission, a bipartisan commission charged by the Clinton administration with researching and reporting on the internet’s potential to transform learning. In January, the commission released a report titled “The Power of the Internet for Learning: Moving from Promise to Practice.”

“ISTE and CoSN both contributed testimony to that commission, and they felt the commission had some great recommendations,” said Lee.

The ISTE and CoSN document praises federal education technology initiatives that have flourished over the past several years.

“Through support for programs embodied in Title III of [the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, or ESEA] and the eRate, among others, the federal government has spurred the development of innovative learning strategies and connected thousands of schools to the internet,” the report points out.

But, without sustained federal leadership in these areas, the Bush plan risks undermining the progress schools have made already, the groups say.

“ISTE and CoSN stand ready to work with Congress and the [Bush] administration to identify where consolidation and additional flexibility may be appropriate,” according to the position paper. “But we believe that the gains that have been achieved thus far will be imperiled if the federal government simply cedes its leadership role in this area.”

Bush’s plan, called “No Child Left Behind,” states his preference for block grants, in which states are given chunks of federal money and left to determine which state programs that money will be allotted to, and in what proportions.

“We realize that things are going to be consolidated under Title III grants [if Bush gets his way], but we used this paper to talk about the three primary areas where we feel consolidation is not a good idea,” said Lee.

First, consolidation could hurt the research and development portion of the national education technology plan, Lee said.

“There is just no way to efficiently disseminate best practices for each of the 50 states,” he said. “The federal government has to have a role in that area.”

Second, said Lee, ISTE and CoSN do not believe in consolidation of funds for preservice training for teachers, and they urge the continuation of the Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology (PT3) program as it exists now.

PT3 is slated to disburse $125 million in grants this year to consortia of teachers’ colleges, community organizations, and local school districts to ensure that future generations of classsroom teachers have the skills needed to use technology effectively in their lessons. It is one of nine Title III programs that would be consolidated into block grants under Bush’s plan.

Finally, Lee said, “We hope the eRate will be left out of any block grant program. We fully support the continuation of the eRate as a separate fund.”

Keith Krueger, executive director of CoSN, said he thinks this is the most important of the groups’ recommendations.

“Bottom line, we want to make sure that the eRate is maintained as a separate activity,” he said. “If the Bush administration chooses to move to block grants, we don’t want to lose the momentum [the eRate has gained] so far.”

Bush’s plan to shift eRate funds into a single block grant that also encompasses Department of Education funding has sharply divided educators. Many school leaders have said they would welcome the reduction in paperwork such a solution promises, while others fear it would leave the eRate—which is now written into law—vulnerable to the vagaries of the annual appropriations process in Congress.

Most observers agree it might be too early to tell exactly what changes will take place under the Bush administration. But ISTE and CoSN hope to use their position paper to steer discussion on these issues.

“We’re having initial discussion with the White House now, but we’ve been working with the House and the Senate to provide them with input on legislation they are crafting,” Lee said. “Hopefully, the Senate and Congress will look at this document as a useful source of information. We want to move the discussion along about education technology.”

Krueger’s best advice to the new administration? “I’d say, listen to the folks who are really making ed-tech work. Let’s not lose the progress we’ve made so far, and let’s leverage it to continue to make progress in the future.”

Links:

Consortium for School Networking
http://www.cosn.org

International Society for Technology in Education
http://www.iste.org

“Preparing the Classroom for the 21st Century: An Agenda for Federal Involvement in Educational Technology”
http://www.cosn.org/resources/iste_cosn_policypaper.pdf

Leslie Harris & Associates
http://www.lharris.com

“No Child Left Behind” (Bush education plan)
http://www.ed.gov/inits/nclb/index.html

RECOMMENDATIONS OF ISTE AND CoSN

The “Preparing the Classroom for the 21st Century” policy paper urges lawmakers to consider nine main points when examining legislation that could affect current educational technology programs:

1. Maintain an emphasis on equity. According to the policy paper, “The principal goal of federal education policy is to ensure equity. Despite significant gains in technology capacity and connectivity, attributable in large part to federal programs, schools serving poor children continuously lag behind in understanding how to effectively integrate technology into curricula.”

2. Keep a separate technology title in ESEA. “Federal leadership has been crucial to maximizing investments in education technology at all levels. A separate technology title will [ensure] an emphasis on innovation and place a national focus on bringing education technology to schools. It will also help [ensure] that the consolidation process does not diminish federal dollars committed to ed-tech.”

3. Sharpen the focus on professional development. “Both recently released reports of the Web-based Education Commission and the Department of Education recommend bold action to improve teacher preparation, particularly in the area of technology use and integration,” the groups say. They recommend that 30 percent of all funds distributed to states and local districts, whether through existing programs or block grants, should be committed to professional development for staff at all levels. “In turn, the federal government should examine emerging models and disseminate information nationally to ensure a focus on integrating technology into the curriculum,” they add. They also recommend that federal policy makers “create incentives in ESEA that encourage states to adopt educational technology standards for all education professionals” and urge continued support of the Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers to Use Technology program.

4. Include rigorous evaluation in all federal ed-tech programs. But standardized testing may not be enough, say ISTE and CoSN. “Periodic standardized testing identifies where and which schools are improving, but without formative evaluation during the life of the program, it is difficult to say why a school has improved or, in the case of ed-tech, whether or how it has made a difference in the classroom.”

5. Invest in education technology as an assessment tool. According to the policy paper, ISTE and CoSN believe that “the federal government should develop and disseminate quality assessment tools and strategies and provide assessment of education on a national scale. New assessment indicators need to be developed to capture the effects of students’ access to new tools.”

6. Expand the ed-tech research agenda. “The federal government must develop and pursue a national research agenda that includes nonvendor-specific research into cognition and learning sciences, national assessment strategies and tools, and the identification of best practices in the area of ed-tech.”

7. Create an ed-tech clearinghouse. ISTE and CoSN both believe that a national clearinghouse for best practices in educational technology will help maximize the federal government’s investment in education reform “by identifying the processes that have successfully improved student achievement.”

8. Preserve and expand the federal leadership role. According to the policy paper, the National Activities section of the ESEA’s Tile III “gives the secretary of education broad discretion to nurture the growth of innovation in education technology and build leadership at all levels.” ISTE and CoSN believe that “this federal leadership role is crucial if there is to be a focused and coherent strategy in this area.” The paper recommends that the secretary of education be given the “discretion to pursue programs of national significance” and that the Department of Education’s Office of Technology be retained.

9. Maintain the eRate program. According to ISTE and CoSN, “The work of the eRate is far from over.” Citing increased demand for Year 3 discounts, the paper says, “Calls for the eRate to be moved to the Department of Education and folded into block grants are misguided. Not only is the legal authority for such action unresolved (since it is a universal service program paid for by telecommunications carriers), but ending the program and placing it in the annual appropriations process would jeopardize the security of its funding and undermine the careful technology planning of thousands of eRate participants, ultimately setting back efforts to bring powerful new learning tools to these education institutions nationwide.” Rather than dismantle the eRate, ISTE and CoSN urge the FCC to streamline the application process within the current structure.

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‘Kournikova’ virus serves up trouble for schools

Technology staff at several school districts across the country were forced to work longer hours Feb. 12 after being overwhelmed by a computer virus disguised as an electronic photo of teen-age tennis star Anna Kournikova.

The virus slowed down eMail systems and forced some school systems to shut down their eMail altogether while they cleaned out the rogue program. Security experts said the virus does not permanently damage computers.

After the New Hampshire Department of Education received several infected eMail messages Monday afternoon, technology staff shut down their eMail server between 4 and 9 a.m. to install the latest anti-virus software.

Lori Anzini, director of technology at Pittsburg Unified School District in Pittsburg, Calif., said although she warned 800 eMail users not to open the virus, the district was still infected.

“I ‘cleaned’ one machine last night around 10 p.m. and [kept] the problem from spreading,” Anzini said. “Hopefully, no more infections will happen.”

Pat Hartley, coordinator of school services at Evergreen School District #114 in Vancouver, Wash., said the virus was sent to his district more than 60 times, but the district’s anti-virus software kept its computers from becoming infected.

Within a few hours, the virus had managed to spread almost as rapidly as last May’s “I Love You” virus, which caused tens of millions of dollars in damages worldwide. Anti-virus researchers expected more computer infections during the Feb. 13 business day in Asia.

“Everybody and their brother and sister-in-law [are] infected with this thing,” said David Perry, director of public education at Trend Micro Inc. “Last year, everybody wanted to be loved. Apparently, many people want to see a JPEG [picture] of Anna Kournikova.”

Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos Anti-Virus Inc., said the virus writer skillfully combined “the temptation of the teen-age tennis star with the average fantasy of the guy who sits in front of the computer terminal.”

The virus is known as a worm because it can automatically send copies of itself to everyone on a recipient’s address book. That could be thousands of copies per person for a larger corporation.

It only spreads through Microsoft Outlook eMail software on Windows computers, although Macintosh users and those using other eMail programs can still spread the virus manually.

Microsoft spokesman Adam Sohn said the company had released a security update last June, shortly after the “I Love You” virus spread using similar techniques. That update generates a warning anytime a computer program attempts to access Outlook’s address book.

The virus appears to have originated in Europe.

Mikko Hypponen, manager of anti-virus research for F-Secure Corp., said the virus, if left alone, will try to contact a Dutch web site on Jan. 26, 2002.

The virus comes as an attachment named “AnnaKournikova.jpg.vbs” and carries the message “Hi: Check This!” At least three subject lines have been identified: “Here you have,” “Here you go,” and “Here you are”—all followed by a smiley face.

Many anti-virus companies have developed software updates to filter the new virus, and network administrators responded by configuring eMail servers to automatically reject the message.

A warning to Michican State University users was typical: “If you receive such a message, please DO NOT OPEN the attachment. Discard the message immediately.”

Vincent Weafer, director of the Symantec Anti-Virus Research Center, partly attributed the virus’s spread to timing.

“Close to Valentine’s Day, anything novel or different like this will get people’s attention more than normal,” he said. “They are expecting messages from friends, maybe pictures of each other or cards. People lower their guards.”

Links:

F-Secure
http://www.fsecure.com/virus-info

Microsoft Corp.
http://www.microsoft.com

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eMail messages from around the globe spark third-grade geography

An eMail message that a Durham, N.C., third-grade teacher sent out to spur her students’ interest in geography also has taught them about the power of the internet.

Nicole Thompson’s students can tell you all about the penguins and killer whales in Antarctica. They also know about the months of darkness that grip Iceland each year, and the tea that grows in Darjeeling, India.

The Greenbriar Academy children learned those facts, and countless more, thanks to a simple eMail message from Thompson that has raced around the globe and brought more than 20,000 responses in six weeks.

“It’s crazy, just crazy,” Thompson said. “At most, I thought we’d get about 2,000 replies.”

In early December, Thompson sent a note to about 100 people, mostly friends and relatives or those of her students’ parents. She asked the recipients to forward her eMail to people they know in other states or countries and to urge those people to write to her class.

She hoped the exercise would make geography lessons more interesting for her students at Greenbriar, a small private school.

As the messages started pouring in from every direction, Thompson realized she had greatly underestimated the power of the internet.

By mid-January, messages had arrived from all 50 states, 87 countries, and each of the seven continents.

A chart at the front of Thompson’s classroom listed each nation she and the children had heard from. As more messages arrived, the children colored in each new country on a world map.

The children heard from a missionary in Tonga, an English teacher in Mongolia, a business owner in Israel, and a civilian worker at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

“I know where Mongolia is,” said 9-year-old Hunter Frank. “It’s easy to find on the map. Russia is even easier.”

One of the most interesting notes, Thompson said, came from a carpenter named John Ackley living at a research station in Antarctica.

“I am at McMurdo Station, which is about 800 miles from the South Pole,” Ackley wrote. “Temperatures are not too bad this time of year. Over the past three weeks, it has been around zero to 35 above zero. Not what you might expect from the coldest continent on Earth.”

Ackley sent photographs of killer whales and other life found in Antarctica, as well as shots of his surroundings.

Messages like that keep school fresh and exciting, Thompson said, and that helps children learn.

“I want to go to Antarctica,” said 8-year-old Caitie Attarian. “I also want to see Greenland. I just think it would be really neat.”

Thompson initially planned to end the project when the children had heard from all seven continents, but now she has set her sights a little higher. The new goal is to collect messages from every country recognized by the United Nations.

Some of the stragglers she is still waiting for include Somalia, Iran, Pakistan, and Ethiopia. But with more than 1,000 eMails arriving some days, Thompson figures it’s only a matter of time until the map is completely colored in.

“The kids are thrilled with this,” she said. “They just can’t wait to get to class.”

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