TCEA Summit Video Page

Elmo USA

Bob Crellin, regional manager for Elmo USA, talks about safer, greener technology for students.

eSchool News

Nancy David, the online director for eSchool News, explains how educators and administrators can benefit from the many resources available at eSchool News.

 

Follett

Sherri Daniels, Sr. Project Manager, Best Practices, for Follett, discusses textbook management best practices.

JDL

NYC PS376 uses JDL’s Learning Symphony.

mimio

A mimio master trainer explains the advantages of using a mimio whiteboard.

Pearson

Paul Smith, a representative from Pearson’s School System Group details how to achieve increased parental participation with district online resources.

SAFARI Montage

Tim Beekman, president of SAFARI Montage discusses video demand and media management.

Skyward

Ray Ackerlund, director of marketing for Skyward, gives some best practice examples when moving from data management to data analysis.

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Adjustable-height desks gaining in popularity

Minnesota’s Marine Elementary School and other nearby schools are using a type of adjustable-height school desk, allowing pupils to stand while they work, that sixth-grade teacher Abby Brown designed with the help of a local ergonomic furniture company two years ago, reports the New York Times. The desk’s popularity with children and teachers has spread by word of mouth to schools in Wisconsin and elsewhere. Now, orders for the desks are being filled for districts from North Carolina to California. The stand-up desks come with swinging footrests and adjustable stools, allowing children to switch between sitting and standing as their moods dictate. Marine Elementary finds itself at the leading edge of an idea that experts say continues to gain momentum in education: that furniture should be considered as seriously as instruction, particularly given the rise in childhood obesity and the decline in physical education and recess. Teachers say they know from experience that the desks help give children the flexibility they need to expend energy and, at the same time, focus better on their work rather than focusing on how to keep still. And researchers soon should know whether they can confirm these benefits…

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Study: Internet “addiction” might fuel teen aggression

According to a new study, certain online activities might encourage kids to "release their anger" or otherwise be aggressive in ways they normally would not in the real world, Reuters reports. Whether this eventually pushes teens to be more aggressive in real life is not yet clear, the study said. In a study of more than 9,400 Taiwanese teenagers, the researchers found that those with signs of internet "addiction" were more likely to say they had hit, shoved, or threatened someone in the past year. The link remained when the investigators accounted for several other factors–including the teenagers’ scores on measures of self-esteem and depression, as well as their exposure to TV violence. The findings, published online by the Journal of Adolescent Health, don’t prove that internet addiction breeds violent behavior in children. But they do add to evidence from other studies that media can influence children’s behavior. They also suggest that parents should pay close attention to their teens’ internet use and its potential effects on their real-life behavior, researchers said. Online chatting, gambling and gaming, and spending time in online forums or adult pornography sites were all linked to aggressive behavior. In contrast, teens who devoted their time to online research and studying were less likely than their peers to be violence-prone…

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Report urges U.S. to look abroad for ed lessons

In a report titled "Benchmarking for Success," high-level state officials call for action to ensure that American students are globally competitive. Education leaders, the report advises, should renew the focus on international benchmarking and look toward other countries for help in drafting state achievement standards.

The report’s advisory group, which consisted of governors, state education commissioners, business executives, researchers, and other officials, identified five transformative steps the U.S. education system should take to produce more globally competitive students. The group was convened by the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, and Achieve Inc.

Here, according to the report, are the five steps American education should take to produce more globally competitive students:

"1. Upgrade state standards by adopting a common core of internationally benchmarked standards in math and language arts for grades K-12;
 
"2. Leverage states’ collective influence to ensure textbooks, digital media, curricula and assessments are aligned to internationally benchmarked standards and draw on lessons from high-performing nations;

"3. Revise state policies for recruiting, preparing, developing, and supporting teachers and school leaders to reflect the ‘human capital’ practices of top-performing nations and states around the world;

"4. Hold schools and systems accountable through monitoring, interventions, and support to ensure consistently high performance, drawing upon international best practices; and

"5. Measure state-level education performance globally by examining student achievement and attainment in an international context to ensure that students are receiving the education they need to compete in the 21st century economy."

Said advisory group co-chair Janet Napolitano, former governor of Arizona and current secretary of Homeland Security for the Obama administration, "The time is now; we must ensure that our students are prepared to compete and innovate in the 21st century . . . ‘Benchmarking for Success’ is a call to action and provides a clear path to follow."

Released after about a year of research and analysis, the report says the United States is falling behind other countries in human capital.

"American 15-year-olds ranked 25th in math and 21st in science achievement on the most recent international assessments in 2006. At the same time, the U.S. ranked high in inequity, with the third largest gap in science scores between students from different socioeconomic groups," the advisory group wrote in the report.

The numbers are taken from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development’s Program for International Student Assessment as reported in 2006 and 2003. Finland ranked first out of 30 industrialized countries in 2006 in math and science and in 2003 was first out of 29 countries in reading and second in problem solving. Korea came in first in math in 2006, second in reading in 2003, and first in problem solving in 2003.

The study found that "[U.S.] students are falling behind in some areas compared to other countries," said Ilene Berman, program director in the education division of the National Governors Association’s Center for Best Practices.

Berman, who served as a staff member for the advisory group, said the group examined areas where state education leaders could make changes, giving ideas for action that aren’t unique to certain cultural or structural school systems.

Berman said one of the things that state education systems already have begun to do is upgrade their state standards by adopting a common core of internationally benchmarked standards.

"We can look at what other nations are doing [for guidance]. Some things we can take from other countries, but we may need to adapt them to make sense for the United States," Berman said.

The report cites a study by Michael Barber and Mona Mourshed of McKinsey and Co. that shows the best-performing nations begin by recruiting top talent to teaching. For example, Korea recruits from the top 5 percent of graduates and Finland from the top 10 percent.

In the U.S., on the other hand, the likelihood that a highly talented female in the top 10 percent of her graduating class would become a teacher shrank by half–from 20 percent to about 10 percent–between 1964 and 2000.

"College students with high SAT and ACT scores are less likely to train to become teachers, less likely to take a teaching job, and less likely to stay in the classroom after a few years," the advisory board reported.

In addition, schools and school systems should be held accountable through a balanced system of monitoring, interventions, and support to ensure consistently high performance, the report recommends.

The report points to Great Britain as an example, where the nation’s education system reportedly monitors day-to-day school operations and each school’s capacity for change. When the Office for Standards in Education finds poor student outcomes and poor-quality leadership, it calls for stronger measures than it would for a school with bad test scores but competent leadership, the report notes. Berman said a version of the British system is being used in New York City schools.

The federal No Child Left Behind Act was intended to provide this kind of school accountability in the U.S., but the law’s critics say it set unrealistic goals and is too punitive, rather than supportive, of schools.

Berman said the board is considering impaneling a group to look at assessment issues. States are interested in learning about best practices that have been used in other nations, she said.

"For a long time, we have looked insularly," Berman said. "It’s time to look at where good practices are happening anywhere in the world."

Although the report is geared toward state leaders, the advisory group mentioned a few things that could be done at the federal level.

"First," said the report, "federal policy makers should offer funds to help underwrite the cost for states to take the five [recommended] actions steps. At the same time, policy makers should boost federal research and development investments to provide state leaders with more and better information about international best practices, and [they] should help states develop streamlined assessment strategies that facilitate cost-effective international comparisons of student performance."

Links:

Benchmarking for Success

National Governors Association

Council of Chief State School Officers

Achieve Inc.

 

Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the Measuring 21st-century skills resource center. Graduates who enter the workplace with a solid grasp of 21st-century skills bring value to both the workplace and global marketplace. Go to: Measuring 21st-century skills

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What’s next for digital music on campus?

Higher-education officials are pondering what the future holds for digital music on college campuses after the demise of yet another legal music downloading service aimed at college students.

In early February, Ruckus–a download service supported by advertisements and available free of charge to college students–went under, continuing a string of early departures by low-cost music sites. Ruckus shut down after Universal Music Group and Sony did away with their Total Music venture, which owned Ruckus.

Napster, which switched to a legal downloading service after beginning as a controversial free file-sharing site in the late 1990s, and Cdigix were other affordable music sites that have closed down or stopped catering to colleges in recent months.

Low-cost digital music services have failed on college campuses in part because music choices were so limited that students were driven to illegal file-sharing web sites where more songs were available–and free.

Some online music experts said Ruckus’s business model never had a chance for long-term success. A limited number of songs were available on the site, and Ruckus never worked adequately on Macintosh computers or measured up to Apple iTunes, officials said.

"Ruckus simply wasn’t a good program. What students want is access to every song without restrictions," said Jeffrey Podoshen, an assistant professor of business, organizations, and society at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., and author of a research article that explores why college students illegally share files. "Anything else won’t work. When [students] face restrictions, they feel this animosity toward these sites. … [Ruckus] was absolutely doomed from the start."

Jean L. Boland, vice president for IT services at Morrisville State College in New York–a Ruckus customer–said students’ most frequent complaint about Ruckus was their inability to download songs to iPods. Students could  listen to Ruckus music only on their laptops.

"It’s definitely something that students would like to see replaced," said Boland, who added that 3,000 of Morrisville’s 3,300 students were signed up for Ruckus. "Students used it because they were safe and it was legal."

Boland said the IT department is keeping an eye on Qtrax.com, a music service that will launch soon, according to its home page. The site says it does not require subscriptions and promises "free and legal downloads from all the major record companies" and "legal P2P ‘bootleg’ versions."

Podoshen said record executives have been unwilling to adjust to the dramatic changes in the music industry this decade. Some low-cost services did not allow users to download single tracks. Instead, users had to buy entire albums–spending $10 or $12 instead of $1 for a single track.

As recently as last fall, university IT departments complained about a flood of warnings and lawsuits filed by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) against students who shared songs and movies illegally over campus computer networks. IT officials said passing the warnings along to students required major efforts, with some colleges forced to hire a full-time employee just to handle the legal paperwork. Some schools refused to serve as a go-between for the RIAA late last year.

Despite the onslaught of legal threats from the music industry, illegal peer-to-peer (P2P) networks are attracting more users, including college students. The average number of P2P users "almost doubled globally" between 2003 and 2005, according to market research firm Big Champagne.

The next evolution of music downloads could be a low-cost site called Choruss. Introduced late last year by music industry consultant Jim Griffin and the Warner Music Group, Choruss has yet to make a major announcement, but reports say the service would cost a few dollars per student. Students then could download music from the Choruss network, and royalties would be distributed to music companies and artists accordingly.

Who pays that fee could be up to campus decision makers. Podoshen said colleges and universities of all sizes probably would be reluctant to shoulder the costs for music downloading in a time when most campuses are scrutinizing budgets and cutting costs amid dismal economic conditions. On America’s largest campuses, paying a minimal per-student fee could add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars annually.

"My guess is that something like this is probably not going to fly," he said. "But it may work in better economic times."

IT officials at Morrisville State are searching for the college’s next digital music service after Ruckus closed down this month. In the meantime, the college sent an eMail message to students recommending free legal music and video streaming sites such as Pandora.com and Hulu.com, said Boland.

Boland said she has tracked Choruss’s progress in recent months, adding that Morrisville would be willing to pay only small per-student fees for the service.

"One dollar yes, $3 no," she said.

Music industry experts said any digital music downloading service owned and run by a major label would not appeal to students who troll the internet for the latest unique tracks and albums.

"Right now, they’re trying to dictate which services are going to be used," said Jesse Brede, site director for Texas-based streaming media provider Blastro, which assembled Ruckus’s video library. "[Music industry giants] don’t have the cool factor, and I don’t think they ever will."

Brede said emerging web sites that cater to music lovers include The Hype Machine, which aggregates music files by tracking blogs that post new music. The songs are added to the sites’ databases, and users can scan seemingly endless selections with no charge.

With sites like these, major labels are struggling to find ways to maintain their grip on the distribution of music, Brede said.

"I think, unfortunately, the major labels are very threatened," he said. "They’re scrambling to find ways to continue to monetize their content … and they don’t have a lot of control."

Links:

Qtrax

The Hype Machine

Blastro

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Obama to Congress: Education is key

In his first address to a joint session of Congress, President Barack Obama on Feb. 24 cited education as one of three keys to economic recovery and long-term prosperity for the United States. Here are excerpts of that speech:

“. . . Now is the time to act boldly and wisely – to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity.  Now is the time to jumpstart job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down.  That is what my economic agenda is designed to do, and that’s what I’d like to talk to you about tonight. . . .

“. . . We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril, and claimed opportunity from ordeal.  Now we must be that nation again.  That is why, even as it cuts back on the programs we don’t need, the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future:  energy, health care, and education. . . .

“. . . The third challenge we must address is the urgent need to expand the promise of education in America.  

“In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity – it is a pre-requisite.   

"Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma.  And yet, just over half of our citizens have that level of education.  We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation.  And half of the students who begin college never finish.

“This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow.  That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education – from the day they are born to the day they begin a career.

“Already, we have made an historic investment in education through the economic recovery plan.  We have dramatically expanded early childhood education and will continue to improve its quality, because we know that the most formative learning comes in those first years of life.  We have made college affordable for nearly seven million more students.  And we have provided the resources necessary to prevent painful cuts and teacher layoffs that would set back our children’s progress.

“But we know that our schools don’t just need more resources.  They need more reform.  That is why this budget creates new incentives for teacher performance; pathways for advancement, and rewards for success.  We’ll invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps.  And we will expand our commitment to charter schools. 

“It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work.  But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it.  And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training.  This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship.  But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma.  And dropping out of high school is no longer an option.  It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country – and this country needs and values the talents of every American.  That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal:  by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world. 

“I know that the price of tuition is higher than ever, which is why if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education.  And to encourage a renewed spirit of national service for this and future generations, I ask this Congress to send me the bipartisan legislation that bears the name of Senator Orrin Hatch as well as an American who has never stopped asking what he can do for his country – Senator Edward Kennedy.

“These education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children.  But it is up to us to ensure they walk through them.  In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father who will attend those parent/teacher conferences, or help with homework after dinner, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, and read to their child.  I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father when I say that responsibility for our children’s education must begin at home. . . .

“. . . I think about Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the young girl from that school I visited in Dillon, South Carolina – a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom.  She has been told that her school is hopeless, but the other day after class she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this room.  She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp.  The letter asks us for help, and says, ‘We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world.  We are not quitters.’

“We are not quitters.

“These words and these stories tell us something about the spirit of the people who sent us here.  They tell us that even in the most trying times, amid the most difficult circumstances, there is a generosity, a resilience, a decency, and a determination that perseveres; a willingness to take responsibility for our future and for posterity.
Their resolve must be our inspiration.  Their concerns must be our cause.  And we must show them and all our people that we are equal to the task before us. . . .

“. . . And if we do – if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis; if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity; if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, ‘something worthy to be remembered.’  Thank you, God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America.”
 

 Link:

Full text of presidential address

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Teachers get MySpace, Google training

Teachers from the San Francisco Unified School District are slated to meet Feb. 24 with representatives from Google, MySpace, CNET, YouTube, and Technorati for training on how to bring blogging, podcasting, online video, and social networking into their classrooms, NewTeeVee reports. High school students are Facebooking, MySpacing, and Twittering on their own time, but many public high schools have yet to fully incorporate teenagers’ native tools–digital media–into their classrooms. Billed as a professional development day for teachers, the event aims to change that. If successful, the model could be replicated for other cities and hosted in partnership with local technology leaders and media firms, said Brian Monahan, senior vice president and global lead for social media at Universal McCann. He’s a board member of the Bay Area Interactive Group, which is hosting the training day at media agency McCann Worldgroup in San Francisco. The event will not be streamed live, but the Bay Area Interactive Group and the school district plan to record the event and are evaluating how to offer the video of the training session for those who cannot attend…

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