Reaping the Benefits of "Intelligent Classrooms"
The Ron Clark Academy, a premier educational facility for inner-city fifth- through eighth-grade students in Atlanta founded by renowned teacher and author Ron Clark, is receiving a facelift and will open this month using Dell's "Intelligent Classroom" technology, a special combination of computers, projectors, cameras and other related technology products that collectively have the potential to transform the traditional classroom setting into a state-of-the-art, interactive learning environment.
Dell also has partnerships with 12 public school districts across the nation to install the Intelligent Classroom technology elements to help students develop the 21st century skills needed to succeed in the outside world, many of whom ordinarily have no access to such learning tools.
Albert Magallanez, the technology director at Indian Oasis-Baboquivari USD in Sells, Ariz., hopes the Intelligent Classrooms in their district, installed late last month, will increase student interaction and just make school "more fun."
He says that the majority of students in the district-located on the Tohono Indian Reservation-are Native American and are very visual learners, so anything they can see and touch in the classroom will help them immensely.
"These are kids that aren't from very affluent backgrounds, and this program is giving them the opportunity to develop these technology skills, to connect them to places around the world," says Karen Bruett, director of K12 business development for Dell.
At the academy, the advanced technology from Dell and Intel will not only be used for core subjects but will also supplement students' forays into photography, music production, design and business leadership. Students will also travel the globe to apply what they've learned to real world environments.
"Teaching students using the best methods from around the world has been a dream of mine for years, and now the technology is helping me make this dream come true," said Clark, an extremely passionate educator who was named Disney's American Teacher of the Year in 2000.
For additional information visit www.dell.com/classroom.
School Buses Finally Get Seat Belts
Some states are finally starting to realize that putting seat belts on school buses might not be a bad idea. Texas recently decided that all students should ride buses equipped with lap and shoulder belts, following the lead of California, Florida, Louisiana, New York and New Jersey-the only other states that currently require seat belts on school buses.
Many school districts across the country don't require seat belts on buses because of cost and low fatality rates, which they say means the big yellow bus is already safe.
But a series of dramatic crashes-some of which were fatal-over the past several months, from a Kentucky bus flinging children from one side to the other because of a drug- impaired driver, to an Alabama crash that killed four teenage girls, is getting school leaders and lawmakers to reconsider just how "safe" school buses really are.
Researchers at Columbus Children's Hospital in Ohio recently found 17,000 school bus-related injuries in the United States every year. And SafeGuard, a unit of IMMI Inc. that makes school bus seats with belts, says that more than 100 children have died in school bus accidents in the past 10 years.
New federal guidelines are expected this fall that would propose voluntary standards for the use of belts.
Voluntary may not be as good as mandatory, but it's a step in the right direction.
New Resource for Healthier School Foods
Making It Happen!, a booklet published in 2005 that describes innovative approaches to improving student nutrition in the United States, is now available online in a searchable version. It documents the bold steps many schools and school districts are taking to increase the availability of healthy foods for K12 students. The site also details six different approaches that school districts can use to improve the nutritional content of foods served to students, such as limiting access to competitive foods and adopting marketing techniques.
The publication and new Web site is a joint project of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Education and the CDC Division of Adolescent and School Health, among others.
Here are some other approaches from Making It Happen! to improve student nutrition in your district:
Establish nutrition standards for competitive foods. Nutrition standards are often incorporated into the policies of a state agency, school district, or school. They can be mandatory or voluntary.
Influence food and beverage contracts. You can cancel contracts, not sign contracts, not renew contracts, or negotiate contracts that encourage healthy eating.
Use fundraising activities and awards. You can sell nutritious foods and beverages or sell non-food items such as wrapping paper, candles or student artwork.
You can access the publication directly at www.cdc.gov/HealthyYouth/mih.
21st Century Skills Resources Now Available On netTrekker
Thinkronize, the leading developer of Web-based K12 educational products, recently announced the addition of a 21st Century Skills Channel to netTrekker d.i., their award winning educational search engine. The new channel, available now on the site, provides educators and students with three pathways for different kinds of elements that support 21st century skills: Life Skills, which focuses on character traits; Learning and Innovation, which focuses on creativity, collaboration and critical thinking; and ICT Literacy.
For more information about net- Trekker d.i., visit www.netTrekker.com. District Administration will also feature an in-depth look at the changing landscape of 21st century ICT literacies in our October issue.
Corzine Pushes for Internet Safety
New Jersey's Gov. Corzine is taking action amidst a technology climate in which there is as much concern over the dangers of the Internet as there is appreciation for its benefits. He wants K12 teachers and administrators trained in Web safety, and he's asked Attorney General Anne Milgram and Education Commissioner Lucille Davy to begin the training this year in all New Jersey schools.
"Too many unfortunate opportunities exist for adults to exploit children through the use of the Internet or for children to otherwise experience dangerous situations as a result of the doors that technology has opened," Corzine wrote in a letter recently released by his office. He cited a 2006 study from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children finding that 71 percent of teenagers had received messages online from a stranger, and 14 percent of respondents ages 13 to 17 had had a face-to-face meeting with a person they had met online.
Corzine recognized the existing efforts of the departments of Law and Public Safety and Education to train local and county law enforcement officers in Internet safety, but urged for broadening the work to train teachers and administrators, who in turn would train "students, parents, other teachers and community groups thereby casting a wide net of individuals who will help protect our children," Corzine said.
The New Jersey Education Association, which represents 200,000 school staff members, lauded Corzine's plan and vows to help implement it.