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Phil Sheridan was tired of interfacing with computers instead of humans.

As the former technology coordinator for the Morris Central School District in Morris, NY, he spent many hours addressing computer malfunctions and user confusion at the expense of spreading his knowledge.

Because his district used a traditional one-computer-to-one-monitor system at the time, he was in charge of keeping hundreds of physical computer systems running. That meant he spent more time maintaining computers than showing teachers and students how to use them.

David Peterson is the chief technology officer for Fiddlehead, a young company merging with CDI this month. Peterson has been developing the Fiddlehead software for most of his 21-year working life.

What does the Fiddlehead software do?

Fiddlehead is software that creates up to four virtual computers from one CPU. With Fiddlehead, up to four students can work independently on the computer, each with their own monitor, keyboard, mouse and operating system.

I’m pleased to officially welcome Fiddlehead, Inc., to CDI’s corporate family.

Fiddlehead, a New York-based company of programmers who make fantastic software specifically for school tech coordinators, will allow us to help you save even more time and money. Though we’ve been known for years as the hardware people for schools looking for the highest quality refurbished computers, we’ve always kept an eye out for something else we can offer—something that would make us more of a complete solution provider.

Educators at the Los Angeles United School District face a unique challenge. The second largest school district in the country is home to more than 670,000 students and 1,092 school campuses where more than 100 languages are spoken.

Blended learning, which incorporates the best elements of online and face-to-face instruction, allows educators to personalize learning for every student. Determining the best mix of online and face-to-face instruction is the key to building a successful program, but the same mix isn’t appropriate for all students. Panelists Gregg Levin, vice president of school solutions for K12, and Heather Hiebsch, principal/director, PSD Global Academy, Fort Collins, CO, offer ideas on how to use blended learning models to meet students’ needs.

One elementary school class and one middle school class will be named national grand prize winners for the 2012 competition that is open to grades 3-8. Many other classes will be recognized for their amazing achievements, too.

ONE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL WINNER AND ONE MIDDLE SCHOOL WINNER IN EACH CATEGORY

UL leads hands-on classroom learning

It's OK to read a textbook that discusses someone else's discovery. But it's so much better to work side-by-side with a scientist who helps you make your own. That's the theory behind the partnership between Disney and Underwriters Laboratories (UL), which places its professionals in classrooms all across the country.

Disney's Planet Challenge makes it easy for teachers to align class projects with state and national curriculum standards. The DPC website links to every state's requirements, as well as lesson plans for particular grades in particular states.

"The lesson plans are a big help for teachers who might think they don't have enough time to participate with all the things they're required to teach," said Breigh Rainey, whose class won the grand prize for elementary schools.

John Fraser, PhD, AIA, is the director of the Institute for Learning Innovation based in Edgewater, Md. He led a study that assessed the creativity and imagination development in children under 12-years-old who participated in Disney's Planet Challenge.

What was the goal of the research?

We aimed to understand if Disney's Planet Challenge contributed to the development of imagination and creativity skills for participating youth.

How do you quantify such subjective areas?

Fran Wachter's science students are no slouches. Inspired by a fifth grade field trip to the Cache River Wetland, the students developed and began a restoration plan in sixth grade, advanced it in seventh grade and are now—as eighth-graders—ambassadors to younger students who will continue their legacy.

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