Archive for November, 2009

Science Teacher Uses YouTube to Reach More Students

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Robert Rasmussen, an eighth-grade science teacher at Park View Middle School, does not consider himself an expert in computers or technology. Nevertheless, he still seems to excel at finding new ways bring technology into his classroom for the benefit of his students. After thinking about how he could reinforce the concepts he was covering in class, Rasmussen realized that he could record educational videos with catchy graphics and well-crafted scenes and upload them to YouTube. Rasmussen has come to realize that today’s students are computer savvy and that as an educator, he can “infiltrate their world” and bring science directly to their homes simply by uploading these educational videos to popular websites like YouTube.

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Arizona Teacher Recognized for his Ability to Inspire Students in High-Needs District

Sunday, November 29th, 2009

Many teachers would say that they have dreamed of becoming educators their entire lives, but Andy Townsend, a fifth-grade teacher at Elvira Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona, may not be one of them. After receiving his undergraduate degree in history from the University of Arizona, Townsend initially began a career in sales and in his spare time he coached youth sports. As a coach, he soon came to realize that the most rewarding part of his day was the time he spent with the kids. After making the decision to become a teacher five years ago, Andy Townsend has recently been selected for the 2009 Rodel Charitable Foundation of Arizona Exemplary Teacher Initiative in recognition of his commitment to inspiring a new generation of students in his high-needs district. Each teacher receives $10,000 in savings bonds and is given the opportunity to mentor promising University of Arizona student teachers.

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Teacher Shares Fulbright-Hays Summer Travel Experience with Students

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

This past summer, Debby Edmonds, a teacher at J.E. Robins Elementary School in West Virginia, spent thirty-nine days in New Zealand and Mongolia. However, this was no vacation. Edmonds was granted the opportunity to experience first-hand the rich cultures and unique customs found in these countries through the Fulbright-Hays Program, which offers international trips for educators and students. Since having returned to her classroom in West Virginia, Edmonds’ goal has been to expose her students to different ways of life found outside West Virginia and outside the United States. She has presented photos and video from her trip to students at school and has also utilized sites like Google Earth to search for even more media to share. She believes that her personal experiences during the summer have helped her students get a better feel for how other groups of people around the world live.

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Kansas School District Offers Engineering Classes at Elementary-School Level

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

One Wichita school district is set to become the first in the nation to offer state-of the-art engineering classes at the elementary-school level. The Derby School District has adopted Project Lead the Way, a national program that establishes an engineering curriculum in elementary schools. School administrators say that the program, which emphasizes hands-on and computer-based activities, is designed to spark students’ interest in math and science from an earlier age. Administrators also point out that even if students do not go on to become engineers, the program will reinforce basic math skills that can be applied to many career paths.

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New Campaign Promotes Math and Science Education

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

The White House recently announced a new campaign by which various companies and nonprofit groups will join forces to encourage students to pursue further study in science, technology, engineering and math. President Obama reiterated that the success we seek as a nation depends on the dedication and commitment of not just government, but also students, parents, private citizens, organizations, and companies. The new campaign called Educate to innovate focuses on activities outside the classroom and aims to show young people just how rewarding and fun science can be.

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Magic Helps Make Science Lessons More Interesting

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

San Diego State University professor Alan McCormack uses magic to stimulate students’ interest in science. McCormack, a 22-year veteran of SDSU’s faculty, began his career in education as a middle school teacher in Poughkeepsie, New York. Today, he devotes much time to helping aspiring teachers learn how to make the most of their classroom time. For the past several decades, McCormack has been refining his skills as a “magician” and has pioneered new methods of grabbing students’ attention and getting them to think critically. These new techniques make science exciting for students and also allow room for teachers to inject fun and creativity into daily lessons.

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College Confidant: A New Type of College Counseling

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Applying to college can be a tough and stressful process for students, but the process can be equally demanding for high school teachers! Teachers play a critical role in the admissions process by reviewing essays, providing preparation for entrance exams, helping with college selection and relieving anxiety.

As much as teachers do, there is not a lot of transparency in the college process. As a result, students often make suboptimal college decisions due to a lack of information. There just are not many good college advising sources out there. Guidance counselors are often overworked and detached from the admissions process at top schools. Private counselors are prohibitively expensive (generally $150/hour) and also know little about the unique identity of each school. This lack of information is particularly problematic since college is such an important and expensive part of a student’s life.

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College Confidant a new web-based counseling service aspires to make high-quality, affordable college counseling available for all college bound students. College Confidant has created an online peer-to-peer model that will radically improve the way college counseling works. College students (called Confidants) create an online profile, determine areas of expertise and set a price for their services. High school students can log on to the website, search the extensive and diverse network of College Confidants, and choose the best fit based on college, background, and interests. Confidants and students connect over a number of services such as: the phone, Skype, Gchat, AIM etc. The College Confidant online scheduling and rating systems ensure students can easily connect with high-quality confidants. In one hour students can: look over an essay, do a mock interview, think about application strategies or just ask general questions about the college admissions process. Parents, who are often overwhelmed with the college admissions process can also reserve Confidant sessions to quickly learn how they can best help their children through the college admissions process. This year College Confidant will have over 100 students in their network from Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford.

At only around $10-20 an hour College Confidant is considerably more affordable than other private college admissions consulting options. Through partnerships with non-profits, donations, and College Confidants willing to provide pro bono services, College Confidant hopes to reach out to groups underrepresented in the college admissions process.

Summer Workation is excited by this new college counseling model! The peer-to-peer model also has a lot of interesting implications for teachers. By leveraging rapid developments in telecommunications technologies educators around the world will have an incredible new resource. Teachers, regardless of where they are, can book Confidant sessions for their classrooms. Ultimately, College Confidant provides a new resources for both students and teachers to gain more transparency and support during the college admissions process. If you know anyone looking for college admissions help, tell them to check out www.collegeconfidant.com.

High School Science Teacher Spends a Month at South Pole

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Physics teacher Casey O’Hara never stops questioning. As an educator, he also aims to instill a sense of curiosity in all his students so that their thirst for knowledge will never be satisfied. In keeping with his philosophy and his teaching style, O’Hara is preparing to travel to the South Pole, where he will spend one month helping with research and conducting experiments that his students and colleagues have suggested. For O’Hara, this is a unique opportunity to engage students, colleagues, and the larger education community while conducting real-time scientific research at a remarkable location that few will ever have the opportunity to visit.

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New York Considers Expanding Alternative Teacher Certification Programs

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

For decades, teacher certification in New York has been performed exclusively by education schools. However, the State Board of Regents will now consider letting alternative teacher training programs certify teachers. The proposal is one of many that could potentially improve teacher quality and recruitment, particularly in high-needs schools. State Education Commissioner David Steiner believes that if the State Board of Regents approves these new proposals, New York’s application for federal Race to the Top funds will be strengthened. All across the nation, alternative/non-traditional paths to teaching have been garnering much attention. Supporters assert that teachers who complete alternative teacher training programs can bring knowledge, expertise, and experience in subject areas that education schools don’t always provide.

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Butterflies Scheduled to Take a Trip to International Space Station

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

On November, 16th, NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis is scheduled to lift off to the International Space Station. Thousands of students are expected to tune in to the launch as the shuttle will carry two species of butterflies into space. Painted lady and monarch butterfly larvae will be launched into orbit aboard the shuttle so that scientists can study how well butterflies go through metamorphosis in a zero-gravity environment. Researchers say that the experiment will help them understand how sustainable insect life is in space. Students at one hundred elementary and middle schools will also get to be a part of the study. Students will help by carrying out controlled experiments in their classrooms and by recording detailed observations as the larvae go through their life cycles. Students’ observations can then be compared to data compiled by scientists on the butterflies that were launched into orbit.

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