Tuesday, July 31, 2007

The 6th Mind: "Priming the Pump" with Truth, Trust, Deeds!

The New York Times

July 31, 2007

Who’s Minding the Mind?

In a recent experiment, psychologists at Yale altered people’s judgments of a stranger by handing them a cup of coffee.

The study participants, college students, had no idea that their social instincts were being deliberately manipulated. On the way to the laboratory, they had bumped into a laboratory assistant, who was holding textbooks, a clipboard, papers and a cup of hot or iced coffee — and asked for a hand with the cup.

That was all it took: The students who held a cup of iced coffee rated a hypothetical person they later read about as being much colder, less social and more selfish than did their fellow students, who had momentarily held a cup of hot java.

Findings like this one, as improbable as they seem, have poured forth in psychological research over the last few years. New studies have found that people tidy up more thoroughly when there’s a faint tang of cleaning liquid in the air; they become more competitive if there’s a briefcase in sight, or more cooperative if they glimpse words like “dependable” and “support” — all without being aware of the change, or what prompted it.

Psychologists say that “priming” people in this way is not some form of hypnotism, or even subliminal seduction; rather, it’s a demonstration of how everyday sights, smells and sounds can selectively activate goals or motives that people already have.

More fundamentally, the new studies reveal a subconscious brain that is far more active, purposeful and independent than previously known. Goals, whether to eat, mate or devour an iced latte, are like neural software programs that can only be run one at a time, and the unconscious is perfectly capable of running the program it chooses.

The give and take between these unconscious choices and our rational, conscious aims can help explain some of the more mystifying realities of behavior, like how we can be generous one moment and petty the next, or act rudely at a dinner party when convinced we are emanating charm.

“When it comes to our behavior from moment to moment, the big question is, ‘What to do next?’ ” said John A. Bargh, a professor of psychology at Yale and a co-author, with Lawrence Williams, of the coffee study, which was presented at a recent psychology conference. “Well, we’re finding that we have these unconscious behavioral guidance systems that are continually furnishing suggestions through the day about what to do next, and the brain is considering and often acting on those, all before conscious awareness.”

Dr. Bargh added: “Sometimes those goals are in line with our conscious intentions and purposes, and sometimes they’re not.”

Priming the Unconscious

The idea of subliminal influence has a mixed reputation among scientists because of a history of advertising hype and apparent fraud. In 1957, an ad man named James Vicary claimed to have increased sales of Coca-Cola and popcorn at a movie theater in Fort Lee, N.J., by secretly flashing the words “Eat popcorn” and “Drink Coke” during the film, too quickly to be consciously noticed. But advertisers and regulators doubted his story from the beginning, and in a 1962 interview, Mr. Vicary acknowledged that he had trumped up the findings to gain attention for his business.

Later studies of products promising subliminal improvement, for things like memory and self-esteem, found no effect.

Some scientists also caution against overstating the implications of the latest research on priming unconscious goals. The new research “doesn’t prove that consciousness never does anything,” wrote Roy Baumeister, a professor of psychology at Florida State University, in an e-mail message. “It’s rather like showing you can hot-wire a car to start the ignition without keys. That’s important and potentially useful information, but it doesn’t prove that keys don’t exist or that keys are useless.”

Yet he and most in the field now agree that the evidence for psychological hot-wiring has become overwhelming. In one 2004 experiment, psychologists led by Aaron Kay, then at Stanford University and now at the University of Waterloo, had students take part in a one-on-one investment game with another, unseen player.

Half the students played while sitting at a large table, at the other end of which was a briefcase and a black leather portfolio. These students were far stingier with their money than the others, who played in an identical room, but with a backpack on the table instead.

The mere presence of the briefcase, noticed but not consciously registered, generated business-related associations and expectations, the authors argue, leading the brain to run the most appropriate goal program: compete. The students had no sense of whether they had acted selfishly or generously.

In another experiment, published in 2005, Dutch psychologists had undergraduates sit in a cubicle and fill out a questionnaire. Hidden in the room was a bucket of water with a splash of citrus-scented cleaning fluid, giving off a faint odor. After completing the questionnaire, the young men and women had a snack, a crumbly biscuit provided by laboratory staff members.

The researchers covertly filmed the snack time and found that these students cleared away crumbs three times more often than a comparison group, who had taken the same questionnaire in a room with no cleaning scent. “That is a very big effect, and they really had no idea they were doing it,” said Henk Aarts, a psychologist at Utrecht University and the senior author of the study.

The Same Brain Circuits

The real-world evidence for these unconscious effects is clear to anyone who has ever run out to the car to avoid the rain and ended up driving too fast, or rushed off to pick up dry cleaning and returned with wine and cigarettes — but no pressed slacks.

The brain appears to use the very same neural circuits to execute an unconscious act as it does a conscious one. In a study that appeared in the journal Science in May, a team of English and French neuroscientists performed brain imaging on 18 men and women who were playing a computer game for money. The players held a handgrip and were told that the tighter they squeezed when an image of money flashed on the screen, the more of the loot they could keep.

As expected, the players squeezed harder when the image of a British pound flashed by than when the image of a penny did — regardless of whether they consciously perceived the pictures, many of which flew by subliminally. But the circuits activated in their brains were similar as well: an area called the ventral pallidum was particularly active whenever the participants responded.

“This area is located in what used to be called the reptilian brain, well below the conscious areas of the brain,” said the study’s senior author, Chris Frith, a professor in neuropsychology at University College London who wrote the book “Making Up The Mind: How the Brain Creates our Mental World.”

The results suggest a “bottom-up” decision-making process, in which the ventral pallidum is part of a circuit that first weighs the reward and decides, then interacts with the higher-level, conscious regions later, if at all, Dr. Frith said.

Scientists have spent years trying to pinpoint the exact neural regions that support conscious awareness, so far in vain. But there’s little doubt it involves the prefrontal cortex, the thin outer layer of brain tissue behind the forehead, and experiments like this one show that it can be one of the last neural areas to know when a decision is made.

This bottom-up order makes sense from an evolutionary perspective. The subcortical areas of the brain evolved first and would have had to help individuals fight, flee and scavenge well before conscious, distinctly human layers were added later in evolutionary history. In this sense, Dr. Bargh argues, unconscious goals can be seen as open-ended, adaptive agents acting on behalf of the broad, genetically encoded aims — automatic survival systems.

In several studies, researchers have also shown that, once covertly activated, an unconscious goal persists with the same determination that is evident in our conscious pursuits. Study participants primed to be cooperative are assiduous in their teamwork, for instance, helping others and sharing resources in games that last 20 minutes or longer. Ditto for those set up to be aggressive.

This may help explain how someone can show up at a party in good spirits and then for some unknown reason — the host’s loafers? the family portrait on the wall? some political comment? — turn a little sour, without realizing the change until later, when a friend remarks on it. “I was rude? Really? When?”

Mark Schaller, a psychologist at the University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, has done research showing that when self-protective instincts are primed — simply by turning down the lights in a room, for instance — white people who are normally tolerant become unconsciously more likely to detect hostility in the faces of black men with neutral expressions.

“Sometimes nonconscious effects can be bigger in sheer magnitude than conscious ones,” Dr. Schaller said, “because we can’t moderate stuff we don’t have conscious access to, and the goal stays active.”

Until it is satisfied, that is, when the program is subsequently suppressed, research suggests. In one 2006 study, for instance, researchers had Northwestern University undergraduates recall an unethical deed from their past, like betraying a friend, or a virtuous one, like returning lost property. Afterward, the students had their choice of a gift, an antiseptic wipe or a pencil; and those who had recalled bad behavior were twice as likely as the others to take the wipe. They had been primed to psychologically “cleanse” their consciences.

Once their hands were wiped, the students became less likely to agree to volunteer their time to help with a graduate school project. Their hands were clean: the unconscious goal had been satisfied and now was being suppressed, the findings suggest.

What You Don’t Know

Using subtle cues for self-improvement is something like trying to tickle yourself, Dr. Bargh said: priming doesn’t work if you’re aware of it. Manipulating others, while possible, is dicey. “We know that as soon as people feel they’re being manipulated, they do the opposite; it backfires,” he said.

And researchers do not yet know how or when, exactly, unconscious drives may suddenly become conscious; or under which circumstances people are able to override hidden urges by force of will. Millions have quit smoking, for instance, and uncounted numbers have resisted darker urges to misbehave that they don’t even fully understand.

Yet the new research on priming makes it clear that we are not alone in our own consciousness. We have company, an invisible partner who has strong reactions about the world that don’t always agree with our own, but whose instincts, these studies clearly show, are at least as likely to be helpful, and attentive to others, as they are to be disruptive.

Monday, July 30, 2007



(JAY KARR/McClatchy-Trinbune)

Fifth-grader Paula Lusena touches her science lab Smart Board, an electronic blackboard that allows students and teachers to project and manipulate graphic displays by touching and moving items around.

Detroit Free Press

High-tech teaching

Smart Boards engage students weaned on the Internet

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. -- At the start of each school day, Bluffton Elementary science teacher Tara Crewe fires up her laptop and video projector and beams the day's agenda onto a big-screen version of a 21st-Century blackboard.

What happens next is mind-boggling. Using a new interactive electronic white board, Crewe taps a yellow sun on the screen, and a quiz appears.

When a student answers a question, Crewe swipes a dry eraser over a blank line on the screen, revealing the correct answer almost magically.

Welcome to the future of teaching.

As schools across the country try to find ways to reach tech-savvy children in the video-game and Internet-saturated Information Age, these new interactive Smart Boards have emerged as a tool for teachers to engage students.

"It's turned learning in the classroom into the interactivity and entertainment kids are used to at home," Crewe said. Using Smart Boards "has made me a better teacher and made the kids more motivated learners."

Most of Crewe's instruction time is spent in front of the Internet-connected touch-screen board, which is linked to her laptop computer.

It allows her to link to educational videos, Web sites, slide-show presentations and blank screens -- like traditional white boards -- that she can draw on, save and print.

She often invites students to come to the front of the class and reveal answers with a simple swipe of the hand.

This kind of hands-on involvement with each lesson is especially beneficial to students with learning disabilities, those who have a hard time staying focused and children who learn more efficiently through interaction.

Crewe, one of the first teachers in her area to use the technology, started teaching with the Smart Board in January, when Bluffton Elementary installed them in six classrooms. Twenty-four teachers there now use the boards.

In the next several weeks, the district will roll out 48 more boards to schools throughout the county. To buy the equipment, Bluffton Elementary used a combination of district money and federal Title 1 funds, said Principal Kathleen Corley.

Each board costs about $1,500. The total per classroom with installation is around $3,800, according to the school district.

The benefits of the technology far outweigh the costs, said Crewe, who added she'd pay money out of her own pocket if the boards weren't provided by the district.

In classrooms with Smart Boards, homework completion rates are up as much as 60%, Corley said.

"You can demand, you can beg them, you can punish them, you can reward them," she said. "But the biggest thing is motivating them. And that's what these boards do. They help engage students in active learning."

Copyright © 2007 Detroit Free Press Inc.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


http://www.eschoolnews.com Contents Copyright 2007 eSchool News. All rights reserved.

Educators reveal secrets of reform On lawmakers’ doorstep, savvy educators describe tested success strategies

By Meris Stansbury, Assistant Editor, eSchool News July 25, 2007

Educators--at least the savvy ones--know exactly what it takes to give high school students a genuine shot at academic success, and on July 23, some of the nation’s savviest came together to spell it out . . . right on Congress’s doorstep.

At least, that was the core message the nation’s lawmakers could have absorbed at a meeting convened in unison by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) and the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE). It was said to be the first joint program produced by the two organizations.

Here, as these educators described them, are the essential ingredients for high school reform: Effective technology, integrated by well-trained and competent teachers, and solid longitudinal data that provide not just accountability but also a compass by which to keep teaching and learning on a true course for each unique student.

SETDA Executive Director Mary Ann Wolf and former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education (AEE), introduced a panel consisting of local and state educators and a valedictorian from a District of Columbia high school to talk about programs proven effective over time in real-life schools.

“There are 20,000 high schools, and 2,000 of those 20,000 high schools account for a majority of the dropouts,” Wise declared. “So we know where the dropout factories are.”

The mission of AEE, he explained, is “to promote high school transformation to make it possible for every child to graduate prepared for postsecondary education and success in life.”

AEE seeks to replace those “dropout factories” with well-functioning, successful high schools. It’s critical that America do this, Wise said, because “some 7,000 students drop out of high school every day.” Meanwhile, 90 percent of the fastest growing careers “require a secondary education,” he said.

Wolf had worrisome statistics of her own.

Only 5 percent of U.S. students now go into math or science, she said, and between 1989 to 2001, U.S. patent applications from Asia grew 759 percent, while applications from the U.S. itself grew by only 116 percent.

Yet, Wolf expressed optimism. “It’s not too late to make a real difference for these students and our country,” she insisted, citing positive examples of effective ed-tech programs across the U.S., such as the Technology Immersion Pilot (TIP) in Floydada High School in Texas, where thanks to a successful combination of professional development, assessment tools, and integrated technology, test scores in language arts, math, and science among 10th graders grew 24, 26, and 34 percent, respectively, from 2005 to 2006.

Wolf pointed to legislation pending in the U.S. House of Representatives that she said could help educators replicate those kinds of gains. The bill, if passed, would be known as the Achievement Through Technology and Innovation (ATTAIN) Act.

Now, SETDA and AEE are encouraging lawmakers to introduce a version of that bill in the U.S. Senate. (See New bill would revamp ed-tech funding http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/showStory.cfm?ArticleID=7092)

With adequate support and proper implementation from a measure such as ATTAIN, the meeting organizers said, the reforms described by panelists at the Capitol Hill meeting would not be isolated triumphs but could be disseminated to high schools from coast to coast.

Panelists, such as Jeanie Gordon, superintendent of the New Franklin School District in Missouri, gave their personal examples of success. Gordon talked about the eMINTS program, which raised student test scores by as much as 15 percent compared with scores of students in classrooms without eMINTS. (See Study: Missouri’s ed-tech program pays off http://www.eschoolnews.com/news/showstory.cfm?ArticleID=3673) eMINTS stands for Enhancing Missouri's Instructional Networked Teaching Strategies. Today, the program has blossomed in nine states.

Gordon emphasized that data are imperative for student achievement, saying “we need data to know where we need to make changes…. [S]tudent achievement has many variables, from attendance to learning style, from special needs to personal health, and we need data to vary teaching methods--methods that include the use of technology to help these students.”

Another panelist, Bruce Umpstead, director of educational technology and data for Michigan’s Department of Education, said “leadership and fundamental technology are critical” to student success. He gave examples of Michigan’s effort to support ed-tech and data through the Freedom to Learn Initiative.

Frances Bradburn, director of instructional technology for North Carolina’s department of public instruction, gave examples of success through her state’s Impact schools.

According to Bradburn, Impact schools, which offer technology tool sets and professional development training, turn at-risk students into bellwethers of success: “You can see [through students’ increased participation and enthusiasm for learning] that these tools are changing things.” Impact schools have “shown increased achievement levels in math and science, more than other schools, as well as a decreased dropout rate,” Bradburn reported.

Lan Neugent, Virginia’s assistant superintendent for school technology, spoke of the need to link statewide assessment to individual student assessment to ensure success. Neugent said a major component of improvement in Virginia is “24/7 student access to education” made possible through technology.

Perhaps the most compelling testament was given by Ciara Belle, a recent graduate of McKinley Technology High School in Washington, D.C. Belle, valedictorian of her class and a Gates Millennium Scholar, stressed classroom innovation. “When we talk about needing technology in the classroom, we’re not just talking about using a laptop to type a book report,” she said. “We’re talking about using outside-of-the-box thinking to foster learning.” Belle gave the example of a student learning math so he could develop a video game. “There’s a lot of geometry and physics involved in creating a video game,” she said. “If you want to design your own game, you have to know the basics.”

This year, Belle’s McKinley High School had the highest graduation rate in Washington, with over 90 percent of students graduating, she said.

Panelists gave many other positive examples of how data and technology can improve student achievement, but they also warned of the problems. Gordon cited the lack of financial support and an inadequate IT infrastructure as two significant obstacles. Umpstead said Michigan has “create[d] pockets of excellence based on Title II D, but lacks full funding in order to achieve statewide excellence.”

In response to those problems, panelists advised policy makers to support district-wide funding, try rolling out reform more quickly, focus harder on comprehensive teacher training and professional development, and get more students, not just adults, involved in future forums.

In summation, Wolf enumerated the common themes set forth by the panelists:
“As you look across these examples, you begin to see that this good teaching, this individualized approach using the resources that meet the needs of each student, the possibility of student-centered instruction--all lead to an increase in the skills needed for our students to graduate and be college- and work-ready.

Themes quickly emerge:

1. Leadership provides vision and support;
2. On-going professional development changes teaching and learning;
3. Data drive decisions;
4. High-quality resources and tools support engaged learning and high-quality teaching;
5. Communication across the district--with parents and all stakeholders--is key.”

In spite of the numerous and grave challenges confronting education, the meeting ended on an upbeat note. Every day, we are educating more children who need and deserve excellent education, Wolf pointed out. “We haven’t missed our opportunity.”

TIP Floydadahttp://www.educ.ttu.edu/tip/
Freedom to Learn Initiativehttp://www.ftlwireless.org/
Impact Schoolshttp://www.impactschools.org/
PASS Schoolshttp://www.pen.k12.va.us/VDOE/SchoolImprovement/pass.html
Alliance for Excellent Educationhttp://www.all4ed.org/
www.eschoolnews.com info@eschoolnews.com 7920 Norfolk Ave., Suite 900 Bethesda, MD 20814 (800) 394-0115 - Fax (301) 913-0119 Privacy Policy Manage your FREE eSchool News eMail subscriptions here Contents Copyright 2007 eSchool News. All rights reserved.

Don't forget

Please send talking points needed for DTE grant

Talking Points: (ALSO: See John's "post" above for additional direct correlations and insights)
  • Overview: Historical relationship (over a decade) with the McMath-Hulbert Solar Observatory in Lake Angelus, Michigan (Originating supporter and contributor to the YAPO CLC). YAPO Computer Learning Center, Board Member
  • Co-Authored original "Synergy Grant" after-school program with Pontiac Schools (Circa 1999-2001) Community-based, schools-connected, technological proposal.
  • NSF ITEST STEM Grant 2007 (Of which you have a copy)
*Slected NSF Grant Excerpts:
  • 4.5 Parental and Volunteer Involvement. The proposed project considers parental and volunteer involvement as a critical factor for the project’s success and continued student engagement and retention. Parental involvement will be fostered through scheduled seminars and outreach opportunities in order to promote their investment and robust participation in the project’s events and activities. Parents will be expected to bring their children to the project’s events and activities and actively engaged in whole-group meetings such as the kickoff, seminar, and techno/career fair. Parents who are employed in the IT industry will be more actively involved contributing to the project’s scheduled workshops, externships, and design activities. Parents with expertise in STEM related fields will be asked to help their children in greater detail. For example, parents in the engineering field will be encouraged to get their companies involved in the project to help the students with project design and supply of materials. The project will establish a parental blog site to facilitate collaboration and exchange among parents and participating students. Volunteers from the university students and staff, community members from participating schools, industry, government sectors, and students’ family members will be invited to strengthen the project’s support structure.
  • 7. Key Personnel, Project Management, Timeline. In addition to the principal members of the project leadership team, Dr. Shedrick Ward, Director of The Science, Math, and Technology Resource Center, Detroit Public Schools will assume primary responsibility for the recruiting of participating students and teachers and overseeing retention activities. Jim Ross and John Iras from The 21st Century Digital Learning Environments will act as a liaison to business, industry, and government sectors and will provide support for the field-based experiences.
  • Current: Regional Grant Collaborators, University of Michigan/Dearborn, Detroit Public Schools, Oakland Schools. Discussions have began regarding future inclusion with Pontiac Schools, Automation Alley, State of Michigan (National Governors Association, Governor Granholm and Michigan House of Representative, Tim Melton, District #29 (Pontiac), who also serves as "chair" of the State Education Committee.
  • STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. DTE Energy Grant could be intrinsically tied to this NSF ITEST STEM Grant initiative with it's particular focus on MATH instruction.
  • "Pilot Program" networked communications strategic elements: Schools to Community Centers via videoconferencing and web-enabled collaboration tools and applications. Pontiac Schools (WHRC) Community Centers (YAPO Computer Learning Center, Lancaster Village "Community Life Center" and Newman Court Computer Learning Center.
  • This NSF ITEST STEM Grant initiative may well blossom into becoming the "foundational element" from which to create a Southeastern Michigan Regional STEM Center serving as an incubator for advanced research & development initiatives for K-20 educational endeavors with industry, business and government.
  • Additionally: Successful NSF "Pilot Program" could become a national K-12 replication model program. This NSF Model Program could also serve as a model for all "HUD Community Learning Centers" (HUD CLC Network).
  • * Ten-Point Toss-up: DTE Engery could become interested in becoming a "direct corporate /foundational partner" in these Southeast Michigan regional STEM developments. (Mrs. Lee McNew who serves/served on the DTE Energy board was also a huge supporter of the McMath-Hulbert Solar Observatory and it's Education Programs in Lake Angelus)

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Education Futures (ANYONE?)

eSN TechWatch: Redefining 'intelligence' -- July 23, 2007

eSN TechWatch: Redefining Futurist Andrew Zolli discusses the trends shaping education’s future—including the need to redefine what it means to be “smart.”

Watch with Windows Media
Watch with Quicktime MP4



    (MADALYN RUGGIERO/Special to the Free Press)

    Paul Bath, 16, of Plymouth calls his parents while waiting for a ride after class at Plymouth High School on Friday. The Plymouth-Canton district says it has tough punishments for using electronic devices inside its schools because of growing concerns about safety, security and cheating.

  • photo
  • (MADALYN RUGGIERO/Special to the Free Press)

    Students like Te'Ara Brewington, 15, left, and Desmond Reese, 16, both of Canton, face tougher penalties if caught using electronic devices in school.

  • photo

(CNN via Associated Press)

YouTube contributors pose a question to the Democratic presidential candidates at the debate in Charleston, S.C., on Monday night.

Detroit Free Press

Crackdown in the classroom

Use a cell phone in Plymouth-Canton schools and you can wind up suspended

Plymouth-Canton Community Schools is getting tough on students caught using cell phones or iPods in school, going further than most districts in the state by punishing them with automatic suspensions for breaking the rules.

It's an unpopular move with students, but one that the district says is necessary to address a surge in violations of rules. The district says it tackles growing concerns about safety, security and students using electronic devices to cheat during class. And they expect other districts to follow suit

Instead of having the items confiscated and/or serving a detention, students now will be suspended -- one day for a first violation and up to five days for four or more violations.

"Will we have some people who will object? My gosh, of course. But if you look at the statistics, clearly you can see we've got to do something," said Bob Hayes, director for student services.

"This was not done capriciously. It's easy to punish. And punishment doesn't teach. We want to teach people responsible use," Hayes said.

Most districts in metro Detroit have policies similar to the previous rules in Plymouth-Canton, allowing devices on campus as long as they're off and out of sight, but officials in this Wayne County district believe they have good reason to bring down the hammer and suspend students instead of simply taking the devices away.

Hayes said the number of violations of the old policy prohibiting the use of electronic communications devices increased from 563 in 2005-06 to 1,374 in 2006-07. The surge, he said, is a sign that the previous penalties weren't enough of a deterrent.

Dealing with cheating

Cheating is one of the major reasons cited in a letter the district sent to summer school parents, and it is an area of increasing concern.

The Josephson Institute for Ethics in Los Angeles, in its annual report on ethics among American youth, reported that 60% of the 36,000 students surveyed in 2006 said they had cheated during a test at school within the previous 12 months; 35% said they had done so two or more times.

How often students use electronic devices to cheat is unknown.

Patrick Fitzpatrick, an assistant principal at Salem High School, said about 4% of the referrals he gets about students violating the policy on electronic devices are because they've been caught using the devices to cheat. Fitzpatrick is one of six assistant principals at the district's three high schools who handle discipline.

Savvy students can have their cell phones in their pocket and text message test answers to a friend, or ask a friend to give them an answer to a question. An iPod also can be used to cheat. Hayes said he's heard of students downloading difficult math or science formulas onto their iPods, then listening to the formulas during a test.

How do they avoid getting caught? They can hide the iPod in a pocket or under their clothing, snake the earphone cord through their shirt and cover the earpiece with a shirt collar, a hoodie or their hand.

Students are mixed about whether cheating is enough of a concern to warrant tougher penalties. Jing Guan, 17, of Canton, a junior at Plymouth High School, said she's seen students cheat by text-messaging answers to a test.

"Some kids are guilty, but they're treating everyone like they're guilty," Jing said.

But Brad Sullivan, a junior from Canton, said he doesn't think electronic cheating is a problem.

"Normally people cheat the old-fashioned way," said Brad, 16.

Michigan used to make this issue easy for schools. Up until 2004, all electronic devices were banned. But in 2004, the state left it up to districts to decide.

Safety and security

Local school administrators know how distracting, and disruptive, the devices can be, particularly in the classroom. One district, Southfield Public Schools, has more severe penalties for students who have a device that goes off during a class.

Safety and security also are key issues, Hayes said. If there were an emergency at the three high schools, and all students used their cell phones to call home, emergency workers would have a difficult time getting through to communicate with administrators.

Another concern, Hayes said, is that students have used their phones to text message or call each other to meet up for an anticipated fight.

Students not happy about it

Students acknowledge there is a problem, but say suspension isn't the answer.

"They need to get more strict, but they're taking it too far," said Scott Dreaver, 17, of Canton, a senior at Salem High School. He said he's had five violations and thought that automatic suspension would mean students will miss out on classroom work.

Students routinely ignore the rules, which are spelled out in the student code of conduct. Some of the students interviewed said that they never turn their cell phones off, and some acknowledge that they answer calls or text-message during the day. Some of the violations have been from parents calling their children during the school day.

The new penalties kicked in for summer school, but because of the abbreviated nature of the summer classes, a first offense got a three-hour detention instead of suspension. But while the message has clearly been sent, many students are still angry about it.

"There's not a day that goes by that people don't complain about it," said Lexa Dilmore, 16, a junior at Plymouth High School.

Contact LORI HIGGINS at 248-351-3694 or lhiggins@freepress.com.

Copyright © 2007 Detroit Free Press Inc.

Detroit Free Press

YouTube revolutionizes debate

Democrats field online questions

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- Young, Internet-savvy voters challenged Democratic presidential hopefuls on gun control, the military draft and the candidates' place in a broken political system, playing starring roles in a provocative, video-driven debate Monday night.

"Wassup?" came the first question, from a voter named Zach, after another, named Chris, opened the CNN-YouTube debate with a barb aimed at the entire eight-candidate field: "Can you as politicians ... actually answer questions rather than beat around the bush?"

The answer was a qualified yes. The candidates faced blunt questions -- from earnest to the ridiculous -- and, in many cases, responded in kind.

To Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois: Are you black enough? "You know, when I'm catching a cab in Manhattan ... I'm giving my credentials," he replied.

To Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York: Are you feminine enough? "I couldn't run as anything other than a woman," she said, drawing a challenge from former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who said he was the best women's advocate onstage.

One voter asked whether young women should register for the draft. Clinton, Obama and Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut said yes.

The debate featured questions submitted to the online video community YouTube and screened by CNN. A talking snowman, two rednecks and a woman speaking from her bathroom were among the twists to the oldest forum in politics: debate.

A Clio man asked about gun control while brandishing a firearm.

"He needs help," Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware snapped.

Copyright © 2007 Detroit Free Press Inc.

Five Minds for "Good Work!"

The Good Work Project: http://www.goodworkproject.org

The Good Work Project Overview (PDF)

Saturday, July 21, 2007

NGA Conference / Update Education



Gov. Jennifer Granholm is at the wheel of a 1960 Cadillac Eldorado convertible Friday with Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, who chairs this weekend's meeting of the National Governors Association in the Traverse City area.

Detroit Free Press

2 governors share similar backgrounds

This weekend, they're in spotlight

She leads a state where she wasn't born and is an ex-federal prosecutor and attorney general who in her 40s was elected governor as a likable, moderate Democrat, replacing a Republican. Four years later she trounced a Christian conservative challenger.

Went to college in California. Earned a law degree from an elite Eastern school.

The description fits Jennifer Granholm, Michigan's governor. And Janet Napolitano, Arizona's governor. Their careers have had striking parallels.

As new governors in 2003, both faced billion-dollar deficits and Republican legislatures. Both stress education and innovative businesses as crucial to their economies.

Both will be in the spotlight at the National Governors Association conference in the Traverse City area this weekend, Granholm as host and Napolitano chairing a gathering that will mix policy with parties in one of Michigan's premier playgrounds.

It's Granholm's job to show off her state's best side.

It's Napolitano's job to oversee discussions of global warming, online child predators and -- her main focus -- education as the key to lucrative, innovative markets for the United States.

In an interview this week, Napolitano said improving college education is crucial as the United States competes with other nations. Still, she said, the issue hasn't gotten the attention it deserves. The federal No Child Left Behind law for K-12 schools dominates the debate but, Napolitano said, doesn't go far enough in its testing requirements.

"They don't really tell you if your students have the capacity for innovation and creativity, the things that will allow us to compete with the Beijings, the New Delhis, the Dubais, the Dublins of the world," Napolitano said.

"What helps here is the opportunity for governors to share with each other what they are doing. Frankly, my experience at these governors meetings is some of the valuable conversations are in the background, in the hallways, as to what you tried that didn't work very well or maybe cost way more money than it produced."

Napolitano chose Granholm to chair the NGA committee on economic development and federal energy policies. Granholm said they struck a friendship in 1999, after they were elected attorneys general.

Napolitano is Arizona's third woman elected governor. In 2005, she was named one of the five best governors in the country by Time magazine. Conservatives label her a big spender. Democrats considered her a possible running mate for presidential nominee John Kerry in 2004.

She bridged a polarized Arizona government and made friends with business, said Earl de Berg, a pollster with Behavior Research Center in Phoenix.

"She's a pretty savvy gal. She has an intuitive understanding of where the public is in Arizona with respect to their frustration with past politics," de Berg said. "She's slightly left of center, but she gives the impression she's open to all, and it's really struck a chord with the public."

Copyright © 2007 Detroit Free Press Inc.

NGA Conference / Update

Detroit Free Press

Governors' conference kicks off in Traverse City

TRAVERSE CITY -- Nearly 40 of the nation's governors kicked off their summer conference here Saturday, as Gov. Jennifer Granholm welcomed them against a backdrop of Grand Traverse Bay's blue surf and spectacular, sunny weather.

Granholm said the conference theme of innovation and the economy is especially pertinent to Michigan, which leads the nation in unemployment and, she said, is transforming from an auto-dominated economy, yet must retain the auto industry as part of its economic base.

"We know the importance of investing and diversifying an economy," she told reporters on the grounds of Northwestern Michigan College's Great Lakes Campus.

She said governors will discuss, among other things, how to use the creativity of state universities and as magnets for economic growth -- a topic led by NGA chairperson, Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, who joined Granholm at the opening event.

The opening event also drew comments on global climate change. Granholm said while it's important for states to limit carbon dioxide emissions, and said all 2008 presidential candidates should insist that U.S. trade partners agree to limit carbon emissions as well.

"We can do all we want in the Unites States, but if there is no global lessening of emissions out of China, than it is nothing," she said. "We have to have a global policy."

Also attending the press conference were Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, chair of the NGA; Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin III. Ritter said some European nations are looking to U.S.states to take step that will drive this nation's debate on global warming.

Thirty-five governors were expected to attend the conference at the Grand Traverse Resort.

They were to hear presentations Saturday by Google chairman and CEO Eric Schmidt, and Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of AT&T, on the topic of innovation and the economy.

Granholm used the occasion to tout her economic plan to diversify the state's economy using money from the new 21st Century Jobs fund to attract high-tech, innovative industries, and new, tougher high school curriculum standards.

Napolitano said states should focus more on higher education and producing products that no other countries produce and market.

"What do we need to do as governors, state by state, to make sure the next generation is fully prepared for the globalization of the 21st Century?" she said."How do we make the U.S.a place were jobs are in-sourced, not out-sourced, as a result of our mental capital?"

She added, "Governors have a key role."

Copyright © 2007 Detroit Free Press Inc.

Friday, July 20, 2007

NSF ITEST STEM Grant / Urgent Response FINAL!

Proposed Revisions/Clarifications for Proposal, 07-37326, Fostering Interest in Information Technology, submitted by the University of Michigan

Project Design

Q1. The ITEST program mandates two consecutive years of participation in Youth-Based Projects. Although this is mentioned in the narrative, please confirm that students will participate for two years and provide an outline of activities for Years 1-2. Why do students not begin until 1 year after the program begins?

A1. We confirm that for the three-year duration, the proposed project will have two cohort groups, each participating in two consecutive years of project activities with an overlap in the second year so that all participating students will receive two years of enrichment activities.

The proposed project will be implemented from July 1, 2008 to June 30, 2011. Participating students for the first cohort will begin the project in early fall of 2008. However, the project will implement a series of recruitment activities for the first cohort before the end of the previous school year in the winter and spring of 2008 and prepare over the summer for a fall start (before the 3-year “official” duration of the project begins in July 2008). Similar recruitment activities will be conducted for the second cohort in the winter and spring of 2009.

The outline of activities and events for the first cohort are as follows.

Year 1: Capacity Building (July 1, 2008 – August 30, 2009). The year starts with a preparation activity involving a summer course for K-12 STEM teachers, followed by a kickoff meeting as the school year begins, a set of IT intensive STEM area workshops for students during the year, and seminar meetings near the end of the fall and winter semesters. The year concludes with real-world field-based experiences during the following summer with opportunities for students to work directly with IT and STEM professionals and see examples of real-world workplace applications.

1. IT/STEM Summer Course

2. Kickoff Meeting

3. Level 1 Workshops

4. Seminar Meeting 1

5. Level 2 Workshops

6. Seminar Meeting 2

7. Summer Externship

By improving the IT/STEM readiness of participating students through capacity building activities and field-based experiences, all students will be prepared to undertake the work of designing IT-intensive authentic projects within the context of STEM, work that will start during the program explorations and continue into the second year.

Year 2: Design (September 1, 2009 – June 30, 2010). The design year consists of a series of site-based sessions for each individual design team and a whole-group seminar meeting near to the end of the school year. The overarching task of each design team in this year is to design inquiry-based authentic projects that are of at least science fair quality using one or more content-specific IT tools explored during the previous capacity building year and stimulating ideas/experiences gained during the field trips. The design year will end with a techno/career fair during the following summer of 2010.

8. Step 1: Ask (takes place during the summer externship)

9. Step 2: Investigation (takes place during the summer externship)

10. Step 3: Create

11. Step 4: Discuss

12. Step 5: Reflect

13. Seminar Meeting 3

14. Techno/Career Fair

The second cohort goes through the same set of activities in Year 1 (July 1, 2009 – August 30, 2010) and Year 2 (September 1, 2010 – June 30, 2011).

Q2. Funding is requested for materials development but the narrative does not adequately describe the curriculum materials to be produced. How many modules will be produced and by whom? Are there some existing materials that can be used?

A2. The proposed project will produce a total of four Curriculum Guides, one for each STEM subject matter area. They will be developed by the leadership of each design team (Drs. Zitzewitz, Medjahed, Orady, and Höft) in collaboration with the post-secondary STEM content expert and K-12 STEM teacher involved in each design team of the project. Each curriculum guide will include the following four modules:

    1. The first one will be related to the summer course for teachers,
    2. The second one will be related to the capacity building phase activities,
    3. The third one will be devoted to summer externship activities,
    4. The fourth one will deal with the design phase activities.

The project leadership will combine these four curriculum guides into a STEM guide book that will include a total of 4*4=16 modules.

We are not familiar with any existing curriculum guides for individual STEM subject matter areas that linked to the State content expectations and tested out with participating students.

Q3. How will the four student teams interact? How will student teams be organized if students self-select and the membership is not balanced?

A3. During Year Two: Design of each cohort, four student teams will interact through whole-group activities and events--Seminar Meeting 3 and Techno/Career Fair. Throughout the year, the project’s Web site, blog, and podcasting sites will also be utilized to extend student interaction outside the confines of the formal scheduled events.

Students’ interest in a specific STEM area is the main criteria for the organization of the design teams. At the end of the Level 1 Workshops, we will assist students to narrow down their interest to two specific STEM related fields. Level 2 Workshops will allow students to narrow down their interest to one specific STEM area. This multi-level structure is expected to provide a relatively balanced membership for four STEM area design teams. However, we will also ask students to provide an alternate team besides their main interest so that the project leadership could be more flexible with assigning students into four design teams in a balanced fashion. Possible multi-disciplinary projects from combined areas of STEM to be designed by students will help them find interest in more than one STEM area. This will also help the project leadership to balance the membership assignments for the design teams.

Q4. Please describe the student internship (what happens beside the field trips) and the teacher summer course in more detail.

A4. The student internship will consist of field-based experiences and preparation for Design activities.

During the two-week summer program, students will meet and observe the work of scientists and professionals in IT/STEM fields. The project will facilitate eight different day-long field trips (two for each STEM design team); each emphasizing IT related career and educational pathways within the context of STEM, and including debriefing activities after each one. Collaborating business, industry, government, and university sectors will host these sessions. This will help students to determine their real world projects and utilize the IT-STEM area professionals to research and develop meaningful projects that contribute to scientific advancement through collaboration and digital connectivity.

As part of the summer program, aligned with the Cyclic Inquiry Model’s 5 major steps (Ask, Investigate, Create, Discuss and Reflect), the project will also facilitate collaborative learning experiences where students learn how to design and conduct inquiry-based authentic projects; more specifically they learn how to Ask, Investigate, Create, Discuss, and Reflect. These theoretical discussions will then be linked to students’ authentic projects to provide practical applications. Step 1: Ask will take place during the summer program. Lead by one specialized member of the project leadership team, each STEM area will hold a series of meetings to discuss IT-intensive authentic project ideas aligned with appropriate federal and state standards within the focus area of each design team. At this stage, each student begins to focus on a question or problem, defining and describing it. Students will be assisted in the process by members of the leadership team, design team members, IT-STEM professionals from partnering business, industry, and government sectors, parents, and supporting partners. During this process, the project leadership team will closely survey the focus and interest of each participating student to facilitate individual, small-group, or multidisciplinary projects. Step 2: Investigate will also take place during the summer program and will be conducted in a similarly to Step 1. Students will begin to collect information about their questions. This process will include research using reading, observing, interviewing, or doing exploratory experiments.

The leading members of the STEM area design teams, Drs. Zitzewitz, Medjahed, Orady, and Höft will collaboratively design and teach an IT-intensive STEM area summer course for high-school STEM teachers. Ten to fifteen teachers from partnering school districts are expected to enroll in this three credit-hour summer course to learn, experience, and use information technologies within the context of STEM. The course will consist of presentations followed by hands-on activities to provide participating teachers the opportunity to learn advanced use of IT toolsets within the context of STEM. Four teachers (one from each STEM area) will be selected to participate in the proposed project based on their performance in this course. This will also allow the project leaderships to identify alternates for participating teachers those who would become unavailable to continue with the program.

Q5. What strategies will be used to identify parents with IT backgrounds to assist with the project? What evidence is there that a pool of parents with this expertise exists among the target population? How will parents access technology needed to participate electronically?

A5. Student recruitment information will identify parents’ work experience and parent/significant others’ willingness to assist in the program. In addition, the scheduled seminars and outreach opportunities will help us to survey parents and their professional background and expertise.

Participating school district, Detroit Public Schools is located in the Detroit Metropolitan area, where the “big three” automotive companies, their vendors and suppliers are located in Southeastern Michigan. Therefore, we have anecdotal information indicating that there is a considerable number of parents among the targeted population whose expertise are in IT-STEM fields.

The project will establish a parental Blog site to facilitate collaboration and exchange among parents, students, and other members of the project. Sponsored by the project’s participating school district, each student will have 24/7 access to a laptop and a Pocked PC throughout the program. This will allow parents to access these technologies at home for electronic communication as needed. Local libraries are also available for public access to Internet, WWW, and email.

Project Team, Management, and Audience

Q6. Who will serve on the project advisory board? Please provide letters of support to confirm commitment.

A6. The following individuals will serve on the project advisory board. Please see the appendix for the copy of the email confirmations of the commitment. We will provide official letters of support as we receive.

    1. Charlotte A. Otto, Associate Provost and Professor of Chemistry, University of Michigan-Dearborn.
    2. Dr. Bill Cobern, Director of t he George G. Mallinson Institute for Science Education
    3. Patricia Pickett, Principal, Northwestern High School, Detroit Public Schools
    4. Jeff Bush, Consultant, Design and Technological Studies, Oakland Schools
    5. Michael Souden, Learning Services, Oakland Schools

In addition to the current members of the advisory board, we will continue our effort to include at least one representative from the region’s business, industry, and government sectors, and parents and volunteers.

Q7. What is the role of the industry collaborators?

A7. The primary role of the industry collaborators is to provide the "real world" applications. They will also have roles in other aspects of the projects. They will assist in providing the digital toolsets needed to do authentic research and development that contributes to the existing body of scientific knowledge. They will also provide technical tours and time of qualified personnel to mentor and guide student teams in the four areas of STEM. This would help provide real life problem solving techniques to the participating students. Industry collaborators have also a critical role to play in the development of what 21st century digital and academic toolsets are needed to facilitate a smooth transition from K-12 to college and then to the world of work. The cooperative relationship between business, industry and the education community is expected to result in the establishment of the following:

  1. Permanent internships with participating businesses,
  2. Greater sense of corporate responsibility
  3. The creation of mutual advisory boards,
  4. To inspire students to view the business world as part of their larger career path,
    1. For all participating groups to demonstrate their products, projects, business plans, goals, strengths and weaknesses,
    1. Businesses will help students to enhance their understanding of the general way in which participating businesses work, and
    2. For businesses to receive students at the work place to see skills and STEM transferred to the world of work.

Q8. Which members of the project team (PI and Co-PIs) that are leading the science, technology, mathematics, and engineering design team, have expertise working with the target audience of high school youth?

A8. All members of the project leadership team who will be leading the STEM area design teams have previous experiences in working with high-school students and/or have been involved in funded projects in this area.

Dr. Mesut Duran, Associate Professor of Technology in the School of Education, will be overseeing the design team activities. He is a former high school teacher with three-year teaching experience in 9-12 grades. His current research titled Michigan Teachers’ Technology Education Network (MITTEN) has also involved considerable number of high school teachers and their students from six different school districts in Southeastern Michigan.

Paul Zitzewitz, Professor of Physics and Science Education in the Natural Sciences Department, will lead the Science design team. He has authored a high school physics textbook.

Dr. Brahim Medjahed, Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer & Information Science, will lead the Technology design team. He has previously designed and taught computer science labs to high school students.

Dr. Elsayed Orady, Professor and the Coordinator of the Manufacturing Engineering Program in the Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering, will lead the Engineering design team. He worked with Detroit area Pre-College Engineering Program (DAPCEP) students.

Dr. Margret Höft, Professor of Mathematics in the Department of Mathematics and Statistics, will lead the Mathematics design. She worked with several K-12 teachers and their students in the MITTEN project.

Q9. One reviewer was concerned that objectives 2, 4, and 5 are overlay ambitious for a three-year project. How will they be accomplished?

A9. Working closely with higher education and industry experts, monitoring student activities and progress in two consecutive years will bring real-world experiences to K-12 STEM teachers. Their engagement in the development of STEM area Curriculum Guides will provide significant strategies for replication and expanded awareness of additional opportunities and possibilities for their future students. Similarly, post-secondary faculty members’ ability to design and deliver IT/STEM enrichment experiences and opportunities for K-12 STEM teachers will increase within this collaborative engagement.

The “Community of Designers” idea that the proposed project will implement promotes collaborative engagement among high-school students, K-12 STEM teachers, U/GSAs, and post-secondary STEM content experts. Utilizing new technologies such as videoconferencing, streaming video, Web-based enabled collaboration tools such as blogs and poscasting will accelerate traditional time consuming analog deliverables and methodologies allowing the formation of a self-sustaining professional development network.

Q10. What schools will be targeted for recruitment and what are the characteristics of the target audience?

A10. The incoming 9th Grade students will be recruited from a total of 6 high schools within the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) system for the first cohort. The students from Northwestern, Southeastern, Mumford, Cass Technical, Martin Luther King, and Renaissance high schools will be invited to participate. In addition to DPS, project leadership will invite the Oakland Schools and other surrounding school districts to participate in the project’s second cohort as part of its long term vision. Students will have to maintain Grade Point Levels above the minimum of 2.0 in addition to having acceptable attendance and behavior for the school year (9th Grade). Students will be required to proved evidence of their freshman year performance for completion of the application process.

For both cohorts, the target audience is minority students, students with special needs, and female students. These students will join the project at the beginning of their 10th grade and complete the two-year-long project activities at the end of their 11th grade, transitioning into their senior year as future college students.

The recruitment of students will be done via visits to invited schools and/or classrooms by representatives of the program. These visits will include STEM courses and activities ongoing in the targeted schools, coupled with letters of invitation to students as selected and/or nominated by the STEM instructors and school administrators. Students will be provided an application for active participation in the project. To support and maintain the levels of student participation, an alternate list of students will be created and provide replacements for any student moving from the targeted school or otherwise unavailable to continue with the program. Incentives will be provided for all involved students for the duration of the program.

Q11. Will student IT and STEM knowledge be considered as part of the admission process? What criteria will be used for high school and college student participation?

A11. Students’ interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math will be the most important focus areas for admission to the project. We will survey students for math, science, and computer courses taken and grades earned. However, high GPA is not required to enter the program.

We will recruit college students from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics disciplines. Their STEM strengths, IT comfort levels, outstanding GPA with excellent communication and teaching skills will be considered as selection criteria. We will also take into account students’ prior experiences working with the target high-school youth (e.g., tutoring, volunteering activities, and community services).

Q12. What is the plan for student retention? The PI predicts that the project will have 100% retention which may be unrealistic.

A12. The retention plan includes combination of academic and financial support systems. The project will regularly emphasize the “goal oriented” nature of the program rather than a “degree/certificate” which is considered one of the working strategies for student retention. Student retention is also “high” when program activities highlight a competition. With their projects designed during the FI3T program, students will be encouraged, advised, and supported to participate in nationwide pre-college competitions such as the Intel Science Talent Search and the International Science and Engineering Fair. Provided by the project’s K-12 partner, Detroit Public Schools (DPS), and equipped with special software needed for their projects, students will have access to a laptop and a Pocket PC during their participation in the project. Providing such educational and motivational tools and resources will have a positive impact on student retention. The social environment surrounding students with supporting parents, teachers, content experts, project leaders, business partners, and community members will also positively impact student retention. We are also aware of that urban environments face great uncertainty every day and those factors, transportation, fractured families, economics, etc., pose the greatest threat to retention and most importantly are unpredictable.

Evaluation and Budget

Q13. What are the benchmarks for project success which are critical for the evaluation and sustainability plans?

A13. Each sub group involved with the proposed project will have group benchmark and self-imposed significant steps in their path toward success. The following benchmarks will help us identify student and project success.


    1. Increased use of computers, handhelds and other personal computing devices.
    2. Increased use of business technology: Display devices, Cameras, projection equipment, etc.
    3. Increased understanding and use of 3D software and the significant application of same.
    4. The growth of team work skills associated with working on a professional team.
    5. Increased understanding of project benchmarks, time lines and accountability to the larger picture.
    6. Develop better organizational skills relative to project management as it relates to all aspects of the larger picture.
    7. Students will report out regularly on their project components and predetermined evaluation benchmarks.
    8. Students will demonstrate enhance ability to self-evaluate based on their benchmarks and goals.
    9. Students will demonstrate competence with internet technologies, such as Blogs, podcasting, and other meaningful open-sourced technologies.
    10. Student Blogs and Web sites will spread the word to the “digital natives” about the program and this will help to benchmark the progress of each group.

Program Success:

    1. The 2nd year applications from students and teachers will increase.
    2. Additional districts will surface and request participation in the program.
    3. The program will see greater participation from business and industry.
    4. The legislature will increase their cooperative understanding and begin supporting the program in spirit and dollars.
    5. The tentacles of understanding will have penetrated other educational institutions and requests for replication will be made.
    6. Community groups will express interest in participating in the project in increased fashion.
    7. Corporations will realize the value of seeking out young unencumbered minds to focus on real world issues.
    8. Corporate student mentorship’s will develop as a result of this project and signify a small success.
    9. Industry continues their willingness to cooperate with higher education and K-12.

Q14. Reviewers noted that the some aspects of the evaluation plan are not clear including the number of lessons to be evaluated, and the assessment of teacher STEM knowledge, resources, and the website. The evaluation might also be strengthened by including student interviews. Please address these concerns.

A14. Assessment measures for all stakeholders will be developed in collaboration with project staff as specific goals and activities are finalized. Collaboration is strengthened by the evaluators’ inclusion on the project management team. Assessments include teachers’ growth in skill and use of IT, understanding of STEM content, and changes in instructional practice. Evaluation of project-related professional development, learning resources, and websites will be done from rubrics based on specific objectives and applicable professional standards, as described in the narrative.

Assessment and documentation of participating high school teachers’ ability to design and deliver IT/STEM enrichment experiences for their students consist of multiple measures. One will be an annual pre/post survey addressing frequency of use of IT hardware/software and various instructional practices to look for changes that might occur because of project-related learning. Other pre/post questionnaires will be aligned with project-specific teacher learning goals. Observations of professional development will be conducted as feasible. Teacher interviews will be conducted at least annually, following up on specific project activities and exploring teachers’ thoughts about applicability of new learning to their teaching. Finally, transfer of teachers’ changing practice will be documented by conducting annual observations in their home school classrooms. The first observations would be conducted early in Year 01 of each cohort and the last ones late in Year 02.

Similarly, student learning about information technology and the STEM disciplines as well as their growing understanding and sense of fit within STEM will be also measured in a variety of ways. Pre/post surveys and tests of content knowledge can assess gains in understanding and use of target technologies and STEM content. In addition, student growth can be assessed from work they produce, performance tasks developed by teachers and other project staff, self- and other-reports, and personal interviews. Conducted in the course of the two-year cohort programs, observations and student interviews can yield formative data about students’ responses to the many learning experiences as well as their attraction to study and work in STEM-related fields.

Q15. How many teachers will be involved in the project and trained to work in the youth program?

A15. Each design team will include a STEM area high school teacher. Four high school teachers (one from each STEM area) will participate in each cohort. With in two cohorts, a total of eight teachers will participate in the three-year duration of the project life.

Q16. How will the project be sustained beyond the period of NSF funding, especially with the high salary request including the design personnel?

A16. The proposed project will sustain its impact over and beyond the three-year duration of the project life through the following:

    1. Further use of IT learning resources and deliverables that the project will develop and disseminate—project Web site, blog, and podcasting site, student projects, teacher developed Curriculum Guide, STEM guide book, and faculty developed IT-STEM course syllabi and materials,
    2. Further use of its self-sustaining professional development network among high-school students, school teachers, U/GSAs, and IT-intensive STEM content experts,
    3. Further leadership roles of school teachers in their respective schools districts, and
    4. Further leadership roles of post-secondary faculty in their respective colleges and schools.

Monday, July 16, 2007

The Genie is Out of the Bottle!

Children coming of age today are the first generation to grow up digital. In
their world, the use of computers, the Internet, cell phones and interactive
video games is commonplace.

We used to worry that computer technology would remain in the hands of the
privileged; now it is carried in the backpacks and shirt pockets of those from
all walks of life.

On Saturday, the 2007 National Media Education Conference gets underway in St.
Louis. The theme of the four-day series of workshops and screenings — the
nation's largest gathering of media educators — is "iPods, Blogs and Beyond:
Evolving Media Literacy for the 21st Century."

Clearly, access to technology no longer is the central issue. More than 90
percent of those between the ages of 12 and 17 are online. The number of
high-speed Internet connections, necessary for the richest content experience,
is growing by 40 percent annually. Participation in the all-digital virtual
world known as Second Life has risen dramatically — from 500,000 to nearly 5
million people in two years.

Today's young people increasingly express themselves and build communities with these powerful tools of technology. The real gap between tomorrow's digital haves and have-nots will be a lag in competence and confidence in the fast-paced variegated digital universe building and breeding outside schoolhouse walls.

Research, some of it funded by the MacArthur Foundation, is just beginning to fathom how deeply our children have absorbed new technology: the role it plays in their lives and how it affects their learning, play and socialization. What this research suggests is that today's digital youth are in the process of creating a new kind of literacy; this evolving skill extends beyond the traditions of reading and writing into a community of expression and problem-solving that not only is changing their world but ours, too:

They have created communities the size of whole nations by channeling personal affiliations through message boards or meta-games or dedicated
websites such as Facebook, Friendster and MySpace.

— They have mastered digital tools to create new techniques for personal
expression: modding, digital sampling, mash-ups and zines — not to mention new
paths of distribution for personal works of video and text.

They have redefined the notion of "play" to include complex problem-solving, mentoring, the archiving of knowledge and real-time conversations on issues of policy and politics of global interest and importance.

Henry Jenkins, director of the media studies program at the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, calls this a new "participatory culture," one that
presents low barriers to artistic expression and social engagement that suggests that a richer environment for learning may lie outside the classroom.

Online and after school, youths in this new participatory culture are
assimilating new languages and rules, vast troves of research and perspectives
on the nature of order and community that vault across traditional boundaries
of race or creed or culture.

In meta-games such as Civilization III and SimCity, participants develop and
manipulate dynamic models of real life; they teach and legislate, create and
share, connect and collaborate, reflecting the value of team-building and consensus over autonomous solutions.

Moreover, through virtual characters and identities — even some that disturb
parents — teens can experiment through trial and error, make poor moral choices
or learn the downside of risk-taking without jeopardizing actual careers or
lives. They learn to value challenge and appreciate complexity, even as they assimilate facts and assess developments at breathtaking speed.

The downside may be that in the sunset of the old information culture, we are not understanding this new media literacy soon enough. Those who have no opportunity or desire to be part of these revolutionary digital communities may be deprived of vital virtual skills that would prepare them for full
participation in the real world of tomorrow.

In this new media age, the ability to negotiate and evaluate information online, to recognize manipulation and propaganda and to assimilate ethical values is becoming as basic to education as reading and writing. The children who truly will be left behind in the evolving digital culture are those who fail to bridge this participation gap.

Our challenge is to develop these educational forces, opening up our classrooms to the learning in which children now engage largely outside of school. In the end, we may find that the best way to institutionalize and encourage this new media literacy is to understand and harness what our young digital culture seems to be doing pretty well on its own.

Jonathan Fanton is president of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which is funding a $50 million initiative to understand how digital technologies are changing kids and learning.

SPecial to the St. louis Post-Dispatch