A Blueprint to Revolutionize America's Schools

Article excerpt

New Mexico - In a cluster of nine small high schools scattered across the plains of rural eastern New Mexico, the classrooms of the future are emerging. High school students in San Jose, House and Grady - some of the most rural communities in New Mexico - are taking advanced classes from a college 50 miles away. Through a two-way interactive video system, these students have been linked to each other and to the Clovis Community College. Through this innovative application of technology, these students can participate in a regional classroom and have access to educational resources that do not exist in their small schools and communities.

Mississippi - At the Hayes Cooper School for Math, Science and Technology, a technology-centered K-6 public school in the heart of the Mississippi Delta, each child has an individualized educational program tailored to meet his or her learning needs, using computer programs that have been designed by the school's teachers to meet state curriculum standards and the National Education Goals.

As a result, teachers have more time to spend with small groups of students, while other students work in teams at one of the classroom's computer terminals. Classrooms are linked by computer networks to enable teachers to share ideas and participate in team-teaching activities. Computer-generated reports on each child's progress are sent home to parents on a monthly basis. After just one year in operation, Hayes Cooper students report significant gains over last year's standardized test scores. "This school is harder," explains one sixth grader, "but it is a lot more fun."

Massachusetts - During the last five years, hundreds of teachers in Boston Public Schools have observed the positive impact of technology on their students' ability to learn, especially in the area of mathematics. Each teacher involved in the Elementary and Middle School Math and Technology Project, which is funded by the National Science Foundation and Boston Public Schools, received two computers, a calculator and "hands-on" math materials for their classrooms.

Coupled with intensive workshops in mathematics and new strategies for teaching math (cooperative learning, interdisciplinary teaching, etc.), these materials have provided rich and vastly different learning experiences in math for Boston students. Listen to the comments from some Boston area teachers.

One teacher reported that "I no longer use textbooks. All lessons involve manipulatives, calculators and computers. I teach to develop concepts, not techniques for getting answers."

Another said that "my students are always engaged in problem solving. My students now work in groups, sharing their ideas and knowledge. I love to listen to them develop strategies as they work at the computer. They are always thinking and sharing their knowledge."

Still another remarked, "I have seen totally new ways to use calculators and computers. I always saw computers as a tool to reinforce or check skills work, but now I see that they really engage my students in much more complex problem solving."

* Effective Examples,

But Not Yet Pervasive

Powerful examples like these show that creative uses of technologies by skilled teachers offer the promise to quickly and cost-effectively restructure education as we know it. These technologies can help teachers create an environment where all students are afforded rigorous, rich classroom instruction at a pace that suits their learning style and in a way that gives them a more active role in the learning process.

The problem is that there are few examples of exemplary use of technology in the classroom. …