Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Lone Star 2000: Documenting Successful School or University Teaching and Learning

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

Lone Star 2000: Documenting Successful School or University Teaching and Learning

Article excerpt

There is considerable concern among educators and ordinary citizens about the quality of teaching and learning taking place in America's public schools. The debate over the failures of public education frequently fills daily newspapers and popular news magazines. Clarion calls for tuition vouchers, charter schools and schools run by free enterprise capture the imaginations of politicians. In what ways should these concerns be addressed, and by what means?

Should we use nationally-normed tests, based on new, national standards? Should we use state-normed tests, based on state standards? Or should new assessment tools be employed, such as student and teacher portfolios? Solutions must be found to help convince the public that classroom-based educational reforms are occurring in ways that work.

* Examples of New Approaches

The purpose of this article is to provide examples of new approaches to teaching and learning, those which use some of the best available curriculum and educational technologies. We believe the strategies employed by participants in Lone Star 2000, our K-12/higher education partnership, address the national debate over education's problems and inherent criticisms.

We think new hope is offered by newly available solutions to some of the problems confronting America's schools and teacher-education programs. These new approaches provide innovative and effective ways of motivating students and teachers to do their best every day. At the same time, these approaches provide opportunities for educational accountability -- by assessing and documenting student achievement through student and teacher portfolios.

* Lone Star 2000 Project

For a third year, IBM Corp., the University of North Florida (UNF) and the Duval County Public School District engaged in a project to bring new educational technologies to selected classrooms within the district. In the 1996 spring semester, ten teachers and ten University of North Florida interns participated in the Lone Star 2000 Project.

At the Lone Star Elementary School in Jacksonville, Florida, three interns were assigned to first-grade teachers, one to a second-grade teacher, and two interns to fifth-grade teachers. At the Fletcher Middle School in Jacksonville Beach, four interns were assigned to four social studies teachers. Three UNF faculty members served as intern supervisors for the project.

In January and February the teachers and interns were trained by a specially selected teacher. Paula McAllister, a Duval County teacher on special assignment with IBM, provided three days of training on IBM products. This covered PC hardware and selected IBM courseware: Teaching and Learning with Computers (TLC), IBM's approach to instruction; and, LinkWay Live!, an IBM multimedia authoring system. Training included handson instruction in using computers, a largescreen projection device, CD-ROMs and selected, curriculum-based courseware.

Teachers and interns learned to use LinkWay Live! to produce electronic portfolios with text, graphics and sound to demonstrate their technology skills and display examples of the portfolio's products they assisted their students in creating. The focus throughout the training, and the project, was on passing the technology skills and experiences on to the students as quickly as possible.

UNF faculty and directing teachers at the school sites guided interns in using the technologies, making connections to selected curriculum and instruction. The two school principals and the educational technology specialist at the middle school actively supported the project.

* Project Goals

Some specific goals of the Lone Star 2000 Project were to:

1. Build a community of learners that affects real change in teaching and learning outcomes.

2. Help create exemplary classrooms that make educational technologies available to students. …

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