Palm Inc. and SRI International recently awarded the first round of grants for the Palm Education Pioneer program. These 15 winners from around the United States represent projects in a variety of grade levels and academic programs.
The PEP grant program gives Palm handheld computers to K-12 teachers and their students so they can explore new ways to teach and learn. Palm is teaming with SRI International's Center for Technology in Learning (CTL), a world-renowned independent research organization within SRI focused on design, evaluation and implementation of educational technologies. CTL is administering the program as well as evaluating the uses, experiences and effectiveness of Palms in K-12 teaching and learning. The research results will add to the knowledge of "best practices" for the entire learning community.
"It's important to implement the PEP program from the elementary level up through high school because there'll be different things happening on each level and different uses for handhelds," says Phil Vahey, Ph.D., a research scientist at SRI and project manager for the program.
To be eligible for a grant, educators must incorporate the use of Palms into their lessons in the classroom or outside the school grounds. They are required to provide descriptions of learning goals, curriculum activities and evaluation components. Activities should reveal the benefits for students and teachers in using the handheld computers compared with another technology.
"We required Round I awardees to have some kind of collaboration with an external organization, such as a school of education or a local museum, so that they would have additional support," Vahey says.
A few grants winners
Here is a sampling of some the Round I awardees. Many of them are working on scientific and mathematical projects. According to Martha Rolley, Ed.D., K-12 marketing director for Palm, "There are some powerful Palm solutions in math and science right now, and consequently, there's a lot of excitement in these areas. These new tools have enabled teachers to bring the scientific process to a level of personal interaction where all students can be engaged in real-time data gathering and analysis."
As you'll see, however, teachers and students are also working with Palms for art, writing, special education and classroom management projects.
Creative art and science projects
Craig Hinshaw is an art specialist for The Lamphere Schools in Madison Heights, Mich., and he has created a multi-disciplinary project for fifth graders using Palm handheld computers.
Using a paint-and-sketch software program, students will use their Palms as a canvas to draw trees and leaves at the Madison Heights Nature Center. A naturalist will then beam them information on their chosen trees. Back at school, the students will synchronize their drawings with a desktop computer and use electronic pens to enhance them. They will use this artwork for either a mural or screen-printed T-shirts. "When the students first received the Palms, Mr. Hinshaw introduced them to the graffiti alphabet by telling them it was like a secret code," says Rita Lewis, special projects manager for the district. "By the end of the lesson, the fifth graders were writing and beaming notes to each other. Pretty soon, these kids will be teaching us how to use the Palms."
Supporting the transition to junior high school
Bonnie Bauer is a special projects teacher at St. Vincent Ferrer Middle School, a Catholic, K-8 institution with 230 students in Cincinnati. Bauer also teaches at the University of Cincinnati School of Education, which is the research partner for the grant project. She received Palm IIIxe's for her 6th grade class. "She and another teacher are using the Palms to support students as they transition from elementary to junior high school.
Students are using Palms to take more responsibility for their own learning in language, math and science classes, and to manage their own time and assignments. …