Thursday, May 20, 2010

Customized Education

My article in Government Technology magazine

CUSTOMIZED EDUCATION: Program focused on preparing the future work force builds educational success in New York’s South Bronx one student at a time.
Often described as “urban blight” or a “toxic environment,” the Hunts Point neighborhood in New York City’s Bronx has its share of positive stories. One such example is the GreenFab educational program at Bronx Guild High School, which is designed to foster 21st-century skills in at-risk youth and prepare them for work force readiness in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM)-related fields — primarily “green collar” jobs.

GreenFab evolved as a response to inner city students’ need for instruction that connects with them. The program draws on students’ environmental and economic conditions and problems as raw material from which to create an instructional program — and the staff doesn’t see the school as a technical or job-training institution. “We’re a college prep school that uses real-world experiences to improve academics,” said Bronx Guild High School Co-Director Jeff Palladino. GreenFab impacts kids because it exposes them to STEM subjects through real-world issues, he said. “They help our kids connect academic subject matter to real-life applications, experiment and create things, and solve problems that directly impact them, especially environmental justice issues.”

Work Force Preparation
The program provides numerous opportunities that can be customized to individual needs. Some students are interested in creative technology, and some are interested in environmental work, Palladino said. GreenFab originally was designed as an after-school internship, but Bronx Guild students are in class three days a week and participate in the program two days a week. “We want them to fi nd their passions and run with them,” he said. “For instance, one of my seniors hopes to follow his passion for technology and create robots that will assist people with disabilities, people like returning war veterans who have lost limbs. He wants to get into the biomedical fi eld through this interest.”

Laura Allen, president of Vision Education and Media, a provider of after-school technology workshops that heads up the GreenFab program, said she is struck by Bronx Guild High School’s knowledge of what students need — and that the school’s students aren’t on the same footing as typical middle-class kids.“Bronx Guild really tries, in innovative ways, to piece together a high
school experience that can get these kids well on the road to being productive citizens,”she said.
Bronx Guild High School has an articulated vision of learning through meaningful work, and work force preparation is a major thrust at the school.

Students participate in off-campus internships, which may represent the most meaningful portion of their educational experience. Roughly 80 Bronx Guild students participate in GreenFab internships each year. The student interns report to GreenFab for a special curriculum that includes applied science, engineering and environmental studies with a focus on understanding the urban environment, said Corbett Beder, senior director of research and development at Vision Education and Media..."


Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Best Way to Get Teachers to Make Use of the Internet

Hawker Brownlow, an affiliate of Corwin (SAGE), the publisher of my recent book "Teaching with Author Websites" has uploaded an excerpt in downloadable pdf format. This file includes the bulk of my introduction in which I explain why I am in such awe of this approach to teacher technology integration. Using the wonderful digital resources that the authors of popular print books make available through their enticing and engaging websites is simply the best reason I've come across so far to get teachers inspired by technology!

Over a very long career as a staff developer and then director of technology professional development for the New York City school system, I was involved in efforts that resulted in many, many thousands of teachers adopting Internet-based resources and practices. Among the countless approaches I've seen to getting teachers to make good use of the web, this one is the one that will stick!

Please take a look:

Thursday, May 13, 2010

IN Conversation with Educational Leaders about 21st Century Learning

My interviews with:
Denise Sontag, Director - Reading First Initiative, NYC Public Schools
Nancy Hester, Associate Superintendent (Ret) - Durham Schools, NC
Linda Eller, Professional Development Coordinator - Memphis City Schools, Tennessee
Mark Howard, Educational Technology Specialist - Palm Beach County Schools, Florida
Christina Efird, PD Technology Specialist - Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools, NC
In my role as Journalist for the Center for Digital Education, I was engaged to conduct some very enlightening interviews for HOUGHTON MIFFLIN HARCOURT's learnexchange online resource. This turned out to be a very worthwhile project. The podcasts that resulted from these phone interviews give great insight into the role and worth of focused technology use in some of our nation's largest school districts. Links to the videos/podcast below>>>

Listen to interview with Denise Sontag (click here)

Listen to interview with Nancy Hester (click here)

Listen to interview with Linda Eller (click here)

Listen to the interview with Mark Howard (click here)

Listen to the interview with Christina Efird (click here)

See all of the above and more at the original site>>>>

Sunday, May 02, 2010

We The Students PODCAST

Recently, I was invited by my colleague, Dr. Rose Reissman, to lend support to the Ditmas (middle school) Law Studies program by recording their project "We The Students" and posting it on the web as a podcast (audio post). Helping a community of students and teachers to produce and disseminate content of this richness is a great pleasure. The kids and teachers in this program, by the way, are wonderful!!!

I had painted a picture of how to organize student activities in order to produce a culminating product/performance as a vital podcast in the book I wrote with Kathy King titled "Podcasting for Teachers." It was far more inspiring and enlightening to actually do it for real, though!

The podcast and its blog can be accessed by clicking this link >>> We The Students Podcast Please give it a listen!