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Monterey Ridge in the news!

 Inspiring the digital natives with Activexpression

February 2nd, 2009 Posted in Assessment and Learning, Expression, Liam O'Marah, Your Stories

To coincide with the Activexpression feature currently on Planet, I took time out to catch up with an Activexpression enthusiast, Lynne Harvey, a fourth grade teacher from Monterey Ridge Elementary School in San Diegeo, California.

Lynne’s blog article is a true testament to her desire to involve all her pupils in her lessons, all of the time, and to positively embrace new technology, whilst inspiring others.

Here’s Lynne’s story:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” ~ Authur C. Clarke

I recognized the “magic” the first time I saw an Activboard and an Activexpression Learner Response System in action, and I didn’t need a sales pitch to convince me I wanted, and needed, to add them to my instructional tool bag. Watching a demonstration of the equipment at a technology expo in my school district about two years ago, I immediately realized their combined capabilities were nothing short of, as Arthur Clarke describes, ‘magic.’

Of course, acquiring this new magic wasn’t easy. Activboards were just hitting the market in California and my district had only a handful that were installed and being used in classrooms, and they were mostly at the secondary level. With the help of a grant I was able to convince my district’s IT department that my elementary school site needed to pilot this new ‘advanced technology.’ The response systems, then Activotes, were put on the back burner.

Waiting on the Learner Response Systems was the right decision because a short four months later, Activexpression was released. It took some doing, but I was able to find the funding, and was one of the first of two teachers, out of over 1,000 in my district, to get them in to my students’ hands. Teaching and learning in my classroom and across the school has not been the same since!

The dictionary defines Promethean as: daringly original; boldly inventive or creative, inspiring. If you have used any of the Promethean products, you will probably agree - I know I do. The Activboard alone changed my entire approach to instruction. The mundane became exciting and the typical lesson was transformed into a mesmerizing tool for learning. The magical Activexpressions added yet another flare that helped engage and inspire the teaching and learning of my ‘digital natives’ - as today’s students are often referred to.

The generation of students we are all now working with are growing up knowing nothing but the fast paced, constantly changing information age and need an engaging curriculum to develop their skills and knowledge base while motivating and retaining their attention and interest. The Activboard and Activexpressions provide well designed tools to accomplish this, and more

First and foremost, using Activexpressions to respond to questions or exercises gives every child a voice. There is no longer the question of only calling on the select few that have their hand in the air; or having shy students sitting back and not participating; or unmotivated students letting others around them do the work. Every student responds and wants to be engaged and involved!

Since the units look like a cross between a calculator and a cell phone they attract students’ attention and curiosity immediately. From the first day of this school year when my students saw the Activexpressions they wanted to use them for everything. After one or two exposures to what the various buttons did the students caught on very quickly to the how to’s of operating them and have become very adept at using the devices.

“Are we using the Activexpressions today?” is how I am greeted practically every morning. The students don’t care if it is an exercise, quiz, test, opinion gatherer, or discussion generator, so long as the Activexpressions are included at some point during the day.

Having five different modes for students to respond allows for a wide variety of uses and more open-ended questioning. Some of the ways I’ve utilized the Activexpressions are:

  • Beginning a unit of study to see what background knowledge the students have. This can be done with a range of agree-to-disagree on a Likert Scale, or a series of True / False questions about the topic.
  • Gathering opinions about a topic before it is studied, then returning at the end of the unit to see if opinions have changed after instruction and in-depth discussion has been valuable to both the students and myself.
    Checking for understanding as we are moving through a unit. Asking several objective questions about the main concepts with the True / False or Multiple Choice options.
  • True / False and/or Multiple Choice modes can naturally be used at the end of a lesson or unit to measure the retention of skills or knowledge as well. The feature that allows you to save the responses to a spreadsheet allows for instant grading too - a huge time saver.
  • A game-like format flipchart to review for a test is always a popular way to study.
  • Texting a response gives every student the chance to be included, then sorting or graphing the responses allows everyone to see trends in thinking. I have found that one word or short phrase texts work better than sentences.
  • For anything with numbers, there is the numeric response - calculations, math equations, problem solving. For a non-standard math problem it is affirming for the students to categorize all the responses that come to the board, showing the variety of thinking and strategies being used by students.
  • Back-To-School Night in the fall - my entire presentation was done on the Activboard. At the conclusion I had a ‘quiz’ for the parents to participate in so they could use the Activexpressions and see what their students would have access to. The parents all wanted to return to fourth grade the next day.

All this has happened in one short year. This month, 21 new Activboards are being installed on my campus. This occurred because of the interest teachers generated seeing my Activboard in action. I am now training those teachers how to use the software and create engaging flipcharts. Several sets of Activexpressions are also on their way. These ‘magical tools’ have created a cultural shift in how teaching and learning is bring approached on my campus.

As Stewart Brand writes: “Once a new technology rolls over you, if you’re not part of the steamroller, you’re part of the road.” I am thrilled that the magic of Promethean technology has arrived on my campus.

Lynne Harvey, Fourth Grade Teacher
Monterey Ridge Elementary
Poway Unified School District
San Diego, CA., USA

Inspiring the digital natives with Activexpression | ActivEducator Blog from Promethean Planet

STMA honors Tarantino, Miller, Reiss and Campbell - Athletic Turf



Feb 2, 2009
Athletic Turf News

SAN JOSE, CA — The Sports Turf Managers Association (STMA) handed out its Founders Awards during the recent STMA Conference. The awards are named after the four founders of STMA: Dick Ericson, Dr. William H. Daniel, George Toma, and Harry Gill, and each award has separate and distinct judging criteria. Those nominated are evaluated confidentially and independently by the STMA Board of Directors, and winners are not notified until their name is announced during the banquet.

Mike Tarantino from Poway Unified School District in Poway, Calif., received the Dick Ericson award, which is given to a sports turf manager who positively impacts the sports turf industry and exhibits effective team leadership. His nomination referenced his professionalism, team leadership, a commitment to improving the industry, and his contributions to STMA committee service.

Founder Dr. William Daniel set the standard for educator and researcher involvement in the STMA, and created a partnership between sports turf managers and educators and researchers. This award recognizes an individual who has made significant contributions to the sports turf industry through his or her research, teaching or extension outreach. Dr. Grady Miller, North Carolina State University was presented this honor in recognition for his substantial research on sports field management techniques during drought conditions, his accessibility to sports turf managers and his authorship of numerous books and scientific manuscripts dedicated to the profession.

The George Toma Golden Rake Award, which acknowledges an individual’s strong work ethic and job performance, was presented to David Reiss from Wasatch County School District in Heber City, Utah. He is described as an outstanding turf man, an advocate of excellence and accountability in his profession, and his nomination acclaimed his enthusiasm and dedication to providing high quality sports and practice fields.

The Harry C. Gill Memorial Award was presented to former STMA board president Bob Campbell, CSFM, from the University of Tennessee. The Gill Award recognizes an individual for their hard work in the sports turf industry and acknowledges their dedication and service to the STMA. Campbell was honored for his extraordinary commitment to the profession. His sports field management practices have raised the bar for all sports turf managers, and he is lauded as a mentor to many in the industry. His leadership helped to navigate STMA through turbulent times, and it is through his leadership that the association is strong and vibrant today.

STMA honors Tarantino, Miller, Reiss and Campbell - Athletic Turf

Parents not notified when children are out of school? Interesting article (Poway mentioned at the end)

Board places parental notification issue on hold

By Mike A'Dair/TWN Staff Writer

Posted: 01/23/2009 11:59:24 AM PST

The Willits Unified School board has tabled discussion about whether the district should notify parents when their children leave school to obtain confidential medical services until Superintendent of Schools Debra Kubin receives clarification on the issue from the state Department of Education.

The controversy revolves around the question of how to interpret WUSD policy 5113, based on state Education Code section 46010.1. That section of the code states school authorities "may" excuse students from school for confidential medical services without parental consent.

Currently, the district interprets 46010.1 as mandatory. The district's policy states: "At the beginning of each academic year, notifications shall be sent to the parents/guardians of all students, and to all students grades 7 through 12, informing them school authorities may excuse any student from school to obtain confidential medical services without the consent of the student's parent/guardian."

A related district policy states: "Students in grades 7-12 shall not be absent from school without their parents/guardians' knowledge or consent except in cases of medical emergency or confidential medical appointment."

But Robert and Donna Lovato, parents of Willits High School senior Jenna Lovato, are urging the district to change its policy and notify those parents who wish to be informed of their children's medical appointments.

"We are requesting that either the school board reconsider and retract the implementation of this policy, or would develop a Parental Opt-Out a written statement of nonconsent as there are similar clauses in Education Codes 51240,51938 and 49451, since state law is permissive in nature [rather than required]." Donna Lovato wrote in a letter to Kubin.

The policy question has sparked some controversy.

"More is involved here than just birth control and abortion," according to Trustee Cynthia. "There is more than that out there that we are talking about here."

"This is not nice to talk about, but here it is," Kubin says. "I knew an administrator who worked at a large high school, who knew of a girl who was getting molested by her stepfather in the home. The student was seeking mental health services. Now, do you think it would have been right to require parental notification from that stepfather? Do you think he would have given it?"

Linda Davis-Alldritt, a Department of Education school nurse and health consultant, had previously told the Lovatos that section 46010.1 is permissive, an opinion she reaffirmed in a recent conversation with Kubin.

But Davis-Alldritt conceded she was not sure about the interpretation and would seek clarification from Department of Education attorneys.

That clarification is still pending.

"I don't know how long that could take," Kubin says. "It could be weeks. It could be months."

Donna Lovato says she doesn't "understand why the schools are involved in this. The kids can go to medical appointments after school. This would take liability off the schools, and it wouldn't take the authority away from the parents."

In a conversation with The Willits News, Lovato explained why a policy change is so important to her family. "We are teaching our children to be totally honest. So when you act without telling your parents when you do something you need medical treatment for and you don't let your parents know then you are not being totally honest. You are going around your parents. So this school board policy actually undermines what we are teaching our children.

"I don't think the school board has the right to do that.

"If we are teaching our kids something other than complete honesty, then what kind of citizens are we making?"

The issue is made more confusing because legal experts disagree on how to interpret EC 46010.1. Margaret Merchat of School and College Legal Services, the organization that acts as legal counsel for the Willits Unified School District, believes EC 46010.1 must be interpreted as mandatory.

Matthew McReynolds, an attorney with the Pacific Justice Institute of Sacramento, believes the section must be interpreted as permissive. "It is a basic principle of statutory construction that 'may' is permissive, whereas 'shall' is mandatory.

"California law permits schools to excuse students for confidential medical appointments without the approval of a parent or guardian, but does not require schools to do so."

California Attorney General Bill Lockyer agrees section 46010.1 must be interpreted as mandatory. In a 2004 legal opinion he wrote, "If a school district could require parental consent under the terms of Education Code section 46010.1, the statute would no longer concern 'confidential medical services.' By definition, such services are kept confidential from the guardian or parent of the pupil."

According to Lovato, former California Attorney General Dan Lundgren has opined "may" means "may" and school districts, while they may choose to offer excused absences to students for confidential medical services, may also chose not to.

In November, Kubin told the board she had researched the policies of 30 school districts in the state and had been able to find only two districts Poway Unified School District and San Diego Unified that interpreted 46010.1 as permissive.

On January 14, the Lovatos came back with copies of board policies from 12 more school districts in California that interpret 46010.1 as permissive.

Board places parental notification issue on hold - The Willits News