Eighth- and ninth-grade students in a Montana school district have been participating in a geocaching project since the start of the school year, in which they use GPS technology and coordinates to place nine geocaches around town. Educators said students received hands-on lessons in geography with the project, funded by a grant from the Montana Association of Geographic Information Professionals.
The breadth of digital resources available to teachers has grown exponentially and the process for curating, sorting and making sense of the content has become increasingly complicated. Enter digital clearinghouses, such as Beyond Textbooks, and other systems being used as "librarians of the digital age." Arizona's Beyond Textbooks, curated by teachers, now includes 20,000 resources and operates in the way an iPod sorts music.
Cathedral City High School in California is undergoing the process of becoming an International Baccalaureate school, the second school in the area to offer the program. The first school, La Quinta High in the Desert Sands Unified School District, has offered IB since 1999 and has seen a boost in student achievement, said principal Donna Salazar. "For us, it impacted the entire culture of the school. IB training is the highest quality of professional development, and the pedagogy teachers learned through IB have trickled down to all students," she said.
The technology tools that can help students do their schoolwork can also be distracting, with the buzzing of smartphones and the Internet drawing their attention away from academics. Educators say technology has changed the way students learn and can take a toll on achievement, raising the importance of maintaining student engagement in the classroom as well as teaching young people how and when to use devices.
Colorado will phase in new graduation requirements over the next seven years that are focused more on students' competency than so-called "seat time" requirements. Under the vote by the state board of education on Wednesday, students will be able to show competency in four core subjects through various avenues, including standardized testing and Advanced Placement exams.