2001-2002 AATE Meeting Archives

May 2002 - Holy Innocents' Episcopal School

The discussion of the May AATE meeting at Holy Innocents' Episcopal School focussed on two items: the technology curriculum at all levels of the school and the school's involvement in the Fulbright Master Teacher Project.

Technology Curriculum
Elementary: The elementary technology program at Holy Innocents' is project-based; students are given projects which increase in complexity and needed use of technology throughout their elementary years. Each student must put together his/her own "portfolio" on CD in order to graduate to the middle school. These "final portfolios" usually include stories, pictures of trips, music, etc.. The "final portfolio" requirement ensures that students gain experience with word processing, taking pictures using the digital camera, manipulating photos/clip art/sound files, and burning information onto a CD.
Middle School: Students are exposed to technology in the middle school through classes that meet at certain times during the week; these classes focus on word processing, spreadsheets, and presentation design (i.e. PowerPoint).
High School: A multimedia design/videography course is offered as an elective for juniors and seniors; the course includes video production and editing techniques both on and off the computer. In addition to this course, the technology department is planning to offer other technology-oriented courses to freshmen and sophomores in the future. Generally, students coming from the elementary and middle school are firmly grounded in the technology skills that they need for the high school; the new high school courses will reinforce and expand these skills as well as get new students starting Holy Innocents' in the high school "up to speed".

Fulbright Master Teacher Project
Holy Innocents' is involved in the Fulbright Master Teacher Project, in which teams of teachers and administrators (three per group) travel to Japan to work with their Japanese counterparts for periods of 6 weeks. During their stay, the groups work together on a collaborative project involving online teaching and videoconferencing. Click here for details about Holy Innocents' involvement in the project.

March 2002 - Paideia School

The discussion of the March AATE meeting at the Paideia School focussed on Paideia's use of technology for administrative as well as educational purposes. Below are the uses of technology that were discussed.

FirstClass Communications Program
Paideia uses the FirstClass program for faculty/staff e-mail, posting news reports from the administration, posting instructions for dealing with technological issues such as troubleshooting printers and accessing school e-mail from home. In addition to faculty/staff e-mail and news services, Paideia has introduced "in-house" e-mail and news services to high school students (grades 9 - 12) only. Each student is given a user name and password and is encouraged to change his/her password once he/she accesses his/her account for the first time. High school students can exchange e-mail with other high school students as well as faculty and staff. Teachers and administrators can send news reports to students in a class or to the high school students body as a whole. Students can log into their FirstClass account from home but cannot send e-mail from their account to the outside world (in compliance with the Children's Internet Protection Act).
Paideia also uses FirstClass to create group calendars. With a group calendar, members of a group (and only those members) can access the calendar and add or delete information. The Technology Department has two group calendars. They have a Technology Calendar which tells where each member is located (at a class, meeting, etc.) at any given time during the school day. They also have an Equipment Calendar which shows who has checked out equipment (still cameras, camcorders, projectors, etc.) at any given time during the week. Other departments which use group calendars include athletics (where coaches can post dates and times for practices and games) and college counseling (where department members can enter dates and times for visits from college representatives).
Recently, Paideia started using FirstClass to create discussion groups related to assembly topics and other issues. The discussion groups operate like message boards on the Internet, except that only administration, faculty, staff, and high school students are allowed to view or post messages.

Auction Software: MaestroSoft
Every spring at Paideia (in late April or May), Paideia hosts an Auction from which the money raised goes toward a Financial Aid program for students. This past summer, some parents involved with the Auction discovered MaestroSoft, a database program which is specifically designed for managing auction items. Although MaestroSoft is designed for single computers, the Paideia technology department (with a tremendous amount of effort) was able to make it work through a Terminal Server setup which allows up to twenty auction parents to access the program from their home and print information from the program to their home printers. The new setup has provided the parents involved in the auction increased ability to enter and organize information related to auction items.

The Paideia Website
The Paideia website (http://www.paideiaschool.org) continues to be an efficient means of communication between the school and the outside community. Information on the Paideia website includes:
  • Paideia News ("What's New" - Updated Weekly)
  • Weekly Calendars and Year-Long Calendars
  • Sports Schedules (Practices and Games)
  • Admissions Information
  • Camp Information
  • Library Information
  • Teacher Pages (Class Syllabi, Assignments, etc.)
  • Information about Technology at Paideia
  • Information about Development
  • Contact Information for Administration, Faculty, and Staff
  • Parent Involvement: Parents can volunteer for classes/activities/events online.
  • Alumni Information: Alumni can enter information about college, jobs, marriages, etc. online.

Early in the development of the Paideia website, the webmaster was responsible for writing all of the material. Responsibility is now shared throughout the school. The librarians have created their own library pages and are responsible for the development and expansion of the Library section. The Assistant to the Athletic Director is in charge of writing and updating the sports schedules. Teachers are in charge of creating and maintaining their syllabi and assignment sheets on the web. The technology department provides the software (Claris Home Page, word processing packages with a Save As HTML feature) for these people and assists them as needed.

Use of FileMaker Pro
The use of the database program FileMaker Pro to manage school records has increased significantly over the past year. FileMaker databases are now used to manage the following:
  • Attendance: At the end of first period, teachers log into a FileMaker database to register who is absent during that period. Teachers can check later in the day to see if any of their students are absent or have signed out for the day.
  • Advisor Reports: Every two weeks, teachers log into a FileMaker database to type reports about their students' progress to each of their students' advisors.
  • End-of-Term Evaluations: At the end of every term, teachers submit grades and detailed descriptions of their students' progress to a FileMaker database. These reports are then printed out and mailed to parents.
  • Parent Involvement Information: Parents submit information via the Paideia website about how they would like to volunteer to help with classes, school activities, and school events. The information is entered directly into a FileMaker database. The Director of School and Parent Relations then organizes the information and submits it to the appropriate people within the school. A special program was used to transform the Web entries into database items, but that method proved unwieldy as it required parents to install a plug-in to their browsers. Research in now being done in the use of a CGI script to achieve the same purpose in a more efficient manner.
  • Alumni Information: Alumni now submit information about themselves via the Paideia website; the information is then imported into a FileMaker database and organized by the Director of Alumni Relations. In order to keep the information secure, each alumnus must obtain a password from the Director of Alumni Relations and enter this password in order to access the information form.

February 2002 - Epstein School

The discussion of the February AATE Meeting focussed on two innovative aspects of the Epstein School's use of technology: the integration of the media specialists and technology specialists into one department for purposes of teacher training and support, and the movement on behalf of the school administration to go totally paperless.

Integration of Media and Technology Programs
The media and technology specialists at the Epstein School work together in one department. Each member of the media/technology department takes on multiple and diverse tasks including teaching, technical support, directing school communications, faculty and parent training, and helping faculty organize project requirements and rubrics.
At Epstein, projects involving technology are assigned at all levels of the school. Projects shown at the meeting included:
  • Kindergarten: A family tree created using Inspiration.
  • First Grade: Stories written using pre-made templates.
  • Second Grade: A structured Internet search using teacher created pages with links to relevant websites.
  • Third Grade: An animated story created using Storybook Weaver; the story includes the students' voices narrating the story in Hebrew.
  • Fifth Grade: A timeline of the Revolutionary War created using Timeliner.
  • Sixth Grade: A HyperStudio presentation of a class trip to Tybee Island to study marine biology.

All teachers at Epstein are required to meet with the media/technology department before planning a project. At the meeting, the department helps the teacher with finding resources (books, magazines, newspapers, software, Internet articles, etc.), necessary training in the required technology (video recording equipment, Inspiration, PowerPoint, etc.), allocating necessary lab space and training time during class for students, and creating rubrics to evaluate content and presentation quality. In addition to the project meetings, teacher training is provided through sessions at faculty meetings and during professional days.
Projects start small at the early grades and increase in complexity as the grade level increases. By taking this approach, both teachers and students are "eased" into more complex technology each year.

Epstein as a "Paperless School"
As a paperless school, all communications within the school community (school newsletter, student courier packs, lunch menus, middle school homework, etc.) take place via a password protected portion of the Epstein School website (http://www.epsteinatlanta.org); notices about website changes and/or additions are provided to parents via e-mail. Communications with the public at large (maps to the school, admissions information, summaries of academic programs, etc.) are located on the same website but are not password protected.
Homework assignments for the middle school are posted by the faculty and uploaded directly to the web server each afternoon at 4:30 pm. Although the homework assignments are posted on the school website, students are still responsible for writing them down in their notebooks when they are assigned in class. Other communications via the school website must undergo a two step process. All documents (other than updates of homework assignments) going to the school website must first be approved by the school administration for content. They then go to the media/technology department, where they are proofread, organized, and posted.
The movement to go paperless at Epstein gave rise to a number of discussion points among the AATE members, including the following:

  • Is it better to require students to write down their homework assignments or require them get their assignments from the school website? Is it necessary to require students to write down their assignments even though they are already posted on the school website? Should there be a uniform policy for "assignment giving" for all teachers, or should each individual teacher be allowed to decide how he/she gives an assignment? A deeper question arises from these: Who has the responsibility to make sure that the students keep up with their assignments, the students themselves, the teachers, or the parents? Is the responsibility shared? If so, to what degree?
  • If a school website has the dual purpose of communicating with the public and communicating within the school community, should the communications within the school community be password protected? If so, how much of a school's website should be password protected and how much of it should be accessible to the public? In other words, how do you strike a balance between public relations and ease of communication within the school?
  • What is the most efficient means to communicate changes on the school's internal website ("intranet") with members of the school community? How can you send mass e-mails to parents without having your school's domain name blocked by ISP's for "spamming"? How do you deal with changes of parents' e-mail addresses? A member mentioned that one school (McCallie in Chattanooga) circumvents both problems by assigning each parent an e-mail address at the school's domain name. All school-related e-mail is sent to the school e-mail address and thus is resident on the school's e-mail server, eliminating the "spamming" issue. If a parent changes his/her home e-mail address, he/she must either check the school e-mail address separately or forward school-based e-mail from the school address to the new home address.

January 2002 - Pinecrest Academy

The discussion of the January AATE Meeting focussed on the how the schools used the Internet as a research tool and on the role of the schools' media specialists and technology specialists in preparing students for projects involving research.

The Epstein School
Epstein recently instituted a school-wide standard for citing sources to ensure that all teachers require the same format for citing a particular source. One Internet tool for citing sources that is highly recommended by the Epstein faculty is Noodle Bib, which is part of Noodle Tools (http://www.noodletools.com). Noodle Bib allows a student to select the type of work that he/she is citing and provides a template for citing that particular work.

Lakeview Academy
At Lakeview Academy, the media specialist is given a schedule of projects that each class plans to do during the school year. The media specialist then gathers materials for each project, puts the materials into a document, and puts the document into the student folders of every student who will be doing that particular project. There are plans in place to put needed materials for projects on the Web.

Mount Vernon Presbyterian School
Teachers at Mount Vernon Presbyterian School are taught the "Big 6" skills (for details, go to http://www.big6.com) for information retrieval and evaluation. The media specialists train the teachers how to incorporate the "Big 6" into their curriculum. At the same time, each student is given a "Big 6" document in his/her folder along with ideas and exercises related to the topic that he/she is researching.

The Paideia School
Throughout all levels at Paideia, the librarians, technology department, and teachers place a large emphasis on training students to use the Internet as a research tool and to evaluate the validity of material on the Internet when doing research. Students are introduced to Internet searches in the early elementary (Google, Ask Jeeves). In the middle elementary, students participate in guided research activities such as Internet scavenger hunts and class pages on the Paideia website with direct links to the topics being researched (click here for examples). In the junior high and high school English classes, the librarian spends a day at the beginning of the year discussing the Paideia Library resource page on the Paideia website (click here to access) and guidelines on evaluating the validity of material on the Internet (click here to view). The students then refer to these documents when doing research and citing sources.

Providence Christian Academy
The Providence website has an extensive Library resource page which is widely used by teachers and students at Providence; click here to view the Providence Library resource page.
Media specialists, technology specialists, and teachers work together in helping students gather resources for their projects. Each teacher meets with a media specialist before assigning a project to survey relevant resources available. Students are required to use an even distribution of resources (books, periodicals, and websites) for their research projects.

November 2001 - Brandon Hall School

Tracey Wilkson from Brandon Hall discussed the capabilities of an application called PLATO. PLATO is a diagnostic tool that Brandon Hall teachers use to assist with student reading. This software provides students with a tutorial, then assesses to find the students reading frustration level. Each time the student logs on with their individual password he/she are placed at his/her reading level. The cost for this type of application is approximately $1,200.00 per license.

Laura Reebals discussed the Citrix Program Neighborhood and the 40 wireless laptops in use at Brandon Hall.

Laura Reebals discussed Brandon Hall's use of Encarta 96.

Round-Table Discussion
A representative from Pace Academy discussed their purchase of Smartboards and two mobile labs.

Mobile lab pricing was discussed.

Wax printers - we talked about how you can get a free wax printer and the guidelines you must follow to obtain the printer. We talked about the pros and cons of such a high priced item and its uses. If people are interested in taking a look, they can access : http://www.freecolorprinter.com or http://www.freecolor.com.

Chanisse Fitchett from Westminster discussed Westminster's teacher proficiency survey and its implications. Handouts were disseminated to all attendees.

The use of Raiser's Edge and Blackbaud was discussed.

A representative from the Epstein School discussed their AUP policy and handouts were disseminated to interested attendees.

Carol Horner discussed and answered questions concerning InTech and the June 30, 2006 deadline for teacher certification.

October 2001 Meeting - Galloway School

The discussion of the October 2001 AATE Meeting was focussed on the use of software and the Internet as a medium of instruction.

The Use of Software
Galloway: The technology department at Galloway motivates each teacher to evaluate which software packages can be used to enhance his/her curricula and the motivation behind his/her choices (Is the program drill/practice? a "thinking game"?, etc.) . One favorite among teachers and the Technology Department is Inspiration, a program that enables students to take ideas and develop them into outlines and/or concept maps. Another favorite for keyboarding is Type to Learn.
Many teachers at Galloway, however, have found websites and Internet subscription databases to be just as useful.
Use of Inspiration at Holy Innocents' and Epstein: The Upper School at Holy Innocents' uses Inspiration extensively for its English and History classes. Epstein has used Inspiration for a project involving looking for a job, in which students outline the responsibilities involved in the jobs that the students research.

Paideia: Paideia uses a wide variety of software in its elementary classes; a very popular set of games at the lower levels is the Humongous Entertainment series (Freddi Fish, Putt-Putt, Pajama Sam, etc.). These games involve solving a mystery and build cognitive skills such as backtracking, finding things, and solving puzzles. Students at these levels also use a variety of reading, math, and keyboarding games.

Inspiration is used widely among the Junior High teachers. Each Junior High homeroom class has political structure involving a Congress and a court system; these classes use Inspiration to outline arguments that students present for their election speeches and class court cases. Junior High science classes use Inspiration to teach concept mapping, a learning tool which helps students understand how pieces of information interconnect to form a whole concept.
A list of recommended software can be found at http://www.paideiaschool.org/tech/software.htm.
Other Software used by AATE Schools: The following software packages were recommended by a variety of schools at the meeting:
  • Geometer's Sketchpad: Used widely in geometry classes at Paideia and Providence. Also used by the Swarthmore Forum.
  • PLATO: Structured, individualized courseware program designed for remediation, used at Brandon Hall.
  • Decisions, Decisions: Published by Tom Snyder, this game creates simulated emergencies in which decision making is critical.

The Use of the Internet

Use of Message Boards at Galloway: The Internet is used widely at Galloway to facilitate interactive learning 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Message boards are used widely by Galloway Upper Learning (high school) teachers to enhance teacher-student interaction and discussion. The teacher takes on the role of "administrator" and moderates the board. The teacher will post a question related to an assignment (i.e., a novel, a scientific research project, etc.), and the students must respond to the teacher and each other. The students must use correct spelling and grammar and must also articulate their points clearly. The experience gained in interacting with the teacher and fellow students via the message board enables them to write better essays and present better arguments during presentations. Patty Nathan, Galloway's Director of Technology, recommends Nicenet (http://www.nicenet.org) for message board use.

Use of Teacher Created Web Pages: A number of AATE schools use teacher-created web pages to relay assignments and other important information about classes. However, there is a wide difference between schools as to how teacher pages are implemented.
At Paideia, teacher-created web pages are accessible directly from the school's web page without a username and password. Since the pages are part of the school's website, they are required to carry the school logo and the title at the top. Each teacher page must follow guidelines established by the Director of Communications. The Director of Communications must approve each teacher page before initial posting and/or before any major changes are made to the page. Examples of teacher-created pages at Paideia can be found at http://www.paideiaschool.org/academics.htm
Pace has an "intranet", which is accessible from their website for those with a username and password. Since the intranet is a local network, teachers have considerable freedom with regard to the style and content of their pages. Examples of teacher-created pages at Pace can be found at http://in.paceacademy.org
At Galloway, teachers write their web pages on a remote server (Examples: http://members.aol.com/TGS7th and http://members.aol.com/JLPScience). At Epstein and Holy Innocents', teachers are provided a pre-established template on which they can create their page. Holy Innocents' recommends Microsoft Front Page for creating basic web pages and Dreamweaver for creating more advanced web pages.

September 2001 - Pace Academy

The discussion of the September 2001 AATE Meeting was focused on the establishment of standards in a K-12 technology curriculum. Issues brought to the table included:
  • What computer skills do you teach at what levels? How do you ensure that everyone has the required computer skills to do a project given at a certain level?
  • How do you integrate computer skills into your curriculum?
  • Should the standards regarding computer skills be enforced at the teacher level or at the administrative level?
  • What role should keyboarding play in a K-12 curriculum?

Below are some of the attending schools' points of view on these issues.

New Atlanta Jewish Community High School
A once-per-week, year-long computer skills class is required of all 9th and 10th grade students. In this class, each student creates his/her own startup company. For the company, the student must create a logo, a letterhead, a press release, a publicity brochure, and a website. Through these exercises, each student learns word processing, graphics, desktop publishing, and web page design.

Pace Academy
Each class at Pace breaks away two days per semester for "skills sessions" which teach the students the computer skills that they will need for a given class. The technology department leads the "skills sessions" but meets with the teachers of each class to determine in advance what they need to teach for that particular class. For example, in a "skills session" for a 7th grade English class, students are required to log into their e-mail account, change their password, download a paragraph from their teacher and correct the formatting, and e-mail the paragraph to a writing buddy as an attachment.

All classes attend the "skills sessions" so that the technology department can ensure that all students have acquired certain skills at a given grade level. Pace believes that the technology department, faculty, and administration all share an important role in setting and maintaining specific, required standards in computer skills at each grade level. The list of basic skills required at each grade level can be found at http://in.paceacademy.org/public/academics/computer2.html.

The Paideia School
Paideia's technology department makes a large effort to show teachers how much technology can help them and provides motivational incentives. One key motivational project during the past two years has involved giving Apple iBooks to faculty members. In exchange for the iBooks, the faculty members are required to submit and execute proposals for two projects which incorporate technology into their classroom lessons. To submit the proposal, the teacher is required to log onto his/her designated folder on one of the school's servers, open and fill out the submission form, and save it in the folder where the Director of Technology can access and review it. The technology department meets with these teachers regularly to check their progress and offer assistance.

Paideia has developed a technology skills list for the elementary school, located at http://www.paideiaschool.org/tech/elem.htm.
The list was developed by classroom teachers, and each classroom teacher has incorporated activities into his/her curriculum to make sure that these standards are being met. Other lists of skills are being developed for Junior High and High School students.
Keyboarding is a regular part of the curriculum starting in the second and third grade classes. The classroom teachers determine when, how often, and how long the students will have keyboarding, and they take their classes to the computer labs to do keyboarding. The only role that the technology department plays in keyboarding is installing and setting up the typing software for classes as needed. The most widely used typing programs are Mavis Beacon, Type To Learn, and Typing Tutor 2000. Although Paideia believes that keyboarding is a useful skill, there is a move afoot at Paideia to deemphasize keyboarding as a regular part of the elementary curriculum. Paideia hopes to eventually have keyboarding offered only as an after-school elective for those who need it. For more information on Paideia's views toward keyboarding, visit the article Keyboarding and Your Child: Keys to Success on the Paideia website.

Paideia introduces students to "cutting edge" technology through month-long "short term" classes in the High School as well as short specialty classes in the Elementary and Junior High. Areas of technology covered include Web Page Design, Photoshop, and Digital Movies (Apple iMovie).

Providence Christian Academy
The administration at Providence requires that each teacher must do a minimum of one project per semester that integrates the use of technology into the his/her class' activities. More details about Providence's views regarding the integration of technology in the K-12 curiculum can be found at http://www.providencechristian.net/technology_curr.htm.

The technology department at Providence teaches their own "InTech"-style classes (the classes, however, cannot yet be counted as state InTech credits). The classes are offered from 3:30 pm until 4:30 pm, and the administration requires that every teacher take the class within 5 years. A schedule of such classes for 01-02 can be found at http://www.providencechristian.net/technology_staff.htm.

Keyboarding is a regular part of the elementary curriculum at Providence, starting in the 4th grade. More information about Providence keyboarding philosophy can be found at http://www.providencechristian.net/keyboarding.htm.

The Providence website has a resource page which is widely used and appreciated by the teachers at Providence. The page is entitled Teaching with the Web which contains websites that are helpful to teachers in all subjects at all levels of the school.