Thursday, October 30, 2008

Meeting: Mark Supal (MMSTC / Rnewable Energy Institute)

Meeting date: Friday, October 31, 2008 5:45AM (Burger King)


Review: Letter of Intent and Our Response

Determine: Programatic Design Elements (intellectual buy-in)
  • Student-Centric
  • Project-Based
  • Multidisciplinary Inquiry and Team-Based Explorations

E-mail Notes (Dave Walsh)

Traditionally, when developing a business partner, I present to our Board the answers to two important partnership questions:
1. By forming this partnership, what benefits can the business partner offer Warren Consolidated Schools?
2. By forming this partnership, what benefits can the business receive by working with Warren Consolidated Schools?
I was hoping that you might provide some thoughts on these two questions as I prepare to review this partnership with our Board of Education on November 5th.
Here are some examples - Southern Exposure can provide: expertise and assistance in developing K-12 curriculum. Southern Exposure could provide expertise with guest speakers or have contacts of individuals who can ask as guest speakers, Southern Exposure can assist in the development of grant opportunities, Southern Exposure can provide additional contacts in the area of renewable energy, which would assist the district. Southern Exposure can work directly with school clubs regarding renewable energy education and opportunities, etc.
Warren Consolidated Schools can provide an educational setting for collecting data regarding renewable energy. Warren Consolidated Schools can provide tours to other districts and agencies interested in our renewable energy program. Warren Consolidated Schools can prepare an educated work force for future employment in the field of renewable energy. Warren Consolidated Schools can be a test site in the development of new products

Southern Exposure endeavors to support the WCS Renewable Energy Institute and will gladly serve and faciliate the creation of the above mentioned initiatives as well as actively solicit addtional business, industry and government partners to form a substanial base of "green business" expertise from which to grow dynamic real-world relationships on behalf of the students, teachers and citizens of the Warren Consolidated Schools district.

Warren Consolidated Schools (Letter of Intent)

Meeting Warren Consolidated Schools (Advisory Council)

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

INFORMS our UNDERSTANDING (Model the Practice)

Image links to the Video: Sir Ken Robinson on the Power of the Imaginative Mind
Sir Ken Robinson on stage talking.


Published Online: October 16, 2008
Published in Print: October 20, 2008



'Green technology' is fast becoming part of a school tech leader's lexicon. It's being incorporated into everything from saving paper to building new high schools.

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In California, schools are downloading satellite data to predict the weather and better control how much water they use to maintain their fields and other outdoor landscaping. In Georgia, a district is selling its old computers to a recycler as long as that company agrees to refurbish and resell them cheaply in the community. And in one district in Colorado, school computers are put in “hibernation” every evening to cut down on energy consumption and costs.

Schools around the country are tapping new technology to be more environmentally friendly, sometimes saving money in the long run, and showing students how to take a leadership role in “green” initiatives.

“A few years ago, when you mentioned green techniques in schools, people would say, ‘It’s too expensive; it’s not practical,’?” says Ying Wang, the program manager for the Collaborative for High Performance Schools’ new-facilities program in the 708,000-student Los Angeles Unified School District. “Now, it’s quite a movement.”

Programs such as the collaborative, or CHPS, that provide criteria and methods for energy savings and others that rate the “green friendliness” of computer products help schools in their eco-friendly efforts.

For example, the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, or EPEAT, an environmental-rating system managed by the Green Electronics Council, rates computer products on 51 criteria. The standards measure a host of factors, including energy efficiency, the presence of hazardous substances (such as mercury and lead), the extent of a product’s recyclability, and the amount of recycled materials a product contains.


1. Consider a wide range of areas for green-computing approaches, including heating and cooling of schools, eliminating packing materials for large computer shipments, and using recycled computer parts.

2. When making a technology purchase, check the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool, or EPEAT, for products and companies that have a high "green" rating.

3. Before starting school construction projects —such as building new facilities or renovating old ones— incorporate green efforts by checking with the Collaborative for High Performance Schools or CHPS, which provides criteria and methods for energy savings.

4. Sell older district computers to a recycling company that agrees to upgrade and resell them at a discount to the community.

5. Institute centralized programs to put PCs across the district into "hibernation mode" in the evenings and on weekends.

6. School districts often use too much air conditioning to keep the temperature cooler in rooms housing computer data centers. Consult an expert to determine the ideal temperature for data centers.

For more tips on green technology use, consult the following organizations:

Collaborative for High Performance Schools

Consortium for School Networking

Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT)

The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)

The Portland, Ore.-based council provides a bronze, silver, or gold seal to manufacturers, says Sarah D. O’Brien, the EPEAT outreach director. It’s been two years since the rating system went into place, and “we’ve seen manufacturers continually competing to get a few more criteria,” she says. “It has created this whole market driver for the manufacturer. A few years ago, people weren’t engaged in this.”

O’Brien says it often doesn’t cost more to buy EPEAT-rated computers. “Schools can obtain the environmental benefits without a whole revolution in their purchasing,” she says.

Schools can also take more basic steps when it comes to computer purchasing to be a bit more green, says Bailey F. Mitchell, the chief of technology and information for the 32,000-student Forsyth County school district in Cumming, Ga. When the district buys a typical order of 5,000 computers, it’s left with mounds of cardboard and plastic foam when the machines are unpacked. Mitchell says he’s spent years pushing his equipment provider not to package the computers individually.

“You unpack a third of 5,000 computers, and you’ve filled up three dumpsters with boxes and packing material,” he says.

Recently, Mitchell persuaded the provider to pack the computers 12 to a box.

In addition, Mitchell says, when it’s time for computers to be replaced, the district sells them to a recycler at minimal cost. For example, the recycler has sold 3-year-old district computers with 17-inch monitors for $110 to local residents, he says.

Payback on Investment

Other green-technology efforts are aimed at energy efficiency.

In the 24,000-student Poudre school system in Fort Collins, Colo., Stu Reeve, the district’s energy manager, says simple adjustments are saving significant money.

The technology department has instituted a centralized signal putting most of the 8,000 district computers into hibernation mode at 6 p.m., he says. If someone is still working on a computer, he or she can opt out of hibernation simply by pressing a button. Reeve says the move is saving $50,000 a year in energy costs.

In addition, Reeve worked with the tech department on a compromise for air temperature in IT rooms where machines are humming but people rarely work. Thermostats at data centers are now set at 85 degrees instead of 70.

Wang, of the Los Angeles schools, says all of the 40 to 50 new school buildings planned in the district in the coming years are set to comply with all the CHPS criteria. Eighty fairly new schools already comply with many of the criteria, she says.

For heating and air conditioning needs, the centrally controlled HVAC system in new schools uses an economizer adjusting indoor temperature based on outdoor temperature. So if there’s an unseasonably warm day in the middle of winter, the system will use less power.

In addition, carbon dioxide monitors detect how crowded a room is and use less ventilation when a room is empty, light sensors turn lights off when there’s enough natural light, and outdoor sprinkler systems tap into satellite data to determine if there’s been a major rainstorm and watering isn’t needed.

By using all those green tactics, schools are saving about 30 percent on their energy costs, Wang estimates, though many of the schools are new and not much hard information is available.

In Virginia, the 10,500-student Alexandria school district used guidelines from a program called Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (or LEED), similar to the CHPS program, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, to design a new building for its T.C. Williams High School.

In addition to a 450,000-gallon cistern to collect water runoff used to flush school toilets and a white roof to minimize heat absorption, sensors collect all the school’s energy-use information, according to Bryna C. Dunn, the vice president and director of environmental planning and research at Mosely Architects, based in Richmond, Va., which designed the building. It opened for the 2007-08 school year, and she says cost savings are “hard to quantify,” although she estimates utility bills are about 30 percent less than if the school had been built to typical Virginia codes.

But with energy-efficient technology, she says, “you can get payback on your investment in three to five years.”

Advances in computer technology are also contributing to energy efficiency.

NComputing, a Redwood City, Calif.-based company, uses “virtualization” technology to run large numbers of computers from a single PC. Carsten Puls, the company’s vice president of strategic marketing, says his company installs its technology on a standard PC as a host, and divides up the resources into multiple accounts. The result? More energy efficiency. ("IT Experts Turn to 'Virtualization' As a Money-Saving Approach," this issue.)

Leading by Example

The tilt to “green” computing is accelerating, and not only because of economics. Educators believe that if they’re teaching students about being environmentally friendly, schools should practice what they preach.

“It’s a big national crisis,” says the Consortium for School Networking’s Richard S. Kaestner, referring to national concerns over global warming and energy consumption.

“It’s on everybody’s mind, and people look to the school district to be a good community citizen,” says Kaestner, the project manager for the Washington-based CoSN’s leadership initiative aimed at green computing. “I think it’s natural that the school districts pick this up and show a leadership role.”

The group’s initiative was set to launch in October.

But Kaestner also says financial stresses are prompting schools to look for new ways to save money. “This is not a good budget year coming up, and saving energy means saving money,” he says.

New CoSN guidelines will promote methods to seek out green products and dispose of technology in an environmentally friendly manner, and suggest ways to conserve energy and develop techniques for using technology to save on printing and travel costs. CoSN will provide short-term and long-term tips for school districts.

Schools and companies are leading by example.

At T.C. Williams High in Virginia, all the information collected by sensors—on electricity use, water use, the level of heat the roof is reflecting—will now be crunched and displayed daily on a school computer “dashboard” featured on a flat-screen monitor in the student common area.

The information will also be incorporated into school lesson plans, says Dunn of Mosely Architects.

“They’re going to use it as a teaching tool and a model of green design,” Dunn says. “The students will be studying their own surroundings.”

‘Enormous Opportunity’

Private companies are joining the effort, too.

Lutron Electronics Co., a Coopersburg, Pa.-based lighting company, makes energy-efficient lights with sensors that adapt to the amount of daylight coming into a setting and the number of people in a room. Steve Beede, market-development manager for Lutron, estimates that the company’s products save schools at least 50 percent compared with the energy costs of traditional lighting. The company has developed teaching ideas using portable energy meters to explain how the technology works and make comparisons with traditional lighting methods.

“There’s an enormous opportunity to take these real-world situations and use technology that students can see and interact with,” Beede says. “It’s kind of like sneaking vegetables into their cookies.”

David Vernier, the founder of Vernier Software & Technology, based in Beaverton, Ore., says he decided to use his company’s solar panels to help students tap into ideas about alternative energy as well as science and math.

Vernier, whose company makes scientific sensors and other equipment used by schools, outfitted the two types of solar panels on his company’s building with sensors that calculate how many watts of energy are being produced by the panels. On the Vernier Web site, students can look at wattage output and time of day, check the weather from a roof video camera, and compare the solar panels. Lesson ideas for teachers are included.

“I thought, ‘Lots of kids are interested in alternative energy, and there are probably lots of kids doing projects on solar energy,’?” Vernier says. “Now they can see it in the real world.”

Monday, October 27, 2008

Deep Understanding by Design

Powerful Learning: Studies Show Deep Understanding Derives from Collaborative Methods

Cooperative learning and inquiry-based teaching yield big dividends in the classroom. And now we have the research to prove it.

by Brigid Barron
Linda Darling-Hammond
October 8, 2008

Illustration of kids and teacher looking at a T Rex skeleton in a museum.
Credit: Thomas Reis

Today's students will enter a job market that values skills and abilities far different from the traditional workplace talents that so ably served their parents and grandparents. They must be able to crisply collect, synthesize, and analyze information, then conduct targeted research and work with others to employ that newfound knowledge. In essence, students must learn how to learn, while responding to endlessly changing technologies and social, economic, and global conditions.

But what types of teaching and learning will develop these skills? And, just as important, do studies exist that support their use?

A growing body of research demonstrates that students learn more deeply if they have engaged in activities that require applying classroom-gathered knowledge to real-world problems. Like the old adage states, "Tell me and I forget, show me and I remember, involve me and I understand."

Research shows that such inquiry-based teaching is not so much about seeking the right answer but about developing inquiring minds, and it can yield significant benefits. For example, in the 1995 School Restructuring Study, conducted at the Center on Organization and Restructuring of Schools by Fred Newmann and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin, 2,128 students in twenty-three schools were found to have significantly higher achievement on challenging tasks when they were taught with inquiry-based teaching, showing that involvement leads to understanding. These practices were found to have a more significant impact on student performance than any other variable, including student background and prior achievement.

Similarly, studies also show the widespread benefits of cooperative learning, in which small teams of students use a variety of activities to more deeply understand a subject. Each member is responsible not only for learning what is taught but also for helping his or her teammates learn, so the group become a supportive learning environment.

What follows is a summary of the key research findings for both inquiry-based and cooperative learning. First, let's look at three inquiry-based approaches: project learning (also called project-based learning), problem-based learning, and design-based instruction.

Project-Based Pathways

Project learning involves completing complex tasks that result in a realistic product or presentation to an audience. "A Review of Research on Project-Based Learning," prepared by researcher John Thomas for the Autodesk Foundation, identified five key components of effective project learning:

  • Centrality to the curriculum
  • Driving questions that lead students to encounter central concepts
  • Investigations that involve inquiry and knowledge building
  • Processes that are student driven, rather than teacher driven
  • Authentic problems that people care about in the real world

Research on project learning found that student gains in factual learning are equivalent or superior to those of students in more traditional forms of classroom instruction. The goals of project learning, however, aim to take learning one step further by enabling students to transfer their learning to new kinds of situations, illustrated in three studies:

  1. In a 1998 study by H.G. Shepherd, fourth and fifth graders completed a nine-week project to define and find solutions related to housing shortages in several countries. In comparison to the control group, the project-learning students scored significantly higher on a critical-thinking test and demonstrated increased confidence in their learning.

  2. A more ambitious, longitudinal comparative study by Jo Boaler and colleagues in England in 1997 and 1998 followed students over three years in two schools similar in student achievement and income levels. The traditional school featured teacher-directed whole-class instruction organized around texts, workbooks, and frequent tests in tracked classrooms. Instruction in the other school used open-ended projects in heterogeneous classrooms.

    The study found that although students had comparable learning gains on basic mathematics procedures, significantly more project-learning students passed the National Exam in year three than those in the traditional school. Although students in the traditional school "thought that mathematical success rested on being able to remember and use rules," according to the study, the project-learning students developed more flexible and useful mathematical knowledge.

  3. A third study, in 2000, on the impact of multimedia projects on student learning, showed similar gains. Students in the Challenge 2000 Multimedia Project [4], in California's Silicon Valley, developed a brochure informing school officials about problems homeless students face. The students in the multimedia program earned higher scores than a comparison group on content mastery, sensitivity to audience, and coherent design. They performed equally well on standardized test scores of basic skills.

Other short-term, comparative studies demonstrated benefits from project learning, such as increases in the ability to define problems, reason with clear arguments, and plan projects. Additional research has documented improvements in motivation, attitude toward learning, and work habits. Students who struggle in traditional instructional settings have often excelled when working on a project, which better matches their learning style or preference for collaboration.

Students as Problem Solvers

Problem-based-learning approaches are a close cousin of project learning, in which students use complex problems and cases to actively build their knowledge. Much of the research for this approach comes from medical education. Medical students are given a patient profile, history, and symptoms; groups of students generate a diagnosis, conduct research, and perform diagnostic tests to identify causes of the pain or illness. Meta-analyses of multiple studies have found that medical students in problem-based curricula score higher on clinical problem solving and performance.

Use of problem-based cases in teacher education has helped student teachers apply theory and practical knowledge to school contexts and classroom dilemmas; these cases, for example, have enabled teachers to take alternative perspectives to better appreciate cultural diversity.

Studies of problem-based learning suggest that it is comparable, though not always superior, to more traditional instruction in teaching facts and information. However, this approach has been found to be better in supporting flexible problem solving, reasoning skills, and generating accurate hypotheses and coherent explanations.

Learning Through Design

Design-based instruction is based on the premise that children learn deeply when they create products that require understanding and application of knowledge. Design activity involves stages of revisions as students create, assess, and redesign their products. The work often requires collaboration and specific roles for individual students, enabling them to become experts in a particular area.

Illustration of a girl smiling, holding a book.
Credit: Thomas Reis

Design-based approaches can be found across many disciplines, including science, technology, art, engineering, and architecture. Design competitions for students include the FIRST [5] robotics competitions and Thinkquest [6], for which student teams design and build Web sites on topics including art, astronomy, computer programming, foster care, and mental health.

Thinkquest teams are mentored by a teacher who gives general guidance throughout the design process, leaving the specific creative and technical work to the students. Teams offer and receive feedback during a peer review of the initial submissions and use this information to revise their work. To date, more than 30,000 students have created more than 7,000 Web sites [7] through this competition.

Few studies have used a control group to evaluate the impact of the learning-by-design model, but in a 2000 study by researchers C.E. Hmelo, D.L Holton, and J.L. Kolodner, sixth-grade students designed a set of artificial lungs and built a partially working model of the respiratory system. The learning-by-design students viewed the respiratory system more systemically and understood more about the structures and functions of the system than the control group.

Hmelo and colleagues argued that design challenges need to be carefully planned, and they emphasized the importance of dynamic feedback. They also determined that teachers working on design projects must pay particular attention to finding a balance between students' work on design activities and reflection on what they are learning; that balance allows teachers to guide students' progress, especially in recognizing irrelevant aspects of their research that may take them on unproductive tangents, and in remaining focused on the whole project rather than simply on its completion.

Shifting Ideas, Shifting Roles

A significant challenge to implementing inquiry approaches is the capacity and skill of teachers to undertake this more complex form of teaching. Teachers may think of project learning or problem-based teaching as unstructured and may fail to provide students with proper support and assessment as projects unfold.

When students have no prior experience with inquiry learning, they can have difficulty generating meaningful driving questions and logical arguments and may lack background knowledge to make sense of the inquiry. Students can neglect to use informational resources unless explicitly prompted. They can find it hard to work together, manage their time, and sustain motivation in the face of setbacks or confusion.

One of the principal challenges for teachers, then, is to learn how to juggle a host of new responsibilities -- from carving out the time needed for extended inquiry to developing new classroom-management techniques. They must also be able to illuminate key concepts, balance direct instruction with inquiry teaching, facilitate learning among groups, and develop assessments to guide the learning process. That's a tall order for even the most experienced teacher.

To address these problems, Alice D. Gertzman and Janet L. Kolodner, of the Georgia Institute of Technology, introduced the concept of a design diary in 1996 to support eighth-grade science students in creating a solution for coastal erosion on a specific island off the coast of Georgia. Students had access to stream tables, as well as resources on videotape and the Internet.

In a first study conducted by Gertzman and Kolodner, learning outcomes were disappointing but instructive: The researchers noted that the teacher missed many opportunities to advance learning because she could not listen to all small-group discussions and decided not to have whole-group discussions. They also noted that the students needed more specific prompts for justifying design decisions.

In a second study, the same researchers designed a broader system of tools that greatly improved the learning outcomes. These tools included more structured diary prompts asking for design explanations and the use of whole-class discussions at strategic moments. They also required students to publicly defend their designs earlier in the process. Requiring students to track and defend their thinking focused them on learning and connecting concepts in their design work.

Talented Teams

Inquiry-based learning often involves students working in pairs or groups. Cooperative small-group learning -- that is, students working together in a group small enough that everyone can participate on a collective task -- has been the subject of hundreds of studies. All the research arrives at the same conclusion: There are significant benefits for students who work together on learning activities.

In one comparison by Zhining Qin, David Johnson, and Roger Johnson, of four types of categories for problems presented to individuals and cooperative teams, researchers found that teams outperformed individuals on all types and across all ages. Results varied by how well defined the problems were (a single right answer versus open-ended solutions, such as writing a story) and how much they relied on language. Several experimental studies have shown that groups outperform individuals on learning tasks and that individuals who work in groups do better on later individual assessments.

Cooperative group work benefits students in social and behavioral areas as well, including improvement in student self-concept, social interaction, time on task, and positive feelings toward peers. Researchers say these social and self-concept measures were related to academic outcomes and that low-income students, urban students, and minority students benefited even more from cooperative group work, a finding repeated over several decades.

But effective cooperative learning can be difficult to implement. Researchers identify at least three major challenges: developing group structures to help individuals work together, creating tasks that support useful cooperative work, and introducing discussion strategies that support rich learning.

Productive Collaboration

A great deal of work has been done to specify the kinds of tasks, accountability, and roles that help students collaborate well. In a summary of forty years of research on cooperative learning, Roger and David Johnson, at the University of Minnesota, identified five important elements of cooperation across multiple classroom models:

  • Positive interdependence
  • Individual accountability
  • Structures that promote face-to-face interaction
  • Social skills
  • Group processing

Cooperative-learning approaches range from simply asking students to help one another complete individually assigned problem sets to having students collectively define projects and generate a product that reflects the work of the entire group. Many approaches fall between these two extremes.

Illustration of a girl laughing.
Credit: Thomas Reis

In successful group learning, teachers pay careful attention to the work process and interaction among students. As Johns Hopkins University's Robert Slavin argues, "It is not enough to simply tell students to work together. They must have a reason to take one another's achievement seriously." Slavin developed a model that focuses on external motivators, such as rewards and individual accountability established by the teacher. He found that group tasks with individual accountability produce stronger learning outcomes.

Stanford University's Elizabeth Cohen reviewed research on productive small groups, focusing on internal group interaction around tasks. She and her colleagues developed Complex Instruction [8], one of the best-known approaches, which uses carefully designed activities requiring diverse talents and interdependence among group members. Teachers pay attention to unequal participation, a frequent result of status differences among peers, and are given strategies to bolster the status of infrequent contributors. Roles are assigned to encourage equal participation, such as recorder, reporter, materials manager, resource manager, communication facilitator, and harmonizer.

Studies identified social processes that explain how group work supports individual learning, such as resolving differing perspectives through argument, explaining one's thinking, observing the strategies of others, and listening to explanations.

Good Signs

Evidence shows that inquiry-based, collaborative approaches benefit students in learning important twenty-first-century skills, such as the ability to work in teams, solve complex problems, and apply knowledge from one lesson to others. The research suggests that inquiry-based lessons and meaningful group work can be challenging to implement. They require changes in curriculum, instruction, and assessment practices -- changes that are often new for teachers and students.

Teachers need time and a community to organize sustained project work. Inquiry-based instruction can help teachers deepen their repertoire for connecting with their peers and students in new and meaningful ways. That's powerful teaching and learning -- for students and teachers alike.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

University Research Corridor (URC) Conference October 2007 Report-Out October 2008

An Insightful Primer on the Importance of our NSF ITEST Grant role as liaison to Industry, Business and Government

Create the right skill sets through professional co-op

Is the United States producing the right skills sets in preparing innovators and engineers?

“It’s been a topic of interest for some time,” says Kettering University Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Michael Harris.

The results of a national survey of employers’ ratings of the abilities of recent grads in 12 specific skill areas indicated that employers are not giving high marks to the skills of graduates either. The survey, conducted by Peter D. Hart Research Associates for the American Association of College and Universities, asked employers to rate new hires in the skills that represent a growing consensus regarding the abilities necessary to succeed in the 21st Century workforce.

Harris said of the employers surveyed in the AACU survey, 83 percent said that they would like to see evidence of graduates’ ability to apply college to a “real-world setting” through faculty assessments of internship projects and community-based work. The Accrediting Board for Engineering and Technology has recognized this challenge and has begun to take steps in addressing this need for change. The new ABET standards, known as EC2000, ask programs to set clear educational objectives, to collaborate with industry, to conduct outcomes assessment and feed data from these assessments back into the program for continuous improvement.

“The challenge we face is further increased as a result of the downsizing of manufacturing operations in some of our largest corporations, coupled with the offshore movement of low­-skilled jobs,” Harris said. “This has created a public misconception that technical fields like engineering, and even the sciences, are no longer good areas for intellectual and career pursuit thus contributing to the very real decline in students seeking engineering degrees. Ironically, the same corporations that are downsizing are also experiencing unprecedented shortages of the workforce skills necessary to carry out their product strategies globally.”

Harris said the challenge requires a different educational paradigm and close collaboration between higher education and business and industry.

“Kettering University offers a learning model that combines two distinct learning environments -- an on-campus academic experience and a cooperative education work experience -- where students gain knowledge and skills relevant to working and living in a complex world," Harris said. "A Kettering education combines cutting-edge theory and practical application. The co-op experience is a transformative process through which students become increasingly acclimated and socialized to the corporate environment as they increase their knowledge-base and theoretical understanding of their discipline.”

Co-op education at Kettering, with more than 600 co-op sponsors, provides the opportunity for employers to take part in that transformative process and create the new hires they seek. “We can do so by increasing the cooperation and coalition building between higher education and industry, working together toward a common goal,” Harris added.

To read more about Kettering’s co-op program, visit


Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Summit deals with 20,000 dropouts a year in Michigan

Goal: Ways to keep students in school


LANSING -- As economist Andrew Sum pointed out the wide gap between lifetime earnings for high school dropouts and those who've received a diploma or college degree, he told the audience the numbers should be sobering.

"When you look at these results, you ought to tremble," said Sum, professor of economics and director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

But any of the statistics Sum displayed on an overhead projector during a half-hour talk at Monday's Michigan Dropout Prevention Summit in Lansing could have caused a similar reaction. Dropouts, he said, are more likely to live in poverty, earn substantially lower pay and be incarcerated.

And Michigan, he said, is harder hit by the nation's dropout crisis because of the deindustrialization of the state and the disappearance of the kinds of jobs that years ago allowed dropouts to still make good money.

"Michigan used to have among the most well-paid dropouts," Sum said.

The all-day summit was organized by a cadre of organizations to tackle the state's dropout crisis, in which more than 20,000 high school students abandon their education each year.

The summit is a culmination of about six months of work, including 11 hearings held across the state in which parents, educators, students and others discussed the crisis. The summit goal: come up with solutions that work for keeping kids in school.

Early in the day, Gov. Jennifer Granholm urged participants to become "educational revolutionaries."

"For those kids that drop out, that's a 100% failure. There is no question ... we have to be committed to changing the status quo."

She encouraged participants to be willing to "rewrite the rules for those kids," which the current system is not working for.

But Granholm said she doesn't want to see the state's tough new graduation requirements -- which some say could lead to more dropouts -- softened in response.

Participants heard from a panel of students, most of whom had dropped out of school at one point. Among them was Robert Olivarez, 16, of Lansing, who described growing up with a mother who was in and out of jail. He experimented with drugs and alcohol, dropped out of school and found himself going down the wrong path until he talked to a cousin who had enrolled in the Michigan Youth Challenge Academy, a military-type school in Battle Creek that helps kids get caught up while focusing on infusing discipline and structure in their lives.

Before he entered the program, he had a 0.2 grade point average. Now, his GPA is up to 3.7.

"They helped me get my education," Robert said.

The students were asked, in one word, what youth like them need.

Responses ranged from "respect" to "love" to being noticed.

"Support is key," Robert said.

Contact LORI HIGGINS at 248-351-3694 or

Monday, October 20, 2008


Schools' wind turbines power learning

By Jeff Martin, USA TODAY

SPIRIT LAKE, Iowa — Towering more than 12 stories above a school playground, a pair of wind turbines transform the gusts blowing over the lakes and ridges surrounding this northern Iowa town into power that provides about half of the school district's electrical needs.

Students here can "look right out the back door" to see the giant turbines capture the wind and learn how they can produce power, Spirit Lake schools Superintendent Doug Latham says.

More than 80 schools across the USA have installed some type of wind turbine, says Ian Baring-Gould, senior engineer in a wind technology center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colo.

Now, a program called Wind for Schools is aiming to bring smaller turbines to six states: Colorado, Idaho, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska and South Dakota. The program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America program at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, is the first program to use smaller turbines with a mission of educating students and the community about wind power, Baring-Gould says.

In Faith, S.D., home to one of the schools hoping to build a small wind turbine in the next couple of years, a fierce wind blows across the plains most days.

Angela King, who teaches science in grades 7 to 12 in Faith, believes a turbine will give students learning about wind energy the chance to "see it happening, rather than just reading it in a book."

Much of the first year of the three-year program has been spent identifying schools hoping to participate; South Dakota, for instance, announced its eight school districts over the summer, says Steve Kolbeck, a state public utilities commissioner.

About five schools in Kansas have the turbines, and schools in Montana, Idaho and South Dakota are now preparing sites and will have them installed during this school year, Baring-Gould says.

Now, the goal is to add wind turbines at about five schools per year in each state, for a total of about 30 per year overall, Baring-Gould says.

The turbines will be on towers up to 70 feet tall, and it's projected that they will produce around 3,000 to 4,000 kilowatt hours per year, which is generally enough to provide only a fraction of a school's electric needs, Baring-Gould says.

The price of a wind turbine will be about $6,000 in out-of-pocket costs, according to a Department of Energy project summary.

State grants may provide some of that cost, the summary states, and many project participants donate their time.

Curriculum guides for grade levels kindergarten through 12 are part of the program.

"The curriculum piece that goes with it is just as important as the hardware," says Tom Potter, the Colorado facilitator for Wind for Schools.

The curriculum will help train workers for the booming wind industry — an important aim of the overall program, Baring-Gould says.

"It's a big growth industry, and it's going to get even bigger," says Mick Womersley, an associate professor at Unity College in Unity, Maine.

Wind energy provided less than 1% of the USA's electricity at the end of 2006 but is expected to provide 20% of the nation's electricity by 2030 if the industry's annual growth of 25%-30% continues, according to Colorado Wind for Schools, which coordinates the program there.

Workers knowledgeable about the turbines will be needed, including people who know how to find suitable locations for them, a key skill, Womersley says. Womersley helped students build a turbine at Unity using a rebuilt car part — an alternator — purchased from an auto parts store. It was damaged last spring by gales, so Womersley is having his students shop around for a good turbine this semester. He didn't tell them which one to buy. "We'll get as much teaching out of it as we can," he says.

Martin reports for the Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, S.D.

OUR Model of Practice!

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Critical Thinking, Judgment, Complex Problem Solving, Creative Thinking, Communicaton and Collaboration

Wed, Sep 10, 2008

Report: Teach 21st Century Skills - or U.S. Will Fail

Business Leaders draws link between education, economy. U.S. schools must teach 21st-century skills for the nation to be globally competitive, it says.

From eSchool News staff and wire service reports

A new report urges U.S. schools to create 21st-century environments in classrooms.

Creating a 21st-century education system that prepares students, workers, and citizens to triumph in the global skills race is the central economic competitiveness issue currently facing the United States, according to a new report from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21). The report provides a sobering wake-up call for the nation's civic and education leaders.

The report, called "21st Century Skills, Education, and Competitiveness," argues that for the United States to be globally competitive--and for states to attract growth industries and create jobs--the nation requires a fresh approach to education that recognizes the critical role 21st-century skills play in the workplace.

The report summarizes the challenges and opportunities that, if left unaddressed, would curtail U.S. competitiveness and diminish the nation's standing in the world economy. It urges policy makers and leaders in business, education, and workforce development to use the report as a resource for shaping policies that are attuned to competitive needs.

"We need to recognize that a 21st-century education is the bedrock of competitiveness--the engine, not simply an input, of the economy," the report says.

It notes that the country's economic output has changed dramatically over the past 30 years, and there is no sign this trend will stop.

In 1967, the production of material goods (such as cars and equipment) and the delivery of material services (such as transportation and construction) accounted for nearly 54 percent of the country's economic output. However, by 1997, the development of information products (such as computers) and the delivery of information services (such as financial and broadcast services) accounted for 63 percent of the country's output.

As the world continues to shift from an industrial economy to a service economy driven by information, knowledge, and innovation, cultivating 21st-century skills is vital to economic success, the report states.

While the global economy has been changing, the United States has focused primarily on closing domestic achievement gaps and largely has ignored the growing necessity of graduating students capable of filling emerging job sectors, according to the report.

And while focusing nationally on closing achievement gaps between the lowest and highest performing students has been a legitimate and useful agenda, the report asserts that this goal has skirted the competitive demand for advanced skills.

"Equally important to the domestic achievement gap is the global achievement gap between U.S. students--even top performers--and their international counterparts," said Paige Kuni, worldwide manager of K-12 education for Intel Corp. and P21 chair.

"Quite simply, for the United States to stay economically viable and remain a world leader, the country must make closing all achievement gaps a national priority."

Creating a 21st-century education system that prepares students, workers, and citizens to triumph in the global skills race is the central economic competitiveness issue currently facing the United States, according to a new report from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21). The report provides a sobering wake-up call for the nation's civic and education leaders.

Abroad, developed and competing nations have focused on imparting a different set of skills--21st-century skills--to their graduates, because these skills increasingly power the wealth of nations, the report says. Furthermore, businesses now require workers who can handle more responsibility and contribute more to productivity and innovation. In fact, from 1995 to 2005, the United States lost three million manufacturing jobs, but, during that same time, 17 million service-sector jobs were created. It is critical that the United States graduate students capable of filling those jobs and keeping pace with the change in skill demands, the report warns.

"It has become apparent that there isn't a lack of employees who are technically proficient, but a lack of employees who can adequately communicate and collaborate, innovate, and think critically," said Ken Kay, P21 president.

"At this pivotal moment in our nation's history, legislators and policy makers must focus on the outcomes we know produce graduates capable of competing in the 21st century and forging a viable economic future."

The report says every aspect of the U.S. education system--from pre-kindergarten to postsecondary and adult education, including after-school and teacher preparation programs--"must be aligned to prepare citizens with the 21st-century skills they need to compete."

It encourages U.S. schools to do a better job of teaching and measuring advanced, 21st-century skills beyond simply assessing science, reading, and math. In addition, it outlines several actions at the national, state, and local levels that U.S. leaders must undertake to improve economic results and better prepare citizens to participate in the 21st-century economy.

"All Americans, not just an elite few, need 21st-century skills that will increase their marketability, employability, and readiness for citizenship," the report says. These skills include critical thinking and judgment, complex problem solving, creative thinking, and communication and collaboration.

P21 is a national advocacy group focused on infusing 21st-century skills into education. The report is sponsored by the Ford Motor Company Fund, KnowledgeWorks Foundation, and the National Education Association.

Link: "21st Century Skills, Education, and Competitiveness"

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

TIME and TIDE Wait for No One!



Posted: Tuesday, 30 September 2008 7:51PM

Study: Offshore Wind Turbines Could Pack Punch

If Michigan allowed close to 100,000 wind turbines to be plopped along the shore of the Great Lakes, it would produce enough energy to power the entire Upper Midwest, according to a Michigan State University Land Policy Institute study set to be released today, according to the MIRS News Service.

While acknowledging that such a scenario is absurd, the study "Michigan's Offshore Wind Potential" produced the calculations to show the state what is possible if wind turbines were moved next to and into the Great Lakes.

For example, to use offshore wind energy to satisfy all of Michigan's power demands, the state would need to plop 11,469 wind turbines 10 kilometers offshore at a depth of 60 meters, according to the study, authored by Charles McKeown and Soji Adelaja.

In total, the power potential of offshore wind turbines is 20 times that of onshore power, the report states."This result has the potential to elevate Michigan's wind energy profile nationally and internationally because the resource available is significant," said Adelaja, a John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor and director of the LPI at Michigan State University.

"Michigan is one of few states with the opportunity to generate wind power from its offshore areas."Currently, wind turbines can be built along and in the Great Lakes if a company is willing to follow the Department of Environmental Quality and U.S. Army Corps of Engineer procedures. Nobody has tried it yet.

The preliminary analysis finds that Michigan's portion of the Great Lakes has the capacity to produce 321,936 megawatts of electricity from wind energy, a portion of which could be developed once depth, technology, view and environmental concerns are considered.

Michigan's onshore wind potential was previously estimated at approximately 16,500 megawatts.Michigan uses roughly 29,000 megawatts of electricity a year.

While Michigan is well-endowed in onshore wind resources -- 14th nationwide -- it is even better endowed in offshore wind, the report states. Much of the Great Lakes bottomland is in Michigan's jurisdiction, and nearly 40 percent of the Great Lakes service is in Michigan's boundaries.

The full report can be downloaded from the LPI Web site at .

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