Ed Tech Leader of the Year 2003

12/15/2003 5:00:00 AM

By Michael Milone

Every year we identify a special group of educators who we believe are the standard-bearers when it comes to cutting-edge, technology-infused practices. This year is no exception. From changing an entire school's culture to providing students with new curricular opportunities they wouldn't otherwise have, the national winner and finalists of this year's Ed Tech Leader of the Year contest have significantly improved what's most important in schools: teaching and learning. Here are their stories.

National Winner
The Finalists

Semifinalists

Michael Milone, a contributing editor for Technology & Learning, works with schools, software publishers, and Fortune 500 companies on technology implementation.


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By Michael Milone

National Winner
Stephanie Moore

Director of Instructional Technology
Villa Duchesne/Oak Hill School
St. Louis, Mo.

When Stephanie Moore assumed the position of director of instructional technology at Villa Duchesne/Oak Hill School (www.vdoh.org), a pre-K-12 Catholic school in St. Louis, Mo., her charge was simple: To transform the way it used technology. Previously, the school's hardware and software was underused, staff development was little more than a handout of computer basics, and integration of technology into the curriculum was almost nonexistent. Dr. Sam Sciortino, the head of the school, summarizes how well Moore addressed these shortcomings: "Here we are, a little over a year later and what she has accomplished in the development of technology in our school is truly exceptional."

The strategy Moore used to implement the turn-around is based on five critical elements: the right teacher, the right professional development, the right tools, the right support, and the right leadership. She qualifies these elements with a suggestion that is enormously sensible: "Each school decides their own definition of the word 'right' while understanding certain important issues that relate to classroom technology." In other words, the same technology solution may not be appropriate for all settings.

Her first order of business was to ensure faculty had the support and resources they needed to feel confident about their own abilities to make technology a viable classroom tool. Moore developed a 12-week after-school program that allowed teachers to become proficient in a variety of applications, such as Filamentality and Macromedia Studio MX, in the context of their specific content areas. In addition, Moore met with teachers individually or in small groups at their convenience and assembled a student tech support team to resolve any software or hardware issues that teachers faced.

Once teachers felt confident in their ability to use technology, Moore initiated a program to make wireless computing available to all ninth- and tenth-graders. During the summer before this initiative was launched, she held preparation sessions for faculty, students, and parents to familiarize them with the Tablet PCs they would use during the school year (www.vdoh.org/teachers/edtech/tabletPC.htm). The training paid off, and by the time school started in the fall, everyone was ready to use the new technology for project-based learning that promoted problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.

In addition to Tablet PCs, classrooms at VDOH feature interactive SMART Boards, projectors, digital cameras, scanners, and other productivity hardware. What's missing, to a great extent, is typical education software. According to Moore, "We use Internet resources rather than traditional software. The students will be using the Internet in their future education as well as their careers, so I wanted to help them become as familiar as possible with everything it has to offer." Moore helps teachers identify projects that are consistent with the content area curriculum, school goals, and standards. Her support allows both teachers and students to step out of their comfort zone and take on new challenges.

A colleague has said about Moore that "Stephanie is a woman of action, but more importantly she is a woman who is passionate about learning with technology... I don't believe that I have ever met a more positive and hopeful person." It is endorsements like this, along with the many things she has accomplished in her time at VDOH, that justify our selection of Stephanie Moore as the National Ed Tech Leader of the Year.

Toolbox

Compaq TC1000 Tablet PCs (www.hp.com)

High Plains Regional Education Consortium TrackStar (trackstar.hprtec.org)

Key Curriculum Press Geometer's Sketchpad (www.keypress.com)

Macromedia Studio MX (www.macromedia.com)

Microsoft Office Suite (office.microsoft.com)

SBC Knowledge Network Explorer/Filamentality (www.filamentality.com)

SMART Technologies SMART Boards (www.smarttech.com)

United Learning unitedstreaming (www.unitedlearning.com)

WebQuest (www.webquest.org)

Cross-Cultural Collaboration

Through a partnership she formed with the University of Missouri-Columbia, Moore gained access to the Shadow netWorkspace (sns.twmo.missouri.edu), a Web-based work environment designed to support learning, collaboration, and communication in K-12 schools and higher education institutions. The secure platform provided the venue for a budding relationship between VDOH and an international school in Taipei, Taiwan, allowing teachers and students from both communities an opportunity to upload multimedia presentations, share e-pal letters, and complete collaborative Web-based units.

Continue to Finalist: Douglas Green > > >

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By Michael Milone

Finalists
Douglas Green

Journalism Teacher
Carlsbad Unified School District
Carlsbad, Calif.

One of the most honored television programs in the country has its origins in, of all places, a school district 30 miles north of San Diego. In the early 1990s, Douglas Green developed an after-school program for gifted and talented middle school students in the city of Carlsbad. His goal was to use video production to fine tune students' skills in reading, writing, listening, speaking, and critical viewing.

"The Viking View Show," as the program was called, was a 45-minute news magazine produced each semester. It wasn't long before the program garnered national attention, and was honored with MTV's Rock the Vote Award. In 1996, a student-produced special on motocross racing won a CNN Student Video Journalism Award, the only middle school program to be selected.

More recently, Green was given an opportunity to expand the broadcast journalism class to Carlsbad High School. There, students spend 100 percent of their time in the studio, with advanced students teaching neophytes in what Green calls a "pay-it-forward approach."

When asked how he knows his students are achieving at a high level, Green is frank. "I really wish there were a quantitative means for measuring how language arts-related skills are advanced by participation in a broadcast journalism program, but I haven't been able to figure one out," he says. "Something that my students have been told over and over by professional news anchors who act as mentors is that the key to succeeding in the world of television news is the ability to write well." Students at both the middle school and high school level take this advice seriously. They write their own scripts for both the anchor portion of the programs and the voice-overs for story packages, and they are rigorous about editing their work.

The awards and accolades that the Carlsbad students have received are certainly well deserved, but Green is quick to point out the recognition that is most important to all of them. "Teachers and administrators believe that CHSTV has changed the climate of our local high school...we have been credited with making a major difference in bringing people together," he says.

Toolbox

Apple Final Cut Pro 4.0 (www.apple.com)

Adobe Premiere Pro (www.adobe.com)

AVID XPressDV (avid.com)

Baycoast Group Inteliprompter (www.baycoast.com)

JVC and Canon cameras (www.jvc.com; www.canon.com)

GlobalStreams GlobeCaster (www.globalstreams.com)

Windows Media Server and Encoder (www.microsoft.com)

Xara3D (xara.com)

Real-Time News

CHSTV, short for Carlsbad High School Television, is now in its second year on the air and is the nation's only daily live student broadcast to air worldwide via the Internet (chstv.com). Rather than just reading the day's announcements, students cover local and national news events. The broadcast takes 90 minutes to prepare each morning and is aired live to students and staff in the district. The program is simulcast on the Internet and rebroadcast on the local cable channel each Wednesday evening.

Continue to Finalist: Elizabeth Ross Hubbell > > >

< < < Return to National Winner: Stephanie Moore


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By Michael Milone

Finalists
Elizabeth Ross Hubbell

Teacher/Director of Elementary Education
Montessori School of Denver
Denver, Colo.

The principles of Montessori education might not, at first glance, seem compatible with technology. Elizabeth Ross Hubbell, however, disagrees with this contention. From her point of view, "The philosophies of Montessori education and those of the information age model operate under the umbrella of collaborative learning communities."

As is true of all Montessori teachers, Hubbell is a strong proponent of having students learn by doing. When educational technology reached the point at which it made sense for her to incorporate it into her classroom, she did so. In the past few years, after earning a master's degree in information and learning technologies, Hubbell made technology an even more integral element in her classroom, and she has supported her colleagues at the Montessori School of Denver (www.montessoridenver.org) as they made a similar transition.

Hubbell uses technology to assess student skills, support service learning projects, and enrich the overall classroom experience. An example is a recent study of South America, a project that took almost five months for her early elementary students to complete. Students made a clay model of their favorite rain forest animal, and then incorporated the figures into a claymation movie about the rain forest. The students created their own animal sound effects and composed theme music with the help of their music teacher. The finished product appeared on Denver Community Television.

Another good example of how Montessori learning can be enhanced through technology is a lesson about levers that Hubbell developed. In a typical Montessori classroom, students build prototypes of the three classes of levers and label each part. Students sometimes need a reminder about how to set up the levers, so Hubbell developed an online tutorial to clarify the concepts involved and guide students in their hands-on activity.

Elizabeth Ross Hubbell believes that technology, when applied properly, is a development consistent with the practices Maria Montessori initiated. "If we can create a curriculum that embraces these practices and brings in new ideas and modern interpretations of Montessori's writings," suggests Hubbell, "I think we will be on to something incredible."

Toolbox

Adobe Acrobat (www.adobe.com)

BrainPOP (www.brainpop.com)

Macromedia Studio MX (www.macromedia.com)

Microsoft Movie Maker (www.microsoft.com)

Microsoft PowerPoint (www.microsoft.com)

Sunburst Type to Learn (www.sunburst.com)

Digital Playground

A project that is close to home for Hubbell's students is designing a new playground for the school. The students used the Internet as well as print resources to investigate the possibilities for new equipment. They developed an ideal playground based on new equipment and favorite pieces they wanted to retain, put their findings into a digital slide show, and made a presentation to the school trustee who was coordinating the playground renovation. The activity has since taken the form of a WebQuest (ouray.cudenver.edu/~eaross/playground).

Continue to Finalist: Beverly Knox-Pipes > > >

< < < Return to Finalist: Douglas Green


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By Michael Milone

Finalists
Beverly Knox-Pipes

Assistant Superintendent
Genesee Intermediate School District
Flint, Mich.

There is no more succinct philosophy of educational technology than that of Beverly Knox-Pipes: "Find a connection and build." These few words, however, belie the technology colossus she oversees: The Genesee Network for Education Telecommunications in southeast Michigan is an interactive voice, video, and data network that brings learning opportunities to 22 participating school districts in communities that range from rural to inner city.

Having been a classroom teacher for 16 years, Knox-Pipes understands the challenges teachers and students face every day. After earning a master's degree in education technology in 1987, she set to work building the first fiber-optic video system in Michigan, connecting eight rural high schools for a video-based distance learning program. SITES (Shiawassee Interactive Telecommunications Education System) served as a national model, and laid the groundwork for her current position.

As an assistant superintendent, Knox-Pipes now manages a fiber-optic network available to 180 instructional buildings throughout Genesee County. With a seven-year history of success, GenNET is a well-established system that is a must-visit site for other districts hoping to advance their technology programs. In addition

to everyday instruction and Internet access, GenNET staff coordinates payroll, finance, human resources, student services, and state-mandated reporting for 17 of the member districts. To understand the scope of this mission, consider this: GenNET is the management vehicle for over 8,000 individualized education plans for special education students.

The GenNET network has made video an important part of education for the participating schools. In addition to delivering classes through two-way interactive video, GenNET provides a wide variety of professional development offerings. "We focus a lot on training superintendents and principals so they have a better understanding of how to use technology to impact student achievement," says Knox-Pipes, who works daily with 22 superintendents and other district administrators to ensure the system meets the needs of teachers and students. "If you don't have the support of leadership, you're not going anywhere."

Despite the magnitude of the technology she manages, Beverly Knox-Pipes has never lost sight of her mission. "My job is to listen to what people are saying and help them make connections. I'm not talking technology-I'm talking good instruction," she says.

Toolbox

Blackboard (www.blackboard.com)

Class.com (www.class.com)

JASON Project (www.jasonproject.net)

MacroSystem Casablanca AVIO DVD digital video editor (www.draco.com)

Michigan eLibrary (mel.lib.mi.us)

Michigan Government Television (www.mgtv.org)

Tek Data Systems Web/MAX (www.tekdata.com)

The GenNET Connection

GenNET (www.geneseeisd.org/partnerships/gennet.htm) offers 23 interactive television-based and 144 Web-based courses for high school students from member districts, with subjects ranging from microbiology to AP English. Students taking courses through GenNET's interactive television program have, in particular, taken to American Sign Language-a class well suited for the medium of video and one normally not available in a traditional school setting.

Continue to Semifinalists > > >

< < < Return to Finalist: Elizabeth Ross Hubbell


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By Amy Poftak

Semifinalists

Kudos to the following exceptional semifinalists.

By Amy Poftak

Teachers

Bruce Barber, a technology teacher empowering rural high school students to become community television producers. (Timberland High School, St. Stephen, S.C.)

Beth Geno, whose unique Excel Technology class trains students to troubleshoot school computers and help teachers energize their classroom materials. (Tupelo Middle School, Tupelo, Miss.)

Robert Keddell, go-getter academic enrichment teacher, who in addition to forming partnerships with over 12 organizations, facilitates a computer loan program for low-income families. (Wilde Lake Middle School, Columbia, Md.)

Lisa LaBrake, a high school English teacher leveraging Web and video technologies for student-produced book reports, literary discussions, and real-world writing assignments. (Sweet Home High School, Amherst, N.Y.)

Warren Phillips, a legendary science teacher who has transformed his district's program using project-based learning, music, and video production. (Plymouth Public Schools, Plymouth, Mass.)

Michael Turturice, a social studies teacher who pioneered the use of technology in his school and state, from online grade access to virtual classes on criminal justice. (McClintock High School, Tempe, Ariz.)

Technology Specialists

Susan Bishop, the personification of "doing a lot with little," took a rural school with only three PCs and shaped a viable technology program. (Tremont Elementary School, Tremont, Ill.)

Joe Brennan has made his school's AV Center a focal point for students to create meaningful visual experiences, including videos of their personal immigration stories. (Niles West High School, Skokie, Ill.)

Paul Curtis, who single-handedly designed a set of unique templates and tools that support his school's project-based learning environment. (New Technology High School, Napa, Calif.)

Helen DeWitt, a technology coordinator, professional developer, and adjunct professor whose award-winning Web site serves as the curriculum enrichment hub for her school. (King Middle Grade School, Kankakee, Ill.)

Greg Drake, a results-driven educator whose comprehensive technology program includes digital storytelling, Web-based simulations for scientific inquiry, and much more. (Fayette County Public Schools, Lexington, Ky.)

Brenda Dyck, an enterprising technology integration coach using telecollaboration to connect students from around the world. (Master's Academy and College, Calgary, Alberta, Canada)

James E. Eschenmann, the first and only technology coordinator in his county, overcame an emaciated budget to implement a high-speed infrastructure and significantly improve the student-to-computer ratio. (Harrison County Schools, Clarksburg, W. Va.)

Laurene Johnson, whose grant writing, technology integration, and leadership abilities took a technology-poor middle school from 0 to 60. (Sutherland Middle School, Charlottesville, Va.)

Administrators

Sheryl Abshire, the administrative powerhouse responsible for every one of the 2,000 teachers in her district-not to mention over 90 percent of the principals-receiving technology integration training. (Calcasieu Parish School Board, Lake Charles, La.)

Elizabeth Dalessio, MPF, a tenacious assistant superintendent who worked with legislators and other stakeholders to make the New Jersey Virtual High School a reality. (Monmouth-Ocean Educational Services Commission, Tinton Falls, N.J.)

Gregory Decker, a no-nonsense visionary who, as principal of a school with more than 40 percent of students living in poverty, has used a data-driven approach that has yielded remarkable results. (Lead Mine Elementary School, Raleigh, N.C.)

Steven Moskowitz, a technology director whose wide-ranging initiatives-from standardizing the network infrastructure to developing a district-wide lesson database-have led to substantive systemic change. (Brewster Central School District, Brewster, N.Y.)

Nancy Sands, an instructional technology director who has galvanized an entire community to embrace project-based learning. (Davidson County Schools, Lexington, N.C.)

Amy Poftak is executive editor of Technology & Learning.

Continue to The $50,000 Question > > >

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The $50,000 Question

This year's Ed Tech Leader of the Year candidates impressed us with their creative financing.

If you received a grant for $50,000 tomorrow, no strings attached, how would you spend it? This fun question-an attempt to enliven the format of our venerable Ed Tech Leader of the Year application-was taken quite seriously by entrants, almost so much so that we began to wonder if people believed we might, in a reality show-style twist, surprise the winner with $50K. Several educators submitted carefully itemized lists of equipment and services they'd purchase using the grant. Science teacher extraordinaire Warren Phillips, for example, detailed his plans down to the dollar, including $12,000 for 30 Palm Tungsten C handhelds to use for data collection.

Itemized lists aside, there was no contest for the most popular response. Whether the money was directed to tech integration training for teachers or to leadership workshops for district and building-level administrators, staff development prevailed as a top concern among entrants.

Wireless laptop carts, multimedia workstations, and media production labs were also requests we saw many times over, reflecting a growing trend toward-or at least a strong desire for-increased mobility and digital sophistication. Others took a more long-term approach to obtaining technology, prudently suggesting the $50K be used to establish an endowment fund.

Our favorites? One answer that caught our eye was the "computer makeover program" put forth by semifinalist Greg Drake, of Lexington, Ky. His plan: to mobilize youth in his Student Technology Leadership Program to repair and upgrade donated computers, then give them to low-income families. The student leaders would "teach computer classes for the parents and family members, learning valuable technical and communication skills in the process."

Another well-formulated response, highlighting the importance of sharing best practices, came from Sheryl Abshire of Lake Charles, La. She proposed creating five model classrooms at different grade levels, each featuring a rich curriculum infused with digital cameras, multimedia software, scientific probes, and other technologies. "Only when principals and teachers see this transformational process and understand the impact technology has in this engaged learning environment will they change their professional practices," she wrote.

Now, if we only had $50,000 to give.

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