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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Gates-funded opportunity for grades 6-9 mathematics

The Bill and Melinda Gates Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC) initiative is funding a 2-year initiative to explore the following questions:
  • If you give teachers and students a tool and application to do something that they are currently doing . . . but offer them a better way to make use of the results of these activities (in this case homework assignments), will they take advantage?
  • AND if they do, does it make a difference?
The project emphasis is based on a free, web-hosted application that moves from a "paper and pencil based homework assignments" model to "online assignments" model that gives the teacher immediate real time feedback as soon as the device that went home to do the assignment checks back into the system when returning to school each day.
The application already has the "student homework/activities" problem sets input into the system for many major math textbooks and the project is willing to invest to input others as required to scale the project.
For example the teacher assigns page 45, problems 1-30 (odd numbers only) for homework. Students "download" the assignment onto their device in class - maybe even begin working on their homework in class. The student finishes the homework "offline" on their device at home. The next morning when the devices have internet access, the teacher sees immediately that 95% of the students got problems 1-20 correct, but 50% had major issues with problems 21-30. S/he knows right where to begin with class instruction, no time spent with large group review of what the vast majority have mastered. Teacher can then plan to work in small group with the %5 experiencing issues with problems 1-20 to determine remediation needed there as well.
The project would offer the schools free training (Train-the-Trainer model for a school team) and free access to the system for participation, there are no funds for schools to purchase equipment.

What's the catch?
  • The school must have in place or be willing to implement with their own funds a one-to-one initiative where their middle school students are allowed to take their computing devices home with them. (The initial group of New England math teachers targeted is in Maine where they have the MLTI effort in place state wide.)
  • The students do not need to have Internet access at home.
  • These devices could be laptops, netbooks, iPod Touch, or iPads - I am not sure about other tablet platforms - but since it is web-based, this is highly likely.
If you are interested in learning more about this opportunity or want to apply to participate, please email Cyndi Dunlap with the following information:

1) Could your school meet the "one-to-one device to take home" threshold with current inventory and policies in place to participate in Year 1?

2) If so, does this project sound of interest to you?

3) If not, would you actively pursue meeting the equipment and take home policy thresholds, so that you could participate in Year 2?

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