Tuesday, August 24, 2010

"Race to the Top" Winners Were Announced Today

North Carolina is a Winner !!!

According to CNN the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Rhode Island are all to receive a portion of the $3.4 billion remaining in the "Race to the Top" fund for education.  The second round of competition began with 35 states applying and in July 19 states were listed as finalists.  Each finalist sent representatives to Washington in August to present their case, according to CNN.

What did each state have to do to qualify for "Race to the Top"?  Each state had to present a plan of school reforms in four main areas:
  1. Turning around low performing schools
  2. Adopting college and career ready standard
  3. Effective teachers and principals
  4. Using data systems to support student achievement
So how will $3.4 billion be divided between the states?  There is a limit how much money each state can receive based on the student population and North Carolina will receive $400 million.  For North Carolina the "Race to the Top" money will be overseen by Dr. Harrison and the State Board, and Superintendent Atkinson will be responsible for implementing the approved program according to Governor Bev Perdue's press release.

The link below gives the breakdown of money for each state:

Other related links
  1. Charlotte WCNC.com
  2. North Carolina Race to the Top Website
  3. Race to the Top Announcement from President Obama
  4. Governor Bev Perdue's Press Release

Thursday, August 12, 2010

ActivExpressions - Handheld Formative Assessments

Student Response Systems (SRS) will be used in many classrooms this fall as a tool for assessment and to boost student participation. But what if you’re the student who knows the material and can easily answer the questions? You have to wait till everyone answers the question before the teachers moves on to the next question and that's time that could be used in a better way.

Promethean has developed a solution to this problem and has unveiled a new version of software that will take the SRS technology to a new level. The company calls it “real-time personalized intervention.” Basically the new technology will send a question directly to each students ActivExpression “clicker” device. The student will answer the question and immediately get a new question with no waiting time. The system can also hone in on each student’s abilities and deliver personalized questions that target certain abilities.

The new software will give teachers the ability to do handheld formative assessment in real time that adapts to the pace of each student according to Tony Cann, Promethean Director. Teachers are able to track the progress of each student, send questions to each student’s ActivExpression and allow students to work at their own pace. After each test teachers can review the responses to see strengths and weaknesses in the class to see areas to be reviewed and content that has been mastered.

Tony Cann says the system is capable of delivering 15,000 to 20,000 self-paced questions per minute and the software is a free upgrade for current ActivExpression users. This should be a great software upgrade for teachers who use the ActivExpressions.

To learn more about ActivExpressions go to:

To read this article from eSchoolnews go to:

Image from Promethean


Friday, August 6, 2010

Brainstorming and Mind Mapping

Lots of teachers use brainstorming as a way for students to share ideas and possible solutions to a problem. Always define the problem to make sure students clearly understand the problem. Make sure all ideas are written down.

There are four basic rules to brainstorming:
  1. Focus on quantity – the greater number of ideas produced generates a greater chance of producing an effective solution.
  2. Withhold criticism – focus on extending ideas and suspending judgment.
  3. Welcome unusual ideas – help students to look at ideas from different perspectives and not make assumptions.
  4. Combine and improve ideas – help students to combine ideas to form a single better idea.
Mind Mapping Steps:
  1. Once all brainstormed ideas have been written down students will move to mind mapping. At this point students should begin identifying relationships between the ideas and key points by drawing lines, arrows, or using colors.
  2. Students should begin finding contrasts/similarities, cause/effect relationships. These ideas can be written down beside the linking lines.
  3. Students will use the map to arrange all the items into a logical order.
Here are some free tools for Brainstorming and Mind Mapping
  1. Slick Plan – create sitemaps and flow charts
  2. Thinklinkr – fully collaborative outliner
  3. Webspiration coming this fall – map ideas and organize outlines – subscription
  4. Kidspiration and Inspiration software are used in our school system for all K-12 students.
  5. Diagrammr – create and share diagrams by writing sentences
  6. Imagination Cubed – draw mind maps online, can be used with whiteboards
  7. Edistorm – real time mind mapping and sticky notes
  8. Education Eye – brainstorming with a search engine
  9. Mind42 – collaborative mind mapping
  10. Mindmeister – mind mapping that can be embedded into a site
  11. Mindomo – detailed mind mapping site with web 2.0 features
As teachers begin creating fall lesson plans check out these sites for ways to incorporate technology into brainstorming and mind mapping with your students. 

To read this article please go to Tech&Learning: