It's all well and good when classrooms finally get "wired," but how much difference can it make if teachers don't know what to do next?
The New York City-based teacher training network known as IMPACT II has tried to address this problem in a new book, Teachers Guide to Cyberspace.
The book, which was written by teachers, offers basic technical information on using computers, step-by-step instructions for creating a page on the Internet's World Wide Web, grant information, and ideas for classroom activities that attempt to go beyond prepackaged programs.
Many teachers involved in IMPACT II's ongoing professional-development activities had little or no training on computers, said Ellen Meyers, one of the book's editors and a vice president of IMPACT II.
IMPACT II considered teachers' professional development to be key in using computers in the classroom, she said, but program leaders found it impossible to take that first step without giving teachers basic computer training. "This was an area where there was such a crying need," Ms. Meyers said.
The book features personal experiences from four teachers who trained themselves on computers and want to share their learning process with other teachers. "The people who have done this are so excited about how it has enriched their classroom that they're on a mission," Ms. Meyers said. "They're trying to make it as understandable as possible because they know it's hard to make the jump."
The book, which includes one Macintosh and one IBM disk, can be ordered by sending $19.95 to IMPACT II, P.O. Box 577, Canal Street Station, New York, N.Y. 10013-0577. Bulk rates are available for orders of 10 or more copies.
The Fort Worth school district, taking a lead from colleges and universities, now recognizes excellence in teaching by endowing prestigious "chairs" for teachers.
The 73,500-student district recently received a grant from a local corporation to add its fifth chair. That award, which went to a reading teacher, follows endowed positions in the district for math, science, English, and foreign-language teachers.
Teachers seeking the honor undergo a rigorous selection process, including a teaching demonstration before a panel of representatives from the district, higher education, and business.
The teachers chosen receive $10,000 grants, courtesy of local businesses, and retain their honorary titles for one year while they continue teaching.