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Published in Print: November 1, 1999, as Tech Talk

Tech Talk

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Loud And Clear: The Fenton Avenue Charter School in Lake View Terrace, California, has made what it calls a "sound" investment: microphones purchased to amplify its teachers' voices in the classroom. Administrators observed teachers using microphones elsewhere several years ago and decided to pilot the idea with a Fenton teacher who struggled with laryngitis. The school eventually bought 46 headsets and body packs--at $500 a pop--for its classrooms. Ana Marie Mendoza, a 3rd grade Fenton teacher, says she loves using her microphone, as it saves on voice strain and enhances instruction: "I use it all day, except when I'm in a small group."

Narrowing The "Digital Divide": In September, the U.S. Department of Education awarded its first-ever grants to support the establishment of community technology centers--facilities intended to narrow the "digital divide" that separates families with little or no access to computers from the rest of an increasingly high-tech society. Forty projects will receive a total of $9.9 million in grants during the program's first year; grants are renewable for two additional years. Grant recipients include universities and colleges, school districts, a science museum, a YMCA, American Indian tribes, libraries, and organizations concerned with Hispanic issues, housing, and community development. All projects have multiple partners--many including schools--and are required to provide money to match the federal grants. Many of the centers will support school activities by letting children use computers and the Internet outside of school hours, giving pre-service teachers experience as mentors, and providing a place where entire families can receive training in the use of software and hardware. Terry Baker, a senior research scientist at the New York City-based Center for Children and Technology, says that community technology centers seem to be most successful when they provide mentoring, evaluate how well they serve the community's needs, and have business partners that are involved in designing the program, not just paying for it.

--Mary Ann Zehr and Andrew Trotter

Vol. 11, Issue 3, Page 18

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