Technology Integration
Newsletter Number One - Summer 1999

This newsletter provides topics valuable to educators as they integrate technology into their K-12 classrooms. Included are lesson plans, special education topics, and using technology for college guidance. The lessons are useful for ideas on integrating the Technology Applications (TA) Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) into the curriculum. The TA and subject area TEKS are included in many cases. The first unit is a set of lessons centering around the Millennium in which children are getting involved in the upcoming event. The next four units related to space and our solar system include activities appropriate for grades two through high school. Fish is Fish is a language arts unit that incorporates the development of verbal language, reading, and writing skills as students read the book. Travel Texas is a unit full of diversity and student choice as students study different cities in Texas.
The next three contributions are resources for special populations such as special education, guidance counseling and professional staff developers. Additional resources for these units are provided on the resource page. These include Powerpoint presentations and video clips describing the unit.
Master the Millennium 
(Gr. 3-5)
 Space Trip
(Gr. 2-6)
(Gr. 3-5)
 Outer Space
(Gr. 6-8)
Astonomy and Our Solar System 
(Gr. 9-12)
Fish is Fish
(Gr. 2-3)
Travel Texas!
(Gr. 3-5)
Resources for 
Special Education
Integrating Technology into 
College Guidance
Integrating Technology into Professional Development

Master the Millennium

Contributed by Stacey Hoppenstein
Instructional Technology Specialist
John R. Good Elementary, Irving ISD

In this unit, students in grades four and/or five will learn to master the millennium.  They will define and understand the concept of millennium, research inventions from the past 1,000 years to discover their impact on our world, and design their own invention for the next millennium.  History, Math, Language Arts, and Science are the subject areas that will be included in this one-month unit.

To begin the unit, the students will understand the concept and definition of the word millennium.  To introduce the lesson, the class will discuss why "M&Ms" are the official "spokescandies" of the millennium. The students will brainstorm and locate the definition of the word millennium. Students will visit the "M&M" website. The students should also discuss when our current millennium began and debate when the new millennium begins.  The students will utilize these internet resources to solve the debate:  Ask a NASA Scientist and Millennium for Kids.

Finally, the students will work in cooperative groups to calculate how many more days we have left till the new millennium begins. The students will check their predictions on the countdown clock at Greenwich 2000: Millennium FAQs.

Students will research inventions of our current millennium and their impact on daily lives. To introduce this part of the unit, the teacher will discuss the quote, "necessity is the mother of invention."  The class will brainstorm names of inventions and discuss how several of these inventions impacted society.  Students will then visit the "History of Invention" website. Each student will research an invention from the current millennium and how it impacted the world. The students will create a one-page report using a word processing program and present their information to the class. The class will debate and vote on the most important invention.

In cooperative groups, the students will predict what the world will be like in the following millennium and what inventions might be needed. The class will then develop a list of criteria for their inventions. (Ex. purpose, materials, procedures, etc.) The cooperative groups will design and illustrate/create a model along with a description of their invention.  The group will then present their inventions to the class and they will be assessed by the previous criteria.  They will share their inventions with others by posting on the following websites: National Geographic: Beyond 2000, Good Elementary Website, and Y2K for Kids.

The students should use a web-publishing program to create a futuristic newsletter that will announce, describe, and show a digital photograph of their invention. The class will create another rubric for this newsletter that includes specific items needed to present this project on the World Wide Web. These newsletters will be assessed according the class rubric and posted on the schoolís web site.
At the end of the unit, the teacher may want to have the class participate in one of the following online projects as an enrichment activity: The Mars Millennium Project  or On the Line Millennium Project.
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS):  TA TEKS: 4B, 5A, 6C, 7B, 7B, 8A, 8C, 10A, 10B, 11A, and 12C.

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Space Trip (Gr. 2-6)

Contributed by Michelle DePrez-Harrod
Kindergarten teacher
Bransford Elementary, Grapevine Colleyville ISD

Space Trip is a fun and exciting unit that you can teach almost any grade elementary student class. Space Trip will get your students involved with technology in several different areas, and they will probably have fun along the way. You should plan on this lesson spanning over a several week time period, depending on your students access to the Internet. Each student will be required to spend a good amount of time on the Internet in order to accomplish the assignments. Introduce this lesson by telling your children that the year is now 2050 and they have the opportunity to take a trip into space, destination: Unknown. It will be up to each student to decide which planet they would like to visit. Once they have decided on their destination they will be asked to create and print out a space shuttle ticket. During their journey students will need to keep a diary, documenting the things they learn about their planet and anything else that they might encounter on their journey. The students will also be responsible for putting together a photo album of pictures they will take on their trip. Our vacationers will be expected to send three postcards, via email, while away.

The space shuttle ticket is the first part of the assignment. This can actually be printed out and turned in to the teacher. There are a number of different applications that can be used for the creation of the ticket, depending on what is available at your school and what applications your students are comfortable using. As the teacher, you may want to designate what application the student must use or you may want to give them a choice. Kid Pix, Flying Colors, Paint Shop and Claris Works are all possible tools for creating a ticket. The ticket can look however the student wishes, as long as it gives the space shuttle flight information corresponding to their trip. This is something the children can make up. There are no right or wrong answers. You are simply wanting your children to experiment with different publishing tools available to them on the computer.

Once the ticket has been turned in to the ticket agent (aka the teacher), their trip may begin. Students will be taking their trip virtually, over the Internet, by surfing through any number of websites that the teacher makes available in a bookmark file. During their journey the children are expected to gather information that they would actually learn if they took a trip to another planet. For example: How long does it take to get there? What does it look like? What would be necessary items to pack for life support while in space? What route would they take and what would they see on the way? Did they observe any forms of life on this planet? How was the weather (atmosphere) for their vacation? etc. The children should be able to obtain this type of information and more while looking at the sites you have made available. It will be up to each individual teacher, based on your school and district policies, as to if you will allow your students to search sites other than those you have saved. The information they gather should be typed in a word processing document in the form of a travel log or daily journal. This will be turned into the teacher at the end of the journey, either on a floppy disk, student account or a printed document.

While the students are on their journey they will need to be photographing interesting sites along the way. They will do this by copying pictures from the websites they visit and saving them in a file. After the students have gathered all of their pictures they will need to put them into a Slide Show presentation. If saving all of these graphics is not a feasible option on your campus you may instead let your children print their pictures and actually put them together to make an album. Most graphic files are large in size and you may not want to take up that much room on the hard drives. Saving them to a floppy disk is an option, but again, due to large file size a few or maybe only one will fit on a disk.

The last task for our vacationers is to send three postcards, via email, to friends or family while on their trip. You may choose to team up with another teacher on your campus or elsewhere and exchange postcards. You also might think of assigning each student another class member to send one of their postcards to. That way each student will receive at least one postcard and can learn something about a different planet. Planet Twinkie: Planet Postcard is a neat website that offers the service of sending postcards, and the student gets to help create it. You might give your students the option of sending one of their postcards in this format. On this same site there is also a series of Planet Twinkie Worksheets that the students could finish for extra credit points. The worksheets tell a space story and then ask comprehension questions.

If your students really enjoyed the project you may think of extending it. A HyperStudio presentation teaching about their planet would be a great follow up activity. If you think you may want to try this extension, remember to have the students save their graphic files. They will need them for their presentation. Another follow up activity might be to polish them up and post them to a website, or have your students design a website just for this purpose.

Again, this activity can be watered down or beefed up for any grade 2-5, as well as for a variety of different levels of technology users. If your students have not had much exposure to these applications yet, you might want to do this lesson as a class or in small groups. There are usually a handful of very computer literate students in each class that could be spread among the groups in order to have an expert with each one.

Listed below are several sites for your bookmark file. These would probably be sufficient for the lesson, however there are new sites available everyday and I would encourage you to do a little surfing yourself. Some of these sites are specifically for the students to gather information or to ask an expert; although most of these sites also contain great teacher resources, links to other sites and many more ideas for wonderful lessons. Have fun on your journey through space.

Internet Resources for this Space Trip Unit
Newton's Apple: Galaxy Mapping (
Galaxies and More, Games Galore (
Searching for Just the Right Planet (
Scouting the Solar System (
Your Sky: An Interactive Planatarum (
Hands-on Universe (
NASA Kids (
Pluto (
The Official Young Astronaut Program (
Astronomy On-line: Ask Dr. Sue (
Puzzling Planets (
Jet Propulsion Lab: Why Do We Explore Space (
NASA Spacelink: An Aeronautics and Space Resource for Educators (
The Solar System (
Views of the Solar System (
The Nine Planets (
Catching the Light: The Art of Deepsky Astrophotography (
Earthrise (
StarChild Learning Center for Young Astronomers (
Solar Learning Activities (
Amazing Space (
Exploring Planets in the Classroom (
TEKS: TA TEKS: Gr (3-5) 4A, 4B, 5A, 5B, 7A, 8A, 8B, 8C, 9A

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Space (Gr. 3-5)

Contributed by Kelly Bordelon
3rd grade teacher
Las Colinas Elementary, Carrollton Farmers Branch ISD

Space is an interesting topic that lends itself to activities that involve students at various levels and with various learning styles. Many activities are included in this unit on space that seek to address these differences. There are several web sites that provide accurate information and virtual field trips that allow students to get first-hand experience with space. Children are not only learning about space, but also becoming better users of technology.

Activity 1- Space Research

In a problem-solving situation, we need to first pose a problem to the children. For example, after studying what we need to live, we can ask what causes there to be life on Earth and not on other planets. How are all the planets different? We can recall the things we need to live. We can then generate a list together determining things that may cause the planets to be different. We can also discuss things that mystify us, such as black holes and traveling through space. Students can then work in cooperative groups to do research on a given topic.
Two good sites are: The Ten Best of the Nice Planets and The Nine Planets. These sites take you through a tour of the solar system. One site that provides up-to-date information on space is CNN: Space. Students can even "Ask an Expert" from various space professionals. They can even play games that deal with what they learned about space by doing online student activities at this site.  Another site, Astronomy Picture of the Day, offers virtual field trips on things that lie within space, such as the black hole and neutron stars. NASA has a Space Shuttle Launch site, that shows camera views of the shuttle Columbia, as well as information dealing with the liftoff. Another site brings you Astronomy Pictures of the Day. Students can use what they learned by coming up with a way, using technology, to present this information to the class. One good way would be using a presentation package such as PowerPoint. It could include using hyperlinks to sites they used during research.
TEKS: Science TEKS- 3.1A, 3.2A, 3.2B, 3.2C, 3.3A, 3.3B, 3.3D, 3.4A, 3.8A, 3.11A, 3.11C, 3.11D
TA TEKS- (b)(1), (b)(2), (b)(3), (b)(4)(B), (b)(5), (b)(6), (b)(7), (b)(8), (b)(10)(A), (b)(10)(B), (b)(11), (b)(12)(A), (b)(12)(B)

Activity 2 - How Much do you Weigh?

A neat math activity requires students to find their weight on other planets.  First, I would show them a movie clip of men floating on the moon.  I would ask them if they think they could figure out how much they weighed on each planet.   I would have them do this using the conversions and a calculator.  Then I would have them go to: Your Weight on Other Worlds, so they could check their calculations, as this site converts your weight for you.  They could even go a step further and use a software application that enables them to create a graph showing their results.
TEKS: Math TEKS- 3.1A, 3.1B, 3.4B, 3.5A, 3.7B, 3.14A, 3.14B, 3.14C, 3.15, 3.16A
TA TEKS- (b)(1), (b)(2), (b)(3), (b)(5)(A), (b)(6)(B), (b)(6)(C), (b)(7)(B), (b)(7)(C), (b)(8)(B), (b)(10), (b)(11), (b)(12)(A)

Activity 3 - Create Your Own Solar System

This activity requires you to create your own scale model of the solar system. It gives you directions and suggestions of items to use. It expects you to use what you know about the actual sizes of the planets, and then make your own small version. This site is about the Solar System.
TEKS: Math TEKS-3.1A, 3.13, 3.15, 3.16
Science TEKS- 3.3C, 3.4A  TA TEKS- (b)(2), (b)(3), (b)(5)(A), (b)(7)(A), (b)(8)(B), (b)(8)(C)

Activity 4 - Creative Writing

Once children have begun learning about space they can visit an imaginary planet gallery. At this site, An Inquirer's Guide to the Universe, they will be able to visit an imaginary planet and read other childrenís stories about that imaginary planet. Then they could write their own story about that imaginary planet using the information they learned to apply it to the setting and the theme of the story. They could use the hyperlink on that site to publish their story. They could also use a word processor and clip art to write, edit and publish stories.
TEKS: LA TEKS- 3.2A, 3.3A, 3.3C, 3.3D, 3.3E, 3.4A, 3.4B, 3.4C, 3.9A, 3.9B, 3.11I, 3.14B, 3.14C, 3.15B, 3.16, 3.17, 3.18
TA TEKS-(b)(1), (b)(2), (b)(3), (b)(5)(A), (b)(7), (b)(10), (b)(11) ,(b)(12)(A)

Activity 5 - Space Problem Solvers

The children can also be involved in reading novels that take place in space. Provide several novels to choose from so the children can have some freedom to choose according to their groupís interests and ability. Have them read to the page in which a problem arises. Have them use what they learned about the environment in space to come up with a reasonable ending to the story. They can create their ending on a Hyperstudio card stack, and then present it to the class. They can use the sites mentioned in Activity 1 or use keyword searches to acquire information.
TEKS: LA TEKS- 3.5, 3.6B, 3.6C, 3.7B, 3.7B, 3.7C, 3.8A-I, 3.9A, 3.9B, 3.11E, 3.11H
TA TEKS- (b)(1), (b)(2), (b)(3), (b)(4), (b)(7), (b)(8)(A), (b10), (b)(11), (b)(12)(B)

Additional Teacher Resources
There are several resources available to teachers as well. They include sites and lesson plans for teachers to use when teaching space. Some of these sites are: A Space Archive List Earth and Space Systems and
Space and Astronomy Sites to See.

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Outer Space (Gr. 6-8)

Contributed by Susan Francis
8th grade science teacher
Clark Middle School, Princeton ISD

One of my eighth graders favorite assignments this year dealt with outer space. We spent about 3 weeks on the unit because the classes were fairly large and they needed the extra time to present their findings to their classmates. In smaller classes we used less time. One week was spent researching the topics on the Internet, one week for preparing the PowerPoint presentations and the third week for presentations.

On the first day of the unit the students selected their group, selected their topics from a prescribed list, and were given a copy of the grading rubric (which gave them an idea of what was expected). The assignment was to teach the class about their topic and to create a PowerPoint presentation using at least 10 facts about their topic. The presentation is to use transitions, build effects, pictures, graphics, color and other good presentation rules (ie 7 lines to a slide and large type).

The rest of the week we were in the computer lab and students researched their topics. Often students chose to use computers next to their partner so that they could collaborate on what they were finding. The second week they continued to work in that manner to create their presentations. Often one student was looking for a component needed for a slide or they were discussing what change to make in a slide to make it more interesting.

Topics the students could choose from consisted of (there are others that can be used)

  •   Planets outside our solar system
  •   Black Holes
  •   Galaxy types
  •   Distances in space (how far is a light year, how large is the universe etc)
  •   Life cycle of stars
  •   Super novas
  •   Quasars
  •    Pulsars
  •   The possibility of aliens in space, what has been done to find telescopes (including Hubble)
  •   Space travel



    The topics of distances and telescopes were reserved for the special education students. Telescopes and space travel were reserved for students that did not have acceptable use forms turned in. (The partners could do the actual computer work on the PowerPoint and research was done with resources in the library.)

    The grading rubric was used to grade the presentations given by the students. I used the grading rubric as a checklist as they gave their presentations. As they were presenting, the rest of the class was required to take notes and were responsible for knowing the information for a test. Classmates were also given the opportunity to ask questions about the presentations.

    The following is a list of URLs that can be given to students to start them on the research for their topics.

  • Black Holes (

  •    This website includes teacher lesson plans for several related topics like worm holes, life cycle of stars, pulsars and quasars.
  •  Pathways to Astronomy Education Resources (

  •     This website leads to other links for other space topics.
  • Black Holes: The Ultimate Abyss, A Star is Born (

  •    A general information site for things like supernovas and birth of stars
  • Frequently Asked Questions About Black Holes (

  • Tachyhons (

  • Information about Wormholes (

  • New Solar System Discovered (

  • Neutron Stars and Pulsars (

  • Exoplanets: Extra solar planets (

  • Active Galaxies: Quasars, Blazars and Other Galactic Oddballs (

  • Tour of the Universe (

  • Stars and Galaxies (

  •     Multimedia presentations about different aspects in space
  • Classifying Galaxies (

  • Windows to the Universe (

  • Astronomical Links (

  • SETI Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence (

  •     List of web sites that are links to organizations that are searching for life outside the Earth
  • Space and Astronomy for Kids (



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    Astronomy and Our Solar System

    Contributed by David Lee
    Assistant Principal
    Granbury High School, Granbury ISD

    The study of space has brought wonderment and excitement to many people throughout history. Using the Internet, students are able to discover more exciting and visually pleasing information in a very short time. Never before has so much information been available to students at "the touch of a finger."

    Constructivism is an educational concept that states individuals construct their own understandings of the world in which they live. Twenty-three URLs have been collected to accomplish this task. Many of the web sites have an "open issues" section to draw students in to current hot topics relating to astronomy. Through investigation, students will be able to expand their understanding of our solar system and make reasonable inferences into some of the mysteries of space.

    The unit begins with an overview of space, planets, and the stars. Students will be exposed to several web sites that have fascinating information and pictures relating to our solar system including:
    An Overview of the Solar System (
    Windows of the Univese ( concepts of solar weather and the positioning of the constellations in the night sky will be discussed., will be followed by information about Black Holes and Neutron Star., including the recently publicized Hale-Bopp comet, will be explored along with information about the nature of asteroids. References will be made to the recent movies "Deep Impact" and "Asteroid.",

    This unit will expose students to several of the possible origins of the solar system. They will be asked to pick a position on the origin of the solar system, complete further investigation to support their theory, and construct a visual to illustrate their position. Next, the exploration of space will take the class into a more in-depth study of our sun and itís nine planets. Participants will be asked to pick a specific planet in our solar system and use the Internet to complete further investigation of the planet chosen. Students will be given an initial web site to investigate by the teacher but are expected to complete further Internet investigation.

    Each studentís final product should consist of an oral and written presentation. The oral presentation should include at least two web sites that the presenter will open and explore "live" for the class. Each presentation including web exploration should be at least 5 minutes in length. The written report should discuss the history of the planet, its composition and size in relation to the Earth and peculiarities of the planet. Each report should examine at least one "open issue" relating to the planet and formulate a possible answer to the issue or at least add additional information to the issue.

    The unit might culminate with a "solar system party." Students will be asked to bring desserts to class that represent the planet they studied. An informal discussion of the space unit will be a part of the party and students will be asked to provide suggestions for making the unit even better the next year.

    Additional list of website resources for Astronomy and Our Solar System


    Fish is Fish (Gr. 2-4)

    Contributed by Donna Walton
    Reading Coordinator, Allen ISD

    Reading Curriculum in the primary grades must be designed to include three fundamental areas: auditory, visual and language learning. This lesson plan develops language concepts as learners complete activities after reading a book. The model provides specific steps for developing talking, reading, and writing skills as students read the book, Fish is Fish. It moves developmentally from oral language, to comprehension and written expression. Multisensory, brain compatible activities and electronic resources are utilized to ensure students with varying learning styles and/or learning disabilities find success.

    Major objectives include:

  • Expand use and appreciation of oral language
  •  Increase use and appreciation of printed language
  •  Understand and manipulate building blocks of spoken language
  •  Comprehend and manipulate building blocks of written language
  •  Learn relationship between the sound of spoken language and letters of written language
  •  Practice decoding strategies
  •  Relate writing to spelling and reading
  •  Comprehend a wide assortment of books and texts
  •  Incorporate new vocabulary
  •  Develop comprehension strategies



    Activity 1: Set the stage by viewing the world through the eyes of a fish at the Fisheye View-Cam. Read the story, Fish is Fish, by Leo Lionni to students.  After reading the story, ask students to read the book independently. Students with reading fluency, language or comprehension difficulties should read the book interactively using computer reading software such as Kurzweil software. This activity builds the students knowledge of the book and its concepts.
    LA TEKS:  2.1(A), 2.1(D), 2.2(A), 2.6(B)
    TA TEKS: 7(A), 8(A), 8(B)

    Activity 2:  Concept imagery is the ability to build a whole picture or gestalt.  In emerging readers, this skill is used to develop comprehension. Once the students have read the book, Fish is Fish, they should respond to comprehension questions to assess their abilities in this area. The teacher  will utilize computerized tests to determine individual comprehension level: Accelerated Reader or teacher-designed Hyperstudio questionnaire. The Hyperstudio program gives the students the opportunity to have questions read if needed. This activity encourages the development of knowledge, comprehension, and analysis skills.

  •  How were the tadpole and minnow alike/different?
  •  How were the frog and fish alike/different?
  •  How did fish feel when frog left the pond? Have you ever experienced the same situation.
  •  What extraordinary things did frog see while he was hopping on land?
  •  How did fish picture these things in his mind?
  •  Did fish want to see these wonderful things too? What did he do?
  •  Is it important for us to explore our own individuality?
  •  Is it important that we accept ourselves?

  • A tutorial for developing Hyperstudio learning programs can be found on-line.
     LA TEKS:  2.9(A), 2.9(G), 2.11(H), 2.13(A)
     TA TEKS:  2(D),5(A), 7(A)

    Activity 3: Rebus story ? as a group and with the teacher, identify the words in the story which lend themselves to symbols.  Retell the story in rebus form. Design the book using clip art in a presentation package such as Powerpoint. Be sure to design the animals as the fish imagined them. This activity develops comprehension and application skills.
     LA TEKS:  2.3(B), 2.9(C), 2.9(E), 2.9(I), 2.10(B), 2.12(G)
    TA TEKS:  7(A), 7(B)

    Activity 4: Haiku ? The teacher may help studentswrite haiku poems as a group, using a dictionary or thesaurus. When ready, students should print out their Haiku and paste on fish-shaped pages for a class book. This activity develops analysis and application skills.
    Some useful websites that offer teacher tips for designing haiku poetry are:
    The Art of Haiku Poetry ( )
    A Haiku Homepage (

    Students can make a haiku poem electronically at Create Your Own Pseudo-Haiku (
    LA TEKS:  2.9(B), 2.11(A), 2.11(D)
    TA TEKS:  2(C), 7(B), 8(A), 9(B)

    Activity 5: Compare a fish to a frog. Surf Internet sites to complete a databank using these categories: Eats, Moves, Lives, Looks Like. Choose one of the animals, frog or fish. Write a story using the facts. Share the stories with the class. Students may use a program like Co-Writer software to write. The program uses initial sounds typed onto the screen to predict words for the young author.
    A Thousand Friends of Frogs (
    Fish FAQ (
    LA TEKS:  2.12(H), 2.13(B), 2.17(B), 2.18(E), 2.20(B), 2.20(D)
    TA TEKS:  2(A), 2(D), 2(E), 4(A), 4(B), 5(A), 5(B), 7(B), 11(A)

    Activity 6: Look at the illustrations in the book.  What does the fish in the story look like? Determine what type of fish is in the story by accessing information from the internet. Analysis, synthesis, and  evaluation skills are developed.
    Fish Link Central (
    Fish Species List (
    LA TEKS:  2.11(H), 2.12(B), 2.12(H)
    TA TEKS:  7(A), 8(B)

    The book, Fish is Fish, can be ordered on-line: (
    A list of other books about fish can be found on-line: (


    Travel Texas (Gr. 3-5)

    Contributed by Joy Pickering
    Technology Coordinator
    Rockenbaugh Elementary, Carroll ISD

    Texas has so many diverse cities scattered amongst its different regions. The fourth grade social studies curriculum involves students learning about the different regions and cities within those regions. Learning is so much more meaningful for students if they are actively involved. Travel Texas gets students involved in learning about a Texas city. Students can incorporate writing, computer skills, communication skills, creativity, and decision making in this activity. Travel Texas can be adjusted to fit the needs of various students and schedules.
    At some point during the unit of the regions of Texas, the students will choose a city they would like to learn more about. The students can choose any city but perhaps you may want to exclude the one in which they live especially if they are native to the area. The outcome for this activity is to design a travel brochure, a web page, or a multimedia presentation describing the city each student researched. The students must present the following facts about their city:

  •  In which region is it located
  •  Climate
  •  Population
  •  Elevation
  •  Brief history
  •  Historical landmarks
  •  Tourist attractions
  •  Any other information the student finds interesting

  • Here is a suggested timeline for the activity:
    Two weeks before you start the activity: Students choose their city and write a letter to that cityís chamber of commerce requesting a variety of information about the city. Students write their letter a word processing program of your choice. To extend this activity, the students could even email the Chamber of Commerce a message requesting the information.

    Day One through Day Three: Students research their city using the information they received from the Chamber of Commerce, books, and various Internet sites. There is an Information Gathering Worksheet that can help students keep track of their information. Included in this unit is a list of helpful websites. If you have access to the Internet, this is a great opportunity to teach students about search engines and simple searching techniques on the web. Here are a few of my favorite search engines:




    Day Four through Day Eight: Students design their multimedia presentation, travel brochure, or web page. If students have some choices in how they want to publish their work, they are more motivated to produce an excellent product as well as take ownership of their work. Students can use a variety of tools to publish their information. Power Point, HyperStudio, Netscape Composer, Claris Homepage, Microsoft Publisher, or any other electronic program that would create the desired outcome can be used. If students choose to create the travel brochure, they can create it by hand. This allows the artistic students to really "shine". The criteria for the final product is:

  •  The cover is appealing to the audience.
  •  The use of color and font is appropriate and pleasing to the audience.
  •  Information is organized.
  •  The grammar and spelling are correct.
  •  Final product covers all the information listed in the content criteria.
  •  Final product is saved correctly on the network if it is an electronic product.
  •  A separate sheet of paper is attached listing all of the resources used.

  • Days Nine and Ten: Students present their work to their classmates during a celebration showcase. (I usually serve popcorn and the students can bring a drink. This is a fun way to celebrate the students products.) Students might want to send their products to their perspective chambers of commerce as another means of celebration.
    If the students choose to do a multimedia, web page, or other electronic product, find a place to post them on the web. The web has many places for kids to publish their work. Students think it is awesome to see their work on the Internet.

    Day Eleven: Allow the children to critique their own product with the attached rubric. Take time to discuss each childís rubric with them individually and together the two of you come to a final grade.

    Helpful websites:
    Armadillo's Texas Studies (
    Texas Almanac Teacher's Guide (
    Regions of Texas (
    Texas History Links (
    TEKS: TA (Gr. 3-5) 1B; 1E; 2; 2A; 2E; 3A; 4; 5A; 6; 7; 7A; 7B; 9B; 10A; 10B; 11A; 12; 12B

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    Resources for Special Education

    For teachers of students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders

    Contributed by Clark Cavin
    Grade 9-12 Behavior Improvement Classroom
    Western Hills High School, Ft. Worth ISD

    A shortage of teachers is being projected. This shortage has especially been seen in Texas in the fields of math, science, and special education. Special educators have been and continue to be at a higher risk of leaving the field than their general education counterparts (Boe, Bobbitt, & Cook, 1993). Although some turnover is expected in any field, annual turnover rates among special education teachers have reached 30 percent in certain urban locations (Federal Register, May 6, 1991, p. 21226). In the field of behavior disorders, the average length of stay in the profession is less than 3 years. Some of the factors correlated with field abandonment include excessive paperwork, low salaries, excessive caseloads, lack of administrative support, collegial isolation, role conflict or ambiguity, challenging student behaviors, and lack of visible student progress (Cooley & Yovanoff, 1996).

    The dismal outcomes of students with emotional and behavioral disorders are well documented in the body of literature. Among the findings are the facts that children with emotional and behavioral disorders: (1) do not do well academically; (2) lack social skills; (3) tend to earn less; (4) are more likely to drop out (Knitzer, Steinberg, & Fleisch, 1989). Compared to other students with disabilities, students with serious emotional disturbances have the lowest grades, fail more courses, are retained at the same grade more frequently, are absent more often and drop out more frequently (Wagner, Newman, DíAmico, Jay, Butler-Nalin, Marder, & Cox, 1991).

    Furthermore, the same outcomes are true whether students are in regular education or special education placements. Moreover, these are in comparisons with students with other handicapping conditions. If compared with non-handicapped peers, the discrepancies are even greater. Of all children who carry the label of serious emotional disturbance only 42 percent graduate from high school, 56 percent drop out of school, and 58 percent of students labeled SED are arrested within five years of leaving school (Osher & Hanley, 1996a). In addition, 73 percent of those who drop out are arrested within five years (Osher & Hanley, 1996b). It is blatantly obvious that what schools have traditionally done (or not done) for students with emotional and behavioral disorders is not working.

    With the advent of the Internet and increased access to the World Wide Web, much can be done to increase teachersí capacities and decrease the sense of isolation that they feel. In turn, this can enable them to stay in the field. Students with emotional and behavioral disorders are hard to reach and teach. They desperately need competent, experienced teachers. Perhaps by using some of the following Internet resources, teachers of students with challenging behaviors and the students they serve can have better outcomes.

    Web Resources for teachers of students with emotional and behavioral disorders:

    Dr. Bullock's Online Training Modules (
    This site originates from the University of North Texas. It contains modules adapted from professional journals or created by students in the Leadership in the Field of Behavior Disorders doctoral program.

    Bipolar Disorders Portal (
    This is the portal to information and support on Bipolar disorders. This site has information to help teachers and parents. It also has support groups and support e-mail for persons with Bipolar disorders.

    Special Education Technical Assistance and Dissemination Network (
    This site offers references and links to resource centers, early childhood, information clearinghouses, deaf/blind resources, finance, inclusion, policy, minorities, parenting, outcomes, teacher preparation, technology, transition, and other projects.

    IDEA Partnership Practices (
    IDEA Practices is a web site dedicated to assisting teachers and administrators implement the 1997 amendments to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. The regulations were released in March 1999 and are still not well defined to most special educators.

    Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services (
    This site is the federal agency entrusted with supporting the education and rehabilitation of people with disabilities. As such, it offers numerous resources on this site.

    Office of Special Education Programs (
    This office has primary responsibility in the dissemination of funding and research support. In light of the recent rash of school shootings, this site has been sharing information on keeping schools safe from violence.

    Pediatric Behavior and Development and Behavior: Emotional Disturbances (
    Although this site is medical rather than education in thrust, it can serve as a wonderful resource on defining and researching different diagnoses. Since most special education classifications do not match medical diagnoses from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, IV, often parent and educators need resources to find more information on diagnoses.

    Emotionally Handicapped and Severely Emotionally Disturbed (
    This site, offered by Florida State University offers quick links to a number of informative articles on Emotional Handicaps (the Florida moniker for emotional disturbance) and Seriously Emotionally Disturbed (the Federal moniker from which the word seriously was dropped with IDEA 1997).

    Links on Mental Illness (
    This site is part of the network of the National Association on Mental Illness. It offers parent and educator information. Although mainly directed toward parents and families of persons with mental illness, it can be helpful for educators as well.

    Oppositional Youth (
     This site is dedicated to teaching coping skills and techniques to parents whose children have oppositional defiant disorder. Many children who receive the DSM-IV diagnosis of Oppositional Defiant Disorder are labeled emotionally disturbed in schools.

    References for this information are available.

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    Integrating Technology into College Guidance

    Contributed by Janet Miranda
    Department Chair, Counseling and Guidance College Counselor
    Trinity Christian Academy, Addison Texas

    With the advent of technology, schools suddenly have a global audience and unlimited resource capabilities. The Internet, programs, workbooks, online questioning, and a plethora of technology-produced resources are readily available not to replace the counselor, but to add to and greatly impact what can be accomplished within the limitations of the classroom. The purpose of this article is to demonstrate possibilities of integrating computer use into College Guidance in the secondary school. Technology offers the classroom instructor the flexibility to enhance and promote learning. The following is a unit plan designed for work with secondary school juniors as part of their college investigation and planning process.

    UNIT PLAN:    College Guidance

    Time Table:      4  fifty-minute class sessions
    Purpose:          To assist students in preparing for their college search and college visits.
    Environment:   Computer lab
    Curriculum:      Integration of technology while working with Career Orientation TEKS.

    Lesson  1:  The students should use the computer to identify and investigate the uses of a resume by accessing and using the provided web-based resources. They should also identify what constitutes a professional looking resume in style, format, layout and print.

    What is a Resume?
        Building the Perfect Resume(
        Resume Writing Center (

    Preparing a Resume

    High School Resumes - Examples
          Anatomy of a Resume (
          Sports Resume (
          Average Student Resume (
          Excellent Student Resume (

    Lesson 2:   The student should draft a personal resume, design the layout of their personal resume, and use keyboarding skills to produce and print their final product resume. Use resources from above lesson to help the students complete their own resume.

    Lesson 3:   The student should complete a MINIMUM of two college searches listed below.

    College Searches
        U.S. News Online(
        College Express (
        Overview (
        College Board (
        Peterson's College Search (

    The student should then identify a MINIMUM of five (5) colleges to which the student is qualified to attend based on the search completed above and the resume completed in Lesson 2. The student should provide a print out of the information obtained on each of the five colleges based on the search.

    Lesson 4:  The students should analyze and discuss resumes and findings from college searches. The students should also explore useful websites to explore possibilities for career choices and financial opportunities.

    Assessment:  The students should establish a portfolio, which will include:
    1) Presentable resume
    2) Copies from two different college searches
    3) Copies of a MINIMUM of five college homepages

    In summary, students are encouraged to use the computer as their main research tool in the college selection process.  Points to consider in this process include:  1)  learning how to prioritize the day's work; 2)  taking time to carefully plan.  Time cannot be well spent in the absence of clear goals and concise objectives.  While the counselor serves as an advocate for the students, the bottom  line is that it is the responsibility of the student to be proactive in their college search, application process, and career options.  The idea is to utilize all resources available to make the best match possible in preparing for the SAT and ACT and in choosing a college and a major.

    Additional useful Web sites in the college selection process are listed below.

    Career Choices
      Exploring Occupations (
      College Connection (
      Best Jobs USA (
      Career Search (
      The Career Interests Game (

    Scholarships/Financial Aid
      Scholarship Information (
      Fast Web (
      Financial Aid from the US DOE (
      Scholarship Resource Network Express (

    Resources for College Athletes
      Athletic Scholarship Information (

    University Home Pages
     Use to find any college or university on the Web
      Map by state (
      College and Universities by Alphabetical Listing (
      Index to Critical Comparisons Database (

    Test Preparation
      10 Real SATs (
      Test -Taking Strategies and Rules (
      SAT/ACT Comparisons (
    TEKS: Career Orientation 127.c.1.B, 127.c.1.C, 127.c.2.A, 127.c.4.D
    TEKS: Technology Applications: c.4.A, c.8.A, c.8.B, c.9.D, c.11.A, c.12.B

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    Integrating Technology in Professional Development:

    TA TEKS in CPDTs and ESCs

    Contributed by Natalie Beever
    Consultant for Technical Documentation

    A look at three Texas regional Centers for Professional Development (CPDT), and Educational Service Centers (ESC) in Texas was performed to find out what development classes they offered that centered on technology integration and the technology applications portions of TEKS. Since each region independently addresses professional development, it was a little difficult to find comparable information in a consistent manner.

    The nature of TA TEKS emphasizes, in my mind, the word "applications." Applying technology and training teachers to plan lessons that integrate technology reinforces the effectiveness of technology. Also, in a training session, problems with technology can be identified and worked out. Teachers trained to apply technology to lesson plans in other TEKS areas confront the issues of classroom technology, and are one step closer to solving them in the classroom.

    The focus here is on teacher education rather than teacher training. It seems that the training centers in Texas are striving to integrate technology and have been a wealth of resources to the teachers who are already meeting TEKS and TA TEKS requirements. The University of North Texas College of Education offers a sequence of courses at both the undergraduate and graduate levels that allow students to receive an endorsement for Technology Applications. Although most of these courses are electives, it is beneficial to students to include this endorsement sequence in their degree plan. The Texas Center for Educational Technology (TCET) maintains the START website (  that specifically addresses the TA TEKS with resources to help teachers work toward integrating these TEKS into their curriculum.

    I studied regions 11 , 15, and 17  (Ft.Worth, San Angelo, and Lubbock) ESCís and CPDTís for program-related links, and searched the Texas Center for Educational Technology (TCET) website for research related topics.
    SWT CPDT located in San Angelo listed the skill sets for preservice/inservice teachers provided by center. ( Region 17 ESC offered a course listing that was linked to a brief synopsis of the course.


    In researching preservice and inservice education at the above mentioned sites, the following was found.

    Preservice teachers use technology in the following ways:

  • Multimedia presentations developed as instructional aids for teaching content areas.
  • Interns use laptops with modems to prepare classroom materials via computer.
  • Interns use e-mail, multimedia presentations and videotaped material for inclusion in their portfolios.
  • Took part in interactive video teleconferences to share information and conduct meetings and view demonstrations
  • Access TENET to gather information for special projects and assignments
  • Use their technology skills to create lesson plans, track student grades and create instructional handouts

  • Inservice teachers use technology in the following ways:

  • Teachers are using e-mail, TENET, Internet and compressed video
  • Every PDS has designed lesson plans that integrate multimedia technologies into math, science and social studies for all grade levels.
  • Teachers are using technology to have students create newsletters on topics that they are studying in the classroom
  • Some schools provide all teachers with laptop computers to prepare class materials and record student grades.
  • Some schools have network servers that provide shared software and information to all classrooms in the school
  • Use videotape to document portfolio collections of students
  • Teachers are using their computer knowledge to share with parents and students in afterschool programs
  • Teachers use distance learning equipment to conduct classes and share projects and information



    Possible Solutions

    I drew two conclusions: first, there needs to be a website that offers information on programs and locations, dates and times with a minimum of trouble; second, program development for TA TEKS may be lacking, but I canít find out because the information seems to be buried. I propose to alleviate the need for a website that addresses professional development "at a glance" so to speak, for preservice teachers, and for professional development specialists. CPDTís and ESCís using program development for specific TA TEKS will be apparent. Program Development specialists can also use the website to address areas that lack updated TA TEKS training. CPDTís and ESCís are the best bet for promoting TA TEKS awareness and for offering solutions to preservice/inservice teachers in Texas. Accessibility is the only factor standing in the way of disseminating useful information to preservice educators and professional development specialists.

    Resources for professional development specialists who are willing to teach TA TEKS

    START (Sharing Technology Applications Resources with Teachers (

    The Journey Inside Program (
    This web site is really neat. There is a section in the k-12 Education link that shows kids the basics of microprocessing via shockwave. Very illuminating, and definitely applies past the foundation strand because the emphasis on transistors and microprocessing provides a historical context, and a highly technical look at the computerís most basic component.

    Multimedia Teaching Strategies (
    This site assists in the professional development aspect of TA TEKS. The site builder outlines the process of multimedia projects and shows the teacher what skill sets they will need in order to complete a multimedia project. Developing multimedia skills. The links to the projects is really good. The site contains materials for professional development, hence meets the assignment criteria of content above the foundation strand.

    MarcoPolo Internet Content for the Classroom (
    It seems this site, though commercial and slick, is student-centered, and a helpful resource for teachers who really need appropriate web content to satisfy the TA TEKS skill for acquiring knowledge of subject matter on the web.

    Educational Links: Technology Application (
    I canít believe how lush this site is. This site is valuable for every stage of technology integration. The links provide access to professional development ideas from lesson plans to setting up a computer learning environment.

    Wired for Learning (
    This Website is a replication of the CD-Rom included in the "Wired for Learning"
    Interactive Knowledge Base currently being distributed to all school districts in Texas.  I think this is helpful as an example of a distance learning environment.