PT3 & PROJECT LIFT: WEB HELP FOR TEACHERS

Terry L. Holcomb, EdD*

Jon Young, PhD*

Project LIFT (Lesson Information For Teachers) is a major component of a federal grant to provide technology integration skills and materials for preservice teachers. The Department of Education grant is titled "Millennium II".

The Millennium II project is in the 2nd stage of implementing nine preservice teacher initiatives in multiple regions of Texas and eventually making these materials and procedures available internationally. Technology-infusion activities are designed to continue the expansion of services to meet educator preparation needs of the state and nation. The emphasis for this three-year project is "closing the digital divide", and the key areas of quantity, quality and equity are addressed in the preparation of technology competent and confident new teachers. Major objectives include:

increase the quality and quantity of preservice technology integrating educators.

recruit and train home-town technology teachers for rural and minority sites

expand technology-infused methods courses and instructor modeling of technology.

develop Internet-based quality resources for preservice teacher courses **

provide technology enriched assignments and assessment for special education preservice teachers

develop collaborative Information Technology courses and preservice courses with partner universities

establish technology enhanced academic content courses for preservice teachers

establish "fast track" credentialing for technology aides to be degreed teachers

recruit new millennium teacher educators from technology infusing classroom teachers to work as technology fellows in all aspects of the project

 

Four universities, a multi-campus community college, seven K-12 school units, and two professional associations will join forces to implement project goals and objectives to achieve intended outcomes. The lead partner, the University of North Texas, will contribute leadership, management and the physical home base for the activities. Two servers (database and courseweb) will be housed in the Computer Education facility on the Denton campus of UNT.

 

Goal: To prepare a new generation of technology-infusing teacher educators.

Innovative Learning Resources. Objective: To collect and make available web-based curriculum resources to serve the needs of the preservice teacher educator and the graduating student teacher, featuring at least 750 reviewed lesson plans by 2003.

 

Closing the digital divide can be accomplished by both local, hands-on methods and by creating access to needed information. Project LIFT will utilizes the training and resources of other grant activities to create a centralized and efficient resource that will greatly enhance the technology integration skills of the preservice teacher and also remain available to those teachers as they progress into inservice situations.

Using preservice teacher education classes to create lesson plan projects, and using professional higher education and K-12 teachers as evaluators, LIFT will create a dynamic web resource that will provide preservice and inservice teachers with over 750 regularly updated lesson plans. This will include at least five fully evaluated and tested lesson plans of technology integrated lessons for all subjects and for all levels (K-12). Lesson plans rotated out of the main database will be maintained in a separate, accessible database (hopefully growing into thousands of instructional support ideas). The site also adds a section that will suggest implementation strategies plus an email connection to a PT3 help desk that will be available at least 40 hours per week. A third resource will be copyright and intellectual property information and tips for all levels of K-12. Updates, examples of concurrent practices and suggested class activities will be included. This unique, one-stop, easily accessible and navigable site will answer the requests of inservice teachers for quick help and will train preservice teachers in the writing, evaluating and testing of complete lesson plans matched to national and state standards.

The project commenced in September, 1999. Project LIFT director, Dr. Terry Holcomb spent the fall semester on a sabbatical leave granted for investigating the feasibility of the plan. Visits to state department of education units and individual school districts were completed during this period. Eight (7) states (Connecticut, North Carolina, Florida, Texas, California, Indiana and Colorado) and over 15 school districts were visited and over 50 administrators and teachers were interviewed. A consistent pattern of requests for tested, teacher-based, simple and efficient lesson plan acquisition was noted. The LearnNC model created by LearnNC at the University of North Carolina and the North Carolina Department of Education was often mentioned. An extended visit to that program in Chapel Hill, North Carolina offered extensive information and suggestions for cooperation among the states.

December, 1999 through March, 2000 was used to develop formats, site map plans and to get trained employees in place. Locating, analyzing, evaluating over 200 Internet sites claiming to offer k-12 lesson plans took over two months. Several basic flaws were enumerated in these evaluations. The most common negative responses included:

- technology integration missing or buried in non-technology delivery modes

Project LIFT is designed to address those concerns. Our site will concentrate on technology-based lesson plans. These plans will all be submitted by teachers or advanced pre-service teachers. All submissions will be evaluated by a team of teacher-practitioners before being added to the core database. Good, but not yet acceptable plans will be returned to the author with suggestions for review. Resubmission will then either be put into the core database or put in an "under review" section that will also be accessible. As older plans are replaced with newer plans (we will attempt to update about 20% of all curriculum areas each year), the older plans will also be stored in an accessible, searchable database.

Project LIFT is now in the Alpha developmental stage. The Lotus-Notes based database is maintained on our intranet and is currently available only to grant participants. Plans are searchable by curriculum area, topic, grade level, or title. The initial database will utilize ‘shared’ plans offered by existing sites. As our database is completed, these plans will move to a ‘links’ section of the site. The Beta site should be available to Texas teachers by June, 2000, with full implementation and access by January, 2001. Updates and access information can be found by emailing Dr. Holcomb at: tholcomb@unt.edu. Additional information can be found at:

www.cecs.unt.edu.