HARRISBURG – A group of Pennsylvania students will witness history – and document it for millions of other students – as they report on the presidential inaugural via blogs and video entries aligned to Pennsylvania’s academic standards announced Education Secretary Gerald L. Zahorchak.
Ten students from Springfield High School in Delaware County will arrive in Washington D.C. on Jan. 17 and begin “blogging” their experiences for other Pennsylvania students to share.
“Students across the state will be able to learn from their peers in real time through the amazing power of technology,” Zahorchak said. “It will truly be a high-tech ‘teachable moment’ in American history using classroom technology that scarcely existed just eight years ago, when we last had a new president moving in to the White House.”
Many of the students who will be able to read and watch the blogs are in schools that have benefited from the Rendell administration’s Classrooms for the Future initiative, which couples technology and teacher training to transform the high school learning experience for hundreds of thousands of students.
The content of the student blogs will be aligned to Pennsylvania’s academic standards and will be tailored to lesson plans created specifically for the inauguration by the Department of Education. Four mini lesson plans have been created for three grade spans. The department is encouraging classrooms to use these resources during inaugural week to help explain government and civics.
“It is essential that young people understand the role of government as well as the role they play in that government,” First Lady Judge Marjorie O. Rendell said. “This inauguration serves as a great opportunity for students to experience the power of civic engagement.”
Springfield High School was one of 79 schools funded in the first year of the Classrooms for the Future program, which provides laptop computers, high-speed internet access and state-of-the-art software to high school math, science, English and social studies classrooms. Now in its third year, Classrooms for the Future is benefiting students in 543 high schools in 453 districts during the 2008-09 school year, providing about 140,000 laptops that are used by about 500,000 students.
“When the technology resources are available in sufficient amounts and when they are able to be put into instruction in a meaningful and authentic way it seems to allow for a more engaged student,” said Springfield High School social studies teacher and CFF coach Rob Nelson.