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Rice Provides K-12 Student, Teacher Outreach

From: Rice News, November 6, 1997

By Michael Cinelli, Rice News Staff

In addition to parents, university administrators and faculty must be involved in improving the educational system through outreach programs for students, teachers and principals at every grade level, said Roland Smith, associate provost at Rice.

"Rice recognizes the importance of the role it plays in the K-12 system in the greater Houston area," said Smith who coordinates the university's outreach programs. "There are several ways that can be played out. For us, it makes sense for our faculty to use their expertise in improving schools by working with teachers.

"So, in that regard, more than half of our 30-some initiatives are directed toward teacher development."

A visit to Rice's Educational Outreach homepage on the World Wide Web provides a glimpse of the wide array of programs available to elementary, middle and high school teachers and students. Established programs such as "GIRLTech: a Teacher Training and Support Program" and the "Rice University School Mathematics Project" have trained hundreds of instructors since their inception, while a new program, "Dynamic Earth," provides teachers in grades 4 through 8 training on curriculum issues in earth sciences.

"To the extent that professional and personal relationships between university faculty and K-12 teachers, principals and parents can be developed, that will make it possible to transform the entire education system," Smith said. "The university fills in the divide that has historically existed between secondary schools and higher education so we can provide a seamless web in the educational system in terms of knowledge base and efficiency.

"Universities have to do this more if they are going to get students who are going to meet the challenges of the next century."

Rice, for example, is expanding its outreach to include programs for teachers dealing with the technological revolution. The Center for Technology in Teaching and Learning of Rice (CTTL), established in 1995, addresses the ways in which information technology can expand and enrich education not only on campus but throughout the educational community.

"Building a Web," a recently established CTTL resource, supports structure for courses aimed at integrating technology into kindergarten through 12th-grade education. Its main objectives are to:

  • provide a teacher with an opportunity for professional development through extended interaction with computer technologies integrated into thematic instruction;
  • enhance learning by integrating computer technology into a learner-centered environment, by which students could express their constructions of knowledge;
  • enrich children's learning experiences by working cooperatively in a school/university partnership to develop student-centered, culturally diverse, developmentally appropriate and technology integrated curricula; and
  • foster child-directed projects using developmentally appropriate software as vehicles for children's engagement in learning.

"Rice's role should be one of support for K-12 programs," Smith said. "There has to be a mutual understanding of what we want to get out of our relationship with the schools with which we work."

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