|Volume 7, Issue 1 -
CRPC HELPS SUPPORT MODEL K-8 SCHOOL
Since 1990, the Houston Independent School District (HISD) has been developing plans for a model K-8 school and CRPC researchers at Rice University have helped to bring these plans to life. On August 22, 1994, HISD opened the doors to The Rice School/La Escuela Rice, a $11.3 million school that houses 1,275 students and 70 teachers. The two- story, 167,000 square-foot school was custom built to create a community of learners and features a curriculum that emphasizes dual- language development, technology, accelerated educational programs, and collaborative learning in small clusters.
Don McAdams, a school board member involved with the school, noted that Rice has shown a significant commitment to teacher development. One of these commitments included providing professional resources, an area in which the CRPC was specifically helpful. For instance, eight teachers from the school participated in this year's Mathematics and Computational Sciences Awareness (MCSA) Workshop, where they took part in discussions and presentations on minority issues and computational science along with Rice faculty and several outside speakers.
The center has also worked in other ways to influence science and mathematics curricula at the school. "The CRPC staff has continued to be highly enthusiastic in providing ongoing support and information," said Marla Stanley, content specialist for mathematics and an 8th-grade algebra teacher at the school. CRPC Director Ken Kennedy gave a talk at a training workshop in July for all of the school's teachers. In August, two science teachers visited the CRPC for a month to learn about Internet resources, sit in on research group meetings, and be exposed to the researchers' work. Funding through the CRPC is also enabling Dr. Anne Papakonstantinou to teach mathematics at the school.
The partnership continues to attract other supporters who have helped to enhance the school's technology infrastructure. Compaq donated 1,100 computers, enabling each teacher to have a computer and giving students reasonable access to computers as well: in grades 6-8 there is 1 computer per student; in grades 3-5 the computer to student ratio is 1 to 2; and in grades K-2 it is 1 to 4. The library is also fully equipped technologically with videodiscs, CD-ROM, and online access to external databases. In addition, Project Owlink, a distance education project cosponsored by Southwestern Bell, Rice, HISD, and the South Texas Independent School District, provides full-motion videoconferencing and high-speed data interfaces between The Rice School, Rice University, another HISD school, and two schools in the Rio Grande Valley.
"The Rice School has provided a wonderful opportunity for the CRPC and other organizations to serve as a resource for knowledge and support for their teachers," said Kennedy. "In the future, we will continue to aid in their efforts to make computing an exciting medium through which to learn."
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