[Oracle Education Foundation (650) 506-3780, Grades 9-13]
ThinkQuest is an annual international competition hosted by the Oracle Education Foundation, a nonprofit public-benefit organization. Participants form teams, whose purpose is to design a unique educational website. Team members may be comprised of students from more than one school, community or country, and a teacher typically serves as coach. One of the project's main strengths is the potential to foster cultural understanding and collaboration among students worldwide.
Teams are given eight months to perform research and build the educational website. Criteria for evaluation are educational content, design, and global perspective. Students are encouraged to be innovative, and the competition is an excellent vehicle for building research, writing, technology and teamwork skills.
Websites entered in the competition are published in the ThinkQuest Library, where they are used as learning resources in classrooms around the world. Winning teams receive prizes and attend a formal awards ceremony.
The Foundation invites students and teachers to participate. Information can be found by visiting the website www.thinkquest.org.
[Teaching Strategies, Inc. (202) 832-1460, Pre-K]
CreativeCurriculum.net is an impressive, all-inclusive educational tool for those involved with infants and pre-schoolers. Pulling from a wide range of Federal and State curriculum resources,* the website provides an electronic portfolio to assess, plan, record and report individual progress in the social/emotional, physical, cognitive and language components of learning, enabling the teacher and assistant to better determine individual and small group instructional plans.
Each objective has sequential steps, with corresponding learning activities that clearly delineate the growth pattern of each child. A valuable part of the program is Forerunner Objectives, which incorporates assessment and strategies to assist with those children who lack readiness skills due to deprivation, delay or inexperience. This would be an excellent program for parents who are home-schooling their children.**
Some suggestions: (1) Assistants should also be granted access to the portfolios so they can participate effectively in discussions. Currently, the site only allows the designated classroom teacher to access the portfolios. (2) It would be useful for teachers and assistants to have hard copy objectives available for ongoing notation prior to electronic input.***
(3) Staff training in the use of the program is critical for successful implementation - the live interactive demonstrations included with the initial cost of the program may be inadequate.****
Teaching Strategies' response: *We do not pull from Federal and State curriculum resources. We do align to Federal and State curriculum and assessment standards; **CreativeCurriculum.net is used more heavily in pre-k, head start and childcare centers than in home-school environments; ***These are available to teachers. They can print them from our Resources section; ****In addition to the live interactive demonstration, every subscription includes 3 or more hours of live online orientations.