Technology Spotlight On: Yolo County Office of Education
Joyce Hinkson, California Department of Education
Over 7,000 grade 6-8 students and their teachers will be impacted by Project Connect, an ambitious Technology Literacy Challenge project located in Yolo County. The Project promotes service learning as a vehicle to enhance language arts and mathematics skills while working to solve community problems in collaboration with community members. It follows a "Train the Trainer" model where the participating teachers are to train their fellow teachers in the skills they learned through the Project. Both public and private schools in Woodland, Winters, Esparto and Washington are included in the Project.
Teams of sixth through eighth graders and their teachers have been trained to use technology to research Countywide issues. Topics explored by teams have included water resources, agriculture, environmental science, current events, and community growth as it relates to land development, habitat and resources. It is not unusual to see teams of students and teachers with mud-caked shoes busily using digital cameras and probeware to gather data integral to their research topic. The Project has received so much positive attention that Yolo County issued a mini-grant to provide equipment and training for an additional 100 students and two alternative education teachers from the court community school. Laura Bailey, Technology Coordinator for Yolo County Office of Education and Patricia Turner, Coordinator for Instructional Technology in Woodland Joint Unified School District are pleased with the Project's success. They note that they have received many requests to join the Project from teachers and students who are not part of the original grant proposal's target group. Teachers Anna Martinez, Karen Dumars, Yolanda Hudson and Sally DeLaMora have successfully used the Project in their classrooms to actively engage their students in critical thinking activities that support the classroom curriculum in the area of history/social science, communications, and science.
Staff development has been a key component of this program and the main reason for the enthusiastic response from participants. During the summer, 15 teachers and 30 students will complete a two-week session in collaboration with the Yolo County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. Jim Eagan, General Manager of the District and Christy Barton, Assistant Manager will assist with the exploration of the topic, "What is the relationship of the community to its water resources?" Teachers in the Project also complete 90 hours of university-approved extension coursework through U.C. Davis in the Teaching and Technology Program.
The goals of Project Connect: to increase student achievement in language arts, technology and mathematics and to develop a self-perpetuating team of educators skilled in the application of technology and curriculum are being realized. When asked what advice she would offer for implementing an effective staff development program, Laura did not hesitate to answer, "Accessible equipment, sufficient time, ongoing support with coaching and providing the staff development in context with the classroom curriculum." It also helps when learning is this much fun!
Project Connect will be featured as one of the pre-CUE staff development field trips in November, 2000. Pat Turner may be contacted for additional information about Project Connect at (530) 662-0201 x 4350 or .
Dr. Joyce Hinkson is a consultant for the California Department of Education's Education Technology Office. She may be reached at (916) 323-2241 or by e-mail at