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PRISM Proving Valuable Resource for K-12 Teachers, Students

Wednesday, November 23, 2016
RHIT SPARK Competition 2016 13325

Digital Resource: Indiana fourth- and fifth-grade teachers visited with computer science and software engineering professor Delvin Defoe's summer learning group to observe how computer simulations are used in engineering design. The elementary teachers were attending a PRISM workshop on incorporating creativity and visual thinking into their teaching of science and math concepts.

Science, math and technology teachers in Indiana are hungry for new teaching resources and strategies, and Rose-Hulman's Portal Resource for Indiana Science and Mathematics (PRISM) is proving to be their go-to destination.

PRISM's website has had 54.1 million pageviews this year with 7.5 million page views in September, and nearly 12,000 teachers and 100,000 students are now registered users. They have access to an online library of more than 4,800 educational resources, including virtual labs, skill-building exercises and actual data from the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workplace that can be used in setting up labs or projects, or completing assignments such as a report.

PRISM, with Lilly Endowment Inc. support, also provides Indiana teachers in kindergarten through 12th grade use of the Moodle Learning Management System to create their own secured classroom courses. There are also tools for teachers to easily integrate favorite resources into their daily lessons, along with an online library allowing teachers to share lesson plans with other school districts.

"New media will be a major agent for learning in the 21st Century," says program director Patricia Carlson. She notes that digital resources have already replaced textbooks in many Indiana school classrooms and 90 percent of Indiana school corporations provide digital devices or plan to make the technology available to every student by next year.

"Our goal is to help teachers embrace digital learning tools as extensions of their own dynamic presence in the classroom," she adds. "PRISM facilitates innovation in teaching and learning by offering digital tools that merge teachers, talent and technology to advance student accomplishments."

A total of 40,674 people visited the PRISM website this past September alone (compared to 4,929 in September of 2006). Eighty-five percent of the visitors are from Indiana, with top regions being Terre Haute, Indianapolis, Bloomington, East Chicago, Bedford, Evansville, South Bend and Carmel.

Evansville North High School science teacher Brian Hartman and Indianapolis' Sycamore School teacher Tim Kasper have used the PRISM website since 2006 to host class websites and post digital classroom materials for students to observe after school. Both use the Moodle system for online quizzes and tests.

"With much of standardized testing going digital, this kind of experience is valuable to the students and, in the end, to the teacher," says Hartman. "Digital testing allows for a quick overview of which questions students are missing to provide me feedback on instruction and guide remediation. It is a very valuable tool in gauging classroom dynamics."

Kasper adds, "The site allows teachers to provide a neat and organized forum for all content, and helps any teacher wanting to convert to a paperless classroom."

Jake Allen, principal of Paul Hadley Middle School in Mooresville and co-president of the Indiana Curriculum and Instruction Association, has encouraged science teachers and Project Lead The Way leaders at his school to adapt PRISM's resources into their classroom activities.

"As an educational leader, I am constantly seeking learning resources to benefit my teachers and students while in the traditional school setting and throughout the extended learning day," Allen says. "PRISM offers high quality, reputable resources and curriculum that provide student-centered content that is highly engaging. It is an excellent supplemental resource for the classroom curriculum, and it is an excellent resource for student-driven, independent discovery."

PRISM also offers teacher professional development opportunities ranging from one-day sessions to those lasting three weeks. Topics include: integrating advanced technology, such as SMART Boards, into the classroom, using PRISM's resources to support multi-modal learning, blending engineering concepts into the traditional STEM curricula, adapting pedagogy for one-to-one computer settings, and developing digitally rich lessons for the one-computer classroom.

Earlier this year PRISM received the Indiana Department of Education Promising Practices award for its math and science partnership grant program with the Vigo County School Corporation.

The PRISM team consists of Carlson, Educational Liaison Bob Jackson and Assistant Director and System Manager Ryan Smith. For additional information about PRISM, contact carlsonp@rose-hulman.edu.