“Digital Math: Developing Standards for Content”








A proposal submitted by the School Board of Gadsden County

to the Florida Department of Education


November 1, 2006




1. Project Abstract or Summary                                                         



The purpose of this project is to lay the groundwork for a statewide digital K-12 asset warehouse for all subject areas. Such a warehouse will eventually provide digital assets to all of Florida’s teachers and students in all subject areas and all grade levels. Given the pressing need in the areas of math and science in Gadsden County, we are focusing on these two subject areas for this demonstration project. This effort is coordinated with existing and planned DOE initiatives to achieve maximum statewide impact. Specifically, the project addresses the four priorities as follows:






2. Project Need                                                                               


While we are delighted with the progress recently made in Gadsden County Schools, we realize that the district is still far from our vision of having all of our students score at or above grade level on all standardized assessments and/or make adequate yearly gains. The following table shows the results of the 2006 FCAT for Math, Science, and Reading by grade level. The third column gives the percentage of students in Gadsden achieving at level 3 and above—considered to be on or above grade level. The fourth column shows the percentage of students statewide achieving at level 3 and above. In all cases, the statewide average for achieving at grade level is substantially above levels in our district. The last column gives the relative ranking of Gadsden students compared to students in other districts. We are sorry to report that Gadsden consistently ranks at the bottom of achievement levels statewide. Clearly, we have a tremendous need to increase achievement levels in our district in the subject areas included in this “Digital Math” proposal.











Three-way tie for second lowest district





Third lowest district in state





Second lowest district in state





Second lowest district in state





Lowest district in state





Lowest district in state





Lowest district in state





Lowest district in state


Teacher preparation is also a concern for us. Gadsden has experienced an extremely high teacher turnover rate, especially in our middle and high schools. Nearly 40% of these teachers are new to the district and approximately 75% of these are beginning teachers. This presents a concern, but also an opportunity for the district. Of course the need for professional development and change in teaching practices is great given the low student achievement rates and high teacher turnover rates. However the opportunity is that new teachers, and particularly beginning teachers, are most receptive to adjusting their styles of teaching. This is especially true of new teachers when presented with the opportunity to provide significant levels of technology integration in their classes.



3. Project Design and Implementation                                                 




The primary goal of this project is to demonstrate proof of concept for a statewide digital content warehouse. This tool will allow students and teachers to access math and science digital media through either a subject search or a search based on Sunshine State Standards. The content delivered will be from the extensive collection created by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology. In the future, the digital content warehouse could be expanded to include digital assets in support of all subject areas.


To provide a working proof of concept, we must achieve five distinct goals:

1)     acquisition of a content taxonomy and search engine (referred to as the “digital warehouse tool”)

2)     acquisition and/or development of digital content

3)     tagging of the digital content to provide metadata for the search engine

4)     professional development in the use of digital content in the classroom

5)     research on the efficacy of the digital content and devices provided


1) Digital warehouse tool. The RFP specifically requires the development of a taxonomy for digital content in mathematics. We are proposing the use of a digital warehouse tool that not only includes a taxonomy for digital math content, but also includes science content. Further, the digital warehouse tool that we have negotiated with Thinkronize, Inc. to provide will also provide search for media assets by Sunshine State Standard. Thinkronize has agreed to provide a finished digital warehouse tool by May 1, 2006 and to support the tool for one year past the end date of the project period, i.e. June 30, 2008 at no additional cost. During the period from May 1, 2006 through June 30, 2008, Thinkronize will update the contents of the digital warehouse tool at least once a quarter based on additional content being entered via the LibraryDE tool. The launch date of May 1, 2006 is based on FCIT completing the met tagging of 40,000 pieces of digital content by April 1, 2006.


2) Digital content. The initial digital content served by the digital warehouse tool will be provided by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology. FCIT has agreed to provide access to at least 40,000 digital assets and to create a minimum of 1000 new illustrations supporting math education and 250 reading in the content area passages for math and science. The new illustrations and reading passages will be completed by April 1, 2006.


3) Metadata tagging. A digital asset is of little value if it does not include proper metadata, i.e. information about the information. All digital assets included in the digital warehouse tool will need to be tagged with all the relevant information to ensure that the proper asset is returned for a given search query. Thinkronize has agreed to provide access to their LibraryDE metadata tagging tool to the Florida Center for Instructional Technology. FCIT will be responsible for using the tool to tag a minimum of 40,000 elements by April 1, 2006. Thinkronize will provide the training to FCIT staff in the use of the tagging tool.


4) Professional development. FCIT will provide a minimum of 50 video podcasts each illustrating one aspect of utilizing digital content in the classroom. The podcasts will feature STEM and Education faculty from the University of South Florida. Each quick-paced podcast will be created with the busy teacher in mind. The podcasts will be available for download to any computer or audio player from a website at FCIT. They will also be posted to an iTunes server at USF for easy transfer to any video-enabled iPod. The math and science faculty at the treatment schools in Gadsden School District will receive video iPods on which to view the podcasts. At least 10 podcasts will be available by the end of January 2006; 20 by the end of February; 30 by the end of March; 40 by the end of April; and 50 by the end of May, 2006.


5) Scientifically-based research. A research pilot will be conducted in the math classrooms of the two middle and two high schools in Gadsden School District. One high school and one middle school will serve as the treatment sites. One high school and one middle school will serve at the control sites. Math classrooms at the treatment schools will be outfitted with interactive whiteboards and projectors. Each of the treatment schools will also receive a cart of laptops and a classroom set of video iPods. The faculty at the treatment schools will be encouraged to view the appropriate professional development podcasts and to incorporate the active use of digital assets in their teaching. The School Observation (SOM) and the Survey of Computer Use (SCU) will be utilized by FCIT personnel to capture the activity of both the treatment and control classrooms. Other measures such as the Technology Perceptions Survey may also be utilized. The research will be completed during the spring semester.





The School District of Gadsden County. The school district will provide leadership for the project and the four school sites for the research pilot. As outlined in the need section above, Gadsden is an ideal district in which to test the use of digital content in the curriculum. With such a high rate of new and beginning teachers it is expected that many will be quick to adopt the new methods and materials presented to the treatment sites in the professional development podcasts. “Digital Math” enjoys the full support of the Superintendent and the Department of Media and Technology Services and builds upon the progress we are making with our current EETT laptop project.


The Florida Center for Instructional Technology. FCIT, a post-secondary institute at the University of South Florida, will provide the experience and expertise in the production and delivery of digital content and professional development. Currently FCIT provides access to a large collection of high-quality digital content through their website at https://fcit.usf.edu. On the average school day FCIT websites receive well over one million hits to educational resources such as Exploring Florida, Clipart ETC, Maps ETC, A Teacher's Guide to the Holocaust, Lit2Go, and Presentations ETC. These sites demonstrate FCIT's ability to create, collect, tag, and distribute digital content to students and teachers. FCIT also produces and delivers professional development both face-to-face and through online resources such as No Strings Attached, the FCAT Math Staff Development Tools, ESOL TAPESTRY, Multimedia in the Classroom, and Using Data to Make Decisions. In November 2006, FCIT will gain access to an iTunes server through USF enabling them to deliver audio and video podcasts directly to iTunes on either Macintosh or Windows computers.


STEM and Education faculty. FCIT will contract with faculty in Math, Science, and Education to provide expertise in the use of digital media supporting math and science education. These faculty will be featured in the professional development podcasts that will be delivered during the spring semester.


Center for Research in Educational Policy. CREP is a post-secondary institute located at the University of Memphis. FCIT has contracted with CREP to provide training and licensing of the School Observation Measure and the Survey of Computer Use. These instruments will be employed in the research pilot


Thinkronize, Inc. This Cincinnati-based business provides highly-effective technologies that deliver the rich educational value of the Internet to every child in a safe, relevant, easy-to-use format. More than 8.3 million students in schools and homes nationwide currently use their netTrekker suite of search products. Thinkronize will develop the digital warehouse tool as well as provide FCIT access to their LibraryDE tool for the metadata tagging of FCIT assets to be included in the digital warehouse.




December, 2006. Thinkronize trains FCIT personnel in the use of LibraryDE to tag FCIT assets with the necessary metadata for the digital warehouse tool. FCIT begins tagging 40,000 existing assets. FCIT begins creation of new content.


January, 2007. Installation of whiteboards, projectors, laptop carts, and iPods to treatment school sites. Baseline data collected. At FCIT, tagging of existing content and creation of new content continues. Ten professional development podcasts delivered.


February, 2007. Research continues at school sites. At FCIT, tagging of existing content and creation of new content continues. Ten professional development podcasts delivered for a total of 20. The 250 new passages supporting reading in the math and science content areas are posted to the Lit2Go site.


March, 2007. Research continues at school sites. At FCIT, tagging of existing content and creation of new content continues. Ten professional development podcasts delivered for a total of 30.


April, 2007. Research continues at school sites. Completion of metadata tagging for a minimum of 40,000 existing digital assets at FCIT. A minimum of 1000 illustrations supporting math education are posted to Clipart ETC website. Ten professional development podcasts delivered for a total of 40.


May, 2007. Research continues at school sites. Thinkronize launches digital warehouse tool for use by Florida students and teachers. Completion of Exploring Florida maps database and georectification of maps of each of the state and county maps. Ten professional development podcasts delivered for a total of 50.


June, 2007. Research report delivered to Gadsden County School District and the Florida Department of Education.


July 2007 through June 2008. Thinkronize continues to maintain the digital warehouse tool, updating the database at least once per quarter. Thinkronize continues to license use of the LibraryDE tool to FCIT to allow tagging of additional assets should grant funding permit FCIT to continue this process.



4. Evaluation                                                                                 


Research pilot. The School Observation Measure (SOM) will be used to develop a profile of the four schools in the study. The SOM was developed by the Center for Research in Educational Policy (CREP) at the University of Memphis in 1998. It will allow researchers to determine the extent to which different common and alternative instructional practices are used in a school as well as the class time used for academics and student engagement. Other factors included in the observations are: Instructional Orientation, Classroom Organization, Instructional Strategies, Student Activities, Technology Use, and Assessment. This baseline will be supplemented by observations using the Survey of Computer Use (SCU) also developed by CREP. This tool was designed to capture exclusively student access to, ability, and use of computers rather than teacher use of technology. Therefore, four primary types of data are recorded: (a) computer capacity and currency, (b) configuration, (c) student computer ability, and (d) student activities while using computers. These two measures will enable us to collect pre- and post- implementation data regarding the effectiveness of the digital tools and methods used in the classrooms. In addition, the data collected will be normed against national data collected through the CREP efforts in other districts and states. The Florida Center for Instructional Technology has licensed these instruments from CREP. The observations will be conducted by FCIT personnel who have been trained by CREP.


Additional metrics. Usage data will be available from two sources. Thinkronize will provide statistics for the number and type of searches conducted on the digital warehouse tool once that resource is online. FCIT will be able to provide server log stats for each of the websites supported by this proposal including: Exploring Florida, Maps ETC, Clipart ETC, and Lit2Go. The server data can be tracked for the entire length of the project period as each of these resources is currently online.



5. Support for Strategic Imperatives                                                                    


Reading. Two of the four priorities addressed in this project provide direct support to Florida's reading initiative. The 250 math and science passages to be added to the existing Lit2Go project support reading in the content area for both math and science (priority 3). The passages will span the entire K-12 spectrum. Each passage will contain an Mp3 file of the selection read by a fluent adult, the text on a webpage and as a PDF formatted for printing, and a PDF of a reading strategy appropriate to the passage and reading level. While a generation or two ago, most children had the opportunity to be read to on a regular basis, that is no longer a universal experience for students in our contemporary society. This project supports reading success by providing students with the opportunity to listen to passages read by fluent adults—“the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading” (Becoming a Nation of Readers, Anderson et al. 1985). Studies by Livaudais (1985), Beers (1990), Martinez and Roser (1985), and Anders and Levine (1990) show that reading aloud:


Many of the professional development videos for math (priority 2) will specifically address the use of literature in the mathematics classroom. One of the USF faculty chosen to participate in this project has made the use of literature in mathematics education her particular field of expertise.


Strategic Imperatives. The "Digital Math" project is designed to support strategic imperative 3: Improve student rates of learning. Student (and teacher) access to a rich collection of media assets and primary source materials allows students to be actively engaged which results in increased rates of learning. It is an accepted principle that students learn best by doing. Nonetheless, in many classrooms students are expected to become passive receivers of knowledge poured out from their teachers and their textbooks. This project will provide students at two schools with both the hardware (laptop computers and Mp3 players) and the digital content for students to directly manipulate. The search and content delivery system will provide access to the same set of digital content for all students and teachers in Florida.


Sunshine State Standards. The existing relationship between Thinkronize, Inc. and Academic Benchmarks will allow the digital warehouse tool not only to deliver digital media results based on subject search criteria, but also will provide the means for searching by Sunshine State Standard.



6. Dissemination Plan    


All products and information about the "Digital Math" project will be distributed via the Internet. Thinkronize will maintain the digital warehouse tool on their servers. This tool will be available to all Florida teachers and students at no additional cost to the schools or districts. Depending upon progress made on the development of Sunshine Connections and upon decisions made by the Florida Department of Education, the Florida digital warehouse tool will either be available to anyone, anywhere with an Internet connection, or it will be restricted to Florida teachers and students entering through Sunshine Connections. Information about the digital warehouse tool will be disseminated through Sunshine Connections, school districts, on FCIT's websites, and through other appropriate organizations.


The digital content produced and/or tagged for inclusion in the digital warehouse tool will be housed on servers at FCIT or the University of South Florida and distributed free of charge to anyone with an Internet connection. Existing content at FCIT already is widely used in Florida schools. Currently, FCIT servers receive an average of well over one million hits per school day. To function properly in the digital warehouse tool, all existing digital content must be retagged with eleven required and eleven optional metadata fields. Under this project FCIT will add the necessary fields to approximately 40,000 existing items to enable them to work in the digital warehouse tool. The existing items will include maps, clipart illustrations, audio files, videos, and photographs.


FCIT will also produce new digital content to support math and science. The new items will include a revised maps section of the Exploring Florida website that includes not only the digital warehouse tool metadata, but also includes georectification of the state and county maps for Geographic Information System (GIS) activities. In consultation with the mathematics consultants, additional clipart illustrations will be collected and/or produced to support mathematics. Fifty professional development video podcasts will be created to support the use of digital assets in mathematics and science instruction. Two hundred and fifty mathematics related passages will be created for the Lit2Go website. Each of these passages will include an audio file in Mp3 format, the full text as a web page and PDF, and an additional PDF, which includes a reading strategy, related to the passage. The passages will be available from the Lit2Go website or the USF iTunes server.





Summary of dissemination plan:









7. Budget                                                                                      


The budget for this proposal is attached. It includes funding for three partners in this project: the School District of Gadsden County, Thinkronize, and the Florida Center for Instructional Technology.


Gadsden County. The primary focus of this project is to demonstrate a proof of concept for a future Florida Digital Warehouse that includes a subject taxonomy and targeted search available to all students and teachers across Florida in all subject areas and across all grade levels. As such, the majority of the funding is directed toward the production of the demonstration digital warehouse tool and digital asset content creation. However, the scientifically-based research element of this proposal (priority number four) requires treatment and control sites within Gadsden County to test the efficacy of digital devices in teaching and learning. To that end, the budget provides for specific hardware to be placed in one of Gadsden's two high schools and one of Gadsden's two middle schools. The treatment and control sites will be determined by the research team using the flip of a coin should this project be awarded.


The budget provides for twelve interactive whiteboards and projectors to be installed in the math and science classrooms in the two treatment sites. These are necessary for teachers to utilize the digital resources in their teaching and for students to present their projects incorporating the digital assets made available in this project. Each of the whiteboard/projector combinations will cost approximately $3,000 for a total of $36,000 for this item.


One cart of MacBook laptop computers will also be purchased for each of the two treatment schools. At $35,000 each, the two laptop carts will cost $70,000. These carts will primarily be reserved for the math classes as a part of the research component looking at the use of digital devices in mathematics education. When not requested by the math teachers, the secondary use of the carts will be for science education. The individual student laptop computers allow the students to directly interact with the digital assets delivered under this proposal.


Each of the approximately 12 teachers at the two treatment schools will receive a video iPod to view the professional development podcasts and utilize in their teaching. Although iPod models and prices are changing constantly and most likely will be revised before the holiday season, for the purpose of budget planning we have estimated the cost of the twelve teacher iPods to be $350 each totaling $4200 for this item.


Each of the two treatment schools will also receive a classroom set of 30 student iPods. These will also be video-enabled iPods, but have less storage capacity than the teacher models. Again, allowing for product revisions at this time of the year, we have budgeted $250 for each of the 60 student iPods for a total of $15,000.


An additional $3000 is budgeted for support items and software. This may include, for example, software and microphones for students to create their own podcasts on various math and science topics.


Indirect for allowable costs will amount to $21,775 at the approved rate for Gadsden County of 3.35%. Of this amount, $5025 will be shared with the University of South Florida to provide facilities and administrative costs associated with the $150,000 in purchased services from the Florida Center for Instructional Technology. The $5025 represents 3.35% of $150,000 and is well below the negotiated rate of 15.8% that state universities expect to receive from state grants.


Thinkronize. The largest purchased service is the digital warehouse tool and the metadata tagging tool. A cost of $500,000 was negotiated with Thinkronize, Inc. to provide access to these tools through June 30, 2008. Two criteria were used to select Thinkronize over other vendors. Thinkronize has vast experience in providing just this sort of digital warehouse tool in their popular netTrekker product. This is the most widely used product of its kind both in Florida and across the nation. Thinkronize has won numerous awards for netTrekker including the prestigious CODiE for Best Instructional Solution: Classroom Management category from the Software & Information Industry Association. The second criterion that led us to Thinkronize was its publisher-neutral taxonomy. Certainly many publishers have created subject taxonomies, but choosing to use one related to a specific series of instructional resources would have been problematic. Using the Thinkronize subject area taxonomy allows Florida to develop a Digital Warehouse that is open to future contributions from all sources.


Florida Center for Instructional Technology. FCIT is a well-established creator of K-12 content for the state of Florida. Their digital resources provide extremely cost-effective content for Florida's students and teachers. Currently FCIT servers receive an average of well over one million “hits” per school day. FCIT is clearly the most logical partner in the state to provide the large quantity of digital assets needed to demonstrate the effectiveness of a Florida Digital Warehouse. Our budget reserves $150,000 for purchased services from FCIT. In consultation with FCIT, they have indicated that their internal budget for the $150,000 will be distributed among the various sub-projects as follows:


Tagging of a minimum of 40,000 existing FCIT resources with Thinkronize’s 22 (11 required and 11 optional) metadata fields. This tagging is necessary for the assets to align with the Thinkronize subject area taxonomy and provides other important information to the student or teacher searching for resources. $50,000


Creation of a minimum of 250 mathematics related Lit2Go passages. Each passage added to the Lit2Go site will include the Mp3 file, the complete text as both a webpage and as a PDF, and a PDF of a recommended reading strategy. $30,000


Services of STEM and Education faculty to act as consultants and creators of video professional development podcasts. Each of four faculty members will receive $5000 for their services. $20,000


Tagging and georectification of a minimum of 2,000 Florida maps so that they can be used by students and teachers in GIS activities. $15,000


Scientifically based research pilot on the use of digital devices for mathematics education to include travel, salary, licensing of research instrument from CREP, and analysis. $15,000.


Creation and tagging of a minimum of 1,000 new digital assets to support math including, but not limited to, illustrations, photographs, and data sets. $10,000.


Production of the professional development video podcasts. $10,000.



Deliverables: Manuals, reports, videos, CD ROMs, training materials, brochures, and any other tangible product to be developed by the project


(1) Name of Deliverable and Brief Description

(2) Standard(s) for Acceptance

(3) Due Date(s)


250 new math and science passages posted to the FCIT Lit2Go website



40,000 digital elements tagged by FCIT using LibraryDE



1000 new math-related clipart illustrations posted to FCIT Clipart ETC website


Launch of digital warehouse tool by Thinkronize, Inc.


Transfer of existing Exploring Florida map collection to database with complete metadata and georectification of all state and county maps by FCIT


Delivery of research analysis to Gadsden School District and the Florida Department of Education

















Each passage includes a high-quality Mp3 file, accurate web page and PDF of original text, and a teaching strategy appropriate for duplication.


All metadata entered in accordance with specifications developed by Thinkronize, Inc.


Each element is attractive and ADA compliant



Tool is appropriately organized and user friendly


Metadata is complete and georectification is at a sufficient level of accuracy for classroom use.



Format is consistent with content and intended audience


February 2007




April 1, 2007



April 2007



May 1, 2007


May 2007




June 30, 2007


Training, Technical Assistance, and Dissemination: All training and technical assistance (TA) activities whether provided onsite, through distance learning media, conferences, workshops, or other delivery strategies


(1) Name of Activity and Brief Description

(2) Quantity and Quality

Standards for Acceptance


(3) Method of Documentation

(4) Critical Timelines


One-to-one training of FCIT staff in the use of LibraryDE by Thinkronize staff


Professional development podcasts concerning the use of digital assets in K-12 math and science education




























Design and content appropriate for intended audience


Follow-up data indicative of effectiveness






Self-reporting by teachers



December 2006



January 2007–

May 2007 at the rate of 10/month


Student Performance: Any measure that is specific to student performance; e.g., test scores, attendance, behavior, award of diplomas, certificates, etc. Students may include pre-k, K-12, and adult learners


(1) Name of Performance and Brief Description


(2) Method of Evaluating Performance


(3) Method of DOE Verification

(4) Timelines for Data Collection




































Student Performance: Any measure that is specific to student performance; e.g., test scores, attendance, behavior, award of diplomas, certificates, etc. Students may include pre-k, K-12, and adult learners


(1) For each type of student performance to be impacted by the project, enter in Column (1), the name of the performance from the following list and provide a brief description. The description should describe the student population and provide detail about the expected student performance. For example, “Academic Achievement – Reading: Low-performing 3rd grade students in Smith Elementary School will increase by 1 level on the FCAT .”


Academic Achievement – Language Arts

Academic Achievement – Math

Academic Achievement – Reading

Academic Achievement – Science

Academic Achievement – Social Studies

Academic Achievement – Writing

Achievement – Arts

Achievement – Other

Achievement – Vocational Education


Award of Certificate

Career Advancement Retention

Decrease in Disciplinary Actions

Decrease in Drop-out Rate

Decrease in Suspensions/Expulsions





High School Credential

Job Placement

Job Retention

Improvement in Behavior

Increased Self-Sufficiency Through Use of Technology

Literacy Completion Points

Non-Traditional Enrollments

Occupational Completion Points

Parental Involvement in Education of Dependent Children

Parental Involvement in Literacy Activities of Dependent Children

Participation in Assessment

Participation in Least Restrictive Environment (LRE)

Placements, Retention, Completions (postsecondary JOBS)

Postsecondary Education Placement

Postsecondary Education Completion

Program Completion

Promotion to Next Grade

Satisfactory Completion of Coursework

Secondary Credential

State-Adopted Assessment

Workplace Readiness Completion




(2) For each student identified in Column (1), specify all of the proposed standards from the following list that should be used to determine whether the performance meets the expectations for the project. Any additional detail appropriate to each standard should be provided. For example, if one of the standards is “Graduation Data,” the description should outline how the data will be gathered and what level of graduation rate is expected.


Anecdotal Data

AYP Determination

Disciplinary Referrals


GED Data


Graduation Data


Participation Records

Placement Data



Progress Monitoring

Promotion Data

School Grades

Standardized Tests

Suspension/Expulsion Data



Student Performance (continued)


(3) Provide in Column 3, the information/materials which will be provided (or otherwise available) to document the performance of the project.



Analysis of Requests and Responses

Anecdotal Data


Evaluation Summaries

List of Participants

NRS Report

Observation by DOE Staff

Participant Competency Evaluations

Participant Feedback Summaries

Peer Review

Purchase Orders


Sheets

Travel Itineraries

Verification of Dissemination to Target Audiences



(4) Provide in Column (4), the critical timelines for completion of each activity taking into consideration announcements of training availability, delivery of training, completion of follow-up, etc.


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