Oct 12 2006

Tinfoil Star: Principal Tamala Martin of Summit Elementary

It’s important to motivate students and teachers, so we’ve started a Tinfoil Star section in Ed Tech to do just that.

No matter how hard we try, we don't always show our appreciation to the special people in our lives. That omission seems odd, as most of us treasured those moments of recognition in our childhood.

For example, my teachers at Detroit’s Dossin Elementary School rewarded students who did well on a spelling test or a chalkboard math problem with an ingenious, low-cost motivational tool: a tinfoil star on the forehead. Many of my cherished childhood memories involve receiving one. I’d wear mine all day long: right through class; on the walk home; during chores, dinner and homework; and when I went to bed.

As the pressures increase to raise school test scores, adhere to federal mandates and integrate technology into the classroom, it’s important to recognize all the effort and success that happen along the way. That’s why we’re introducing a recurring section in Ed Tech called Tinfoil Star. In each issue, we’ll share ideas from school districts across the country—and perhaps even around the globe—on how to celebrate and motivate students, teachers and other staff.

Principal Tamala Martin of Summit Elementary in Ashland, Ky., submitted our inaugural Tinfoil Star suggestion. Her school celebrates with a “clap-out,” at which honored students and teachers receive a standing ovation from the entire school as they parade up and down the halls. Interested in hosting a clap-out of your own? Find out more on p. 44.

While recognizing student achievement, educators also need to listen to their input. We’re delighted to add student Emily McAdams to the roster of thought leaders who’ve penned an opinion column for our magazine. McAdams, a junior at Chapel Hill High School and the president of the North Carolina Technology Student Association, makes a persuasive argument that students deserve to play a role in their school’s technology decisions. Her generation grew up with high expectations for technology tools and possesses a comfort level that many adults take years to develop. Turn to p. 14 for her views.

The How To story on p. 20 tells how one school turned its tech trash into a low-maintenance thin-client network. Although funding for technology virtually disappeared at Temescal Canyon High School, the history chairman and technology coordinator forged ahead with his students’ help. About 20 computer whiz kids refurbished outdated PCs, transforming them into thin-client terminals.

As always, we value your insights. And please tell us about any Tinfoil Stars in your life and at your school.

Lee Copeland
Editor in Chief