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on their existing knowledge rather than learning from scratch. “With journie, we are providing a collaborative and safe

learning network that students and teachers share,” McCaffrey added. “It is a way to extend the learning experience, on the stu- dents’ terms, that fits in with what they do in their social lives.”

SO MANY POSSIBILITIES…AND QUESTIONS Loretta Kachmar-Will, supervisor of special projects at Ocean

Township School District (N.J.), has found numerous ways to pro- mote learning during school bus commutes — 22, actually, that she is considering for her doctoral dissertation. Ideas include low- cost options like English-language DVDs as well as more costly technology like interactive Smart boards and responders. “It would be interesting to find out if true learning could oc-

cur in this environment. We need to see a study of students over time, with a control group, where achievement data can be tracked and compared,” Kachmar-Will said. School districts need to identify their objectives before im-

plementing on-board learning programs, notes Kachmar-Will, who has worked in education for 20-plus years. She points to the on-going Aspirnaut Initiative in Arkansas as an example of how one school district obtained grant money and built on its relationship with an area university to get iPods, laptops and media screens on school buses. “Who decides what the content is going to be? Is the goal to

improve student achievement or is it entertainment to reduce behavioral problems?” Kachmar-Will said, adding that school buses could even house the afterschool programs that districts like hers are cutting from their budgets. “Does the school district have the right to mandate or ex-

pect students to do any academic work to and from school? My goal, if I pursued this, would be to really engage students…not skill-and-drill but more individualized learning,” Kachmar-Will continued. “We need to look at equity and access, especially for kids who do not have technology.” Alan Blankstein, author of “Failure Is Not an Option,” advo-

cates learning on school buses. His latest book, “Te Answer Is in the Room,” focuses on high-achieving schools and districts and how to implement their methods. “Te school bus will promote learning of some sort whether

or not it is intentional. Te learning might be in realms that are not only academic but social and emotional as well. For example, do children learn that they are valued?” said Blankstein. “Do they learn that the bus, as an extension of school, is a safe place?” Still, not all are completely sold on the idea. “I have mixed feelings about it. Kids have got to have some

down time, and I’m not sure there’s anything wrong with the kid who’s on a long bus ride just having some time to do some pleasurable reading, to visit with friends,” said Dr. Edgar Hatrick, superintendent for Loudoun County (Va.) Public Schools. ■

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