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Project Background and History

Project Background and History

BLC/MELC – Middle School Teachers in Action
Because MELC is a joint venture between the Baltimore City Public School System and the University of Maryland at College Park, this coalition has formed an electronic learning community. The venture involves using technologies such as digitized video, Internet resources, two-way video and audio for distance learning, and electronic mail to support and enhance middle school curriculum and professional development. Central to the project is the creation of an electronic lesson plan template that is used by teachers to create online learning modules. Having the modules online enables them, and the expertise they represent, to be shared by community members. This template tool also allows members to integrate rich and powerful online original sources (video, text, graphics, audio, and images) into the middle school curriculum. These electronic resources have been indexed according to topic area and with respect to state outcomes and national content standards.

The teachers access the resources via a search engine developed by University of Maryland faculty and graduate students. There is no centralized source of expertise in the project; learning goes back and forth in many directions as all of the different partners work to understand the best ways to blend rich content into the learning environment.

BLC/MELC Evolution and Transition
The project has evolved since it first began in the 1995-1996 academic year. Initially, participating schools were: Francis Scott Key Elementary/Middle School, Lombard Middle School and Highlandtown Middle School, with 12 science and social studies teachers participating.

In the summer of 1998, Hamilton Middle School and Lombard Learning Academy (a part of Lombard Middle School), as well as additional teachers from existing schools, were added to the project. Currently there are 30 project teachers, primarily in science and social studies, as well as some in language arts and math. The participating schools have ongoing technology initiatives, administrative support, and a high level of teacher interest in the project.

Technology Challenge Grants are five-year research endeavors. As the initial five years for the project come to a close, MELC participants are working to enable the Baltimore middle school teachers to have the resources necessary to sustain their work after the project is formally completed. The goal is to move the schools beyond initial MELC project participation, by providing the teachers with the tools that will enable them to grow their electronic learning community and build it into the fabric of their schools and beyond.

The Baltimore Learning Communities Proposal

Southeast Cluster Technology Innovation Challenge Grant Link
MELC is part of a whole network of Technology Innovation Challenge Grants throughout the entire country. For more information about the Southeast Cluster, of which MELC is a part, please explore the Southeast Cluster Technology Innovation Challenge Grant Website


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