About QTL for K-12  
  Evaluation of QTL for K-12
Overview of QTL for K-12  
  What participants say about QTL for K-12
Send teachers through QTL for K-12  
  frequently asked questions about QTL for K-12
expanding qtl for k12  
  Where QTL for K-12 is in operation
QTL > News > Article Summaries > Current Article
Lord Botetourt High teachers talk about the impact of their QTL™ collaborative projects
Feb. 22, 2005

QTL™ instructor Susan Herring has been sharing the program with teachers in Botetourt County, VA for just over a year. She listened in amazement as Lord Botetourt teachers shared results of their QTL™ collaborative projects with their peers.

"They get it," she says. "They really get it."

School administrators agree. "When (teachers who've been through the program) eat lunch now, they're talking about instruction. They have fun too, but there is a real focus on instruction," observes one. "We kind of catch the excitement from the kids they they do these things."

Here are some highlights of the presentations and projects:

"Doors to Diplomacy" Opens Students' Minds

Greg Hupp's students at Lord Botetourt High School became engrossed in a project that encompassed research, communications, teamwork, organization, presentation, web-building and a host of other skills.

Social studies teacher Greg Hupp says his group had a hard time deciding on a collaborative project at first because they all taught different subjects and had different ideas. Then they found "Doors to Diplomacy," an international web competition sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

"These are my kids at work. For the first time all year," Hupp jokes as he shows a PowerPoint slide of students creating their entries for the competition.

"The first thing I noticed was, it doesn't matter what level the student, they got into it," he says, adding that the impact of an active learning project was particularly noticeable in those who "didn't care about school work before."

A visit to the classroom later the same day shows he's not kidding - his students are intensely interested in the work. After choosing from one of eight competition categories (from 'leadership' to 'foreign relations' to 'science and technology'), each group of 3-4 students has conducted extensive research and organized it into a comprehensive mini-web site. The long odds in a world-wide competition haven't reduced their enthusiasm.

Hupp is enthusiastic about the benefits of this project-based, technology-rich approach. It incorporates group cooperation and self-learning, is adaptable to each student's learning level, and creates high student interest.

"When they get into something and get excited about something, they want to learn more," he says. "And they'll go out and learn it."

"A Really Good Experience"

A second group of Lord Botetourt teachers put their students to work building Webquests to share with their classmates. Sara Zeek, the school's first National Board Certified teacher, says she learned PowerPoint tricks from her students. But she seems more impressed with what she learned about the students themselves.

"What I saw after getting started was the students helped and taught each other," she says, noting that the stronger students helped the others along as expected but were sometimes surprised by the knowledge their teammates could contribute. She adds the students were surprisingly conscientious about dividing tasks and sharing the work.

"There were some who weren't as comfortable with it at first because of their knowledge level," says one of Zeek's teammates, Lynne Humphreys. "But when they saw how comfortable it was, how relaxed, how they helped each other, they really enjoyed it."

A student named Daniel confirms this in front of a faculty gathering. "It was a really good experience," he says, adding that student interest was "a lot higher than last year" when students did traditional research papers by researching and writing on their own.

"We learned a whole lot more this time," he says. "And this year, no one got into trouble."

Student-Led Learning Builds Confidence

Darlene Callahan says her team's project had students taking stock of each other. After working in teams to research presentations, students were given a rubric with which to grade fellow students' work on the project.

She says to her surprise, they didn't go easy on each other - even grading friends according to a high standards. In fact, many took advantage of an opportunity to go back and improve their own work after hearing the critiques.

The student assessments counted for 25% of the final grade. "And they accepted that," says Callahan. "And most of them took it very seriously."

The impact was powerful, affecting different students in different ways. QTL™ instructor Susan Herring, who observed some of the students' work, notes that two students in particular who had lacked self-confidence "were beaming" after becoming tech mentors to their classmates.

GG Wagner, an interpreter/aide to a student who does not have the ability to speak, says that student really came to life taking an active role in his group's project. Assigned to research Elizabethan-era music, he downloaded music into an mp3 player, played it for the class, and used sign language to explain some of what he had learned.

She says the other students were very supportive after getting the chance to interact and work with the student.

"They were impressed," Wagner says. "He really enjoyed that. It sort of made him like everybody else. He was very excited."


For more information, contact Robin Fred via e-mail at or call him at 888.507.3800.

Back to Top

Article Summaries Page
Copyright 2005, The Centers for Quality Teaching and Learning™. All rights reserved.
Please send questions or comments about this site to the QTL™