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Volume 9, Number 3: November 27, 2002

Expanding Our IDEAS

by John Fischer,
IDEAS Project Director



The Interactive Dialogue with Educators from Across the State (IDEAS) Website ( is an online portal for Wisconsin's educators that is built and maintained by Wisconsin's educators. Teachers and educators can search IDEAS for high-quality lesson plans, student sites, online projects, and teacher resources and tools that are

Did you know?

  • IDEAS allows users to leave ratings and comments for other educators about resources they've used.
  • All Wisconsin educators can use the online Suggestion Box to recommend resources to be included on IDEAS.
  • Wisconsin organizations with online educational resources for teachers can catalog information about their materials with IDEAS.
  • IDEAS recently received a University of Wisconsin Program Excellence Award and a Certificate of Excellence from the University Continuing Education Association.
  • Since March, 2001, over 60 PK-16 Wisconsin educators have worked together selecting the best lessons and resources for IDEAS.
  • You can share IDEAS with educators in your district by linking to the site using the programming code available at
  • Anyone can include IDEAS in district professional development sessions. Brochures, bookmarks, and multimedia presentations are available by clicking on the Contact Us link on the website.
aligned with the Wisconsin Model Academic Standards. Educators can search the IDEAS database by content area, grade level, specific state standard, or keyword. There is also an Advanced Search Engine available for fast, specific searches.

Since its inception in August, 2001, the IDEAS portal website has served over 70,000 educators with resources. Now, with continued support from the University of Wisconsin-System, TEACH Wisconsin, the University of Wisconsin-Extension, and with contributions by new partners, IDEAS is expanding to offer even greater service to Wisconsin's educators.


Over the past three months, IDEAS has experienced a large increase in user activity. This is in large part due to the continual addition of resources by the IDEAS Research Team that currently consists of over 40 Wisconsin educators cataloging resources for the project. In addition, presentations and exhibits at conventions such as the Outreach Scholarship: Partners for Change hosted by Ohio State University, the Wisconsin Educational Association Council's state convention, and the Governor's Wisconsin Educational Technology Conference have all been well attended and help disseminate information about the website.

Some of those 40 researchers are helping populate the IDEAS database with resources in new content areas. Through a partnership with Wisconsin Folks (, sponsored by the Wisconsin Arts Board, and also Portal Wisconsin (, a non-profit web site created by the Cultural Coalition to promote culture, arts, humanities and history in Wisconsin, over $5,500 was made available to hire art and music educators for IDEAS.

IDEAS is expanding to more than just additional content areas, too. Now, Wisconsin educators can sign up on-line for a no-cost membership to the site, which will give them access to two useful features:

  • The IDEAS Backpack. Members with the IDEAS Backpack can create, name, and edit up to 10 online "folders" to help them organize the materials they find on IDEAS. This concept works much like an online shopping cart where items can be stored and saved for retrieval at a later date.
  • The IDEAS Discussion Forum. Users can dialogue with other Wisconsin educators in their specific grade levels and content areas.

For more information on the IDEAS membership features, go to IDEAS and click in the top menu on the item titled Members.


In addition to art and music education resources being made available on IDEAS, the project is also partnering with the Wisconsin Association for Environmental Education (WAEE). WAEE received a grant from the Wisconsin Environmental Education Board (WEEB) to help disseminate quality online resources in Environmental Education (EE). In spring 2003, visitors to the WAEE website ( will be able to search for EE resources from IDEAS. The WEEB grant will help finance the educators who will evaluate, catalog, and standards align lessons and websites.

If you or one of your colleagues are interested in working on this team of EE researchers, please contact John Fischer through the IDEAS website or Mary Vymetal-Taylor. Researchers will receive on-site training and financial compensation for their work.

Also coming to IDEAS in early 2003, thanks to a cross-divisional grant award from UW-Extension, will be searchable, streaming video clips. This cooperative project between Wisconsin Public Television and IDEAS will enable educators to search for specific video related to Wisconsin History and Culture. The project will be showcased as the Wisconsin Council for the Social Studies (WCSS) conference in Green Bay on March 17th and 18th.

In addition to the WCSS conference in March, you can visit the IDEAS exhibit or sit in on an IDEAS presentation at the following conferences:

  • Wisconsin Educational Media Association (WEMA)
    April 9-11, 2003, Milwaukee
  • Wisconsin Society of Science Teachers (WSST)
    March 9-11, 2003, Wisconsin Dells
  • Wisconsin Math Council (WMC)
    May 1-2, 2003, Green Lake
  • Wisconsin Association of Middle Level Educators (WAMLE)
    April 24-26, 2003, Stevens Point
  • Southern Wisconsin Educational In-service Organization (SWEIO)
    February 26, 2003, Madison
  • Wisconsin State Reading Association (WSRA)
    February 6-8, 2003, Milwaukee

The School News, a for-profit newspaper published in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, is showcasing Wisconsin educators' lessons each month. The feature, simply titled, "lesson plans" offers two or three resources available through IDEAS that highlight original lesson plans, websites, and educational resources created by Wisconsin teachers and educators. The School News approached IDEAS about providing these resources on a monthly basis. It is an excellent opportunity to share high-quality content created by our educators. Authors of content that are selected each month provide their permission to reprint the work, and they are given credit in the publication. Any Wisconsin educator with online lessons can submit them to IDEAS for evaluation and cataloging by visiting IDEAS and clicking on the Suggestion Box link.



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