Rockbridge area K-12 teachers will be among those who benefit from a $20,000 grant to Washington and Lee University from the Verizon Foundation through a program of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges (VFIC).
The primary purpose of the Verizon Foundation Teaching with Technology grant is to prepare W&L teacher education students to integrate technology into the classroom. However, part of the grant enables Washington and Lee to help local teachers in Rockbridge County, Lexington and Buena Vista who want to use current mobile technology as a way to engage their students.
The application for the grant took two years to complete and the program will be implemented in the fall of 2013. It will offer mini-grants to local teachers who have a particular activity involving technology they would like to introduce to introduce to their students. For example, a teacher may want to have a class set of portable computer storage devices to create electronic portfolios.
Washington and Lee will also provide training and professional development for local K-12 teachers through a series of six meetings, two each in Rockbridge County, Lexington and Buena Vista schools. Teachers will get ideas on how to integrate technology into their classrooms and will be introduced to Verizon's Thinkfinity.org website http://www.thinkfinity.org/community/thinkfinity-resources, which provides a database of online resources for teachers who wish to use technology, including lesson plans and other activities such as online games and manipulative activities for mathematics.
In return, Washington and Lee will ask that participating teachers allow W&L teacher education students to observe and potentially aid the teachers in their integration of technology into the classroom.
"Our hope is that our students will get their practical experience in the schools by observing how the local teachers integrate technology in their classrooms," said Haley Sigler, assistant director of teacher education, who developed the program with Lenna Ojure, director of the teacher education program and associate professor of education.
The grant also enables Washington and Lee to purchase 10 iPads for teacher education students to practice using mobile technology, and then use them to teach some of the content for elementary schools during their student teaching practicum. Another part of the grant will allow W&L teacher education faculty to attend the annual conference of the International Society for Technology in Education.
"We know that this grant will provide wonderful opportunities for our local K-12 education community as well as Washington and Lee students who hope to enter education, and we're very grateful for the support of the Verizon Foundation and VFIC," said Sigler.