Sweet Briar College has received a $20,000 grant from Verizon Foundation through a program of the Virginia Foundation for Independent Colleges to fund a teacher education program designed to integrate technology into K-12 classrooms.
During the two-year pilot, faculty members in the education department will work with students in Sweet Briar’s teacher education program. The technology-related material has been added to the coursework for “Instructional Strategies for the Differentiated Classroom.”
Participants will be to trained use Thinkfinity.org resources with mobile device technology as part of a differentiated curriculum, which is the guiding philosophy of Sweet Briar’s education programs. For this pilot, participating students will be equipped with iPads. The project’s premise is that technology coupled with effective differentiation can increase achievement levels for teacher education students as well as their students.
Thinkfinity.org is one the Verizon Foundation’s — the philanthropic arm of Verizon — initiatives that “leverage innovative technology and interactive learning to increase teacher effectiveness and advance student achievement,” according to the website.
Sweet Briar associate professor of education and principal investigator Holly Gould says students will receive specialized training from Verizon and Sweet Briar faculty to create differentiated lessons and share them on the Thinkfinity website.
In the grant proposal, Gould and her colleagues argue that creating and sharing learning objects in these kinds of ways represents the future of advancing teaching skills and options.
“The increased prevalence of mobile devices in use by the learners mandates that teachers develop lessons and learning objects accessible to their students in forms they prefer,” they wrote. “The end goal is to enhance the classroom experience and, ultimately, the achievement level of the students they teach.”
A second goal is to share their experiences and provide teaching resources for others by posting their lesson plans to Thinkfinity.org.
Sweet Briar was one of five VFIC member institutions to be awarded “Teaching with Today’s Technology” grants in 2011, totaling $100,000.
The grant program is a three-year partnership between the VFIC and the Verizon Foundation designed to enhance the education and skills of VFIC college students studying for careers in teaching K-12. It supports five different VFIC member colleges each year from 2010 to 2012, with a focus on providing exposure to the technologies and software available for K-12 teaching.