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NCTA Grant Brings Technology, PD to Rural School

The latest in a series of federally funded demonstration projects spearheaded by the North Carolina Technology Association brings 21st Century teaching tools to another rural district.

taylorsvillegroupTAYLORSVILLE, NC - Teachers in this Alexander County school have been able to take advantage of 21st Century teaching tools as never before after being chosen to receive a grant for new technology, and professional development on how to use it effectively.

Taylorsville Elementary teachers completed initial QTL training, and continue on to collaborative projects that use data to identify and address student needs.

The federal demonstration grant is the latest in a series spearheaded by the North Carolina Technology Association. Principal Susan Campbell says she's excited about what her teachers will be able to do with the additional technology the grant provides. (Read participants' reflections.)

"I think the NCTA project will greatly impact the learning of the students at Taylorsville Elementary by providing them access to 21st Century skills," she says. She adds that students' access to technology tools has been very limited in the past, and she says that has hampered students' global awareness.

Last year the NCTA Education Foundation Technology Project was awarded $95,350 "to infuse low-wealth schools in rural North Carolina with the technology tools needed to implement their technology plans." Taylorsville Elementary was selected as the recipient of the funding after a competitive application process. (Read NCTA's news release about the grant.)

The organization credited Rep. Virginia Foxx as well as Senators Richard Burr and Elizabeth Dole with supporting the initiative, the eighth NCTA demonstration project in recent years. NCTA members including Lenovo and the Triangle United Way added donations that made the dollars go further.

Professional development has played a role in each project, with NCTA recognizing the importance of a comprehensive approach to instructional technology. In Taylorsville, The Centers for Quality Teaching and Learning again served as NCTA's professional development partner.

"Comprehensive professional development helps teachers meet state recommended competencies and appropriately integrate technology into the classroom," says Sheila Mitchiner, project manager for the North Carolina Technology Association. "The result is a well-organized training plan designed to help teachers and administrators focus on North Carolina core curriculum standards, use modern technology resources, implement new designs for teaching and learning, establish classroom management strategies, and generate best pedagogical practices."

Thirty-two Taylorsville Elementary teachers began the professional development process in by attending five days of QTL during January and February. They attended two separate sessions in groups of 16, and completed initial projects. QTL Instructor Linda Mackey says she's been impressed with what she's seen.

"I have been very pleased with the work of these teachers," she says. "They have consistently and enthusiastically engaged in QTL activities and have completed the activities at a high level of performance. Some of the teachers who were not technologically adept have worked outside of class in small groups to review and practice learning."

They'll continue the work next through Focused Collaborative Cycles. Focusing on a specific student need selected by principal Susan Campbell, the teachers will choose specific teaching strategies and assessment tools to address that need and then measure the impact of their strategies. The idea is to focus on real needs, and see what approaches make a positive impact.

"The professional development has been wonderful and given teachers the knowledge they need to provide the best instructional practices for our students which will overall impact student achievement," says Campbell.

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