QTL News & Best Practices
NCTA Grant Opens New Possibilities for Students
The latest in a series of federally funded demonstration projects spearheaded by the North Carolina Technology Association adds new technology to teachers' toolkits.
NORLINA, NC - An instructional technology experiment at a northeastern North Carolina elementary school once again shows the power of technology tools and well prepared teachers.
Northside Elementary in Warren County was the recipient of a 2010 federal demonstration grant spearheaded by the North Carolina Technology Association.The $190,000 grant, backed by Rep. G.K. Butterfield's office, brought new tech tools to the school. It also provided professional development to help teachers get the most out of the new technology.
It was the latest of nine NCTA demonstration projects over the past seven years. NCTA President and CEO Brooks Raiford says those projects, worth more than $2 million to the districts that benefitted, have shown the importance of investing in educational technology. Butterfield concurred.
"In order to stay economically competitive, the United States must continue making significant investments in education that integrate technology in the classroom at an early age," the Congressman told a group gathered to celebrate the culmination of the project. (Watch highlights of the celebration.)
"Technology is so important... particularly for the rural district," says Dr. Ray Spain, superintendent of Warren County Schools, "because that is one thing we can leverage to improve the learning and the teaching that happens in our schools. Our students are the direct beneficiaries of this grant."
Teachers say students are more engaged thanks to the additional technology. "I've noticed that my students' behavior has improved... they want to participate and are actively involved," says first grade teacher Patricia Williamson. "They show excitement for learning."
Chief Technology Officer Chris Withrow says that impact has shown up in student assessment. He says student understanding of the objectives has increased by 40 to 50 percent in numerous areas, based upon benchmark testing before and after the project began. He says teachers worked hard to learn how to make the best use of the new tools, and benefitted from the tools and training. "We've received more out of this project than was paid for," he concludes.
"A tool is no good without a teacher who knows how to use it," says Raiford. "So the projects include a major component of training for educators on how to make the most out of the equipment that they have at their disposal."
The Centers for Quality Teaching and Learning provided the staff development, bringing the Foundations in QTL program to the entire Northside Elementary faculty. Select teachers from the county's other schools also took part in the Foundations program, and principals from every school in the district participated in QTL Instructional Leadership Seminars.
Principal Jamar Perry called the professional development "outstanding" and said it "will assist in the improvement and the effectiveness of the instruction provided to our students."
Outside evaluator Pam Brewer says the initial feedback has been extremely positive. She is preparing a final evaluation report on the project, to be released by NCTA.
Raiford thanked all who helped the project succeed, from the teachers and administrators who participated and the Warren County Board of Education to Rep. Butterfield and his staff and to the Greater Triangle United Way. That organization's Teaming for Technology program donated computers for the professional development lab.
"This is an example of partnerships that come out of these projects. People hear about it, they get excited about it, and they want to participate. So the overall benefit is greater than the initial proposal."
"We want the technology to change to classroom, to enhance what the teachers teach," says Dr. Spain. "And we're beginning to see that in Warren County."
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