Qwest Awards Technology Grants to 4 Schools

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Extra Credit
Teachers and Technology Grants

The Teachers and Technology mini-grant program funds preK-12 technology initiatives to schools in the 14 states where Qwest does business.

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--D. Nagel

The Qwest Foundation this month awarded grants to teachers in four schools through its Teachers and Technology program. The program is designed to fund technologies geared specifically toward improving student achievement, including interactive classroom technologies, online tools, and gear to support scientific work, in preK-12 schools.

Two teachers at Park Elementary school, part of the Natrona County School District in Wyoming, were awarded $5,000 grants from the foundation in conjunction with the Wyoming Department of Education. Through the grants, the teachers--Lynn Ahrndt and Kelly Toups--will purchase equipment to engage their students in "EarthCaching," an outdoor geoscience activity that uses GPS systems and digital cameras to catalog natural features while attempting to have no negative impact on them (as would be the case with, say, digging or physically collecting objects). For the fifth- and sixth-grade students, the program will include learning GPS technology, taking field trips, and sharing their work.

"Our state's teachers continually look beyond traditional methods of instruction when it comes to making sure their students succeed," said Wyoming State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jim McBride in a statement released this week. "And the Qwest Teachers and Technology grants are one way to advance new learning techniques that capture students' attention--and pave the way for their futures."

EarthCaching is related to Geocaching, which is a GPS-based treasure-hunting game.

Also in Wyoming, at Park County School District # 1, Powell High School teacher Zack Opps has been awarded a $12,000 grant to pursue a science-focused, interdisciplinary project involving biology, computer technology, GIS, Advanced Placement composition, Web design, algebra, and Spanish, according to the school. The objective of the project is to study a local invasive plant species--to map its location and work with a county agency to control it.

"Powell High's teachers came up with an innovative way to not only incorporate technology into their classrooms, but also to apply their project across many disciplines," said Bill Schwan, Powell High School principal, in a statement released Wednesday. "Our teachers' creativity will give students real-world experience they can apply beyond today and into their futures, and we thank Qwest for helping with that opportunity."

The project involves GPS unites and GIS software, which will be used to determine the extent of the pest plant problem.

Thursday, Debby Iverson, a teacher at Coweeman Middle School, part of Kelso Public Schools in Washington, was awarded $10,000. The grant will be used to fund interactive classroom technologies and collaborative tools, including an interactive whiteboard and wireless response system, which will be used in conjunction with videoconferencing and Webcasting technologies.

Iverson will use the project to teach skills and share technologies with students in the school and to connect her eighth-grade social studies students with "authentic, primary sources for projects."

"Digital technologies have the power to bring diverse topics to students in meaningful ways," Iverson said in a statement released Thursday. "Communication with peers around the world is only a click away. I'll know this program is ultimately effective when students view themselves as an interactive part of a global society."

Most recently, Veronica Moore, a kindergarten teacher at Kitsap Lake Elementary, part of Bremerton School District in Washington, received $10,000 to purchase audio and video technology for a digital "show and tell" project, which will introduce students to 21st century skills, allowing them to record activities, then write about them and share their reports on their classroom computers.

"Every child has an inner voice yearning to be heard and validated," said Moore in a statement released by Qwest Friday. "Whether that child is timid, assertive, has a disability or is deaf, we must facilitate all voices by providing age-appropriate classroom experiences enhanced by technology in order to plant the seed for life-long learning."

Further information about the Qwest Foundation in education can be found here.

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About the author: David Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's online education technology publications, including THE Journal and Campus Technology. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com.

Proposals for articles and tips for news stories, as well as questions and comments about this publication, should be submitted to David Nagel, executive editor, at dnagel@1105media.com.

About the Author

David Nagel is the executive producer for 1105 Media's online K-12 and higher education publications and electronic newsletters. He can be reached at dnagel@1105media.com. He can now be followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/THEJournalDave (K-12) or http://twitter.com/CampusTechDave (higher education). You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=10390192.

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