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May 10, 2011
21st Century Technology Grants Enhance Teaching and Learning Across Oregon
SALEM– State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo today joins teachers, administrators, and students from 19 Oregon school districts to celebrate and showcase the districts’ use of educational technology. As recipients of federal 21st Century Technology-Rich Learning and Teaching grants, these districts have spent the last two years developing new and innovative ways to integrate technology into elementary and middle school classrooms. Today’s event is both an opportunity to celebrate the good work of these districts and a chance for teachers and administrators to share their experiences, highlight best practices, and plan for the future. Superintendent Castillo is joined by Governor Kitzhaber, who will provide the keynote speech. The event is put on in partnership with the Organization for Education Technology and Curriculum (OETC).
“These 19 districts are leading the way in the use of educational technology,” said Superintendent Susan Castillo. “Thanks to these grants, our educators have had access to cutting edge technology and the training on how to use it effectively to improve instruction. For the past two years, our schools have explored the possibilities and potential of true 21st Century learning. And teachers have seen student engagement, creativity, empowerment, and achievement increase. Thanks to technology, we're able to do a better job of engaging students, differentiating instruction, and personalizing learning. Students have embraced these tools and the increased relevance, access, and opportunities for collaboration that they provide.”
The following Oregon districts received 2009 21st Century Technology-Rich Learning and Teaching grants as part of the federal government’s Title IID Enhancing Education Through Technology initiative: Beaverton, Bend-La Pine, Coos Bay, David Douglas, Eagle Point, Eugene, Forest Grove, Hood River County, Jefferson County, Klamath Falls City, McMinnville, Mt. Angel, North Clackamas, Ontario, Salem-Keizer, South Lane, Springfield, Sweet Home, and Woodburn. Each district selected 4 to 6 teachers to pilot this technology-rich learning environment model. The districts received a total of $6,724,211 in grant funds to support technology and technology related professional development in these classrooms.
The 21st Century Classroom
These grants helped move participating Oregon classrooms into the 21st Century. Teachers integrate technology into student-centered learning environments where technology and digital tools are used to solve real-world problems. Technology is used across subjects and disciplines to enhance learning, increase access and opportunities for collaboration, and to support student learning, engagement, and creativity. The 21st Century Technology-Rich Learning and Teaching grant program is geared to provide evidence that technology, when integrated into a technology-rich learning environment and supported by strong, on-going professional development, can produce positive changes in the classroom environment that result in improved student learning and achievement.
Access to Technology Allows for Increased Personalization and Student Engagement
Technology in the classroom increases the ability of teachers to personalize learning for their students. Teachers have access to a wider range of resources which they can utilize to better meet each individual student’s learning needs. Students can learn content at their own pace, explore areas of personal interest, and use specialized technology to overcome language or learning barriers. Students are also empowered to take increased ownership of their learning and to be active, engaged partners in the learning process. The use of technology encourages teamwork, collaboration, and creative problem solving. Students and teachers learn together as they explore new ways to integrate technology into the classroom.
Student Achievement Enhanced Through The Use Of Technology
The classrooms which have piloted the use of these technology tools have seen an increase in student achievement. Achievement tends to go up when students find their learning accessible, relevant, and engaging. The use of technology in schools can also help students develop higher-order thinking skills and can enhance communication and team-work skills. In addition, students are better prepared for future success when they have a strong foundation in the use of technology. In our 21st century world, students will use technology in school, higher education, and the workplace. Not all students have access to technology at home, and having that access at school helps to level the playing field and ensure all students are receiving a strong foundation in these increasingly critical skills.
Professional Development – Key to Success
Access to technology is critical but the ability to use that technology well is even more critical. These grants provided not just technology tools, but also the professional development to make them meaningful. Teachers were provided with the training and support to maximize the use of their technology resources so they could use their tools to enhance, improve, and refine instruction. Teachers learned new ways to deliver lessons using document cameras, projectors, wireless slates, laptops, and SMART Boards. This professional development ensured that students were receiving the full benefits of the technology and allowed teachers to leverage these resources to engage students and enhance learning.
The goal is to build upon the work these 19 districts did over the course of these grants, sharing effective strategies and lessons with other schools and districts. While funding is always an issue, these grants have clearly demonstrated the impact that effective use of educational technology can have on student engagement and achievement. ODE will be awarding approximately two million dollars in additional federal 21st Century Technology-Rich Learning and Teaching grants in June. These one year grants will expand access to educational technology in additional Oregon districts. This will be the final round of grants as the U.S. Department of Education has eliminated future funding.
“We know that technology in our classrooms makes a huge difference,” said Superintendent Castillo. “But we also know that in these tough economic times, many districts are having to cut back on the availability of technology at all levels. I look forward to working with the legislature and the Governor on finding ways to support the good work currently underway in this state and move Oregon forward in the use of instructional technology. We will continue to work with our community and business partners to find ways to support the use of technology in our schools. We owe it to our students to prepare them for success in our technology-driven society.”
Thanks to the US Department of Education for the 21st Century Technology-Rich Learning and Teaching grants, to the Organization for Education Technology and Curriculum (OETC) for all of its support, and to the administrators, teachers, school staff, students, and parents of the participating grant sites for all of their work, dedication, and innovation over the last two years.
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