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Friday, November 18, 2011

UNCP grad students win three technology grants

A UNC Pembroke graduate-level education class wrote three successful grant applications this fall to purchase Apple iPads. The grants totaled $5,603 and are being used to purchase much-needed technology for classrooms in Bladen and Sampson counties.

Elizabethtown Primary Team - from left: L. Kelly, D. Jacobs, J. Frith, L. Gorman-Hayes

Elizabethtown Primary Team - from left: L. Kelly, D. Jacobs, J. Frith, L. Gorman-Hayes

Black Line

The course, Advanced Technology in the Elementary Classroom, was taught by UNCP professor Dr. Lisa Mitchell at Bladen Community College as part of UNCP’s Master of Arts in Education program in elementary education.  The cohort drew 27 teachers from Bladen, Sampson, Cumberland and Robeson counties.

Dr. Mitchell said a grant application was a class assignment, and the class took it to heart. “It was a leadership exercise, and I offered a list of grant possibilities,” she said. “Technology is not always fully funded, so teachers have to be creative.

“We took iPads to the class, and it was a big hit with the teachers,” Dr. Mitchell continued. “We surveyed the class about what they needed in their classrooms, and they all identified technology.”

An Apple iPad is an electronic device measuring only about 7 x 9 inches, yet has more capability than many personal computers, including cameras and other recording devices, motion and ambient light sensors, Wi-Fi capability, a digital compass, assisted GPS, built-in speakers and a microphone, among other features. Thousands of free applications (“apps”) increase the iPad’s functionality even further.

Union Elementary School second grade teacher Bambi Guyton Dove won a $1,150 grant from the Sampson County Friends of Education to buy two iPads.

“Because (Dr. Mitchell) brought iPads to class and showed us what a wonderful tool they are, I had to get some for my students,” Dove said. “I appreciated that she shared this with us, and I can’t wait until they get here.”

 SPECIAL GRANT

A four-member team from Elizabethtown Primary School won a $2,500 grant from the pharmacy company CVS Caremark Corp. for iPads and software, including Brainpop, UltraPhonics and AcceleSpell. The group’s members, Linda Gorman-Hay, Joy Frith, Demetria Jacobs and Lateia Kelly, had a special mission.

Their grant application stated: “Our program goal is to provide children with disabilities access to technology that will enable them to become 21st century learners. The students have a range of disabilities.

“Technology is changing almost daily, and these skills are the building blocks with which to meet the challenges of personal and professional life. The students we are including in this program are students who have been mainstreamed into the regular education classrooms.”

BRIGHT IDEAS

Melanie Wrampe and Lindsey Kiley, who teach at Union Intermediate School in Clinton, won a North Carolina Electric Cooperative Bright Ideas/Leap into Learning grant for $1,953. They purchased three iPads.

Kiley said winning the grant was like a big, unexpected Christmas present. “Dr. Mitchell's technology class was one of the most relevant and useful classes in my graduate studies,” she said. “Everything in my job is pushed toward technology, and she gave so many great resources that I have been able to use in my classroom.

“Funding is being cut everywhere,” Kiley continued. “This is a real blessing for our students who need these tools in our classrooms.”

The application states: “iPads will be used to enhance instruction during centers, small groups, and whole-group instruction. Students will use the iPad to play educational games that assess their skills, provide practice, and offer enrichment opportunities. iPads help to bring 21st century technology into the classroom without losing the warm classroom atmosphere.”

Learning core curricula material while using advanced technology is a two-for-one proposition for students, and the UNCP course introduced the teachers to the most current technology and applications.  

BCC COHORT

Besides teaching technology for the classroom, a component of the larger program is to nurture leadership skills, explained Dr. Karen Stanley, director of UNCP’s graduate elementary education program.

 “When I read the biographies of these teachers, it was evident they are already leaders in their schools,” Dr. Stanley said. “The grant awards are very exciting, and we are very proud of all of these teachers.”

Teachers from Bladen, Cumberland, Sampson and Robeson counties enrolled in the Bladen Community College “cohort.” Twenty-seven candidates started together in the summer of 2010, and 25 will graduate together in May 2010.

“They were very excited to have UNCP come to Bladen County, and every class was a joy to teach,” said Dr. Stanley, who is also the chair of the Department of Elementary Education. “We started a second cohort this fall, so we are filling a critical need in the region.”

Dr. Mitchell agreed: “This is an outstanding cohort, and I enjoyed teaching at Bladen Community College. They were very gracious hosts.”

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