Grant Roll Out Tips
Given the recent ARRA grants that have been awarded to Georgia schools, the ETCs are busier than ever helping to bring about “digital conversions” in these schools. This means delivering professional development and support not only on how to use technology purchased with the grant but also how to implement it effectively to affect real change in student academic achievement. Several tips have emerged as helpful in bringing about these digital conversions across the grant initiatives, and they are as follows:
- Meeting with teachers before writing the grant application to seek out volunteers who are committed to and positive about the grant goals and outcomes.
- Involving teacher volunteers, building administrators, curriculum and technical support personnel and other relevant persons in the grant application writing process to carry out a thoughtful process and plan for needed infrastructure, timelines, implementation activities, professional development, etc.
Once the grant is awarded:
- Teachers and students utilizing a learning management system, or LMS, such as Moodle to centralize digital work including assignments, collaborative discussion threads, and access to external web activities
- Teachers utilizing challenge based learning, or a similar approach to learning, to tie academic standards to real world problem solving and authentic tasks
- Teachers teaching mini-lessons and then giving time in class to work on digital storytelling projects or challenges while giving feedback that ties back to the lesson when applicable
- Trusting students more than ever before (with caring for technology, with using it appropriately, and even with their own learning)
- Delegating tasks to teacher and student experts to give everyone ownership in the initiative and to build capacity
- Teachers participating in regular professional development with activities to implement in between sessions
- Teachers helping students use technology in academic, ethical, higher-order-thinking ways
These tips, while just a few of many, have been referenced over and over again in various articles and bodies of research, but we are truly seeing their benefit across grant schools and initiatives. It is exciting to see these ingredients come together to bring about digital conversions in Georgia schools.
Instructional Technology Specialist
University of Georgia Educational Technology Center