Oroville school among nine state projects to win $10,000 tech grants

Oroville teachers Kelsey Cleveland and George Thornton

Oroville teachers Kelsey Cleveland and George Thornton

OLYMPIA – The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) announced that Oroville High School is one of nine winners of this year’s $10,0000 Qwest Teachers & Technology Grants.

For their project, teachers George Thornton and Kelsey Cleveland submitted an entry to produce multimedia documentaries that focus on the rich history of agriculture in North Central Washington. The documentaries will be able to be produced thanks to the Qwest Foundation funding and the Initiative for Rural Innovation and Stewardship, according to the OSPI announcement.

Working in small groups, Oroville students will do the research, work with the Okanogan Borderlands Historical Society, engage the community and track down the expert knowledge they need to open up important subjects of intense interest in the Okanogan region – everything from industrial pressure on a fragile ecosystem to the role of the Pacific Northwest Trail in the area’s development.

“One of the project’s central goals is to turn students into high-value community partners able to document and interpret regional dynamics over time. Along the way, teachers Thornton and Cleveland will integrate state standards for communications, social studies, economics and history with a sold introduction to entrepreneurship,” writes the OSPI in their announcement.

Each of the nine winning teachers or teacher teams will receive $10,000 to implement their winning projects. All learning proposals integrate the state’s learning standards and Web 2.0 technologies for educational technology.

“There’s no better combination for learning than great teaching and technology,” said Randy Dorn, superintendent of public instruction. “Our partnership with the Qwest Foundation makes it possible to call out learning projects that really show the ways technology integration can strengthen great teaching and meet the needs of different learners.”

Qwest Foundation grant awards recognize teachers and teacher-librarians whose learning projects act as exemplars of technology-enriched instruction. Each project is standards-based and takes a creative approach to classroom and field-based learning activities. Many of the projects involve student peers and interface with industry professionals, families and the community.

“Providing funds that allow educators to be progressive and innovative through technology is something we are proud of, especially at a time when schools are forced to operate on limited budgets,” said Kirk Nelson, Qwest’s State President. “Students are able to connect and interact with their peers around the world, develop creative and technical skills with video, and research facts about their neighborhoods and environment, all through the use of advanced technology. Teachers and Technology brings another level of excitement to the classroom.”

Since 2007, the Qwest Foundation has funded grants for 76 Washington state educators who use digital technologies to improve their instructional practice and to engage and motivate young learners. Informally, Qwest Foundation awardees participate in a professional learning community through which they network, share expertise and inspire each other’s creative development as teachers.

Representatives from OSPI, the Governor’s Office and the Qwest Foundation joined educators from around Washington to evaluate and select the winning projects.