The award of a federal grant will give the Margaret Warner Graduate School of Education and Human Development the opportunity to develop tech-savvy teachers who can integrate technology into subject matter in the classroom.
Funding through the Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers for Technology program begins this month with $260,000 for the first stage of the three-year project. The total grant is expected to be $725,000. Funds come from the U.S. Department of Education.
By giving current and future teachers the tools to use technology effectively, those involved in the grant hope to transform the teaching and learning of specific subjects while also showing the potential-and the pitfalls-of technology's role in the classroom.
"Future teachers must experience using technology as learners themselves and practice using it as teachers," says Raffaella Borasi, dean of the Warner School at the University of Rochester. "If student learning and achievement are essential to us, then we must take the necessary steps to prepare a new generation of technology-proficient teachers."
An important component of the technology project includes a series of partnerships with Rochester-area schools. The Warner School, along with Monroe No. 1 Board of Cooperative Educational Services, the East Rochester and Greece school districts, and two Rochester city schools, will offer such initiatives as professional development for those who train future teachers, and demonstration sites where the best in technology-enhanced instruction can be shown and tested.
In addition to the grant funds, the Warner School is investing substantially in its educational technology initiative. The school is currently constructing a technology-rich classroom where student teachers will practice using technology firsthand, and has hired a specialist in educational technology.
Borasi and Ellen Santora, assistant professor at the Warner School, are the project's directors. Borasi is a longtime champion of education reform and integrating technology-combined with specific subject matter information-into the classroom. She is a noted author and researcher on the subject of mathematics education reform and co-authored, with Judi Fonzi, a multi-media instructional package for mathematics educators.
Before joining the faculty last year, Santora taught students from middle school through college level for 20 years. She regularly incorporates technology into her teacher preparation classes at the Warner School to enhance students' learning about history and social science.
As a graduate school at a national research university, the Warner School also will develop technology-focused apprenticeship experiences for doctoral students preparing to become teacher educators, and learning experiences for school administrators and other education leaders. The progress of the project will be documented and successful initiatives shared.
The Warner School believes that technology has changed not only how learning takes place, but also what is learned. The ultimate goal of the project is to improve student learning by helping teachers to understand and use technology that supports student achievement.