04/07/11 The Plymouth Schools announced late on Tuesday afternoon that they are the recipients of a $200,000 Technology Innovation Grant. According to Superintendent Dan Tyree, Plymouth is one of the 22 school systems to be awarded a grant out of 180 applications to the Indiana Department of Education.
Tyree said, “This will help Plymouth students use technology to advance learning.”
Writing the grant for the Plymouth Schools was Lincoln Junior High Principal Dan Funston and Janice Curtis, K-12 Instructional Technology. Curtis provides services for the entire corporation, but is based at the LJH building.
The grant specifically entitled “Extending Learning beyond the School Walls” will be yet another way for students to use technology. Funston said, “We are going to podcast direction instruction in 16 classrooms. Students watch the direct instruction as the homework for the class so that class time can be used to assess their understanding and for project based learning (flipping instruction).
Plymouth High School Principal Jim Condon summed it up saying, “The teacher will be videotaped giving a lecture.” “Students will watch the video out of class so that the time in the classroom is “hands on”.
Funston added, “Podcasting will also benefit students learning by giving students the opportunity to watch the instruction several times for review.” According to Funston, they also believe this type of instruction will improve student and parent engagement since parents will also have access to the podcasts.
Every student at LJH has a laptop assigned to them that they are now able to take home each night. Plans are also in the works for every student at the high school level to have a laptop for the 2011-2012 school year.
Tyree said, “One of the problems that we faced was homes without Internet.” “This grant is gong to help us eliminate that problem.”
Students will not need to have access to the internet at home for the program to be successful. Funston said, “Students will be able to subscribe to the podcasts and they will automatically download to their computers while they are at school.” Actually, students can use iPods, iPads, or any other device that will sync with iTunes to listen to the instruction. The podcasts can also include documents as well.
Much of the grant monies will be used to purchase servers, computers to process the video, computers for the project participants and professional development, according to Funston.
Condon said he expects that a few teachers will take the training and then teach their colleagues.
Tyree expressed his admiration for the work of Funston on this and other technology based projects saying, “This is a testament to Dan Funston who may be the best middle school principal in the state.” He also praised Curtis and the corporation’s technology staff. Tyree said, “They have provided the vehicle for Funston’s vision.”
Carol Anders Correspondent