By Tim Leeds
With the first stage of the PT-3 grant well underway at Montana State University-Northern, the university has applied for the second stage.
"I think we've got a really good shot," said Jonathan Richter, grant coordinator.
In the capacity building phase of the Preparing Teachers to Use Technology Grant, the first stage of three, the university teamed with the Havre Public Schools, St. Jude Thaddeus-Havre Central School and the Golden Triangle Curriculum Consortium to research how to best prepare pre-service teachers to use technology in the classroom.
In the application for the second stage of the grant, the implementation phase, Fort Belknap College, Fort Peck Community College and Stone Child College have been added to the partnership. The second stage awards $400,000 a year for three years.
Richter said inclusion of the tribal colleges in building curriculum that uses technology should help in the application process. In addition to including more colleges into the process, it will help to meet the grant criteria of diversity, he said.
This inclusion also meets Northern's mission of being the premier university in the region, in partnership with the community colleges.
He said 80 grants will be awarded to 279 applicants, and MSU-Northern meets the criteria for selection quite well. He said the rural nature of the area is one factor which should help in the selection, as is the newness of the proposals being researched for implementation.
Richter said while the concepts being proposed are not ground-breaking on a nation-wide basis, they are new to Northern.
He said the basis for the grant is to prepare new teachers to fully integrate constructivist techniques of learning into curriculum and course delivery via the use of col-laborative technologies.
"(This) focus allows learners to build knowledge instead of memorizing facts," he said.
Richter said the constructivist technique is based on the philosophies of John Dewey, who said that schools should replicate the real world as closely as possible.
The proposed program at Northern includes building a teacher resource center available through the Vande Bogart Library website. Richter said that resource, titled M.I.R.R.O.R (Montana Instructional Resources for Reflection on Renewal), is poised to be released in the next few days. He said they have been working closely with Vande Bogart Reference and Instructional Librarian Brent Roberts to create this resource.
Another part of the proposal is developing cohort training groups consisting of pre-service teachers, supervising classroom teachers and members of the college faculty to effectively implement use of technology in the classroom.
The proposal also includes providing hands-on and electronic workshops featuring demonstrations of master teaching techniques for using technology in the classroom.
It also includes the implementation of individualized professional development plans to incorporate the use of technology in the classroom, improving relationships with the K-12 service area schools to increase an open and active partnership in the use of these professional development activities, and the infusion of technology-rich activities throughout the experience of teacher education.
Richter said a planned use of the first phase of the grant is yet to get under way. He said they plan to offer small grants to area teachers, both K-12 and college level, for faculty development to work on integrating technology into the classroom.
Richter said they should know by June if MSU-Northern has been awarded the second stage of the grant.