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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Dave Lavallee 874-2116

URI professor awarded Microsoft grant to bolster
teacher education, student performance in West Warwick

KINGSTON, R.I. -- January 31, 2003 -- A University of Rhode Island education professor has been awarded an AACTE/Microsoft Innovative Teachers grant that will strengthen a partnership between the University and the West Warwick School Department.
The grant, awarded by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and Microsoft to URI Assistant Professor of Education Peter Adamy, is designed to improve the experience of URI student-teachers, assist their cooperating teachers, and strengthen the curriculum across the school system.

Adamy said the grant provides West Warwick and URI with Microsoft software packages that will link student-teachers, cooperating teachers, school administrators and URI professors in the curriculum development process. It will allow participants to develop interactive, computer-oriented lesson plans, electronic portfolios for student-teachers, evaluation tools for local students and a multi-faceted communications network that will link all of the groups. "The teachers and student teachers will use the software to enhance curriculum development and learning in all areas. Our hope is that they will then turn around and use these ideas with their students."

Because West Warwick has put an emphasis on strengthening literacy and math skills, all participants will explore ways to integrate reading, writing and math across the curriculum, as well as methods for using computers and accompanying software to assess student learning.

"What we are really talking about is creating innovative practices for the classroom and then implementing them through the cooperating and student-teachers," said Jim Monti, West Warwick’s technology coordinator and standards coach for professional development. "Our professional development program is designed to get all groups in the partnership to see themselves as scientists, mathematicians and writers. We want our students to see themselves this way; we want them to go through the struggles and triumphs that professional writers experience."

Adamy’s work is another effort by URI’s School of Education to create formal partnerships with districts to improve teaching and learning.

West Warwick has been a focus because URI places a high number of student-teachers there. This academic year alone, URI has placed 12 student-teachers in the school department that serves 3,800 students.

"The grant is designed to support innovation in teacher education," Adamy said. "While working in West Warwick, we’ve all been looking to enhance our students’ experiences while they are student-teaching. But we also want to change the way we work with cooperating teachers and address the issue of curriculum enhancement."

Among the early steps in the process are: creating an environment in which West Warwick students use current computer technology; provide student-teachers with the opportunity to work in elementary and secondary schools that are making extensive use of computers and to develop a cooperative professional development program that will ensure that cooperating teachers and student-teachers receive ongoing training in methods of integrating technology into meaningful instruction and assessment in the classroom.

"This program also changes the way we work with cooperating teachers," Adamy said. "The school of education has ramped up its expectations of cooperating teachers in recent years, and so they will also go through two phases of professional development. We’ve also increased the stipend for working with URI students."

Adamy is quick to point out that technology on its own is not the answer to school improvement, but when used in concert with standards-based curriculum change, it can bolster school performance and teacher training simultaneously.

"Most of our cooperating teachers know how to use technology; we are just showing them how to use it more effectively in curriculum development. We want them to receive the training to provide exemplary models of technology integration for our URI students."

For Further Information: Peter Adamy 874-7036

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