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Scenes from The University of Rhode Island

URI Curriculum Materials Library to hold ribbon cutting

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Instructional technology, teacher resources and services
to be unveiled Wednesday, April 1

KINGSTON, R.I. – March 30, 2009 – More than two years in the making, the University of Rhode Island will unveil the Curriculum Materials Library on Wednesday, April 1.

The Curriculum Materials Library – a collaboration between URI Libraries, the URI School of Education and the College of Human Science and Services – offers a state-of-the-art teaching and learning resource center for pre- and in-service educators.

Housed on the first floor of the University of Rhode Island Library, the Curriculum Materials Library will hold an open house Wednesday, April 1 at 3:30 p.m. to showcase its ability to serve the instructional and research needs of students and professionals in the education field.

In addition to faculty, staff and students, the open house will be attended by Andy Hargreaves, an international scholar and the chair of Boston College’s Lynch School of Education. Hargreaves is the featured speaker at Wednesday night’s Robert and Augusta Finkelstein Memorial Lecture Series, which will be held in the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences Auditorium at 7 p.m. The Finkelstein Lecture is free and open to the public.

“We certainly could not have done this on our own in the School of Education,” said David Byrd, director of URI’s School of Education. “This is the result of lots of good will and commitment from a number of different groups and individuals within and outside the University. You can have a place for something, but if no one comes and engages in the process, it doesn’t help much.”

A collaborative effort between the state, the URI School of Education and the URI Library, the Curriculum Materials Library has a SMART Board, 20 laptops and two desktop computers that are all Mac and PC operational and equipped with state-of-the-art instructional software, student and teacher edition textbooks in all subjects with supportive materials, reference materials, professional resources for lesson planning and more.

The publishing company, Houghton-Mifflin, donated more than 40 in 2007/2008 edition teaching kits and accompanying materials, while publisher McDougal Littell donated more than $2,000 in textbooks, professional resources and kits. Publisher Pearson Education donated more than 240 new-edition textbooks and professional resources. Robert Schnare, director of the Naval War College Library in Newport donated the teaching collection of his late wife, longtime Rhode Island educator Mary Kay Schnare, who will be honored posthumously at the Curriculum Materials Library opening ceremony.

The Curriculum Materials Library collection includes instructional materials and curriculum literature for all grade levels from preK through Grade 12. Mona Anne Niedbala, the head of the Curriculum Materials Library, has been organizing the materials and the instructional technology since she was hired for the project in January of 2007.

According to Niedbala, more than 1,700 education students received information literacy instruction and made use of the Curriculum Materials Library since it became operational in January of 2008. With Niedbala’s guidance, students can learn to develop teaching lesson plans while using innovative technology and software and information literacy skills, thus making them better equipped to enter the work force upon graduation from URI.

The materials and services provided in the Curriculum Materials Library can help current professionals as well as the education students. With new education standards set for all students in compliance with No Child Left Behind requirements, teachers of different experience levels can develop ways to incorporate novel approaches to learning in their classrooms.

“Addressing special education needs is a big feature of the materials in the library,” said Toni Favazza, URI education professor. “As the practice of including special education students in general education classes continues to grow, and teachers are striving to differentiate the way instruction is delivered and students are assessed, a barrier existed for them. In particular, with innovative approaches like Universal Design for Learning and backward design for lesson planning, teachers need a state-of-the-art facility with instructional technology and software as well as curriculum materials and staff to assist them in meeting this 21st century challenge in education.”

The Curriculum Library was created mostly through funding from a $5.6 million state grant for technology in education. The grant enabled funding for the University to develop New Order, Multi-Modal, Advanced-Design (NOMAD) Learning Spaces in three buildings on the Kingston campus, as well as upgrades in the Center for Biotechnology and Life Sciences, the Pell Library/Inner Space Center and Lippitt Hall.

The Curriculum Materials Library is open seven days a week. It is open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Friday. The Saturday hours are from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., and it is open on Sundays from 1 p.m. until 8 p.m.