Mendenhall Middle School Social Studies Teacher Ryan Harwood desires to give his students an innovative education. Harwood has applied to the Pepsi Refresh Project with hopes to receive a grant to fund the purchase of leading-edge technology for Mendenhall.
Harwood recognizes the need to keep students interested and excited about learning, and he feels one way to do that will be to have more technology available for students to utilize in the learning process.
“I am always looking for different ways to approach teaching and peak student interest,” said Harwood. “I attended a workshop about iTouch and Apple products in the classroom earlier in the year. When I returned I started talking to the kids about how many of them had an iPod and discussing the potential of getting some for the classroom.”
The idea of implementing iPod and iTouch technology at school intrigued and excited the students.
“Most kids love technology. I have been amazed how their eyes have lit up as we discussed the grant and how we could use the iTouch in the classroom,” said Harwood. “For many of them this would put learning into a platform that they are comfortable with and that they use in their personal life daily.”
Although some of Harwood’s students already own an iTouch or iPod, Harwood realizes that many of his students do not have access to this or any other technology at home so having the up-to-date technology in the classroom would help expose them to what is available and would help these students gain an understanding and obtain skills in the technological realm.
Besides the exposure to the technology, Harwood believes that the applications, literature, videos, music, podcasts, maps, and other aspects available will help motivate the students to delve more into the culture of other countries, as well as give them an opportunity to work at their own pace.
“A lesson could include finding a location using the Google Earth application, listening to a song from that region, listening to a podcast about current events there, and watching a short video about the culture,” said Harwood. “Students can use the Note application to respond to questions as they work, and even search the internet if they have further questions.”
The vision for Harwood’s idea for the classroom can only be realized through this grant because of limited funding through the regular school budget. Currently Mendenhall is ranked at 153. Only 32 awards are awarded at the end of May, so Mendenhall needs more votes in order to receive one of the grants.
10 grants will be awarded in the amount of $5,000, 10 at $25,000, 10 at $50,000, and two will be awarded in the amount of $250,000 by the Pepsi Refresh Project. These awards are based solely on votes.
“I wish that our schools would put more emphasis on integrating technology into the classroom. Even though statistically it may seem that students have access to computers in our schools, the reality is that that access is very limited,” said Harwood. “We live in a society that relies on rapidly developing technology. Yet for many classrooms, the only technology that is readily available to a classroom of 30 or more students is a single computer, maybe two, a TV and an overhead.”