SWEETWATER—Students, parents, and teachers were given a glimpse of the next generation in classrooms during the Wednesday, August 5, reveal of Charlie Arp’s recently outfitted classroom full of state-of the-art technology. Arp, a teacher at Brown Intermediate School in Sweetwater, Tennessee, was the winner of this year’s $25,000 grant from ORAU’s Extreme Classroom Makeover competition.
The math and science teacher spent the summer selecting and installing his new technology, taking continuing education courses at ORAU’s Center for Science Education, and preparing for his new class of rising students. His arsenal of learning technology, and knowledge of how to use these tools, was on showcase during the reveal.
In its seventh year, ORAU’s grant program highlights and supports educators who use technology in the classroom to inspire more students to pursue math and science-based careers.
“We realize at ORAU the importance of maintaining students’ interest in and cultivating a passion for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subjects,” said ORAU President Andy Page. “By empowering teachers like Charlie Arp, the Extreme Classroom Makeover helps to demonstrate the countless number of possibilities technology can bring to both educators and students.”
Page, along with Brown Intermediate administration, joined students from the winning class and their parents for the big reveal of Arp’s outfitted classroom. Event attendees explored learning stations similar to those students will experience during the school year. Among the new tools featured were 25 iPads, two flat screen TVs, five iMacs, an Xbox, and three Apple TVs.
“As an educator, it is my job to make sure students receive and understand that information and material that can help build on prior knowledge and prepare them to succeed in school and in the future,” Arp said. “Winning the Extreme Classroom Makeover contest has given me all of the tools to successfully make school a place where students really want to spend time. My goal is to use this technology to not only help students get excited about learning, but to also help my fellow teachers learn more about how such technology can be used in their classroom ”
Arp’s classroom full of technology has already assisted his fellow teachers in their continued education regarding iPads and applications in the classroom. Earlier in the month, Arp taught a technology workshop to more than 25 educators from Sweetwater City Schools. During the workshop, Arp explained his idea to re-envision the classroom by making it a place where students want to be and look forward to learning.
“We are preparing students for jobs not currently in existence, which means I must instill the mindset of problem solving to each student in my classroom,” said workshop attendee and Brown Intermediate School sixth-grade math and science teacher Bradley Hughes.
The daylong workshop covered current iPad applications along with assessment and teacher tools and gave educators a chance to have hands-on experience with Arp’s iPads, flat screen TVs, Xbox, and Apple TVs.
“We live in the age of technology and I feel that in order for students to be prepared for future jobs, they have to be able to problem solve and know how to use the different pieces of technology available in today’s world,” said Karen Sadikoff, an instructional coach for elementary teachers at Sweetwater Elementary School who also attended Arp’s workshop. “I see the difference in kids, how they light up and turn on when using technology.”
“Technology is the world now. Students have to be equipped to function in a technological world,” explained Sweetwater Elementary School third-grade teacher Debbie Faraone. “It is so exciting to have one of our own (Arp) showing us how to use this technology to better help our students.”
Extreme Classroom Makeover Contest winners for the previous years include:
- Susan Silvey, a middle school math and science teacher at Lake City Middle School in Rocky Top
- Karla Fulz, a fifth grade math and science teacher at A.L. Lotts Elementary School in Knoxville
- Heather Burkhart, a fifth grade math and science teacher at Pigeon Forge Middle School
- Herman Sutton, a fifth grade math teacher at Green Magnet Math and Science Academy
- Jordan Haney, a fifth grade teacher at Rocky Hill Elementary School
- Jenny Alvey, a sixth grade science teacher from Gresham Middle School.
Contestants entering ORAU’s competition were required to teach 3rd-11th grade math or science and work for a public school located within 50 miles of Oak Ridge. Additionally, each teacher submitted a short video illustrating the classroom’s need and explaining how the new technologies would be used to energize and enhance learning. To view Arp’s winning video, go to: http://orau.org/center-for-science-education/classroom-makeover/2015/default.aspx.
Another ORAU Extreme Classroom Makeover contest will take place in 2016 and interested teachers can submit an “Intent to Apply” beginning Wednesday, August 26. For more information, visit www.orau.org.
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