At Crossroads, we teach our students to think critically, solve problems creatively, and act with empathy. Building technology into our curriculum provides our students with greater opportunity to extend their learning in new ways, and a new opportunity for our middle schoolers will give them enhanced access to technology, enable their “digital citizenship,” and enhance social-emotional learning through greater connection with older generations.
The Innovative Technology Education Fund (ITEF) awarded a 2020 Innovator Grant of Crossroads this spring. ITEF provides these competitive grants to allow schools in our region to create inventive learning opportunities through technology for their students.
Under the leadership of middle school math teacher and Practical Arts Department Chair Mark Norwood, the grant will provide each middle school student with an iPad to partner with elderly populations for person-to-person connection to share life stories and experiences, and create vlogs and podcasts. The students will teach their older partners about social media and technology through the use of iPads, which will be available to middle schoolers throughout the day for their learning beyond the project.
“As our older students have been engaging in our Good Work service program, we’ve sought ways to connect our middle schoolers to community and the ITEF grant will provide us an immeasurably valuable opportunity to do that,” says Mark. “How can we use technology to build community? How can we bridge the digital divide between generations? How can we help elders leave a digital legacy? These are questions that we hope to address through partnerships with organizations like Lutheran Senior Services and St. Louis NORC, who have already signed on to work with our students on this project.”
ITEF is a St. Louis-based, charitable, nonprofit foundation that supports innovation in education by funding advanced technology in the classrooms of public, private, parochial, and charter schools in the greater St. Louis area. ITEF also provides opportunities for educators to continue to grow and learn in their field.
“Young learners need to be comfortable around technology and have opportunities to use it to communicate, to build, and to explore,” said Charmaine Smith, Chief Executive Officer of ITEF. “We are thrilled to help these innovative educators bring to life their ideas to transform learning at their schools. They join a community of past Innovator grantees in our region who are reimagining educational spaces and instructional practices for the benefit of students.”