I’m not a fan of the current support (or lack thereof) of public education in the United States right now. Sure, I know there are plenty of school districts that are squandering their resources, pouring money and time into pedagogically deficient professional development and expensive technology that often goes unsupported and neglected. But for every school and educator throwing good money after bad, there are just as many districts and educators being thoughtful, frugal, and downright miserly with their financial resources, and turning a good educational profit to show for it.
I would fall in the latter camp; I always seek out free resources first (or build my own if possible), I try to tap into the power of my fellow teachers for conducting district wide professional development rather than bring in expensive presenters all the time, and I’m always seeking to repurpose equipment and/or resources that have become derelict. I know many other educators in Michigan, and elsewhere around the U.S., that try to make ends meet in the same manner; stretching dollars, holding small fundraisers, and even asking for donations of small pieces of technology from parents. We’re typically a proud bunch, trying to rely on our own merit and resourcefulness, but every once in awhile an opportunity comes up that requires us to reach out to our educational community, and ask for support.
Which brings me to a recent teaching grant idea I submitted to the We Are Teachers network. A call went out recently for any engaging teaching ideas using technology from Dell. The grant isn’t for much; a Flipcam and $200. However, the award would allow me to produce more of the Video Story Problems that I’ve been sharing on the blog lately, AND use Vimeo’s +plus service to create mobile versions of the videos (viewable on iPods, iPads, and iPhones), without having to worry about the advertisements on places like YouTube. The idea is simple enough. Rather than rely on didactic story problems straight out of the textbook, that may or may not illustrate an effective real world problem, my idea is to use video to pull authentic real world problems and questions related to math and science into the classroom. Everyday, we encounter so many applications of the skills we learned in elementary and middle school math and science classes, and I wanted to bring those encounters into the classroom, so that teachers could use them as engaging hooks for learning, or challenges for students to solve.
If you’d like to vote for me, check out an example of one of my video story problems below, and follow the link to vote for my idea. I’m currently in 8th place, out of 650+ teachers, but only the top 5 vote getters will win a grant, so feel free to vote if you choose. Thanks for taking the time to read, and I hope that whether you vote or not, the videos are useful to you.