West Virginia Dept. of Education Receives $48,000 Verizon Grant to Provide Innovative, Free Online Resources to Teachers Through Thinkfinity.org
Educators in Every County to Receive Training and Have Access to Free Educational Resources, Lesson Plans Through Verizon’s Signature Educational and Literacy Program
The West Virginia Department of Education (DOE) announced today that it has received a $48,000 grant from the Verizon Foundation to train teachers across the Mountain State to use the free, online educational resources available at Thinkfinity.org. The grant will also be used to raise awareness of the program, which is designed to improve educational and literacy achievement.
Thinkfinity.org, the Verizon Foundation’s signature program, is a free, comprehensive offering and online portal to 55,000 educational resources, including standards-based, grade-specific, K-12 lesson plans and other interactive tools and materials for students provided in partnership with many of the nation’s leading educational and literacy organizations.
The program offers teachers from elementary through high school resources across eight academic disciplines, ranging from science to English to mathematics, to improve student achievement. The Verizon grant, which will be part of a three-year partnership with the DOE, will help West Virginia teachers quickly gain expertise with, and access to, the online resources of Thinkfinity.org.
“During the past decade, West Virginia’s educational technology efforts have led the nation,” said West Virginia Superintendent of Schools Steve Paine. “However, as we step further into the 21st century, we face many challenges. Thinkfinity is one tool we have to help teachers move beyond a superficial fluency with technology so that they feel comfortable integrating technology tools into their lesson plans.”
In addition to providing standards-based resources from the nation’s leading educational and literacy organizations, Thinkfinity.org also offers a free, robust professional development program for teachers and trainers.
The grant announced today will be used to:
* Provide certified trainers in every county in West Virginia, who will in turn train and support local teachers.
* Align Thinkfinity.org resources with rigorous, new state standards for educational content, which include 21st century learning skills. West Virginia will be one of the first states to have and use locally certified Thinkfinity.org classroom materials.
* Raise awareness of Thinkfinity.org online resources for educators statewide through professional development and conferences.
“Teachers are often our unsung heroes,” said B. Keith Fulton, president of Verizon West Virginia and a former member of the 21st Century Skills board. “They work many hours outside of the classroom to prepare the best possible lesson plans to engage their students. Through Thinkfinity.org, teachers can gain immediate access to quality educational resources to more efficiently develop their lesson plans, giving them more time to work directly with students. Our investment today is part of Verizon’s long-term commitment to education in West Virginia.”
Verizon has been at the forefront of online learning in West Virginia for more than a dozen years, beginning with the Verizon World School program that resulted in all state schools having high-speed Internet connectivity. State educators then began developing their own online lessons and have continued to improve their abilities to integrate Web-based resources in their classrooms through similar programs and partnerships.
Today, West Virginia is a national leader in incorporating technology and 21st century skills into the classroom. Earlier this year, Education Week’s Technology Counts 2007 awarded the state a grade of A for access to technology and a grade of A- for the use of technology. Since 2000, nearly 6,000 teachers across all 55 counties in West Virginia have participated in professional development using Thinkfinity or its predecessor, MarcoPolo.
West Virginia also was the second state in the country to join the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, which marries business interests with classroom instruction. The partnership, which has emerged as the leading advocacy organization focused on infusing 21st century skills, has 35 members, including Verizon.
Content for Thinkfinity.org is provided through a partnership between the Verizon Foundation and 11 of the nation’s leading organizations in the fields of education and literacy: the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the International Reading Association, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, National Center for Family Literacy, National Council on Economic Education, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Council of Teachers of English, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, National Geographic Society, ProLiteracy Worldwide and the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.
The Verizon Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Verizon Communications, is committed to improving literacy and K-12 education; fostering awareness and prevention of domestic violence; and promoting the use of technology in health-care delivery. In 2006, the foundation awarded more than $69 million in grants to nonprofit agencies in the United States and abroad. The foundation also matched charitable donations from Verizon employees and retirees, resulting in $29 million in combined contributions. Under the foundation’s Verizon Volunteer initiative, one of the nation’s largest employee-volunteer programs, company employees and retirees have also contributed nearly 3 million hours of community service since Verizon’s inception in 2000.
For more information on the foundation, visit www.verizon.com/foundation.
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