Russell and Brittany Urness are deciding what to do with the $4,000 they pocketed after winning what the judges described as a very close running in this year’s Innovative Instruction Competition.

“As we rode our bikes home that evening, we grinned madly and shouted for joy, and soon we called all of our close family members to tell them the news. I still can't believe we actually did it!” Brittany expressed.

The winning couple combined Brittany’s history and teaching background with Russell’s engineering technology expertise to come up with a fresh and innovative approach to teaching a unit on the events leading up to the American Revolution. Their project was designed to help students understand historical events by using technology to engage them in active learning.

The Web site the Urnesses created for the competition, “The Road to Revolution,” includes detailed teacher lesson plans, outlined daily objectives for teachers and students, and links to 70 google documents and 85 primary sources, as well as access to quizzes, audio clips, videos, group online discussions, and organization tools.

Brittany said a lot of her ideas for the project came from McKay School instruction: “I am extremely grateful for the input and support of Dr. Jeff Nokes. He showed me that mentoring students does not mean making decisions for them, but rather encouraging their natural motivations and helping them find the necessary tools to do the work on their own.”

Each of the 15 participating teams selected one of the educational challenges from a provided list and developed an innovative approach to address the challenge, incorporating the use of technology or social media. Seven teams qualified to present in front of a panel of judges.

“We watched the other teams’ entry videos and were impressed with the great ideas that everyone had come up with. We were nervous to present, but we also had confidence in the value of our project and the ideas it contained,” Brittany said. Viewers can watch their video here.

Second place winners were Danielle Frogley and Brittany Davies. They received $2,000. The third place winners included Alison Canar, Rebecca Burr, and Rachel Buchanan. They received $1,000. Access to all finalists’ videos are available online through the McKay School Facebook page.

Students and friends also had the opportunity to vote for their favorite projects on Facebook. The People’s Choice Award went to Alyssa and Lewis Young. They both received an iPad for their project on Organizing a Persuasive Essay for fifth graders. Viewers can watch their video here.

16 April 2010