A University of Arkansas - Fort Smith student interning at an area high school won a statewide technology grant contest that awarded seven free iPads and accessories for educational use in his classroom, an accolade he credits to a student-focused approach to education he learned in his University courses.
William Leaptrot of Spiro, Okla., an English education student interning at Pocola High School, created the winning lesson plan for Ann Bugg’s 11th grade English class after the principal asked teachers to submit lesson plans to “Oklahoma GEAR UP,” a statewide grant program.
Bugg, his advising teacher, let Leaptrot create the lesson, feeling confident that he would develop a technologically driven plan that would double as a learning experience.
“Mrs. Bugg felt that I would be able to utilize what I learned at UAFS to implement technology into a lesson plan, and I willingly accepted the challenge,” he said. “She trusted me to design something and really liked the ideas I came up with.”
Leaptrot created a 3-5 day lesson plan to help students to utilize technology while working on an essay comparing and contrasting Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X. The lesson tasked students with using various apps on the iPad to create interactive timelines charting the lives of the two prominent civil rights leaders.
Afterwards, students used a Venn diagram app to create a visual representation of the differences and similarities between both men’s lives, ideas and approach to the fight for equality.
Leaptrot said winning the competition was a pleasant surprise.
“I was shocked that my lesson plan won, but I am very proud that I have been able to help bring something to Pocola that will enhance student learning for years to come,” he said.
“Oklahoma GEAR UP” awarded the class seven iPad Airs, Otterbox cases for the tablets and Apple T.V. for the classroom.
This isn’t the first time for Leaptrot to receive recognition for his teaching ability, as he continually impressed his professors at UAFS. Laura Witherington of Fort Smith, director of school partnerships at UAFS, said Leaptrot’s teaching performances “blew her away.”
“He has a very strong grasp of complex concepts in literature and writing, and he analyzes those complexities carefully to develop lesson plans that make sense, even to young students,” she said. “He’s very reflective and takes suggestions for improvement well.”
Kevin Jones of Fort Smith, assistant professor of English education, said Leaptrot “is one of our shining stars currently in the final field experience of internship.”
“He is one of those people who will not wait around for something to happen. If he thinks it will benefit his students, he will do whatever it takes to make it happen,” he said. “I believe he will make an excellent teacher.”
Leaptrot said his professors at UAFS played a large part in teaching him the need for student-focused instruction.
“Professors in the English department and the teacher education program at UAFS have continuously stressed the importance of creating student-centered classrooms that feature differentiated instruction and activities,” he said. “I would not have been able to create a winning lesson plan without all of the practice in writing lesson plans the way that UAFS requires.”
“Oklahoma GEAR UP” stands for Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, a state branch of a federal grant program intended to prepare students for success in postsecondary education.