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Future teachers sweep awards in video contest

April 23, 2008

Teams of future teachers from Arizona State University’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership (CTEL) swept first through third places in the higher education digital stories category, as well as the Best in Show honor, at the 2008 iCademy Competition during the Microcomputers in Education Conference at ASU’s Tempe campus.

The iCademy Video and Photography Program encourages elementary through high school teachers and students to engage in project-based learning experiences utilizing video technology. This year’s program drew nearly 90 entrants from third grade through higher education in the digital stories (video) category and more than 60 in the photographic essay category.

Students created videos and essays addressing the theme “Wisdom of Our Elders,” focusing on the state’s history through the eyes of longtime residents. Many students interviewed grandparents and other relatives to capture stories about their perspectives on Arizona’s history.

“Our goal is to get diverse groups of students involved in a statewide multimedia dialogue about Arizona,” says Mark Nichols, a project director at ASU’s Applied Learning Technologies Institute and iCademy Program director.

Approximately 150 students from CTEL, located on ASU’s West campus, entered their Arizona Living History videos. The students, working toward their Bachelor of Arts in Education degree as well as Arizona teacher certification, undertook their video projects in classes taught by CTEL faculty members Keith Wetzel, Teresa Foulger, and Mia Williams.

“When they graduate and start their teaching careers, these students will be well-prepared to use technology in their classrooms and to involve their own students in iCademy,” Wetzel says. “This program is an excellent way to teach social studies, supplementing traditional lectures with hands-on involvement in the documentation of history.”

CTEL students Nichole Aragon and Danielle Gonzalez produced the video “The History and Development of Tolleson, Arizona,” which was awarded first place for higher education videos. “Danielle and I had a strong interest in learning about Tolleson’s history because we both attended Tolleson High School,” Aragon says. “It’s great to know that what we learned through this project will be made available for others to see.”

“The project gave us the chance to capture a unique Arizona story before it was lost forever,” says Edward Grace, a member of the group awarded Best in Show. “It also taught us ways we can use technology to enhance student learning when we have our own classrooms.”

Connie Schaeffner, second place winner, says she was inspired by seeing the work submitted by youngsters in the iCademy Competition. “Watching the videos created by elementary and middle school students made me very excited thinking about having my future students create a project like this one.”

Videos and photographic essays from the 2008 competition may be viewed at iCademy’s web site,

Winning teams received prizes and an invitation to participate in the Microcomputers in Education Conference.

CTEL winners were:

Best in Show – “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Edward Grace, Jon Swearengen, Melinda Barrera, Holly Weiner, Eric Biber, and instructor Mia Kim Williams. The video tells the story of longtime Phoenix resident Gus Brethauer and his building materials museum, which features artifacts from the early days of Arizona cities including Phoenix and Bisbee.

First Place – “The History and Development of Tolleson, Arizona” by Nichole Aragon, Danielle Gonzalez, and instructor Keith Wetzel. The video traces the history of this Southwest Valley city from its early-20th Century days as the “vegetable center of the world” to its present mix of agriculture, industry and housing.

Second Place – “Clemenceau Public School” by Connie Schaeffner and instructor Teresa Foulger. The video takes a look back at the current home of the Clemenceau Heritage Museum in Cottonwood. The building was constructed in 1924 as an elementary school for the children of workers at a nearby copper smelter; it served as a school until 1986.

Third Place – “Montezuma’s Well” by Stephanie Harr, Dalal Jawad, Devon Moseler, Amanda Schluter, and instructor Keith Wetzel. The video focuses on this rare geologic feature in the Verde Valley, a natural sinkhole American Indians used for crop irrigation from more than 1,000 years ago until the 14th Century.

ASU’s College of Teacher Education and Leadership collaborates with educational and civic communities to prepare and inspire innovative educators to be leaders who apply evidence-based knowledge that positively influences students, families, and the community. More information is available at