I am a South Dakota boy living a Texan life. My wife Jennifer and I moved to Texas in 1999 right after we were married and we both started teaching in Lamar Consolidated ISD. We have two wonderful children and most of our “free” time is spent driving them from one activity to another. We also enjoy spending time outdoors. Camping is our favorite pastime to do as a family.
I am an elementary teacher at heart. I spent 3 years teaching 3rd grade and 3 ½ years teaching 4th grade before accepting a job as an instructional technology specialist for the district. I service four elementary campuses each week by training, planning, modeling, and supporting the staff with their technology needs. While there are days…what job doesn’t have those…I can honestly say that I love my job. At first I was worried about leaving the classroom and not having “my kids” each year. I now realize that this job allows me to affect hundreds of children on a daily basis.
With the job I have, I get to play with many different technology tools. I think my favorites would be the iPad, the Promethean board, and ActivExpressions. The iPads are a favorite for me due to the tremendous flexibility they provide. They, of course, are great from remediation with “drill and kill” apps. Their best value, in my opinion however, is the many different avenues they provide for creation…from images and postcards to videos and books.
The interactive whiteboards are a great tool when they are utilized with the student in mind. They should not be used as a teacher resource only. The students should be the ones interacting with the board. The ActivExpressions are also amazing tools that can be used to provide immediate feedback and collect data from your classes in real time.
While I work on projects constantly with many teachers, the big project I am preparing for with the rest of my team is the INTERACT Academy we host every June. INTERACT stands for INtegrating TEchnology Realistically Among Classroom Teachers. It is a week-long training with select teachers from each campus in our district. The week is spent modeling how to integrate technology into the everyday classroom. While it is created and led by the Instructional Technology team, we do not spend time teaching the technology tool. Our main focus for the week is great teaching strategies. Marzano’s Instructional Strategies that Work and 21st Century Learning Development play key roles in our training. Technology is ever-changing…great teaching strategies, however, remain for the most part constant. The teachers learn the tool as we go, just as we would expect it to be with students in classrooms today.
When the teachers have completed the training, they are allotted a “credit” that they can use to purchase items for their classroom from the district’s “shopping cart”. We then follow up with these teachers throughout the following year and beyond to continue with training and modeling to ensure they are supported in their technology integration.