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Monday, October 20, 2014

TUIT: Janice Bullard, CCE

Ms. Bullard facilitates while students take turns posing questions to their "mystery class."

Janice Bullard of Clear Creek Elementary is, relatively speaking, a new teacher.  This has not hampered her ability to be a teacher who uses integrated technology in her classroom.  I was very impressed to see her class in a Google+ Hangout video chat with students in New York.   When I learned this wasn't even the first time she's had a video chat, I knew I had to interview her for Edtech Elixirs.

In a side note, Janice's son was a student of mine just a few years ago.  Small world!

Share your story!  Where did your learning of edtech begin?

This is my fourth year teaching, and I’ve been at Clear Creek for 3 of those years. I guess my learning of edtech began the summer before my KTIP year. I volunteered at a science and math camp for 4th and 5th grade students at U of L. We introduced kids to digital storytelling, which also meant I was introduced to it. I used some of those tools the following year, which was my first year teaching. I also used Voicethread for the first time that year; my students loved it and I found it added layers of learning to what was a fairly typical classroom activity. Students wrote a short piece titled “What I am most afraid of” and then recorded it on Voicethread. This required them to practice reading it many times, which they didn’t mind because they got to record their voice and share with the class. I realized how kids could be motivated by the technology. So that is what seals the deal for me - extra layers of learning plus motivation.

Tell us about using Skype and Google+ Hangouts in the classroom.  How did it begin?  How did you find teachers to telecommunicate? How have integrating these tools impacted the learning of your students?

I read a book by Pernille Ripp this summer- Passionate Learners- Giving our Classrooms Back to Students. Through her book and blog I learned about the Global Read Aloud project, in which students from around the world read the same books and connect with each other over them. My class is participating, and through the teachers and classrooms we have connected with I learned about using Skype and Google Hangouts. I first connected with the teachers over Edmodo; we have since set up class blogs so that our students can talk about the books. We did a "mystery Skype" which was great fun. We have also shared via Padlet.

Pictures taken by the Student Photographer, one of the roles in the project.

My kids have completely embraced every part of the project. They loved the Skype and Google Hangout. It was planned so that the kids took ownership as much as possible. They had roles as questioners, answerers, greeters, map experts, etc. They propose discussion questions and decide which ones are strong enough to put on Edmodo, and are working at writing thoughtful responses. Reading, writing, speaking, listening, thinking - it’s all there!

What other edtech tools are some of your favorites?

Right now, Edmodo is one of my favorites. I also continue to use Voicethread. Animoto is great for producing short videos. Padlet is very cool for sharing thoughts about pretty much anything.

What tools have you heard about recently that you are looking forward to trying out?

My teacher friend in Canada shared, where people respond to prompts and share creative writing. I’d like to introduce that to my kids.

Any advice for teachers wanting to integrate edtech?

Just jump in, pick something, and try it. Most of the time there is a fairly short learning curve; sometimes you can even let the kids just figure it out for you! I would also say be prepared to love it and learn as much as your kids!

Ms. Bullard, thanks for taking the time, and you certainly deserve your #ShelbyTUITshoutout.

For those interested in connecting with other Skype teachers, check out Skype in the Classroom.

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