"Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is the most important." ~ Bill Gates
I struggled with a title for today's post. It's really not about the fact-react strategy with Adobe Voice so much as it is about a teacher willing to step out of her comfort zone to try new things and ending up with amazing results. Especially at this time of year when it's difficult to keep the focus on learning what I have been witness to over the last couple of weeks is inspiring.
This year our school was fortunate to welcome Stephanie to our school. A fantastic teacher and former literacy coach that I have known for many years. Stephanie is the kind of teacher that students, parents and administrators dream of having. She is a teacher that takes her job seriously. She loves to learn and finds joy in all things related to literacy, her passion. She takes pride in learning new strategies and has high standards for her students. So it's no surprise to me that every time I walk into her room I see students engaged in literacy experiences where they are expressing themselves beyond their years. But one area that Stephanie struggles with, and will freely admit to, is the use of technology in the classroom. It's not that she unwilling to learn about technology in the classroom, she has a difficult time seeing the value in its use. Maybe I should say had a difficult time.
The value I see in the use of technology in the classroom is clear. I model it whenever and wherever I can. I provide support when needed and make it a priority in the school. Technology is something I believe our students need. Earlier this year Stephanie slowly began to introduce more technology in her room. It started with using the Chromebooks and Google Docs, then moved to the iPads. She started asking more questions and seeking support from our instructional coach. Together they came up with an exciting project that would incorporate a reading strategy called fact-react and Adobe Voice on the iPads. Stephanie learned the fact-react strategy from Adrienne Gear, a teacher from Vancouver and she learned about Adobe Voice from our instructional coach Michelle Holder. If you've never used Adobe Voice you should download it and try it out. It is a great app with lots of potential for use across the curriculum.
Like any great teacher Stephanie introduced and modeled the fact-react strategy. Students practiced with a selection of non-fiction texts and graphic organizers. Next, Michelle came into the classroom and demonstrated to the students how to use Adobe Voice. Then the students got to work. Over the next few days as I visited Stephanie's room the students would be hard at work creating their fact-react presentations. Everything seemed to be going great to me, but Stephanie wasn't convinced. She commented that it was taking a long time for the kids to complete the presentations. I asked her to consider the idea that if they were doing it in a different way would the project be completed any faster. Stephanie paused and agreed that no it probably wouldn't. Then came that light bulb moment. I walked into the classroom to see Stephanie sitting at the front of the room, without any students (which never happens), just looking around the room. When she realized I was there she motioned me to come over. She was in awe at what was happening. Every student was fully engaged in creating their fact-react presentation with Adobe Voice. Every student. In that moment she realized the power that effectively crafted projects that incorporate solid pedagogy and technology can have on students.
My purpose of blogging about this today was simply to celebrate a teacher stepping outside of her comfort zone, exploring the possibilities, in order to meet the needs of her students. She wasn't afraid to ask questions or make mistakes. I'm so proud of her. Her students are lucky to have her as their teacher. Her colleagues should feel privileged to work with her. She has so much knowledge to share when it comes to literacy, but more importantly she is an example of a life-long learner.
Check out the examples below from her students. I'd love to hear about any examples of teachers stepping out of their comfort zone to try something new.