EdTech Interview: Technology in the Library

By Monica Burns 05.01.2016 blog
Top view of a four young people students are sitting on sofa with laptop and tablet are studying.

In this EdTech Interview series for Channel One News, we have profiled some fantastic educators who use technology in their school. Lori Wetzel is a Media Specialist in Michigan using technology throughout the school day. Here, she shares ideas for using technology in the library with middle school students. Follow Lori on Twitter for more great resources.

Please describe your current role in teaching and the student population at your school.

I am the K–8 Media Specialist for Fraser Public Schools, though I spent the large majority of my time at the middle school level. Part of my role as the building Media Specialist includes being an Instructional/Technology coach for both my math and science departments. On a daily basis, I facilitate the SWAT (Students Willing to Assist with Technology) Team as well as the Broadcast Team that films, edits and produces the RMS Weekly Broadcast. I work with students and teachers on a daily basis in a variety of ways based on their instructional and technological needs. I am an Instructional Partner with my staff members. I am an Information Specialist for my building and district, and above all, I am a teacher.

What type of technology do you use in your school?

Fraser Public Schools is a 1:1 iPad environment. Our students at Richards Middle School have their own iPad and take them home daily. All of our teachers have both a MacBook Pro and an iPad. The Media Center is equipped with seven Collaboration stations, also with Apple TV’s, so students can work in small groups while projecting their iPads for group members. The Media Center also has a recording studio complete with tripod, iPad mount, microphones, and green walls for filming video and green screen projects.

How has technology changed the way you teach and support students in the library?

Technology has completely changed the way I conduct business in the library, as much as it has changed the way teachers conduct business in the classroom. As a result of our 1:1 initiative, technology is no longer an event. Technology is integrated in meaningful ways every day. At the middle school level, and district-wide, we rely heavily on a Blended Learning model. Some instruction is face-to-face, while some is delivered digitally. Most (if not all) content is available via our Learning Management System.

Since all of our students have an iPad and a school-issued email address, it is not uncommon for students to email me directly for support. Support is available 24/7 online, and while I create some of the Tech Tips, my SWAT team students also contribute to the collection. Through the use of technology tools such as Socrative, Kahoot, Padlet and Nearpod, I can engage ALL of my students and give them a voice. Creativity tools such as iMovie, Green Screen, Book Creator and Explain Everything, allow my students to “show what they know.”

Above all, technology has made learning an anytime, anywhere occurrence. Learning doesn’t stop at 2:45 pm when the bell rings.

Do you have a favorite tech-friendly project or activity you’ve used with students? 

One of my favorite activities is a seventh grade science lesson that focuses on the structure of cells. In groups, students are given a lab tray full of random materials — i.e. play dough, licorice sticks, tinker toys, lima beans, etc. — and are asked to assemble a cell-like structure from the given materials. Students are required to label each part of the cell and create and share an iMovie that identifies each part of the cell, explains the job of each component, and why they created their cell the way they did. My science teachers actually use this activity as a summative assessment. This activity ties in well with both the 21st Century Skills — Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking and Creativity — and the recently adopted Next Generation Science Standards.

What are your hopes for educational technology in the future?

I envision a future in which access to technology is equitable for all students. I want current and future generations of students to be engaged learners in an educational environment that is personalized and technology-rich. I foresee technology being a vital component to achieving this any time, any place, any path and any pace learning environment.

Monica Burns is an Author, Speaker, EdTech & Curriculum Consultant and Apple Distinguished Educator. Visit her site ClassTechTips.com for more ideas on how to become a tech-savvy teacher.

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