The Life of a Vanguard Teacher

by Jenn Brown

What Made This Year a Success

As Vanguard, I was selected to be the Guru of tech, so I took it upon myself to be one step ahead of my students and staff. From the beginning I was trouble-shooting all kinds of technical issues and questions. I believe because of my desire to help anyone, anytime, for any reason, this opened the lines of communication very early on.

I showed my staff a new app (iPad gesture, project) each week during our staff meetings. I also tried to introduce the same to my students while still encorporating the lessons with a new twist on the assignment. My students were my best critics! I observed their successes and their struggles with apps, giving me the feedback to "ditch it" or "keep it".

Focusing on enthusiastic teachers who were hungry for iPad technology How-To's on a daily basis helped me stay relevant with my weekly trainings. I tried to nurture their creative juices giving them additional tips and tricks to elevate their in class presentations. Overall, I feel the staff were open to my assistance and knew I was always available for them.

This first year, as Vanguard/Lead Tech, has given me the insight to be flexible with technology. There were plenty of times I wanted to show video clips, Prezi, smores, etc. during class or meetings and an issue would inhibit my presentation to go on the way I intended. I had to think on the fly, transferring documents through "AirDrop" worked like a charm so my lesson could continue with limited glitches.

I am looking forward to the next year of staff and students. Each year the motivation, tech comprehension and enthusiasm changes, but I love and live for bring it on and let's make it a great year.

Photos of My Classroom Showing Evidence of Technology Integration

Kindergarten through 6th and Specialty Classrooms Demonstrating "What Good Looks Like"

Ms. Bolen's First Graders Make a Movie

As a final project to their book study the students created a movie (several scenes were staged and recoreded). In each movie a major part of the book was represented to show understanding of the characters and the setting was hand sketched. They did a phenomenal job on their completed project, sound effects and all. Well done first grade!

Ms. Silver Builds Bridges in Second

One of the bulletin boards that students created followed the theme of “Creativity and Innovation Connect Us”. This project was related to the school wide STEM Fair. Students worked in groups in order to design and build model bridges that could withstand weight. Students used the iPads and computers in the Technology Lab in order to make data tables that recorded the weight each bridge held. Also, students typed up their conclusions and final thoughts about the project.

Mr. Boland's Terrific Turbines in Second

One of the bulletin boards that the students created followed the theme of “Technology Connects Us”. The project was centered on how people can use alternate sources of energy such as wind power and solar power. The students used the ipads in order to find further research in regards to solar power and wind power. The students also used iPads and computers (Paint) in order to design/sketch their wind turbines. Students used these diagrams in order to build model wind turbines.

Mr. Kimble's iMovie Creations in Fifth

We joined forces with our 5th and 6th graders in making a movie. One of "Toby's Tech Challenges" was to sum up 2014 into an iMovie creation. Our students researched major events of the year, key words to encompass the feelings and emotions of those events and put music that was fitting with the images. They learned so much from this project, being our first movie making experience. All movies were shown at the end and the winning team won lunch with the teachers!!

Ms. Spinnella's Fascinating Fractals in Art

In Art class (across grade levels) students were studying Fractals, the concept of continuous design. Students found images online, wrote a short reflection piece about "Fractal Art" and created their own art similar to the examples. The final projects were so creative and innovative. I even overheard a kindergartner tell some visitors to our school what fractals were, needless to say our visitors were impressed!

Topics For Another Year

  • Setting lower and upper grades apart in project idea complexities
  • Ensuring videos are age-grade level specific to our schools (elementary vs high school)
  • Connecting real-life application of technology to real world expectations
  • Apps that are well established
  • Second Years-how to teach incoming grades the "ropes" without boring those who already use tech
  • See below articles

Quote That Speaks Volumes

"If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed. The vision pulls you." -Steve Jobs