Mike McDowell

ISTE Outstanding Teacher Award Nominee

Who Am I and How Does Technology Fit Into My Classroom?

Taking chances, being uncomfortable, and failing are traits that allow me to evolve as a math and science teacher. My journey has been filled with peaks and valleys and is always fluid. Standing still and being satisfied with where I am as an educator has never crossed my mind. I enjoy the process of learning, exploring new technology, devising a plan for instructional uses and deploying the activity in my classroom. Failure is something that I embrace and would encourage all teachers to do. I want to be seen as an educational trailblazer who brings new ideas to my peers in my school and district.

Winning the Race to the Top grant allowed me the opportunity to launch our district's Bring Your Own Device initiative, using Galaxy tablets in my sixth grade classroom. Through four years of trial and error I have a vision of what I consider best practices.

  • Put everything in one spot - Create an app and put everything that a parent and student need for a successful school year. I used Appsbar to create my classroom app and asked my students and parents to download it to all devices at open house.
  • Become a curator - Find a learning management system and house all of your best resources. Now, share with others and let them collaborate with you to make it better.
  • Increase efficiency - Use test generators like Problem Attic and SchoolNet to create common assessments. Use programs like Edmodo to assign and GRADE these tests and quizzes. Instant item analysis will allow you to quickly and easily progress monitor. Credit recovery assignments are very easy to make with data like this! Try a program like Evernote to quickly take notes on students. This is an easy and effective way to plan for parent conferences and summarize student trends.
  • Increase motivation using programs, apps, sites, games and tools that kids love. I have been working very hard to replicate a "Genius Hour" opportunity for my students during their enrichment period. At the end of each quarter, students who have shown proficiency on my common assessments are allowed to explore a topic of interest and create a passion project that relates to units of study for that quarter.
  • Go paperless - Save tons of money for your school by posting assignments to your LMS. Start a revolution by challenging others to do the same. The money saved on copies (thousands of dollars) could be spent on technology! As the School Improvement Team chairman for 2016, I challenged the staff to embrace the district LMS and cut down on their copies. As a result of this challenge, we were able to save enough money to purchase 48 Chromebooks ($9,800).
  • Develop alternative assessment and assignments - Differentiate instruction/assignments by giving students the choice for how they learn and show what they know. What if students created a digital portfolio? Would this serve the same purpose and increase motivation? My students use Weebly as their digital portfolio platform and this is where they post their artifacts and quarterly reflections for each of their four classes.

Virtual Reality Internship

I spend most of my summers researching trends in education and technology, searching for ideas to bring to my classroom and school. A few years ago, I stumbled across augmented and virtual reality and fell in love with it. Inspired by the endless possibilities, I wrote and won a small grant proposal which enabled me to purchase 150 sets of Google Cardboard for our staff and school.

Looking towards the future, I believe virtual reality will be the next big thing to hit the world of technology. Virtual reality has the potential to become a multi-billion dollar market and will have companies that develop hardware, software, or provide service to the public.

The Winston-Salem Foundation has partnered with our school district in an effort to encourage teachers to apply for professional development opportunities. My proposal for this grant would afford me an internship with a local virtual reality company. The owner of Looking Glass Services would train me to use technology to create virtual tours and then assist me in creating a tour of our school.

If I receive full funding for this grant proposal, Looking Glass will reinvest $2,300 of the $2,500 back into the school to purchase high quality VR headgear. Preview the demo that we created of our media center.

My Classroom App

This app was made to help parents and students access everything that they need to be successful this school year. I used Appsbar to create the app and sent students to Appcatch to download it. Included on this app are links for the following...

  • Math Learning Modules for Each Unit
  • Science Learning Modules for Each Unit
  • Learning Communities
  • School Website
  • Lunch Menu
  • Supply List
  • Student Digital Portfolio
  • Pay it Forward
  • Cool Tools (web 2.0 tools)
  • Homework Calendar
  • Technology Log
  • Twitter
  • Teacher Contact Information
  • Power School (grades)

My Learning Management System (Weebly)

Local News

QR Codes in the Classroom

Augmented Reality in the Classroom

Enrichment Period - Pixel Press Floors

Cool School Tools - Flipping the Classroom and BYOD Programs

Community and Grants

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NCTIES Outstanding Teacher of the Year (2014-2015)

Mike McDowell