Mike McDowell

NCTIES Outstanding Teacher 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 three years of trial and error I have a vision of what I consider best practices.

  • 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. The launch date is second semester and I think students will buy into the idea of "passion based learning".
  • Go paperless - Save tons of money for your school by posting assignments to your LMS. Start a revolution by challenging others. The money saved on copies (thousands of dollars) could be spent on technology!
  • 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?

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