TES Tech in Action
Technology is constantly changing and advancing and with that, so is Waller ISD teaching and learning. Examples of how technology can enhance lessons and engage students can be found all over the district and some great examples of technology in action can be found at Turlington Elementary (TES) thanks to new Instructional Technologist Melissa Summerford who joined the TES team in fall 2019.
“For me, using technology is not about using devices just because they are available,” Summerford said. “It should be about, how am I going to enhance this learning environment through my content and how can technology make it more efficient?”
One of the ways Summerford is incorporating technology into classrooms is through literature. Recently kindergarten and first-grade students worked on identifying the main character of a story and writing complete sentences by creating short video clips. After reading Truman, a book about a small turtle on an adventure, students took photos of a small plastic turtle in a setting of their choice. Using the photos, students wrote a complete sentence explaining what the turtle was doing. Afterward, they recorded themselves reading their sentences in front of a green screen to later added their photos into the video. As a trial run, Summerford first completed the activity with Reyna Willand’s second-grade class to see how students would respond.
“Students were very engaged and loved to see themselves on the iPads,” Willand said. “The more students work with the iPads the more curious they become on what else they are able to do with them.”
In second through fifth grade, students used sketchnoting as a way to take learning from verbal to visual. Sketchnoting is a form of note-taking that involves using a mix of words and visuals, such as illustrations, to express ideas or concepts. Using this method improves recall, memory, and comprehension while ensuring students are fully engaged in the material. To introduce sketchnoting to classrooms, Summerford created her own lesson where students analyzed the plot elements of a podcast. As they listened, they sketchnoted the characters, setting, problem, turning point, and resolution of the story. At the end of the exercise, students shared their sketchnotes with their classmates.
Summerford is not only teaching new technology strategies to students, but to teachers as well. One quick way she began spreading information is strategically placing posters around the school for teachers to read and gain quick bits of knowledge for use in classrooms. This strategy has allowed for teachers to gain new tools, tips, and tricks while respecting their busy schedules. After working with Summerford, teachers began to spread the news of what they are learning through word of mouth and on social media.
“It is so exciting to see how teachers are spreading what we are doing and how they are implementing it in their classrooms,” Summerford said. “Now teachers are emailing me and requesting to try things out.”