As an educational technology solutions provider talking about education is one of the most important things at NUITEQ. Deepening the conversation with teachers out there helps us understand their needs and improve NUITEQ Snowflake to best answer to specific teacher needs.
We’ve recently talked about all things digital with 3rd-grade Teacher Shannon Pipines, an educator at Washington Elementary School in the Little Ferry School District, New Jersey, United States. Besides being an educator, Shannon shares all things teaching, creating and living on her blog, Sensational Teachings.
Q: How often do you use digital tools in your existing curriculum?
A: I use digital tools every day in my classroom. This year was the first year where my students were 1:1 with their Chromebooks, meaning each child had their own computer. We used GSuite for Education tools every day, multiple times a day. In my classroom, I had the luxury of having an interactive touchscreen. I would teach whole group lessons there and make my lessons interactive and engaging for my students. At the end of the year, before the pandemic, I was actually demoing a new interactive board that works with Chrome. My students loved the size, freedom and variety this device gave them. It allowed me to have the freedom to access any documents and display them or setting up interactive lessons from across the room.
Q: For what purpose do you use digital tools?
A: I use digital tools in every subject. Interactive Math lessons, read alouds and readers theatre, Publishing - Writing pieces, recording and learning about science experiments, creating tours of historical places for Social Studies.
Q: How would you rate your comfort level using digital tools?
A: My comfort level is very high in using digital tools. I have taken two courses while getting my Masters on digital tools and I am Google for Education Level 1 Certified. I use digital tools in my classroom every day and I love teaching others about digital tools.
Q: Have you seen any changes in student engagement when digital tools?
A: My students are SO engaged when using digital tools. In this day and age, I feel technology and digital tools will be the new norm. Children love to learn from a device or a screen. It's the way they are being brought up now and they are able to explore more with a digital tool. Digital tools allow children to question their thinking, use trial and error to solve problems and get that instant gratification they love.
Q: How did students react / what did digital tools do for them after a while of using them?
A: My students get excited when I tell them we are going to be using a digital tool they already know. They love creating presentations and teaching their classmates about a topic. After a while of using the digital tools, my students discover features the tools have that I don't even know!
Q: Are some students reluctant to use digital tools? How have you dealt with this if applicable?
A: My students are not reluctant, but they do seem to get frustrated easily if the digital tool isn't cooperating. They do not seem to like digital tools when they have to read a long text on the computer. The more interactive the digital tool is, the more engaged they are. When a new digital tool is introduced to them, they do get frustrated and reluctant to keep trying. I have their classmates help them and explain the steps over again; this seems to help them.
Q: How do you deal with personalized learning and meeting different student needs?
A: In my classroom, I set up different levels and assignments for different groups of students. I have different expectations for each group. With digital tools, I can either assign different digital tools altogether or use the digital tools' levels to differentiate my students' learning. Some digital tools do not allow my students to move on without mastering a certain area.
Q: Do you think digital tools can help with offering personalized teaching and increase student engagement?
A: Yes, 100%! I love how digital tools are mostly independent. This allows for teachers to meet with individuals or a group of students and support their needs. With digital tools, I can meet with students and not worry about the rest of the class not learning, expanding their thinking, or not being engaged.
Q: Describe the perfect digital tool or a digital tool that doesn’t exist yet which you would like to be able to use in the future?
A: I'm not sure yet. I am new to incorporating educational digital tools into my classroom because my students only had their Chromebooks this year. I would love for each subject area's curriculum to come with a list of digital tools to expand their learning or take their learning to the next step.
Q: What are you struggling with the most right now as a teacher?
A: Right now, I am struggling with managing the digital tools in my classroom. I had a rough group of students this year that I couldn’t collaborate with in an unsupervised manner. I always had to be watching them and supervising their work. I am struggling with finding a happy medium of teaching my students a digital tool, but also letting them use their creativity and explore it. My students only followed what I did. They were very reluctant to try new features and explore.
Q: Describe how digital tools can help with remote learning.
A: Digital tools have saved myself and my students during remote learning. Without their Chromebooks and the confidence I had in them using digital tools, they would be very far behind for the upcoming grade. I am closing out the school year soon and I am confident they are ready for the following grade. My students were able to use all of the Google Digital tools, create videos and upload them to FlipGrid, and join video meetings with me. This is all because we used digital tools. They were able to create science presentations and make videos publishing their how-to books.
Q: How has COVD-19 affected you and your teaching?
A: COVID-19 affected my teaching because I had to think of different ways to explain the content to my students in a way they would understand it without having to ask a lot of different questions. I made-pre recorded instructional videos for my students, so they were able to watch them over and over again. For these videos, I had to break down the content and slow my teaching down. I had to think of every question they might have. Also, I had to make every google slide, form and doc that they were going to use. It pushed me to create interactive games for them on google slides and teach myself Flipgrid. My teaching was affected because I wasn’t able to engage my students the way I would in the classroom. I wasn’t able to physically work with them one on one. I wasn’t able to see what they were doing or know that they were 100% focused like they are in school. When some students came on the video, they had siblings or pets crawling on them and TVs or other siblings or parents on video meetings too. I couldn’t give them the space they needed that they best learn in.
If you enjoyed this interview and want to learn more from Shannon, go follow her on Instagram @sensationalteachings.
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