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Posted October 16, 2014

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English Teacher Uses Gamut of Apps in Classroom

Twitter, Google, TurnItIn and more helped Rio Grande's Jessica Quintana earn this year's first Innovation Award from TIG and the APS Education Foundation.

It didn't take long for Jessica Quintana, a third-year teacher at Rio Grande High, to figure out the value of integrating technology in the classroom.

In fact, freshmen in Quintana's English classes use technology in everything they do from drafting and turning in assignments via GoogleDocs and TurnItIn.com, to reading electronic books and developing documentary-based projects as alternatives to essays.

"I use Twitter as an extended day platform for students to ask questions they forgot to ask in class, to introduce extension activities for those who would like them, as a connection to real-world examples, and even as a quick data collection tool for classroom feedback."

Quintana is this year's first winner of the Innovation Award sponsored by Technology Integration Group and the APS Education Foundation in honor of teachers who are advancing education through the use of technology.

"Technology is very much ingrained into what I do with my students," said the honoree. "The generation of students we teach is so used to having infinite knowledge at their fingertips that they often don't see the purpose in learning what we have dictated is important. So rather than taking technology away from them as a punishment, I have decided to embrace it, and teach classic literature integrating real world experience. Doing this makes learning 'old' material relevant to this 'new' generation of student."

APS teachers with a Promethean board may apply for the Innovation award, which includes the opportunity to buy $1,500 worth of technology, including ActivClassroom interactive tools or training to assist in the classroom. Quintana and other winners also receive a $100 cash award as part of the honor.

Quintana said she hopes to use her prize to create "a sustainable electronic writers workshop that student mentors and teachers can contribute to." She plans to invite interested students (current and former) to help set up some video blogging tutorials that can help struggling students -- "sort of an inside deconstructing literature adventure," she said.

If there's money left over, she said she wants to get e-books for the Kindles in her classroom.

"I'm beyond excited and honored to have received the TIG award," Quintana said. "It was a surprise I was even nominated, but even more so that I was chosen. I know there are many teachers in our district who are making a big push to integrate technology in the classroom. The fact that someone has taken notice of some of the unique and effective things I do is amazing, the fact that they have decided to recognize me for it is an honor."

 

 

 

In 2013-14, eight teachers were Innovation Award winners. They include: Philip Friedman, Osuna Elementary; Susan Johnston, Jimmy Carter Middle School; Heather Ortiz, Chaparral Elementary; Molly Rice, Montezuma Elementary; Gary Bodman, Taft Middle School; Rick Sleeter, Eldorado High; Steve Lamb, E.G. Ross Elementary; Seth Hoover, Alamosa Elementary.

First, what do you teach and how long have you been teaching?

 

 

  I have been teaching 9th grade English at RGHS since I officially began teaching three years ago.  I've also taught a hybrid class in conjuncture with eCademy, which was a different experience all together.

 

How do you use technology in your classroom (a specific example or two would be helpful)?

 

I use technology in everything from drafting and turning in assignments via GoogleDocs and TurnItIn.com, to using electronic books, and having students develop documentary based projects as an alternative to essays. I use twitter as an extended day platform for students to ask questions they forgot to ask in class, to introduce extension activities for those who would like them, as a connection to real-world examples, and even as a quick data collection tool for classroom feedback. 

 

Why you feel it’s important to use technology as a teaching tool?

 

Technology is very much ingrained into what I do with my students.  The generation of students we teach is so used to having infinite knowledge at their fingertips that they often don't see the purpose in learning what we have dictated is important.  So rather than taking technology away from them as a punishment, I have decided to embrace it, and teach classic literature integrating real world experience...doing this makes learning "old" material relevant to this "new" generation of student.  Rather than punishing students for their use of a broken language and poor grammar, spelling, and punctuation (as we often see in "tweet-speak"), I teach them how to communicate effectively, and in an educated manner, in 142 characters.  The use of technology in the classroom can help students learn to come to clear, direct, hypothesis/thesis via twitter, and extend those ideas on a medium they will encounter in the real world (such as in websites, film, magazines, photography, and on paper).  Students do much more than learn to type a paper using a word processor in my class; they learn to effectively use google for research, validate their sources, and analyze claims in mediums other than paper.  Through technology, my students learn to find historical references in modern works of literature; they learn that literature isn't just a printed text and authors with a pen and paper, but so much more.

 

Also, what do you hope to use the $2,500 to purchase?   

 

What I really want to do is create a sustainable electronic writers workshop that student mentors and teachers can contribute to.  I think I am going to invite interested students (current and former) to help setup some video blogging tutorials that can help struggling students.  Sort of an "inside deconstructing literature" adventure.  Doing so is going to take additional "cloud" storage, and a semi-professional recording "studio" setup.  It'll be fun to see how far I can stretch the money for my own recording/editing/production center with a dedicated ipad (video/audio), mic, tripod setup.  If I have extra money, I'm going to use it for e-books for the kindles I've gotten for my class.

 

And anything else you want to add.

 

I'm beyond excited and honored to have received the TIG award.  It was a surprise I was even nominated, but even more so that I was chosen; I know there are many teachers in our district who are making a big push to integrate technology in the classroom.  The fact that someone has taken notice of some of the unique and effective things I do is amazing, the fact that they have decided to recognize me for it is an honor.

 

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