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Posted November 13, 2013

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Teacher Uses Technology to Enhance Classroom Experience

Susan Johnston of Jimmy Carter MS is this month's TIG/APS Education Foundation Innovation Award winner.

Jimmy Carter MS Innovation Award winner

Susan Johnston not only loves teaching, she also loves incorporating technology into teaching physical science to her eighth graders at Jimmy Carter Middle School.

"I believe it is important to use technology in the classroom as a link for students toward a deeper understanding of our physical world." said Johnston, the second Innovation Award winner of the 2013-14 school year.

For the third school year, Technology Integration Group, in cooperation with the APS Education Foundation, is sponsoring the monthly Innovation Award, giving a $2,500 prize to district teachers who are advancing education in the classroom through the use of technology, including Promethean ActivBoards. With the award, honorees are able to select peripherals and publisher materials that will integrate with their existing Promethean ActivBoard. It is hoped that this award will allow honorees to spark even more innovative teaching and learning.

A $100 cash prize also is provided. APS teachers with a Promethean board may apply for the award.

Johnston, who has been teaching for five years (as her "second career" she note), said that she uses technology "to enhance sensory and hands-on experiences for students in the classroom."

She described an example where her students make electricity in their classroom in the form of an exercise bike that has a small generator attached to a LED light. "Students ride the bike, using leg energy to begin the  energy  conversions necessary  that will eventually generate electricity and light the LED. Students understand the conversions involved in making electricity through this small working model. Students can expand this simple model technology to hydropower generation and other large methods of electrical generation,  which are easily accessed through the  use of  the Promethean Board technology."

Johnston also attributes her innovative approach with integrating technology into her classroom to her husband, who is a retired engineer. "My husband, a registered volunteer with APS, continually helps me make my labs and classroom teaching better," Johnston said. "I often use 'raps' to help students engage basic concepts in my units and John has made me 'percussion' to accompany these raps.  As a result students often complain " I never get to play the triangle" when we get ready to rap if they are not chosen, and as a result  I have to rotate the triangle around the classroom daily to keep it fair!"

Johnston said she hopes to use the $2,500 prize money to buy hands on, student centered experience, learning use materials.

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