Kindergarten teachers at Glen Rose Elementary are capitalizing on technological tools for the benefit of their students.
Seven kindergarten teachers were among those honored at the Glen Rose ISD board meeting in September for engaging students in 21st Century Learning. Elementary Principal Debbie Morris explained how Kassi Foegelle, Tracie Hansen, Julie Hinds, Shelly Morrow, Lera Brittain, Mary Cortez and Barbara Crawford are all deserving educators.
School board members were shown a video the teachers made of their classroom activities highlighting students interacting with technology. The school's videos are viewable at glenroseelementary.info.
“The video they made was about all the different components of beginning reading,” Morris said. “That includes teaching phonological awareness, fluency, letters and sounds, comprehension, vocabulary, character development and cause and effect. Each one of these teachers in the video is hitting on the different reading skills. All of our kids are instructed on all the different skills we use to make a good reader and they practice regularly.”
Morris acknowledged a major goal of the entire school district - developing technology-savvy students.
“I think what the videos have allowed us to do is share with each other,” she said. “I think our teachers are the best staff development for each other to learn, because we have some of the best teachers in the state. The videos also let families know what we’re doing in our classroom and how they might be able to help their kids.
“Parents can see the questions we’re asking and know what they might focus on at home with their kids. The videos are a great teaching tool for everyone involved. Teachers aren’t just teaching the kids anymore, and other districts can take a look at what we’re doing.”
Morris first explained Foegelle's approach.
“She really likes diving into the reading sessions,” Morris said. “She gets the kids to question what they’re reading. Mrs. Foegelle loves to integrate technology into her reading.
“She will use iPads to take pictures of items around her classroom that start with a certain sound. One year, she had students vote on something with the iPad by creating a ballot.”
Morris said Hansen shares her love of science with students.
“She likes to use hands-on experiments,” Morris said. “Certainly technology is helping her show students how and why certain things are done.”
Morris said Hinds is also a proponent of hands-on learning activities.
“She likes kids to have discovery learning,” Morris said. “She wants them to figure out problems.”
The principal said Morrow likes to blend subjects together.
“She integrates all subjects flawlessly into her lessons,” Morris said. “If she’s teaching writing, she’s pulling math and social studies into it. She works on print awareness and getting students to read quickly.”
Morris said Brittain is a “great writing teacher.”
“She loves writing,” the principal said. “Kids use their imaginations to write wonderful stories, and she also teaches them great penmanship.”
Cortez teaches her students how to read and write in two languages.
“She is our bilingual teacher and our kids come out of her class with a strong foundation in English and Spanish,” Morris said. “She does a great job of bringing the Hispanic culture into the classroom. For the students who only speak one language, she does a great job of repeating herself in both languages.”
Crawford is adept at evaluating the progress her students are making.
“Mrs. Crawford works hard on teaching one-on-one to see exactly where students are at in their learning and where they need to go,” Morris said.
With Morris and her teachers receptive to change, she has seen technology take on a larger role at the elementary campus.
“Over the last several years, teachers have become more adventurous,” she said. “They take more risks. Kids already know technology nowadays, and we live in a fast-paced world. To grab their attention, we try to feed into that. We’re reaching kids on a different level.”
Morris appreciates how students can explore information at the touch of a button.
“We can go across the country, or even oceans, to do research and build skills,” she said. “For example, we’re taking students on a zoo field trip. We’re going to read a lot of books about zoos and also take our iPads to the zoo to do some research. We’ll take pictures with our iPads and put together zoo photo collages.
“Students will take a picture of their favorite animal and learn more about its habitat. The technology is just making the world a little more interactive and innovative for our students.”