Featured Teacher:  Caitlin Mack

 
 
 

Caitlin Mack
Special Education
Homer Intermediate School
Homer Central School District


Caitlin is a special education teacher in a fifth grade co-teaching classroom with Stacy Brown at Homer Intermediate School in the Homer Central School District.  Caitlin is also a presenter at professional development classes where she recommends iPad apps for educators and parents. She and a group of her students have demonstrated iPad apps to the Homer Board of Education. Recently, Caitlin and her colleagues explained how they leverage technology to implement the Common Core Learning Standards Modules at a conference held by EngageNY.

What are some of the innovative ways you are integrating technology into your curriculum?

It is the mission of the Homer Central School District to “graduate responsible and productive citizens who embrace life-long learning.”  What better way to prepare students for the 21st century than by giving them the technological skills they need and make them career ready? Homer is making technology tools like iPads, Chromebooks, Promethean Boards, and Apple TV easily accessible for ALL students and teachers. Parents in the district have even been afforded the opportunity to attend workshops on the best apps and websites to use to support their children’s learning.  Technology has transformed the way Caitlin and her co-teacher teach, how their students learn, and how teachers and stakeholders communicate. From the start of the year, Edmodo has been a critical piece of their daily routine, serving as a homework board, providing extra homework help, showcasing students’ work, assessing students' knowledge, and communicating with parents. Caitlin and her co-teacher have developed a learning environment where students drive the instruction and Edmodo is perfect for peer reviews, project based learning, and individual support. Edmodo is also used as a home base for other websites, such as LearnZIllion, to enhance students’ understanding of the new Common Core Learning Standards. LearnZillion provides the teachers with the ability to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all students while supporting the EngageNY Modules.

In addition to Edmodo, Caitlin and her co-teacher use a variety of iPad apps to support the curriculum.  Some of their favorites include SplashMath, Grammaroplis, Doceri, Prezi, Virtual Manipulative, Futaba, News-O-Matic, Mind Snack, VoiceThread, Audible, and many more. This year, students created their own Keynotes and were able to project their work with the use of Apple TV, which also allowed one teacher to instruct at the board, while the other was mobile, providing supportive instruction from her iPad.  Further, apps like Nearpod and Socrative have been instrumental in supporting formative and summative assessments. During small group interventions, Caitlin uses the iPad to track students’ progress in fluency through the Fluency app and is able to use  Dropbox to share the students’ voice recordings with their parents. Students who have difficulty getting their thoughts onto paper are able to use Dragon Dictation by telling the iPad their story or use a wireless keyboard to type their work.
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Recently, Caitlin and her co-teacher have integrated a classroom set of Chromebooks to enhance their student-driven and project-based classroom. Students have been collaborating through Google Drive on classroom projects, communicating during online activities, and sharing work instantly with teachers for feedback. Currently, they are working with a CNYRIC specialist on how to connect Google Drive with Edmodo to further utilize the benefits of these resources.

In a co-teaching classroom, Caitlin and Stacy have a variety of needs that have been met through the use of technology. ALL students have mastered content with the assistance of technology that has provided them with the extra help they need to understand a topic or enrichment opportunities to further advance their knowledge base.

How have students benefitted from your technology integration initiatives?
 
The benefits of technology in Caitlin and Stacy’s classroom have been transformative, allowing students to participate in interactive technology-based learning, take ownership of their own learning, and receive support both in and out of school from teachers and peers. They have the ability to connect with experts and mentors from the “real world” beyond the schoolhouse doors. No longer are students just reading out of a text book, but instead, are learning through a variety of technology tools that allow for the world to be at their fingertips. In the 21st Century classroom, the students are an essential part of the lesson. They love working on group projects and messaging each other from across the room with educational questions. Students have felt proud and privileged in using technology in a variety of supportive and engaging ways. When the students are motivated to learn and to work cooperatively, the benefits of technology in the classroom are clear for all to see.
   



 
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