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Featured Teacher:  Jennifer Kirchoff

Jennifer Kirchoff
English Language Arts Teacher
East Syracuse Minoa High School
East Syracuse Minoa Central School District

Jenn Kirchoff has enjoyed a 25-year career in education. She started her career as the Head Teacher for the Montessori Day Car/Pre-School and Curriculum Library Supervisor at the College of St. Rose. She then moved on to Manlius Pebble Hill School where she was an English teacher for ten years. She currently works at East Syracuse Minoa High School, where she as taught English Language Arts 11 and Young Adult Literature for the past 14 years.

Follow Jenn on Twitter:  @JKlovesELA

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

Jenn is just a natural when it comes to integrating technology in her curriculum to engage her students and increase learning. She does multiple projects each year in which she does not limit her students into using only one tool, but rather offers them multiple options and lets them decide which technology tools they would like to use to present their ideas. One of the more interesting concepts behind her approach includes introducing students to the Petcha Kucha technique for "Rapid Fire" presentations. She encourages students to explore a variety of Web 2.0 tools which will allow students to present materials visually:  Glogster, PowToon, Many Eyes from IBM, Weebly, Wix, and Webs, and the Making Teachers Nerdy blog, which has AMAZING websites where students can create different types of art to enhance any presentation!

Jenn's students use PowToon and Stupeflix to create book trailers to generate and perpetuate free reading in her classes. She also provides students with a list of about 15 on-line comic strip generators to teach them about the power and use of satire found in their novels and plays pertaining to her Social Justice Unit. To help students better understand good characterization and imagery, she has them use FlashFace, which is like an on-line police sketch artist pad, where students provide all the descriptions of their characters in the text and then see if they can create a likeness from those quotes. Another good site to help them create visuals from the imagery in their texts is The Art of Storytelling from the Delaware Art Museum, which allows students to create scenes using landscapes, characters, and props to reflect/symbolize scenes from their books. As an alternative to character profile writing, she also provides students with a link to PBS's Independent Lens website featuring "Off the Charts Web Karaoke,"  which allows students to write a poem which can then be sung to music on the site.
How have students benefitted from your technology integration initiatives?
Jenn has definitely seen student involvement and completion of assignments increase due to the variety and choice she provides students with these sites and activities. It is important to note that these activities DO NOT substitute for the needed traditional writing assignments; they merely act as tools for better close-reading assignments which then, in turn, help fuel a better writing process for the students when they do write their essays and responses.

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