Meet our Featured Teacher: Susan Lohret
1st Grade Teacher
Cicero Elementary School
North Syracuse Central School District
Sue is a first grade teacher at Cicero Elementary in the North Syracuse Central School District. She was hired in 2000. Teaching is her second career. She earned a business degree and worked in the private sector for a few years after college. She later earned her MS in Education at LeMoyne College. She has begun work on her CAS at SUNY Oswego as she wants to “gain a new perspective on education through the lens of an administrator.”
What are some of the innovative ways that Sue integrates technology into her curriculum?
Sue is very excited about the new iPad centers in all of the North Syracuse first grade classrooms this year. Her goal is to have students use the technology in a way that supports 21st century learning. “They need to use technology to innovate and create, to truly understand its capabilities; and it needs to be a part of their everyday experience and learning at school, not just a lab visit once a week. I have high expectations for my first graders and a firm belief that they can do anything if given the opportunity and support needed. They continue to provide evidence of this everyday.”
Sue has two major technology projects planned so far this year: Beyond daily integration of the new iPad centers in her room, Sue’s first graders complete an author study and create a sequel to one of the stories they study. They plan the story on paper first across multiple pages and then publish it including typing and digital artwork. In this project, they learn to toggle back and forth and how to import their pictures into their document. “It is amazing to see them develop the skills to work independently to complete this project, and to witness students helping each other on how to maneuver the programs and project. Six and 7-year-olds can do it!”
Currently, her students are collaborating around a research project for a science unit on animals. Students are working in teams to collect and evaluate research from books, research programs like Pebble-Go, and internet sites such National Geographic Kids. They are displaying the information on a poster template and then they will decide together how to display and educate the class on their animal and animal group using Powerpoint (laptops) or Keynote (iPads). They will create a quiz using Kahoot! to test their peers' knowledge of their animal group after the presentations.
How have students benefitted from Sue's technology integration initiatives?
Students are not only building their knowledge of how to use technology effectively to support learning, but also they are developing communication, cooperation, and problem solving skills. All of these are life skills--skills needed for college and career.
Students are fully engaged in the learning. They are excited for their team projects, having dialogue related to the project and using problem solving strategies as they discuss the best way to display the information collected for their peers to learn about their animal group. They are deciding where to locate the important information needed for completing the task. They are learning from each other and what works and what doesn't. Sue says, “I have become more of the coach or facilitator during the project.”
Sue is thrilled about the new opportunities she faces this year: “I believe in my students and that allows them to believe in themselves, that anything is possible. They know first graders can do anything with persistence and effort; and through the power of reflection on what makes them successful and what might have interfered with their progress, so that they can reach their fullest potential. Integrating technology into lessons allows students the opportunity to apply their learning in innovative ways. I am grateful for the new opportunity in my classroom this year and the support from the CNYRIC and my district.”