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Meet Our September Featured Teacher

Students in Susanne's class are not only encouraged to develop a lifelong love of reading, but also develop authentic skills that will serve them throughout their years at FM and beyond. 
Susanne Miller
7th Grade English Language Arts
Wellwood Middle School
Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District

Congratulations to our September 2015 Featured Teacher Susanne Miller. A dedicated seventh grade English Language Arts teacher in the Fayetteville-Manlius Central School District, Susanne has shown tremendous enthusiasm for integrating technology into her practice to engage her students. With more than 20 years of teaching experience, Susanne is a "voracious learner regarding instructional technology," according to the district's Coordinator of Instructional Technology Laurel Chiesa.

What are some of the innovative ways that Susanne integrates technology into her curriculum?
Susanne has consistently reinvented her English instruction using technology. In recent years, there has been an emphasis on non-fiction reading and writing. Susanne has leveraged FM's Google Apps for Education (GAFE) platform to support students as they work with informational text. FM is one of the few schools in the region to activate Gmail for students within their GAFE domain. Susanne has walked her students through the etiquette of sending emails: keeping the tone formal, making the email information-oriented, and avoiding complications that come with emotion. She has also emphasized the avoidance of texting abbreviations in formal communications. She has further integrated Gmail into her instruction with assignments that encourage students to contact her, write emails to themselves at FutureMe.org, and reach out to an author.

Susanne's love of literature helped to inspire a classroom campaign to encourage reading among the Wellwood student body, resulting in a video parody of Megan Trainor's "All About that Bass." (See this link to access the video. The password is fm; select "Video" from the menu at the left.) The purpose behind this project was “word study,” an aspect of ELA that is sometimes overlooked. Her efforts served twin purposes: Highlight the importance of word choice, as well as encourage reading. 

Susanne has continued her focus on word study as she integrates other Web 2.0 tools into her repertoire. For example, students choose a book and select important quotes to interpret. They display this effort through the application, Tagxedo as they create an infographic for the quote(s) they selected. Her goal is to engage students in the process so they won’t simply make up quotes. She has students pair the Tag they create with some sort of audio file and then display it on a virtual wall via Padlet. Ultimately, Susanne wanted to extend the audience for student work so that both parents and peers are able to view the creation and final product. The infographic was accompanied by a reader's guide in which students explained the design of the infographic and tied it to the purpose, text structure, main idea, and supporting details.

How have students benefited from Susanne's technology integration initiatives?
Students in Susanne's class are not only encouraged to develop a lifelong love of reading, but also develop authentic skills that will serve them throughout their years at FM and beyond. Through the innovative projects she has developed, Susanne's students are able to express their ideas in other areas such as voice, dance, creativity, and design. Further, Susanne models and provides instruction on digital citizenship and social networking when having students complete authentic work.

Is This You?
Are you the type of teacher who thinks about technology integration and new ways to enhance instruction, engage students, and make learning fun?  Know someone who fits the profile?  Recommend a "Featured Teacher" so we can recognize and celebrate great work in the area of instructional technology!
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