Third Grade Teacher
Woodland Elementary School
East Syracuse Minoa CSD
Tom is a third grade teacher at Woodland Elementary in the East Syracuse Minoa (ESM) Central School District, where he has taught for five years. Before teaching at ESM, Tom taught third grade for seven years at Van Duyn Elementary in the Syracuse City School District.
How has Tom brought innovation to his classroom?
Tom is always searching for ways to integrate technology into his lessons, in an effort to enhance student engagement and learning in the classroom. However, he’s also worked with a colleague to create the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art + Design, and Math (STEAM) Club at Woodland Elementary School to promote learning outside of normal school hours. The club meets after school twice per week, inviting students from grades two through five to participate in STEAM activities such as Rokenbok, Dash and Dot, and Lego WeDo. Engineering activities task students with planning and designing a tool from scratch, and then programming it to carry out specific tasks using coding.
In the classroom, Hyperdocs and Deck.Toys are two technology resources that Tom routinely uses to enhance how his students learn and engage in course material. These tools help put students in charge of their learning, providing them with various academic games and activities that reinforce the skills they’ve gained and concepts they’ve learned in class. Hyperdocs and Deck.Toys activities focus on topics such as the water cycle, biomes around the world, and life cycles.
Another resource Tom frequently employs in class is Flipgrid, an educational resource that has enhanced how students share their learning. Students are able to create short video blogs where they can share their thoughts, ideas, and knowledge of whatever topic that they’re studying. Recently, students created Flipgrid videos explaining how to calculate the area and perimeter of defined shapes, and then shared their creations with third grade students from a different school district.
How have students benefited from Tom's technology integration initiatives?
Reception for the Woodland STEAM Club has been overwhelmingly positive, with almost 90 students (and counting) participating in club activities since its inception. The club has had an identifiable positive impact on student collaboration, creativity, and problem-solving strategies. On a school day following STEAM Club activities, students can be overheard talking about the projects they’d worked on and what they’d learned from the day prior, and are always mentioning how excited they are for the next time that the club meets.
Tom’s integration of Hyperdocs and Deck.Toys into classroom activities has revolutionized the ways students explore their learning. Tools such as these have not only increased student motivation and interest in various topics, skills, and units, but have also directly affected their academic success.
Just as importantly, programs like Flipgrid have led to increased student confidence and enhanced peer discussion. Kids who are generally hesitant to share their knowledge with their peers in the class are excited to create a Flipgrid video, which they can then share with these same classmates (as well as other students). The program allows “students to become the teachers,” articulating expertly and confidently on the skills and concepts they are studying.
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!