Ashley Gilbert & Brittany Lamie
First grade co-teachers
Homer Elementary School
Homer Central School District
Ashley Gilbert and Brittany Lamie are currently co-teaching first grade at the Homer Elementary School in the Homer Central School District. Ashley is currently in her second year in the district (and sixth year as a teacher), and Brittany has embarked on her third year in the profession.
How have this Ashley and Brittany brought innovation into their classroom?
When one walks into Ashley and Brittany’s classroom, they’ll immediately notice one thing that sets it apart from traditional student spaces: there are no desks. Instead, there are two small tables, one kidney-shaped table, some bean bag chairs, yoga mats, couches, and ample floor space. In this classroom, the focus is on teaching kids how to collaborate using the space they're given, and technology greatly enhances this pursuit.
Presently, Ashley and Brittany’s students are using iPads for a great deal of their instruction. The duo has been able to individualize instruction for each student by using a program called Zearn, a digital math tool that offers students the ability to work independently, or in small groups. The digital manipulatives and instant feedback offered by the program encourages differentiation and engagement.
Ashley and Brittany have also implemented some accountability measures to encourage students to work independently. As a result, they have been able to work with individuals on more of a 1:1 basis when students have questions or need coaching. This has enabled the teachers to provide students with more tier 2 and 3 reading intervention during “learning and listening” time.
In order to promote some of this independence and foster more 1:1 learning opportunities, the teachers use EdPuzzle and Screencast-o-matic to record themselves reading the text, then upload it (along with audio clips and comprehension pieces) for students to review. This allows the instructors to instantly gauge student understanding of the material being reviewed, so that it can be addressed at a time later in the day. By turning the direct instruction into a video, Ashley and Brittany are able to effectively add another two teachers to the classroom, since they don’t need to spend time reading the content “in the moment,” and can instead repurpose that time for providing individual instruction to those who need it.
During “skills” time, Ashley and Brittany use iPads and Google Classroom to push assignments directly to student devices. Recently, they have transitioned their weekly newsletters from paper to video (though a paper version does still go home with students). They share the video newsletters via ClassDojo, where parents can interact with instructors on a daily basis. ClassDojo has allowed the duo to have immediate contact with parents in a less foreboding way (as compared to a phone call), if the need isn't pressing.
How have students benefited from these technology integration initiatives?
The students in Ashley and Brittany’s classroom may only be five-and-six years old, but are already learning difference-making life skills. They’re learning time management skills, video creation (through the weekly newsletters), how to share school-related content with their families, and how collaborate with one another.
They’re experiencing new ways of learning content, and doing so in a non-traditional learning space. Ashley and Brittany believe that the internet is a limitless world, one which students must learn to navigate effectively. Without proper instruction and purpose, they could easily get lost.
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!