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Meet our Featured Teacher: Renee Patterson

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"As students begin to recognize that they have the tools and the know-how to find the answers they seek on their own, they have become more self-sufficient as researchers and subsequently, more curious and engaged in the topics covered in class."
Renee Patterson
Onondaga Junior/Senior High School
Onondaga Central School District

Congratulations to our November 2016 Featured Teacher Renee Patterson. Renee works for Onondaga Central Schools (OCS) at Onondaga Junior/Senior High School and has taught ELA since 2004. During her tenure at OCS, she has taught ELA at the 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 12th-grade levels, as well as several electives including Film Studies, Children’s Literature, and Creative Writing. In 2013, Renee created a video production and editing program which produces Tiger TV, OCS’s daily announcements.

What are some of the innovative ways that Renee integrates technology into her curriculum?

Renee is currently piloting a 1:1 Chromebook initiative in her classroom at OCS. Her English 10 classes have gone completely paperless by leveraging G Suite for Education to create, collaborate, and submit their assignments. Her students work in cooperative groups to collaborate on assignments and share their ideas by annotating documents and researching answers to questions posed in class. Currently, her students are working on a year-long, multi-phase research project focused on global human rights violations. They have been using Noodletools to guide them through the “paperless research paper” process. The last phase of the research project is the production of a video public service announcement that the students will write, film, edit, and share to YouTube. In addition to her work in English 10, Renee also leads a video production program at OCS which encompasses the entire production process of the daily five-minute news show, Tiger TV. The process spans collecting information from the public with Google Forms and Sheets, scriptwriting with Google Docs and Drive, storyboarding with, recording in studio and on-location with standard video equipment, post-production digital editing with Adobe Premiere Pro, and finally publishing to the web using Ensemble.

How have students benefited from Renee's technology integration initiatives?

One of the major benefits of the paperless classroom is that students can't lose or forget assignments at home. Renee says she has seen a big improvement in the organization of her students and even herself. Students with spotty attendance benefit greatly from the use of G Suite for Education because all the work is always right where they left off and they have access to all class announcements, assignments, and their own work from wherever they are. Renee says that having the Chromebooks allows class discussions to incorporate the students’ natural curiosity. “Our discussions don’t stop when someone poses a question that requires a bit of research to answer. Instead of encouraging that student to look it up over night, I can throw it out to the class. I ask everyone to take a second and find the answer. If someone makes an unpopular claim about the reading, I ask the students to take a couple of minutes to research and find evidence to either prove or disprove the theory. In this way, research is a part of everyday life, not just that ‘big, once a year research project’ that kids dread.” As students begin to recognize that they have the tools and the know-how to find the answers they seek on their own, they have become more self-sufficient as researchers and subsequently, more curious and engaged in the topics covered in class. As for the video production program, Renee says, “My undergraduate degree is in video production and it’s amazing to be able to bring that part of my background into the classroom in a way that touches the entire district on a daily basis. The kids have a blast doing it and already in the young life of the program we have had students decide to go into the broadcasting and editing field. We’ve placed graduating seniors in some of the most prestigious communications programs in the country. Before Tiger TV, these kids wouldn’t have had any exposure to this field. Now they come into the studio and see a whole realm of possibilities unknown to them before. It’s so exciting--I mean, as an educator, what more can you ask for?”

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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