Third Grade Teacher
Wheeler Elementary School
Onondaga Central School District
Congratulations to Jessica Matzke, our April 2018 Featured Teacher. Jessica teaches third grade at Wheeler Elementary School, in the Onondaga Central School District. She has spent the past four years serving in this capacity.
How has Jessica brought innovation to her classroom?
When integrating technology into her classroom, Jessica always wants it to be fun and interactive, but she also wants it to “do more” than simply replace what she already assigns on pencil and paper. She regularly uses Google Classroom with her third graders, uploading assignments that the students can easily access at school or from home. Jessica has curated a wide variety of online tasks for her students, having them watch instructional videos that reteach concepts, interact with BrainPOP by watching videos and taking fun quizzes, fill in research templates, complete digital task cards through Google Slides, and publish digital journal entries, just to name a few. Not only can Jessica view and interact with the work they submit, but students are also able to add comments and provide constructive feedback and encouragement as well. She works hard to motivate her students, always encouraging them to problem-solve, think critically, and collaborate with their peers.
Jessica also utilizes GoNoodle to integrate physical activity into her class, reinforcing lesson content through song and dance. During a recent science test, students were quoting the “Water Cycle Song” by Blazer Fresh from GoNoodle when explaining tricky concepts such as transpiration. Along with song and dance, her students love using Kahoot! to combine friendly competition with lesson review via interactive quizzes. Students have even been afforded the opportunity to create their own Kahoot! questions for the entire class.
Jessica uses Breakout EDU Boxes to create lesson-related (and interest-inducing) challenges, introducing or ending topics in meaningful ways. These Breakout EDU Boxes, by far, bring the most excitement to her class. The challenges have the students working together to exhibit their knowledge and problem-solving skills. She is able to leverage this technology by providing clues for solving the puzzle through the use of QR codes, pointing to research that needs to be completed in order to answer a clue, or through the use of Google Forms. Jessica is certain that anyone in the building can hear the cheers of her students when she announces that it’s “Breakout Box time!”
Improving the home/school relationship through technology
One of Jessica’s continuous goals is to maintain a healthy home-school connection. She believes in the importance of involving families in meaningful ways, and as frequently as possible. This year she has been using ClassDojo to give parents a window into a typical day in her classroom. There, families can see photos from fun activities and daily lessons, access important documents, directly message the teacher right from their phones, and receive class reminders.
On World Read Aloud Day, Jessica posted a link to a Padlet that allowed parents, other teachers, administrators, and her students to work collaboratively to discuss the importance of reading throughout the day. She has also had parents - at their child's behest - send in photos from home showing new pets, chores they have completed, or accomplishments made outside of school that the kids are proud of, and want to share with their teacher.
Jessica’s students also use Seesaw to create a digital portfolio of their learning, which parents have access to and can use to comment on their child’s work. It is especially impactful when students and parents are commenting on posts together during the school day, and the excitement in the room is off the charts when a student sees their parent commenting on the portfolio and adding to classroom discussions.
How have students and staff benefited from Jessica's technology integration initiatives?
Jessica has observed that students who are typically reluctant to share in class or to write their ideas down are now enjoying being creative when using Google Docs, changing the font to their liking or using the voice tool to type for them. She has also noticed that students are excited to have an audience for their published work, often asking: “can you take a picture and send this to my mom?” or “I can login at home and show my family, right?”
When Jessica uses technology in her classroom, she is providing deeper learning experiences for her third grade students, and allowing them to gain increasingly necessary skills at a young age. These skills go beyond just navigating a computer; they are learning to work together towards a common goal, access the world at their fingertips, and express their thoughts and ideas creatively. Jessica’s students truly take ownership of their learning by utilizing different online resources, and they continually exceed her expectations with the technology-based projects that they complete. She is seeing leadership emerge amongst the students in ways she could have never previously imagined.
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!