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Teachers Get Schooled on Tech-savvy Tools

Sixth grade teacher Vlad Borza is happy to have a little help managing behavior in his classroom.

This year, he’s hoping cute, computer animated monsters will help him with the task after attending Rebel U, a full-day training program for Godfrey Lee teaching staff. The day-long professional development was designed by staff, for staff.  The focus was on ways to help educators integrate technology to improve their teaching, and their students’ learning.

“There’s a lot that I picked up that I want to use right away,” said Borza. ClassDojo is a program that lets teachers set up a classroom with cute monsters as avatars for the students. Borza learned that with a click of a button he can give the computer-animated monsters points, or take them away, tracking behavior throughout the year.

“Students can see what’s been reported about them and if they do something wrong, they can see they didn’t get away with it. I don’t have to disrupt the classroom and I think it will be useful keeping everybody on task.”

Sharing What’s WorkedFifth grade teachers Olivia Alkema and Diane Zadel work in a collaborative project during Rebel U development program at Godfrey Lee's Sixth grade building last week

During the day, teachers and administrators share tools they have successfully tried in the classroom, and offer advice on innovative solutions for others. With workshops named “Teaching & Learning Like a Superhero”, “iPads: The kids know how to use them, and you can too;” and “You Do WHAT With Your Website?,” the program offers teachers tools to be more effective teachers regardless of how tech savvy they are, said Sarah Wood, Technology and Media Integration Specialist at Godfrey-Lee.

Wood said this year they wanted teachers to start using some of the tools right away. So they organized a collaborative project in which all teachers had to address the question “What color is a bully,” and come up with two ways of addressing it in the classroom: one using technology and one without it.

To inspire teachers, the Tech and Media team created a video they showed teachers during the training before sending them to create the anti-bullying lessons. While the video may be a bit silly, it helped teachers relax a little and see they can be creative while also driving home what they want students to remember.

“What we’re trying to do is helping teachers use all the resources they have, and to think outside the box. We have no problem modeling. We will dress up and do whatever it takes to make things happen.” Fifth grade teacher Olivia Alkema said last year she attended a workshop focusing on helping students learn math.

Afterwards, she and co-teacher Christi Gilbert worked together throughout the year, to integrate technology into their math classes, checking out what worked best in the classroom and for individual students. “We presented a compilation of all those things that we tried and worked well, and we thought others might be able to use it,” she said. “Usually teachers walk away with one or two things that they saw and say: “This what I’m going to try this year.’ “

For fifth grade teacher Diane Zadel, learning from programs that have been successful for others is key. “I was interested in it last year but didn’t have a chance to see it in action. Now I’m hoping to implement several of their ideas in my classroom.”


Professional Development Day

Anti-Bullying Trailer

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Class Dojo Management System

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