Tech savvy teachers need time to reflect

Looking back on that first day of ed tech methods, I felt I was afraid to take that risk and get outside of my comfort zone. I  was an advocate for technology, but only ones that were safe,  such as SmartBoards or Elmos which are simply advanced versions of projectors and white boards. These felt comfortable to me and what I advocated for teachers who want to use technology in their classrooms.

Through this course, I was pushed to use tech tools that are outside my comfort zone. Some of these tools include screen casting, computer coding applications, and Toontastic. These apps required the user to participate using their voice or their coding skills to make a quality product or presentation. This was nerve wracking for me because I am more confident in talking to  people in person rather than talking through a screen and listening to my voice as well as stronger in my PowerPoint skills in comparison to my coding. However, these applications proved to be very useful and helped me understood what it was like for students to use programs they are not familiar with.

While there were many programs I was nervous to use,  I was also able to learn new tools which i found my new strengths in. For example, I loved Adobe Spark, iMovie, Google Slides, Padlet, and Sway. These tools have so many customization techniques and allowed users to create to their heart’s content. Learning how to use these applications has added to my passion for technology and has given me the confidence to use these tools to supplement them with my future classes. This is why tech savvy teachers must reflect in their technological abilities. With all the tools out there, a teacher must come to recognize if the technology they are bringing is worth the time and energy for their class. If the answer is yes, then they need to take the time to learn how to use it and develop back up plans when the tech does not go as planned.

iBook Lesson Proposal

By: Margaret Buzard and Melissa Sta. Maria

Context – 4th grade, science, research project, summative project on habitats or animals .

Content – the students will be learning about cute but deadly animals and where they are from.

Process – The teacher will give students a list of animals to choose from that are “cute, but deadly”. The students will then be tasked with researching this particular animal and finding out the specifics of where they are from, why they are deadly, and other fun facts. If students have other animals they would like to research off the list, they can speak personally with the teacher.
This information will then be inputted into a Google Form, for the teacher to integrate this into MyMaps to demonstrate their research skills and knowledge of animals and their habitats.

Layout – since MyMaps is not compatible with iBooks we might have to get creative with screenshots and captions to express how MyMaps will work with the lesson.

Audience – this lesson idea will be presented for teacher use.

Our original lesson plan idea:

This lesson would be used during a science unit on dangerous animals. On MyMaps, you will notice several different icons and their general locations on the map. Once you click on a particular icon, you will see the  adorable picture of the animal that lives there. However, if you click the arrow to see the next image, you discover the dangerous side of the animal. Below these images, you will find the common location of this animal as well as the reasoning for why they are so dangerous.

In our field experience classrooms, we have noticed how excited kids get when they see dangerous animals. These are typically creatures they may not see on a daily basis, so this lesson would build on their curiosity and invite  them to explore the world around them. Students could upload their own cute, but deadly animal to understand how appearances can be deceiving.


It’s All About Density – Oil and Water

This science lesson was created using EdPuzzle which is a  website that allows you to pick a video, add audio recording, and insert quizzes to check student understanding. For my particular lesson, i chose a video about density because it was humorous to watch yet informative. My fourth graders in my field experience class would love this video because it does not just have content, but it also has an animated character who gets into a lot of trouble. This engaging animation helps students connect with the video because they aren’t sure what the character will do next. In the process of being engaged, they will gain new vocabulary and will be checked through the added media.

This gives students a picture of what density is and how simple objects in their environment are more dense than others. For this video below, you will notice I used a combination of quizzes spread throughout and audio recording. In my personal opinion, I liked this combination, because it adds the teachers’ voice into the video rather than having the teacher pause. Since it is integrated into the lesson, the students may think it’s apart of the video and be more likely to listen.  For future lessons, I intend to use this program as it is easy to use, contains multiple ways to check student understanding, and can be shared easily.

Make Your Stories Come to Life

Adobe Spark Video was one of my favorite apps to use because the lesson plans are endless for  an application such as this! This free platform allows students to go wild with their creativity and use the resources they have to make something great! We learned in our ed tech class, that with many options, it leaves students spending too much time on the customization rather than their original intention. For this reason, Adobe Spark video gives students limited “free media” allowing them to focus on the main purpose of their activity.

If I were to create a lesson using Adobe Spark Video, I would turn it into a creativity writing lesson. I would begin by introducing a prompt such as write a story about “a city where everyone only eats dessert”. You have 15-20 minutes to write this story. After students create their story, they will be able to use Adobe Spark Video to make their stories come to life. Students can add music, video, and images to bring excitement into their creative writing. Every student’s mind is unique and how they choose to address this prompt is completely up to them. Below, you will see a sample of what I am asking of my students and examples of what key components they could add. Teachers can also use this application for narrative writing, poetry, expository, and so much more!


  • (prompt idea)
  • (free videos)
  • all images are found on free adobe spark video application

Book Trailer

“Journey to the Center of the Book” is a play off the words from the movie and book title “Journey to the Center of the Earth”. When we were learning about IMovie and video creation, I kept being drawn into the trailer component.  I love trailers because they give sneak peeks into what the movie will be about and allows people to enter into this magical world through a more engaging platform. I tried it out and I found it very easy to use. It comes with it’s own template, making it easy for students to be creative. They also have the option to create their very own trailer without a template.

While I loved the trailer idea, I was trying to figure out how i could use this platform in a lesson. On “We Are Teachers”, they had the idea of challenging students to design a movie-style trailer for their favorite book. Their own goal is make the book appealing, so that other students would be excited to read it. I looked up this idea and found a video in which students collaborated in partners to create a movie trailer for the book the “BFG”. It was very engaging because it had pictures, music, and images that really drew people into the trailer.

I would use this in my classroom and give students the option to work in partners or by themselves. I would tell students they make it as dramatic or simple as possible. Their only goal is to create a video presentation which represents their book. Every person sees a book in a different way, so this project allows them to broadcast what the book meant to them.

Lesson Idea and Video are from these two sources:


“Giant Tablets, Holograms, and VR, Oh My!”

Dear Melissa,                                                                          March 18, 2033

Your love for teaching has grown since your EdTech Methods class, even fifteen years from now! You love having your own classroom and being at a school who has continued to support your passion. I am giving you a heads up that a lot of things have changed fifteen years from now, but you have implemented many tools to keep the foundation of learning the same. First off, you still have your own classroom and are able to organize your classroom any way you wish. There are still desks, chairs, books, and whiteboards. You kept the traditional school environment as a back up in case the technology did not work. Your classes at UP definitely prepared you for this type of environment.

However, you are still realizing how much the world is changing and you are now becoming a student living in this technological world. While there are desks, they are covered with giant tablets. They cover half the desks and are now used for students to take their notes, record their observations, and write their essays. Pencils and pens are replaced with styluses. Students no longer have physical textbooks, rather they can pull up the books on their individual, mini  tablets and highlight their texts with styluses. In the back of the classroom, there are virtual reality headsets allowing students to travel to different lands, and explore the circulatory system in the body. As a teacher, you would have Smart Boards, except this time, they have the hologram feature. These can project off the screen and show students geometry techniques, and how a volcano erupts.

Students will be able to interact with their lessons and ask teachers questions right from their desks in IPad applications. The future is looking so exciting and you have back up plans in case technology is not on your side for a lesson! Get excited Miss Sta. Maria because fifteen years from now education will be changing for the better!

From, Miss Sta. Maria


History Through Song

By: Melissa Sta. Maria

For my Padlet, I have created a 5th Grade history music playlist. There are concept categories and each song or rap is color coded based on the concept. The point of this Padlet is to provide students alternative study tools for historical events.

Growing up, I loved singing my way through the lessons and I hope students can sing along through history in these hits or parodies as well. The lesson offers students the opportunity to sing the song for extra credit or create their own song and add it to this Padlet. My class might even create our own song based on a favorite Social Studies concept.

Made with Padlet

Movie Time Travel

For my digital story, I chose the title “Movie Time Travel”. Films and movies have a special place in my heart. As soon as I was born, my dad made it his mission to make sure my brother and I knew every classic movie. For this reason, I want to open this as an option to my own students. More and more students are choosing to watch tv shows and movies rather than read books. While I would always encourage reading, I want my students to see the benefits of watching film. Through movies, they are able to see a visual of the story and empathize with the characters because they see their actions and how it impacts the others around them. They are able to travel through time depending on the movie and become engulfed in the plot.

If I were to create a project based on this movie story telling, I might ask them to choose one of their favorite movies and create a sway as a tribute to this film. They need to include videos, images (from Creative Commons of course!), and text to encourage their fellow students to see this movie for themselves; this could be like a persuasive story telling piece; they must include their references at the bottom.

In my particular example, I chose to highlight my favorite movie musical “The Greatest Showman”. I watched this movie with my family and have been obsessed ever since. The lights, costumes, choreography, and singing highlight the hard work of the cast and how the beauty of music can inspire thousands. By having my students see what I am passionate about, I hope they can feel encouraged to see this task as a fun project rather than a homework assignment.

Cute But Deadly Animals on MyMaps

By: Margaret Buzard and Melissa Sta. Maria

This lesson would be used during a science unit on dangerous animals. On MyMaps, you will notice several different icons and their general locations on the map. Once you click on a particular icon, you will see the  adorable picture of the animal that lives there. However, if you click the arrow to see the next image, you discover the dangerous side of the animal. Below these images, you will find the common location of this animal as well as the reasoning for why they are so dangerous.

In our field experience classrooms, we have noticed how excited kids get when they see dangerous animals. These are typically creatures they may not see on a daily basis, so this lesson would build on their curiosity and invite  them to explore the world around them. Students could upload their own cute, but deadly animal to understand how appearances can be deceiving. 

Go The Disney Distance…

By: Margaret Buzard and Melissa Sta. Maria

For our collaborative Google slide activity, we have created a Disney Jeopardy game. Our game has three categories: Songs, Movies, and Characters. Students would see this example as inspiration for them to create their own Jeopardy games. Our hope is that our students will use this format (found online) to create their own Jeopardy game, perhaps to create a fun study guide for class vocabulary. This will help students use technology in a fun, unique way.

When we were students, we loved learning through Jeopardy games. It was a way for us to assess our knowledge in a competitive way. We hope our students see it in this way too.

Exploring the World Through Nat Geo Kids!

For this screencast, I am recording as the science teacher of a fourth grade class. I begin by opening up this website and telling the kids they will be researching the animal of their choice. Since we were hypothetically watching the Lion King, I told them I would start by clicking the mammals button and exploring what the website had. There were fun facts, images, and resources about these species.

This website is important because it can help kids learn about the world around them through the click of the button. These images can take the students on an adventure to another country, or see an endangered animal they may never have the opportunity to see. I want my students to travel the world and if they can’t do so physically, then they have this resource to see the limitless possibilities of learning.

I would integrate this into my lesson, after the conclusion of our movie the Lion King. I think this movie shows animals in a beautiful way because it displays them with feelings and emotions. I want my students to feel connected to what we learn, so I will show this website after lunch (when they watch the movie) during our science class. This will be a nice transition from the classic Disney movie into a subject they may gain empathy for.

Questions for students after given time to explore the website:

1)How can you use this website for other classes?

2) What do you find most useful about this particular website? What do you like? What don’t you like?

Peek a Book

“Peek a Book” is a play on words of the commonly known game peek a boo. This title is specifically chosen because the goal of this lesson is to give a sneak peek of  my favorite book through three images. I want my students to see that I am a teacher who models a love of reading and encourages my students to read books they enjoy. In the gallery, you will notice a series of images – a diary, a backpack, and a child.  After a few guesses from my students, I will reveal the title of the work, tell them why this is my favorite book, and explain the images presented.

These three, simple images, tell a great story and are meant to explicitly clue my class into the book I have chosen. This in particular represents the classic “Diary of  A Wimpy Kid”. While I am an adult, I personally enjoyed this book because it was funny, relatable, and unique. I could relate to wanting to fit in like Greg, or feel tempted to ignore my morals like Rowley. This gallery shows three images which clearly represent the book. The kid is Greg Heffley, the main character, the book is the diary, and the backpack is meant to present his young age.

My students would see this example and then would be given the assignment to choose three images that represent their favorite book. It can be any story they like as long as they carefully choose pictures that respectfully portray their book. Students can choose stories they are passionate about and learn about finding appropriate images online. Pictures tell great stories and can be excellent sneak peeks into books they want their classmates to read.

Guiding Questions

1) Why do you think I chose these particular images to represent the book?

2) What book would you choose and why?

3) What images would you show and why?

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