Women working at computers

2011 Institute: Extreme Technology Edition

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The Nebraska Writing Project Technology Institute is like an Extreme Makeover: Teacher Technology Edition.  Keeping up with our tech-savvy students and the changes in technology is a huge challenge.  This institute offers an opportunity to help teachers transform writing instruction in a way that motivates and engages the technological generation of students found in today’s classrooms.

The 2011 Institute was held from June 6 – June 24 at Lincoln Southwest High School in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Led by UNL Professor June Griffin, Technology Liaison Cyndi Dwyer and teacher consultant Carrie Copley, a group of eleven teachers from across the state of Nebraska came together to explore writing through technology.  Teachers from every level of learning including elementary, middle school, high school, and college participated.

Teachers collaborating on computer work

The first week of the institute was filled with exposure to a variety of new technological tools for use in the writing classroom.  Some of the tools included Jing, Prezi, Google docs, Voice Thread, Dropbox, Comic Life, iMovie, QR codes, Evernote, Garage Band, podcasting, 750 Word Challenge, Poll Everywhere, Wordle and many more.  For some of the teachers, this was their favorite part.

“I love the opportunity to learn about a piece of technology and being given the time to try it and apply it to my classroom immediately.”

A large part of the institute was spent designing and presenting Teaching Writing Inquiry Projects (TWIPs). These projects allowed participants to apply the learning directly to their own classrooms and receive feedback from their colleagues.  Projects for the 2011 Institute included topics such as using QR codes in the media center, using Google maps to promote a small community, blogging in the college setting, using Google sites to create student portfolios, and using grammar games to motivate students to learn grammar rules.

Two Lincoln Public Schools fourth grade teachers were able to collaborate during the institute. They know fourth graders often have a hard time thinking of personal narrative story ideas.  Using the application Comic Life, they created a story web template students could use and insert personal photographs.  By including photos, students will be better able to remember events in their lives and use more details to enhance their stories. 

“Working with another fourth grade teacher was a powerful way to collaborate.  Being able to bounce ideas off each other was a valuable experience.  We plan to continue this collaboration throughout the school year,” said one of the collaborators.

This class is for teachers at all levels, not just for “techies”.  It can take teachers from where they are with technology, whether advanced or a beginner, and move them forward. The collaboration and networking also provides a professional support system that can help teachers maintain their own Extreme Makeover!

QR Code for 2011 Tech Institute feedback

Try this QR Code!
Which tech tool can you use to create video or still screen shots? (This is a great tool to use for “how to” videos or handouts.)

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