Rebecca Linstrom

Teacher Spotlight

Subject

Elementary

School

North Shore Elementary

District

South Haven Public Schools

Notable Mention

“As a novice with integrating technology, I have learned to keep it simple.”

For Becky Linstrom, technology is merely a classroom tool, a powerful one at that, but just a tool nevertheless.  It is this mindset that makes Becky a true technology integration trailblazer.  She doesn’t force technology into her lessons.  Instead, she asks herself the question, “Would technology enhance this lesson in some way?”  If the answer is “yes”, she integrates technology.  If the answer is “no”, she doesn’t.  It sounds simple, but Becky has the technology integration sweet spot.  Please enjoy her story below and be sure to watch the video at the end!
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“As a novice with integrating technology, I have learned to keep it simple.
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Students really like to take photos.  When we were studying organisms, we went out to our milkweed patch looking for various bugs on milkweeds.  We took photos and tried to identify them with what we had learned about common insects on milkweed.  It was exciting to see the live bugs.  I also have students take pictures of examples of producers, consumers and decomposers.  We shared them via padlet or by making making posters (using Google Classroom) depending on the time I want to spend.  We also use photos to inspire poetry writing.  Students take a photo out in the field and write a Haiku or an “I Am” poem based on the photo (sometimes they choose photos from the internet).  Writing poetry with a photo helps with concrete image writing and in general to focus their attention.  Taking photos, in general, makes kids slow down and pay attention.
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Studying birds, I use the Cornell bird site (I added a video of students working with this).  Students take notes and record information in a bird book that they have (common birds of Michigan).  I also participate in the backyard bird count through Cornnell.  We go outside and identify birds (with Russ Schipper, Kalamazoo Audubon Society).  We count and identify birds out in the field and submit our findings to the Cornell North American Backyard Bird Count.  Students can go to the site and see what we recorded and what others have recorded from around the country.  It’s a great “citizen scientist” project.  I have also used “Journey North” recording and tagging monarch butterflies and sending information and student letters to the “symbolic migration.”
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A really wonderful site is Discovery Education.  My students make “boards” on that site and share them with the rest of the class.  The first boards we made were directly related to our organisms unit (students chose an organism native to Michigan to study and present).  Since then, I’ve let students make boards on any subject that they are interested in when they have free time.  Its very cool.  Students can add video clips and photos into boards along with notes and information.  They love to present these very educational boards and I’m loving them teaching!
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Technology for me is simply another tool.  I only use it when I see a good reason.  Most of my math lessons I do via dry erase boards and worksheets, however, I love Kahoot (we play it almost like a “brain break” mid-way through math several days a week).  I also use iXL (usually after other math work is turned in) and MobyMax.
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Google Classroom is very helpful and user friendly.  I often assign writing assignments via Google Classroom (in part so I don’t have to read their handwriting).  It’s great because you can edit and send messages to students.  I also like to attach sites (like the Cornell Bird site and AR) to my google classroom to make it easy for students.
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These are a few of the things that come to mind and seem easy enough for me to implement in my classroom (and if I can do it, anyone can).  My suggestion to new teachers is to keep it simple.” – Rebecca Linstrom