Innovate to Educate Entry

Shirley Hills Elementary School/Houston County, GA

Ashley Watkins, Kindergarten Teacher

What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of, and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?

The innovative technology product that I am most proud is the creation of an original E-book titled, Barky the Mouse. Using an iPad and the app, Book Creator, my class was able to collaboratively create and publish their own originally written and illustrated story. This project impacted learning at the school, district, state, and even national level by demonstrating the power of real-world writing in a kindergarten classroom. This project quickly caught the attention of other educators who are inspired to raise the expectations of what their students can accomplish.

What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how did you meet those challenges?

Two of the biggest challenges of this technology product included resources and funding. Being in a Title 1 school, accessibility to current technology is limited. The only resource we had available to make our E-book was one iPad. While this challenge did make recording time consuming, it also provided the opportunity for collaboration amongst the entire class. Once we created the E-book, my students dreamed of holding in their hands a physical copy of their book. Due to no funding, I wasn't sure how we could accomplish this next step in our dream. A publishing company, LitFire, chose to sponsor our class book and make publishing a reality.

What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to succeed are:

The three biggest components that must be in place for ed-tech innovation in education to succeed are availability of technology for students.
Support for technology integration in the classroom
Change in the mindset of teachers to stop viewing technology as a burden and instead as an invaluable, instructional tool in a 21st century classroom.

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