Welcome to Feature Friday! Where we showcase a new teacher each week in an interview. For past Feature Friday interviews, go here.
Today’s Feature Friday is highlighting Krystal Plott, a K-6 technology specialist in Utah. She gives great insight on technology and how it can be used for student voice! Read what she has to say below.
If you could recommend one children’s book, what would it be and why?
“one of my favorite children’s books that I used in my classroom every year was “Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. This is such a simple and sweet (literally) book about cookies, but it’s a great way to teach vocabulary, kindness, sharing, and other essential social skills that elementary students need. The lesson always ends with cookies, of course, and serves as a great lesson and message that all students can take to heart.”
Tell me a little about your job, “school technology specialist”. What does it entail?
“As a school technology specialist, my job always keeps me on my toes. My primary role is to help coach teachers in the effective use of technology in the classroom, and I recently completed an endorsement in instructional coaching to help me be more effective in my role. I support teachers as they learn new skills, co-teach technology-infused lessons, and design educational technology curriculum and professional development. I love that I am still able to push into classrooms and work with students, while also reaching more students and teachers beyond a single classroom. In addition to teaching and coaching, I also provide basic tech support and troubleshooting at the school level.”
What is one of your favorite ways to use technology in classrooms?
“One of my favorite ways to use technology in the classroom is taking a “good” lesson, infusing it with technology, and making it GREAT! Getting students excited about learning in new ways and connecting with others as they learn. I love discovering new tools and teaching in ways that didn’t seem possible just a few years ago. One of my favorite tools to use across all grade levels is flipgrid – students are able to make short videos and respond to others and are communicating with their teachers and peers in a different way. I have seen students come out of their shell and share their voice for the first time because it is a safe space for them to share. I love seeing the “ah-ha” moments with students as they learn something new and share that learning with others through technology.”
How do you use student voice in your classroom and what outcomes have you seen from it?
“Student voice in the classroom is huge! They have so much to say and share but we have to give them the time and space to do so. I like to give students time to share how their weekend was or respond to current events. Sometimes students are reluctant to share their voice in a classroom setting, but if you give them tools and choices, they just might surprise you. One teacher I work with had a selective mute in her class a few years ago. She wouldn’t talk to her teacher, and only had a few friends she felt comfortable enough to speak to. One day, this teacher introduced Flipgrid to her class and they were all asked to record a video to respond to a question. Not only did this student respond (which was huge in and of itself), but then she went up to the teacher and pointed to the computer because she wanted the teacher to see her response. After nearly 4 months of school, the teacher heard her student’s voice for the first time!”
What advice do you have for teachers who are nervous about using technology in their classrooms?
“For teachers who are nervous, I say just jump in! Don’t expect perfection, and definitely be patient and flexible. Most schools have a technology specialist or digital learning coach who is eager and willing to help out, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you aren’t sure where to start, UEN is a great resource with lots of lessons and ideas to help you get started.”
What is your favorite part of teaching in an elementary setting?
“Elementary kids are just the cutest! I love their curiosity and seeing them learn and grow. There is a fun curriculum at every grade level, and kids are just so eager to learn. There is an excitement in elementary that I don’t think you find anywhere else. I spent many years teaching second and third grade, and I love that age so much. They are starting to develop a sense of humor and can be so funny at times, but they are still just so sweet and love being in school. I feel lucky to get to work with kids in such a fun setting in a job that I love!”
Thanks for the words of advice Krystal! Come back next week for the next Feature Friday. If you would like to be featured on our blog, please reach out via email or comment on a blog post. We would love to have you!