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Contest - 1.0

'Innovative Technology in the
Classroom Contest 1.0!’

DEG would like to thank everyone who entered our inaugural contest! We were excited to discover how educators across the country are integrating free technologies into their lesson plans. 

We invite everyone to read through these entries to learn about the tools and programs teachers are using to engage students.

Stay connected to DEG to find out when to submit your brilliant idea for next year's contest!

Congratulations to Our Winners!
The following randomly-selected contest winners are now enjoying a
brand new Amazon Kindle plus a $100 Amazon Gift Certificate!

Lisa Tait
Chester Park School of the Arts

JaNan Grice
Dumas Junior High School

Kathy O’Hara-Rosa
Clarkdale Elementary School

Teacher: Karl Ochsner
School: Bl. Pope John XXIII Catholic School
Location: Scottsdale, AZ
Class: 7th and 8th grade science
Technology: CrazyTalk 5
Summary: Our 7th grade science class had learned about the planets and wanted to help the 1st graders understand them also. We met with the class and wrote a story in first person about the planets. The students then drew pictures of their planet that they researched. We then scanned the pictures or found a picture and imported the audio file into CrazyTalk 5, creating a talking planet video. They were then uploaded to YouTube to show parents and others around the world. The program is simple to use, inexpensive and can be used for many other subjects. Here are some samples:
Example 1
Example 2

Teacher: Mary Jude Schmitz
School: Nerinx Hall High School
Location: Webster Groves, MO
Class: Sophomores Geometry Honors
Technology: Classroom Wiki, SMARTboard Notebook 10, Skype, Web, Google Earth, The Geometer's Sketchpad
Summary: I use several technologies in my classroom, as we are lucky enough to be a one-to-one laptop school. 

1. I have a classroom wiki ( that I use for communication (to assign homework, give homework answers, etc) and I also use it for collaboration between my students. The students are all members of the wiki and contribute to it in several ways. Each period has their own page (E, F, and G) and they are responsible for designing their own Chapter Review after we have finished each chapter and before each test. Each person is required to submit text, a picture, a video, or a link to something that shows one thing they learned from the chapter. Furthermore, on the discussion tab for each period, students must choose a problem from a group of questions from their homework and explain how they solved it. This allows me to spend time facilitating learning in my classroom instead of having to go over homework because students get help on problems from each other.

2. I use SMARTboard Notebook 10 software to make outlines of what I am going to do in class and post these files on the wiki. With this software, I can insert flash files to give "living" explanations of things, actual files that I have made from other software to share with my students, and pictures, links and other things for my students to use in order to aid in their discovery learning. My students download these notes to their own computers (which also have the notebook software) and can take notes during class directly on their computer (as I am writing notes on the SMARTboard) or they can print out these outlines and write notes without having to redraw pictures, examples, etc. This give us time in class to do actual activities and just record results instead of having the students write down everything that they hear. I also upload all the notes that I have written on the SMARtboard that day in class and upload them to my wiki so that students that are absent can see exactly what we did in class that day. Here are some examples of some of my note outlines and my class notes. I have attached both a notebook software copy and a pdf for those who do not have the software yet.

You can also see many examples on the wiki ( on the Notes page under Note Outlines and Class Notes.

3. I use Skype to communicate with my students when they need some extra help.

4. There are also some fabulous math activities on some websites that I have my students use, such as:
Example 1
Example 2
Example 3
Example 4

5. I also use Google Earth with an example that was shared by someone in Google Earth Lessons. Students look up different buildings around the world and determine the surface area and volume of those buildings.

These examples use entirely free software or websites and are fantastic activities to help students teach themselves and each other so that they really learn the material.

6. I also use software called The Geometer's Sketchpad in my class, because the school provides it for me. And even though this is not free, it is a very worthwhile software, and if a school does not have the funds to buy this software, many of these investigations can be transferred to a free software called GeoGebra.

Teacher: Katie Jensen
School: St. Timothy School
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Class: 5th Grade
Technology: MacBook, Garageband
Summary: Student will use music creation software to show their understanding of concepts taught in Science. Since students are first introduced to an example song that is educationally based, they have a full understanding of what they need to create. This has increased student motivation and achievement because the students are excited to create their own accurate and unique song. They create all lyrics and music using GarageBand. Students then get a chance to go into our own makeshift recording studio and record themselves singing their songs. At the end of the year, the CD that is produced is always a hit among students and parents. Each year, the new group of students is excited to listen (AND LEARN) from the previous students’ music and to create their own. 

Teacher: Heather Staples
School: Manchester Township High School
Location: Manchester, NJ
Class: 11th Grade English
Technology: Google
Summary: I am currently using my Google homepage for class agendas & updates, and am beginning a research-based research project which entails the student creating a research-based proposal for a social concern. Upon completion of their research, students will be creating their own Google pages and incorporating a blog forum in order to allow discussion on the topic of their choice. Students are also encouraged to create a podcast that could coincide with a slideshow. In this sense, an audience could use both the webpage and the presentation to learn about the issue at hand. This project is a direct alternative to the standard MLA-based English research paper the students were required to complete in previous years.

As an instructor of 11th graders, I've come to recognize the limitations of our students in the realm of educational technology. In this sense, many of our students excel in social and entertaining technology, but have not yet recognized the significance of technology as a learning/teaching tool. As a result, many of our college-bound students may be unprepared to meet the technological expectations set by higher learning institutions. By adapting this research project, I hope to develop a greater understanding and interest in the role technology can play in everyday learning.

Teacher: Lisa Tait
School: Chester Park School of the Arts
Location: Chester, SC
Class: K-5 Media specialist
Technology: Photostory
Summary: We use Photostory a free downloadable software program, for students to create stories, share information, and to capture images of their art work and performances. As an arts-based school, our students are very creative and have a myriad of opportunities to be creative. Photostory allows our students to capture their work or to create an engaging piece of work. Students can get the free download, then add photos or artwork. Using Photostory they can be creative in editing, cropping, adding text, incorporating music, and using microphones to describe and enhance each piece.  Student works are then uploaded to our school website and published. This activity has engaged and inspired the students. They love to see "their work" on the big screen and are excited about being able to share it at home with family.

Teacher: JaNan Grice
School: Dumas Junior High School
Location: Dumas, Texas
Class: High School
Technology: Animoto
Summary: In my class I use many forms of technology. The one that the kids love most is Animoto. I use this as an effective instructional tool to introduce new sections. Because my class focuses on public speaking, it is fun to use this to settle the nerves of the kids. Thirteen and fourteen year old kids have a lot of anxiety, so anything to ease their minds is a great help. I like to motion of the videos and the pictures along with popular music that the kids relate to keep their interest throughout the entire section. Animoto is an essential part of my classroom instruction.

Teacher: Randy Hollinger
School: PK Yonge School
Location: Gainesville, FL
Class: 7th Grade Life Science
Technology: Symbaloo, Delicious, Blogger, Google Docs, Glogster, Skype, Twiddla, YouTube, EverNote
Summary: Web 2.0 tools were integrated allowing students to create a personal learning environment for the study of poisonous and venomous creatures. Symbaloo was selected as an aggregator because their terms of use allowed children under 16 to use the site with parent permission.  We obtained parent permission. View an explanation of the project from the student's perspective at

Teacher: Lori DeHoff
Class: 7th and 8th grade
Technology: Digital Storyboard
Summary: I am a 7th and 8th grade Intervention Specialist. I have two students that are Autistic, two multiple handicap, six cognitively delayed and three with learning disabilities. My students’ cognitive level average between 2nd and 3rd grade. To help increase comprehension, voice, articulation, and fluency, I use Digital Storyboard in my classroom. We are currently reading Ann Frank’s Diary. We are creating a timeline while we are reading. The students will use the graphic organizer to create a narrative timeline of Ann Frank’s life. They will use photo story to create picture, text, and music, along with narration.

Teacher: Cecilia Zavestoski
School: E. Hale Curran Elementary School
Location: Murrieta, CA
Class: Third grade
Technology: Skype
Summary: One of our social standards includes teaching local history. To help engage students in learning this standard I invite the authors of a local history book to our school each year. This year when the authors were here we invited another class to join us in interviewing these local historians via Skype. I projected the computer image to help the students see and interact with the other class. The most interesting thing was how much it benefitted my class having the other class with us virtually. They asked totally different questions that my class had not even considered. We would take a few questions from the class that had the speakers and then a few from the “visiting” class.

Teacher: Melissa Balk
School: Thousand Islands
Location: Clayton, NY
Class: 6-12 Grades Information Literacy
Technology: iTunes U, Etherpad, Google Docs, Evernote, Notely
Summary: I teach an information literacy class to seniors. In order to prepare students to learn how to take effective notes from a lecture, I usually teach them Cornell notes method.

This year, I used iTunes U ( to extract a great philosophy lecture from Professor Michael Sandel from Harvard entitled "The Moral Side of Murder/Ethics of Cannibalism."  In this lecture hall, over 800 students listened to the professor discuss ethics with references to Kant, Aristotle, etc.  For 35 minutes my small town students were totally engaged in a "real lecture," took great Cornell notes, and asked all kinds of questions related to how a university classroom works (i.e. How does he grade everyone?).  It was one of the best classes we had the first semester. 

In order to prepare students how to share and take notes with others, we looked at various web 2.0 tools found via Mashable (  The kids were amazed how easy it is to share information with students in a discussion group.  One of the favorite sites we tried is the now defunct Etherpad (, but we also dabbled with (and will do our next project on) Google Docs (  Two apps that we played with to take traditional notes from text or lecture was Evernote ( and Notely (  My students really took to Evernote because of its ability to send notes via text message, something they are always doing.

Teacher: David. R. Donahue
School: Eastern York Middle School
Location: Wrightsville, PA
Class: Middle school music
Technology: Audacity, Smartmusic, Finale Notepad
Summary: I use technology to record, access and improve the learning experience for my middle school artists. My students are invited to explore the technology given to them. By letting them explore technology my students have discovered things I didn't even think of. It only proves to me how creative and how much potential every child has. Students love using technology, and it is our job as educators to nurture that love so it is applicable to their lives in the future.

Teacher: Crisha Lynn Luttenberger
School: Eastern York School District
Location: Wrightsville, PA
Class: Elementary K-5 Art Teacher
Technology: Interactive whiteboards,
Summary: In my 3rd grade art class, I have been using our computer lab’s interactive whiteboard with students. I invite the students into the computer room and have them start up their assigned computers as I load the artist webpage on the whiteboard with the computer and projector. I do not tell the students what they will be doing because this helps to build the excitement when the webpage actually opens and starts working.

For this specific lesson, students learn about abstract artist Jackson Pollack and his effective use of splatter paint through action painting. It is only appropriate that the students use the website: Once the web address is typed in, students are prompted to mouse click on the little stick figure man. At first blush, a blank white screen appears, but soon color explodes on the screen and upon every click of the mouse, a new color appears. The students gasp in disbelief. I allow the students to individually come to the front of the classroom to use the interactive whiteboard and pen. The students absolutely love it, they are more engaged, and they have commented that they are using this website at home. This has been an amazing introduction to the lesson, artist, and his artwork.

Teacher: Kelly Duncan
School: Forest Lake Elementary School
Location: Forest Lake, MN
Class: K-6 Technology Specialist and Gifted Resource Teacher
Technology: In2Books
Summary: This year, in my role as a gifted resource teacher, I teamed with our school's ESL teacher and together we offered a web-based reading program to our 3rd - 5th grade students called In2Books.  Each student is paired with an adult pen pal from somewhere in the United States. The adult has passed a background check with in2books and has agreed to read five books of the student's choosing throughout the school year, and then they exchange a minimum of 6 letters throughout the school year.  We cover 5 types of literature throughout the school year:  fiction, social studies, biographies, traditional tales, and science.  Each genre offers 3 themes to choose from and 5 - 8 book options for each theme at various reading levels for students to choose from. The students are extremely motivated to read the literature they select, and their understanding of the book is greatly enhanced through the conversation the pen pal has with the student about the book. Letter writing skills are enhanced, and motivation is multiplied with this opportunity for authentic writing experiences. The website is  The program is offered free of charge to a limited number of title one Schools.

Teacher: Veronica Lima  
School: Greens Farms Academy
Location: Westport, CT
Class: World Languages - Grades 9-12, Spanish 3H, 4 and 5
Technology: Quia, Voki, Windows Movie Maker (PC) or iMovie (Macintosh)
Summary: In order to introduce, teach and practice the present subjunctive, I use a combination of student generated grammar rules, online interactive games, animated speaking characters, dubbing and video creation.  Once students have determined the basic requirements for using the present subjunctive in context, they practice the conjugation using a Quia game called “Rags to Riches”.  Next, students put this conjugation/form to life by choosing a “que” expression and creating a voki—an animated character that will express a student’s wish, desire or recommendation. This allows the present subjunctive to come to life and takes pressure off those students who might feel uncomfortable speaking up in class.  Once students have become more comfortable with the verb form, they work in groups to create “un doblaje,” a dubbed scene.  I take a clip from a Spanish language television program and import it to Windows Movie Maker.  Next, I remove the sound and ask students to create an original dialog incorporating several uses of the present subjunctive.  When students have shared and edited their dialogs, they use a microphone to add their own voices to the scene.  It is important to note that the students have not heard the original dialog before creating their own.  As a culminating project, students are asked to create a PSA video.  The goal of the PSA is to use the present subjunctive to encourage the school community to adhere to school rules or to make certain decisions that will improve the school environment.  This series of activities allows students to practice a complex verb form without having to complete tedious conjugation exercises.  In addition, students apply the subjunctive mood to authentic and real life situations and realize the importance of this form in every day conversation.

Teacher: Cheryl L. Corolewski
School: Rocky Mountain High School
Location: Meridian, ID
Class: Honors English 9, English 11
Technology: iPod Touch
Summary: The use of iPod Touch devices will supplement what goes on in the classroom by adding another dynamic for acquiring knowledge.  Students will be able to listen to or view materials used in the classroom at a pace that meets individual needs, allows for repeating of instructions/content, as well as provide visual reinforcement (when feasible).  Most of our low achieving students are visual/auditory learners with low reading skills.  Having the ability to control not only the speed at which material is being presented, but to repeat such information for reinforcement would benefit low achievers whose interest wanes when required to process information through traditional methods. 

While the use of iPod Touch devices is meant as a supplement to what goes on in the classroom, it is not meant as a replacement.  Rather, the use of iPod Touch devices will encourage student learning independently, thereby placing the student at the center of learning. Additionally, researching the plethora of material on our school’s database, a task presently requiring the reservation of one of only three computer labs (for a student body of 2100) and thus a daunting task, will instead be done at the touch of a screen within the classroom.  This will increase reading and writing skills measurably. Because we have so few labs, time is also limited to half class periods—which is not very productive.  Students who do not have a computer at home or internet access are often in a quandary.

I spend a great deal of time finding resources for students who do not have access to computers, do not learn in the usual way, struggle with reading, cannot process information via a typed sheet of paper.  Using iPod Touch devices would allow for decreased dependence on the teacher and increased independence as a learner, by the student.  Additionally, students who are absent for given periods of time—even though not low achievers—would benefit as well by being allowed time to come into the classroom and review materials via the iPod.  Lastly, students who need accommodations, such as extended time on tests or verbal prompts, would benefit from listening to test/quiz questions, being able to repeat as needed, slow down the reading pace and so forth.  Ultimately, literacy rates would be impacted, bettering not only the student but our society as a whole. 

Specific methods of use will be as follows:

  • Recordings of stories/novels being read in class for reinforcement, understanding, clarification.  This will be done through the transfer of audio recordings as well as readings by T.A’s or the teacher of given text (Audacity-RMHS Library).
  • Uploading (at home, by teacher) of video clips and power points presented in class.
  • Reading/recording of tests/quizzes onto the iPod by T.A.’s/teacher (Audacity-RMHS Library).
  • Recording (at home, by teacher) of videos, readings of articles (Audacity-RMHS) to be used in group work within the classroom.
    PDF file transfers of articles to iPod, complimented by recordings as stated above.
  • Research work for essays/papers.
  • Individualized podcasts for students constructively giving each feedback on written work.

Teacher: Angela McKelvey
School: Waldron Mercy Academy
Location: Merion Station, PA
Class: 2nd grade
Technology: Skype
Summary: We used Skype to talk to author Ed White about his book, Foxy’s Tale.  After reading the book to my 2nd graders, each child submitted a question to the author.  During our Skype session, Mr. White answered previously submitted questions individually, addressing each child by first name.  He also showed them pictures of Foxy and gave them websites to visit for more information on Alaska, dog sledding, the Iditarod and related topics.  Mr. White also invited the children to each write a one-page sequel to his book.  He will pick (at least) one or two of his favorites and send those children a Foxy’s Tale tee-shirt. 

The children were very motivated to research a variety of aspects of the book because they loved the story and wanted to be well-prepared when they Skyped with the author.  They also wrote reflections on the story—what they learned and how it made them feel.  The book, and the interaction with the author, encouraged the children to read (many bought the book and will re-read it), research and write, and enhanced their curiosity about a very different part of the country that most of them will never have the chance to visit.

We also used Skype to interact with a second grade class in Tennessee.  Our children told them about Pennsylvania and they told our children about Tennessee. The originally scheduled date was delayed due to flooding in Nashville.  When we finally connected, the Tennessee class emailed us pictures of the flooding, which we displayed on our SmartBoard.  Those big pictures really brought the flooding to life for our children.

 Each child had the opportunity to share information through the Skype “meeting.”  They learned fun information such as different favorite regional foods and special school events.  The 2nd graders end their year studying the different states, and this personal, interactive event enriched our curriculum.

Teacher: Jason Hawley
School: Winter Park High School
Location: Winter Park, FL
Class: 9th grade integrated science
Technology: Student Response System (SRS)
Summary: I use technology in my classroom to differentiate my lessons by identifying my student's interests.  I begin each unit by identifying the common misconceptions about the topic to be taught.  I use a student electronic clicker response system (SRS) to gather the information.  I do this by presenting a series of questions or statements in a PowerPoint presentation and ask the students to agree or disagree to the statements using the SRS devices.  Each student's response is recorded in the computer so that I can keep track of the misconception that is mostly chosen and use that information to focus my lesson plans.  The students enjoy seeing their results on the screen and seeing how they compare to their classmates.

Teacher: Kathleen O'Hara-Rosa
School: Clarkdale Elementary School
Location: Austell, GA
Class: ESOL Teacher (K-2nd grade)
Technology: Photo Story
Summary: Photo Story is used to record teacher-created, guided-reading books used in weekly guided reading lessons providing audio and visual support. This technology is used as both part of the guided reading lesson and also burned to DVD for students to take home for further reading and review. Furthermore, I teach at a Title I school and many of our students to not have access to a computer at home but most have DVD players. Thus, this strategy can be used both at home and at school for our students. Students currently receive support services through EIP and ESOL. Strategies focus on guided reading books and vocabulary development.  It stands to reason that strategies are needed to narrow the gap between special populations and the general education student.  At the same time, strategies used must not negatively impact the general education students in the same classroom.  Students look forward to getting a new DVD each week and I have seen my students reading improve.  Reading their books on the actual television screen is novel to these students and is a great motivator. In addition, since the students have the book read to them the first time through they have increased their use of inflection and correct pronunciation while reading. When the students read the book the second time through, there is no audio so they can try to read it independently.  (As I have used this strategy in the classroom and as part of my graduate research, I have conducted literature reviews of research that support the fact that technology does have academic advantages in enhancing literacy instruction.)

I have also used recordings of sight words and early learning skills to help our ESOL parents increase literacy at home.  It not only helps the students but helps parents who are second language learners themselves.

I want to take this resource one step further in the coming school year by adding this strategy to literacy bags to be checked out by students and their families. Although numerous families do not have access to a computer, most have access to a DVD player.  Activities, sight words games and read-alouds can be recorded to DVD and utilized as part of the literacy bag.  In addition, to the student reaping the rewards of literacy, the entire family would be able to partake in its impact.  Literacy is crucial for all families and students in today’s society.  The use of literacy bags with the support of technology can empower families to become better readers and more likely contributors to society. Without the support of technology, some students may find failure rather than success. 

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