Sunday, March 9, 2014

Meet the Teachers

By now you know that we are 2 Techie Teachers, but who are the faces behind the name?  We will answer our most frequently asked questions in today’s blog.  

Meet Brittany

Hi!  My name is Brittany Banister, and I am 1 Techie Teacher.  I have taught for 7 ½ years.  I taught first grade for half a year, and then was moved to the wonderful world of kindergarten.  Although there are days when I would love to change to another grade, kindergarten is where my heart is.  I am excited to share my techie adventure with you!

What made you want to become a teacher?

In second grade, I moved to a new school.  I was the kid who loved school because of the social scene, so this move was rather difficult for me.  My teacher helped me adjust and set me up with new friends, making me love school for reasons other than who played with me at recess.  She also used meaningful, engaging activities to meet the needs of every learner. Ms. Butler, was and remains my favorite teacher of all time.

What are your favorite apps?

I’m not a big game person.  Sure, I was addicted to Candy Crush for a minute, but I don’t like to waste my time on meaningless activities.  I feel the same way about apps in my classroom.  The technology is not a babysitter, although it is great to use as a “what to do until the kids are finished” activity.  I tend to lean toward creation apps over game apps, even if they are educational.  My students do use Starfall ABC quite a bit at the beginning of the year, and I do believe it helps with letter/sound recognition.  My favorite math app, by far, is the Todo Math app.  It is FANTASTIC!  

When did you realize you were a Techie?

I have been a fan of technology since the Number Muncher days, but the fact that I need technology like I need air hit me in college.  Back in the day, Facebook was just for colleges (what?!?!).  I was so jealous of my friends who went to Indiana University, because they were the first school around to get it.  About six months passed, and I was torn up, but one day, Facebook opened up to the University of Southern Indiana.  I skipped every class that day to play on it.  Now that I’ve made myself sound ultra pathetic, we shall move on.

If you could give a new teacher advice about technology in the classroom, what would it be?

PLAN.  Planning ahead is crucial to the success of any lesson, but using technology requires it even more.  Be prepared for glitches, dead iPads, and updates needing to be ran.  Don’t stress out if things don’t go great at first, because they most likely won’t.  But don’t give up.  It’s far too important for the kids.

Why technology?

I’ll tell you why.  This little guy right here.

Meet my son.  He is five years old and will start kindergarten in the fall.  He is my first baby, and he is my pride and joy.  He is seriously the smartest kid I’ve ever seen.  He just gets it.  As a baby, he was immediately intrigued by technology.  We are a techie family, so it was bound to happen.  By 18 months, he started playing letter recognition apps on one of our iPads.  By two, he knew all 26 letters and sounds.  By 4 ½, he was solving addition problems to ten.  Now, he’s beginning to read EVERYTHING.  I know what you’re thinking…  I’m a kindergarten teacher.  I have worked with him on all of these skills and drilled it all in his head.  


I give quite a bit of the credit to technology.  His brain is just geared that way.  He is a natural learner, curious, and creative.  Paper bores him.  He couldn't care less if he colors in the lines.  He just sees the world differently.  Give him technology though, and he can create anything.

It’s not just the technology.  He is the most creative little person I’ve ever seen.  He can take a pile of Legos and build anything.  He watches Bob Ross every Saturday morning on PBS.  However, I see a fire in his eyes when he is using technology to create.  Recently, he and his daddy have started creating iMovies for his Lego creations.  He goes step by step in the process of how to create sets, and also makes silly videos with tips on Legos.  

Now, think about how an activity like that could apply in the classroom.  How does that stack up to a pile of worksheets?


Hi! My name is Tiffany Copple, and I am the other half of this duo.  I’ve been a teacher for nearly 10! I just can’t believe it!  I am a placement bouncer by choice, a lover of all things change, and driven as I’ll get out.  I got my start as a teacher of inclusive special learners.  This wasn't exactly something I ever considered I would be doing with my life, but when God opens a door, I take it!  I still to this day draw from the life lessons those dear kiddos taught me, and I hold a very special place in my heart for the underdog.  My classroom is an open door for all types of learners.

From there, I spent four years stumbling my way through first grade.  I still wonder why they kept inviting me to come back and teach from year to year.  Whoa.  Kidding aside, I needed those years of professional struggle.  If I didn’t have those years, I wouldn’t be the teacher I am today.  

Finally, I landed here at Scottsburg Elementary School teaching third grade where I’ve been rockin’ for four years.  Instantly I felt different.  Something inside of me that had laid dormant for far too long clicked.  I was a teacher, and I was good at it.  

What made you want to become a teacher?

Some years back, I came across a drawing and writing prompt I did when I was in fifth grade.  The prompt was obviously, “What I want to be When I Grow Up.”  There was a picture of me in a long jumper dress, turtleneck, and a teacher pin clearly over my heart. To sum up my writing, I wanted to be a fifth grade teacher.  Nothing more, nothing less.  I’ve yet to teach fifth grade.

It’s easy to see why I wrote that.  My fifth grade teacher, Mrs. Funk, was in her second year of teaching.  She was young, pretty, sweet, and fun.  My first recollections of a teacher reading aloud to me...Mrs. Funk.  My first recollections of using technology in school...Mrs. Funk (Oregon Trail, Carmen SanDiego anyone?).  Fast forward twelve or so years, I became her teaching partner next door in first grade.  Her influence has been dramatic in my teaching life, and I could never thank her enough.

I was also very fortunate to live in a family full of teachers.  I loved listening to them talk about lesson plans, student woes and successes, and all of the thick, neat binders full of unit activities.  They amazed me, and still do.

What are your favorite apps?

This is a tricky question.  I’d love to make a t-shirt that says, “Tools NOT Toys.”  I’m very careful and picky about the apps I choose to use because I like to use apps to create and enhance.  You will soon learn that I feel very passionately about how iPads shouldn't be used.  Soapboxes aplenty to come.

You will note that there is NOTHING fancy about these apps, and I utilize many apps for specialized purposes such as MyCreate or ToonTastic.  You will see glimpses of these as we go along together.

These are my all-purpose, down and dirty 5 MUST HAVES.

1.  KidBlog- My students blog on a daily basis.  POWERFUL stuff.
2.  EduCreations- Basically a whiteboard with recording powers. Endless possibilities. Buh-bye
ugly lined paper and half-eaten pencils.
3.  iMovie- Movie trailers, weather forecasts, commercials...we turn writing into productions!
4. Google Drive- Gives my students the ability to save and share their work.  Time saver and
great management tool.

This one is technically a web app, but add it to your students' home screens!
5.  Kahoot- If you haven’t used this in your classroom yet...DO. Gamification Heaven.

When did you realize you were a techie?


I always loved technology, grew up in a house that embraced it, and had amazing opportunities in high school.  I had no clue that most others did not.  I ended up tutoring other education students in our Computer Education course, and I even had professors ask me if I’d ever considered a career in computer related fields.  I told them laughingly, “NO!”  I firmly believe that God carefully orchestrated all of those opportunities to prepare me for teaching in the 21st Century.  I’m the go-to girl for quick computer and iPad fixes, and admittedly, I am married to one of our district’s amazing Network Administrators.  Let’s just say I have a few lifelines on tap when needed.  I have a LOVE of solving technology problems, and REFUSE to allow my husband to fix them for me.  He shows me; therefore, I learn.  

He makes me call him “The Master.”  Not kidding, but he has deemed me fit enough to be “The Apprentice.” Computer nerds….sigh.

If you could give a new teacher advice about technology in the classroom, what would it be?

Don’t panic.

If it can glitch, it will.  If you can get the spinning wheel of death, you will.  If the principal is coming to observe you, something will inevitably go wrong.  

Pretend.  Smile.  Do anything BUT put the notion in their little spongy minds that technology is the devil.  Then blame the computer nerds silently under your breath.  

Why technology?

Why not?  Sure kids today miss out on the intoxicating aroma of those blue-lined dittos, the allergy inducing chalk clouds of yesteryear, and the satisfaction it brings to bang those erasers together.

Truth be told...I'm thankful for the way I learned growing up. I have no ill side-effects of completing a pile of worksheets, or from the above-mentioned blue ink (at least I don't THINK I do). I do wonder where I would be now if I had access to what my students have at their fingertips.

I don't want my kids to learn the same way. This isn't 1990 anymore, and thank goodness for that. My children (three beautiful, little techies), literally teethed on iPhones. My 7 year old son, Jonah is a mini-me of his true-techy father. At the moment he is creating the McDonalds Golden Arches in his Minecraft world. Who thinks of that?

I want my stories of education past to amuse and entertain my children just like those of my own parents who told of theirs. Some day, my children will take their turn to share their educational history with their own. Time marches on.

That is the very essence of change and innovation. I love it.

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