One email was all it took to get Molly Adams, one of Digital Harbor Foundation’s new EdTech fellows, to move from Columbus, Ohio, to Baltimore.
Adams, 32, is now heading into her seventh year as a third grade math teacher at Liberty Elementary School in the Forest Park neighborhood of West Baltimore. In Ohio, she had been working at a museum doing outreach education in science—her undergraduate degree is in environmental science—and traversing the country putting on workshops. But after receiving a message from the Baltimore City Teaching Residency, and after successfully applying to the program, she and two of her friends were Baltimore bound.
An accelerated teacher program over the summer at Johns Hopkins University offered her some preparation for Baltimore City’s public school system. “It was just four years of teacher’s college crammed into an intensive summer, and then some classes on top of teaching during my first year,” Adams says.
By her second year as a teacher, she was at Liberty Elementary. At that time, there were only two computer terminals for a class that typically numbered around 30 children.
Two years ago, new principal Joseph Manko pushed Liberty Elementary to embrace more technology in class. Adams now has seven computer terminals in her classroom, and each one of her students will have an iPad for daily use this year. “[Manko] is really awesome with pushing technology in classroom,” Adams says. “I’m lucky in that regard.”
It was also Manko who submitted Adams’ name to the Digital Harbor Foundation’s EdTech fellows program.
“I had sworn off doing a summer job this year—it’s been six years of summers and school years,” she says. But, since becoming an EdTech fellow, Adams says she’s “more excited about teaching now than I have been since the first summer when I thought I was going to change the world.”
Thus far into her summer EdTech training, Adams has spent each week focusing on one particular technological tool: digital media, app development, web design, and using digital badges as rewards for students who complete lessons. With the iPads she’ll have this year, Adams intends to implement “flipped” lessons for her students.
“We’ll have videos, PowerPoints, [and] presentations on iPads, or certain sites or projects to work on,” she says. “While they’re working on those, that’s when I’ll pull individuals or small groups that need intervention and enrichment.”
Adams is also planning to “badgify” her unit on number concepts. Instead of learning about digits, whole numbers and place value in sequence, her students will be able to focus first on what they understand the best and earn badges when they complete different elements of the unit.
For Adams, who will be one of the teachers running an after-school tech club in the recreation center attached to Liberty Elementary, bringing this type of technology into her class demonstrates the value of the Digital Harbor Foundation’s EdTech fellowship.
“Teaching [students] the way we just taught for decades is no longer relevant to the global community,” she says. “You need to learn how to navigate this world and the tech that’s in it. If we don’t introduce them to that technology, they’re not prepared for what they’re going to find out there.”
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