Who are you and what do you do?
My name is Brooke Mulartrick and I am a technology integration specialist in the Methacton School District, located in the suburbs of Philadelphia. I serve five K-4 buildings and support administrators, teachers and students in their quest to use technology in efficient and creative ways. I used to think my life was tough, traveling to five buildings, but then I met someone who traveled to 17 buildings. I enjoy helping others expand their horizons when it comes to integrating technology in the classroom. I taught transitional first grade for four years prior to moving into my current role, and yes, I miss having my own class! Last year, I earned my Certificate in Supervision and Administration from Johns Hopkins University.
What hardware are you using?
At school, I use a district-issued Dell laptop. At home, I use my husband’s hand-me-down Macbook. Having used PCs my whole life, I’m more comfortable navigating on my PC, but I like the speed and easy maneuverability of my Macbook.
At school, the big hardware investment has been SMARTBoards. We’ve been purchasing them for years, but none were mounted up until last year. I find mobile SMARTBoards to be very un-user friendly with the constant reorienting and the safety hazard of the leg stand and wires! I used to spend a lot of time helping teachers set up their classrooms in the most efficient way to allow for a safe wire arrangement and a clean path to the board.
We also have a lot of IPEVO document cameras in the district. I don’t know why anyone would want to spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars, on a document camera. The IPEVO cameras meet our needs and the company is great to work with. $69 and free shipping? Yes, please!
Each elementary classroom has 4-5 desktop PCs. Each building also has a stationary computer lab (Dell desktops) in addition to a mobile lab (Dell laptops). We have a refresh cycle coming up and I’m hoping we can do some type of pilot to let teachers decide if the mobile laptop lab should be replaced with newer laptops or other devices such as tablets or netbooks. Currently, we have 7 iPads in one elementary library. Some other iPads are scattered throughout the special education department. I have a district-issued iPad* so I can support the use of iPads in the classroom.
*When I go to workshops or conferences, I take my Dexim iPad case with keyboardso I can type more efficiently. This keyboard is almost full size with spring keys and I barely make any typing errors!
And what software?
Software/applications that I use for personal productivity:
- Evernote for note-taking and task-organization.
- Dropbox for sharing documents between my work and personal laptops
- Tweetdeck for viewing chats on Twitter (I use Hootsuite on my iPad because Tweetdeck crashes for me)
- Google Voice for distributing my mobile number in my work email signature
- Diigo for bookmarking favorite sites
- Zite for catching up on news from my PLN
Software/applications that I’m using with teachers and students:
- Google Earth (in 3rd grade, we’ve used it for cardinal/intermediate directions and evaluating changes over time in a suburban community)
- Kidblog (using with 3rd and 4th grade students)
- Little Bird Tales (using with 2nd grade students for digital storytelling)
- Student Wiki – I created a wiki for our elementary students to use as a resource for quicklinks, skill practice and creation tools. This wiki is a shortcut icon on every computer in the elementary buildings.
- Teacher Technology Integration Wiki – I created a wiki for district staff to use as a resource for quicklinks, help guides and grade-level collaboration. The help guides under “Technology Resources” are the most referenced pages on the site.
What would your dream set up be?
I would love it if all our systems could integrate with Active Directory so teachers and students would only have to remember one password. Wouldn’t that be nice? It wouldn’t prepare kids for the real world where they have to remember 10,000 passwords, but maybe they won’t have to remember that many by the time they graduate.
On the hardware side, I’d love to see a mobile device in the hands of every child and teacher. I see these devices being used in the following ways:
- As a student response system (with the use of an app like Socrative) to give teachers real-time data for formative assessments
- As a tool for skill practice
- As a tool that encourages the application of higher-order thinking skills through the use of various creation apps (i.e. PuppetPals)
- As a tool that speeds up the process of receiving feedback on assignments
- As a tool that promotes collaboration among students and teachers
- As a tool that simplifies the process of giving parents a glimpse of what’s going on in the classroom (i.e. Instagram or the use of a blogging tool)
The list can go on, but I’ll wait for the day when my dream comes true.