“When you are satisfied and inspired, you inspire and make a difference not only to your students, but to other professionals, parents, just about anyone you come in contact with. Your passion will be contagious.” – Jennifer Bevill, USA

Jennifer Bevill’s passion is apparent and contagious. “Through conferences and professional activities I have had the opportunity to connect to professionals all over the world,” says Bevill. “Not only has my global perspective increased, it has also given me the opportunity for global collaboration between myself and other teachers, and my students and other students around the world.”

Bevill’s clear love of collaborating with others has inspired an international travel program amongst her students.  “It is now a yearly expectation in my media course to collaborate with a school across the world throughout the school year and then a group of students and myself will travel to our peers’ country to experience it first hand,” says Bevill. “To have the opportunity to use technology to connect my students to foreign places and then travel there in person together is a teacher’s dream come true.”

Bevill’s “dream come true” is also an award-winning project.  She and her students created “The Peace Project,” which focuses on global collaboration between Odori Sapporo High School in Sapporo, Japan, and the LSU Laboratory High School. Students at both schools used SkyDrive, Skype, PowerPoint, Outlook, Word, Bing, and video/audio editing software to talk with each other about international understanding, tolerance, conflict and resolution, and to develop 21st century digital and communication skills that can be used in college and the workforce. Bevill’s project won first place in the “Knowledge Building and Critical Thinking” category at the Partners in Learning U.S. Forum last year, and was one of the Partners in Learning Global Forum finalists from the U.S. team.

It’s my pleasure to share today’s Daily Edventure with Jennifer Bevill.

Can you describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education?

My professional achievements have given me the opportunity to revise our technology department teaching strategies.  I have evolved our technology department from a “point and click” curriculum to more project-based inquiry courses.  Software is learned through using technology to solve a problem, instead of just for learning what is listed on each and every menu.  Students are taught to be independent and explore the software, with the teacher as the guide, while focusing on creating a product that has real world relevance.  This has enabled the curriculum to include unlimited topics, incorporate global collaboration, and address 21st century skills in a collaborative environment.  Student enrollment has grown and students are developing skills that are important once they leave high school.

I have introduced technology as a problem-solving tool to my students.  We discuss real world topics and students decide how the computer in front of them can help them solve a problem.  They view the technology as a communication, collaboration, and production tool.  They no longer look at just as a way to go to social media sites, check sports scores, or throw together an essay.  I have applied technology in a way that teaches skills that they will use for the rest of their lives.

How can others facing similar challenges implement what you’ve learned through your work?

If there is a teacher that feels “boxed-in” based on what other teachers are doing, I encourage them be brave and try their own way of doing things.  I started small when revising my curriculum and teaching methods.  When I reached a point where I was confident in what I was doing and had experienced success among my students, I began sharing bits and pieces with other teachers.  When I shared the positive feedback and achievement of my students, the teachers were open to changing what they were doing.  Some professionals prefer to keep their innovations to themselves so they can “shine;” I believe in sharing every tool in my box because it is all about the students succeeding.  My advice:  Do not be afraid to take risks and try new things; start small to foster success, and then share what you are doing in order for others to learn and improve.

How have you applied technology in innovative ways to support your work?

I have applied technology in ways to help me grow as a professional, communicate with the school community, and collaborate with educators globally.  Technology offers us the opportunity to collaborate, learn from a variety of resources, and share what we know.

I read professional journals online, visit sites that are informative on the latest technologies or teaching strategies, share in discussions, use the Partners in Learning site to communicate with other teachers, and even find valuable information on social media such as Facebook and Twitter.  Social media is also a useful tool in keeping parents and students informed on class activities and school events. I love that I learn new things everyday thanks to the limitless resources I have at my fingertips.

What is the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome to ensure students are receiving a quality education?

State-mandated testing in core subjects.  While it does not affect me, I see the obstacles it causes other teachers.  Often times the teachers do not feel confident in taking a risk to break away from the prescribed curriculum.

What is your region doing well currently to support education?

Louisiana is one of the 48 states that have implemented Common Core Curriculum. The Common Core Curriculum is a set of educational standards available to all 50 states and U.S. territories, it will eventually address all core subjects at all levels.  It provides a consistent, clear understanding of what students are expected to learn, so teachers and parents know what they need to do to help them. Previously each state – and even district – had their own unique set of curriculum standards.  I feel core curriculum is a positive thing for our state. The curriculum is relevant to the real world, broad enough to give teachers freedom and examine topics to a greater depth, and address 21st century skills.

What conditions must change in your country to better support education?

As with most systems, if we had more money to allocate to resources and smaller class sizes teachers would be better able to serve the needs of all students.

What is the best opportunity for innovation in education?

Online collaboration – between teachers, administrators, students – district wide, statewide, nationwide, and worldwide. We have the opportunity to be a global learning community and should take advantage of every resource available!

What advice would you give a new teacher (or to anyone wanting to make a difference in education)?

Find what matches your interest.  Whether it is the age group, student population, or subject matter.  If you are in the right atmosphere and environment you will be happy and flourish.  That is how you make a difference – when you are satisfied and inspired, you inspire and make a difference not only for your students, but with other professionals, parents, just about anyone you come in contact with.  Your passion will be contagious.

What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning?

I have experienced many positive aspects of project-based learning.  Students are involved, see the relevance of what they are doing to the real world, and if combined with service learning it gives the students an opportunity to make a difference.  Project-based learning naturally integrates 21st century skills that students will need in the workplace.

The trend of schools purchasing the latest and greatest technology and giving it to teachers with no training or guidance in how to successfully and meaningfully integrate technology into the curriculum can get in the way of learning.  At the very least it may prevent students from getting the most out of technology in order to develop 21st century skills. Schools systems should budget for professional development and training with all technology they purchase.

If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

I feel that a teacher, which can be anyone, that triggers a passion for learning, instills confidence, captures the interest of, and motivates that child to improve himself or herself is the most valuable tool a child can have.

The one educational tool, taking the teacher out of the equation, would be an Internet connected device.  If a child has a device, such as a tablet, that is connected to the web then the educational resources they have are endless.  They can connect to others around the world to learn, collaborate, have access to endless collections of books – even educational sites with an individualized education plan to meet their needs.  Cloud-based computing has brought us to the place that we do not need to spend a lot of money on computing memory and power. Therefore, technology that enhances education is affordable for more people.

About Jennifer Bevill
@ICTObsessed

  • Name: Jennifer Bevill
  • Job title:  Informational Technology Instructor
  • Birthplace: Baton Rouge, Louisiana
  • Current residence: suburb of Baton Rouge: Walker, Louisiana
  • Education: Southeastern Louisiana University, Undergrad in Elementary Education and Master’s Degree in Educational Technology, Secondary Certification in Computer Science
  • Website I check every day: CNN
  • Person who inspires me most: My father, 3.5 years ago, at 53, became a quadriplegic; but he still fights to make the most out of life and live it to the fullest.
  • Favorite childhood memory: Christmases at my grandmother’s when all of my cousins were there.
  • Next travel destination (work or pleasure): South Africa
  • When was the last time you laughed? Why? Five minutes ago, because my students and I were watching a video they created. I enjoy life and laugh often.
  • Favorite book: Currently, Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand, but it changes often.
  • Favorite music: Jack Johnson
  • Your favorite quote or motto: “Life begins outside your comfort zone.”

If you’re interested in learning more about 21st century skills, be sure to visit the hot topics section of the Partners in Learning Network site:

http://www.pil-network.com/HotTopics

 

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