“Being introduced to the Microsoft Surface was an education game-changer for my fixed-technology mindset.” – Summer Winrotte, USA
Digital Instructional Coach and Math Teacher
Tecumseh Junior High, Lafayette School Corporation
West Lafayette, Indiana, USA
For Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Summer Winrotte, using technology in her classroom wasn’t always a given. In fact, she was downright skeptical about its usefulness.
“I can remember when university education programs and K-12 schools began talking in earnest about using laptops in 1:1 programs — one assigned device for one specific student,” says Winrotte. “I was the new teacher that would say things like, ‘That will never happen in my classroom,’ or ‘Math classrooms are different.’”
Winrotte says she had two major questions that she would always ask herself: 1) How can utilizing a laptop (in a futuristic paperless classroom) be equally effective in all content areas? and 2) How can each student be given equal educational opportunities when many of the emerging technologies require internet access, but not all students have internet access?
Fast forward several years, and Winrotte has a different perspective.
“As I began my journey of transitioning into the technology-infused education world, I stumbled upon the Microsoft Surface,” she says. “Being introduced to the Microsoft Surface was an education game-changer for my fixed-technology mindset.”
Digital inking on the Microsoft Surface, with a realistic digital pen, opened the door to infusing student writing and drawing needs into new classroom technology tools. For Winrotte, it was remarkable to learn all the ways that the Surface could support each K-12 content area’s needs.
“I was ecstatic to learn that a student could lay a ruler or protractor on the Surface while writing with the Surface pen to construct and measure angles, supporting current math standards,” Winrotte notes.
In today’s Daily Edventure, Winrotte’s first trip to ISTE gave us the chance to discuss the paradox educators live with today: needing to ready their students for the 21st-century workplace, while at the same time, understanding that not every student lives in a technology-enabled environment. Enjoy!
Can you tell us a little about your 1:1 classroom today, and what’s especially innovative and helpful?
During the first year of the 1:1 Surface 3 program, it became apparent that Microsoft OneNote was going to be one of the foundational programs to Tecumseh’s technology conversion. The use of OneNote Class Notebooks exponentially enhanced the ability to most effectively use Microsoft Surfaces in the 1:1 environment.
Digital inking on the Surface, combined with Microsoft OneNote, has revolutionized the organization and innovation in delivering content and facilitating learning in the school. OneNote’s add-in feature, Class Notebook, is a great tool for teachers while lesson planning, creating resources, sharing resources with students, sharing assignments, reviewing assignments/projects/etc. It can also send grades to the gradebook program. Digital Inking and OneNote have quelled my concern regarding maintaining equity throughout all content areas when utilizing only one device.
Many equate 21st-century learning with emerging technologies and internet access/use. Some have even gone to the extent to claim that WiFi access is a basic right. It does not matter which side of the coin you are on because what does matter is that we, as a society, need to recognize that even though internet access for ALL might be the future, we are not there yet. This issue fueled my concern regarding implementing technology in the K-12 school system. As educators we need to continually look to, and plan for, the inclusion of future technologies, but we cannot forget that we are educating students in the present.
What about the students that have no internet access at home?
One of the best assets to Microsoft OneNote is its overarching accessibility with or without internet access. I am no longer concerned about the implementation of technology since discovering Office 365 and OneNote.
Many Tecumseh students go home to evening situations in which they need to work on school projects and assignments but do not have internet access. While in the school building, student Surfaces are connected to the school WiFi and are constantly syncing information with Office 365 and OneNote. Anywhere the students have internet access, their Surfaces will automatically and regularly sync the work they are doing.
If students do not have internet access away from the school building, they complete their work, and as soon they are in range of the school’s WiFi, their device syncs all the work they completed earlier without internet access. The ability for them to work in OneNote anywhere, and then sync their work when they gain internet access, is liquid gold!
What is the best thing about being a MIE?
I am blessed to have been a part of the Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Expert program. Being on the cutting edge of adopting and utilizing Microsoft Surfaces, I did not have a local professional network to rely on while working through the initial process of implementing our 1:1 Surface 3 program. Being an MIE Expert has opened the door to a wonderful community of support and knowledge. I have sought out advice countless times from other US MIE Experts and International MIE Experts. I would not be where I am today as a Digital Instructional Coach or technology and innovation advocate without my experience and continued involvement in the MIE Expert program.
About Summer Winrotte
- Birthplace: Kokomo, Indiana
- Educational background: BS in Secondary Math Education from Purdue University, working on MS of Ed in Learning Design and Technology from Purdue University
- Website I check every day: Twitter
- Favorite book (s) focused on education? A Framework for Understanding Poverty by Ruby Payne
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology and why: This is a tie between the Microsoft Surface and OneNote. Each do not have the same impact without the other. Digital Inking + OneNote Class Notebooks = Awesomeness!
- What inspired you to become a teacher? In college I found myself tutoring my friends instead of doing my own schoolwork. That was the moment I knew that I valued igniting a spark of understanding among those who were struggling to conquer their academic goals.
- How are you incorporating STEM, STEAM, CS into the classroom? Whether it be in daily activities or projects, it is important to strive to connect concepts in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. One project that my classes have done is to incorporate Algebra concepts into the design and creation of a stained glass window. The project concluded with a field trip to a local stained glass factory where the students learned about the Science and Technology behind the creation of stained glass.