E04 - Making Teaching Easier with Tech with Kimberly Vannaman

Episode Music Credits:  Old Love Instrumental by Joe Hertler and the Rainbow Seekers, 100% Clearance through Musicbed 

On this episode of Blending In, I’m chatting with Kimberly Vannaman, a 5th grade teacher at Cawston Elementary School in Hemet Unified School District who also serves as an Alder mentor teacher, as the 5th grade team lead, and as the technology lead.   In today’s episode, Kimberly shares about how she loves using technology not only as a tool to make learning more engaging and differentiated for her students, but to make her life as a teacher easier.  Listen in on our chat to learn more about how blending in technology is simplifying her teacher life!

In our conversation today, Kimberly first talked about how her involvement in our district’s past “Tech Know” program sparked her interest in technology and inspired her to try things she’d never tried before. Through voluntarily participating in this program, she was given a class set of Chromebooks in a charging cart, a Juno speaker, and SurfacePro laptop.  When she switched school sites, she also acquired a Promethean Board, which she uses mostly for student-led instructional opportunities.  Additionally, as part of a major technology refresh project in our district, along with the rest of the teachers in our district, Kimberly was provided a new Lenovo Thinkpad, a ScreenBeam, and a new projector.  The ScreenBeam allows our teachers to wirelessly connect to their projectors so they can be more mobile in the classroom.  Because her classroom is fully equipped with up-to-date technology, Kimberly was inspired to be more innovative with the lessons and activities that she plans for her students. 

Kimberly also discussed several technology platforms that she utilizes to enhance the traditional Benchmark curriculum and create a blended learning environment with her students.  Some of the gamified platforms she uses include: Kahoot, Gimkit, and Blooket. She also discusses how she uses technology platforms like Zearn and Khan Academy to strategically group her students to differentiate learning activities.  She allows her students to provide her feedback about their learning experiences on the platforms as well, and she’s used their voices to help her determine which tools and platforms to keep and which ones to toss!  Additionally, she gives her students opportunities to choose skills to strengthen when they are finished with required work early by providing options like Nitro Type (typing practice) and Scratch (coding practice).

To stay on top of the ever evolving world of educational technology, Kimberly has joined social media networking groups and stores ideas she learns about from other educators in Google Keep.  She also shared a unique way that she uses Google Keep to collaborate with her colleagues!  

Kimberly had some great advice to new teachers - “Don’t spend that first week decorating your classroom; instead, focus on planning!”  If you’re anything like Kimberly and I, when it comes to planning, we prefer simplicity and efficiency; so here is a FREE simple one-page lesson plan template that I designed that you can use to plan high-quality instructional experiences for your students! 

Do you know an innovative educator who should be a guest on the Blending In podcast? Nominate them HERE.

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