Innovative Teaching: Experts + Technology = Powerful Learning

California has moved from drought to deluge very quickly.

Our town of Manteca was bracing for flooding, with some homes being evacuated. For my fifth graders, it was scary and confusing: how can we flood when the rain has already stopped? And how do those far away reservoirs and dams actually affect us down in the Great Central Valley?

Fortunately, we knew an expert we could to turn to: my husband Mike Dunbar. Mike is the Opinions Page Editor for The Modesto Bee and The Merced Sun-Star. Not only has his writing won many awards, but he has also extensively covered water issues in our area. I asked him how I could best explain how the reservoirs and dams which seem so far away really affect my students where they live.

At home, we called up a map of the water system in our region of California, and Mike started explaining things to me. Then it hit me: I needed to record his extraordinarily clear explanation for my students. We used Microsoft Snip, a FREE tool which is easily downloaded, to grab a still picture of the map. Snip allows you to record digital inking and voice onto a still image. When you record a Snip, you can easily share it via social media or email, save it, and even (as seen below) embed it.

Snip turned out to be ideal for what we wanted.

Not only did I get an expert’s explanation for my students that I could share with my fellow teachers, but we also created a standards-aligned lesson (know about where your water comes from) that was relevant and current to their questions and the events happening around them.

Creativity is coming up with great ideas; innovative education is putting those ideas into action. Don’t be afraid to try something new in your classroom!

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