Educator Profile: Karen Claxton

Introducing a new feature on Zimmer Twins at School, educator interviews. In our first profile technology Integration Specialist Karen Claxton tells us how her students used the Zimmer Twins to share what they learned about rocks and minerals. I love how Karen's lesson incorporates presentations. What a neat way to give tech a role in public speaking.

How long have you been using technology in the classroom?

I am the Curriculum & Technology Integration Specialist at our school; we have a lab of 21 Mac computers.  I've been integrating technology in the classroom since 1985; I've taught in the traditional classroom for about 10 years, varying grades, including Middle School and High School.

How and why did you start?

When I was a 5th grade teacher, the computer lab was a place students really wanted to go to.  I observed how engaged they were in using that medium and wanted to tap into that energy!  Use what they are interested in to teach curriculum!

What kind of class do you teach? 

The class that I piloted the ZimmerTwins website with is a proficient English language group.  We have a very high percentage of 2nd language students at our school (Spanish is the home language at 42%), so we do a lot of extra English Language Instruction.  The group I teach are 4th/5th graders.  54% of our school population is EDY (educationally disadvantaged youth); 68% get Free Lunch.

What do you like best about the Zimmer Twins?

It was fascinating to give the students my requirements for the project (e.g. we were studying our unit on Rocks and Minerals, so include 3 facts we learned about that topic in your ZimmerTwins project)  and how each student used the same variables of the program and came up with their own, unique storyline!  It really allows them to be creative and synthesize what they learned!

The project took about a month. Students are now presenting their movies orally to the class, reciting each scene like the characters!  Then we write in the comment section what we liked about their movie, and how they can improve their presentation!

What advice would you give to other teachers curious about using media and technology in the classroom?

1. You can incorporate any subject that you teach with technology!  You define the parameters of the lesson, and the students go with it!

2. Don't be afraid to try something new!  It is OK if students become more proficient than you, the teacher.  It is a collaborative effort and  gives them a sense of confidence!  I make a big deal out of it if a student notices something I missed!

Thanks very much Karen, your students are lucky to have you.

If you'd like to be featured as an educator interview please send an email to info (@), include your username and a brief description of the lesson you would like to discuss.

Student work: The Crystal Corruption

Student work: Facts About Rocks