Episode # 19

Technology Enhanced Teaching

September 8, 2022

About This Episode

Cincinnati Public Schools Teacher and Technology Enhanced Educator Rosemary Jane joins Caryn and Kara to talk about what it means to be a “technology enhanced educator.”


Rosemary Jane

Rosemary Jane is a technology enhanced educator and technology leader with Cincinnati Public Schools. She teachers first grade and provides training and professional development for educators and is an adjunct professor. She was at the forefront of implementation of tools for CPS, including virtual reality, 3D printing, robotics and drones in K-12. Rosemary has 16 years of experience as an educator and IT admin and has a BSA in ECE & MSE in Tech Enhanced Learning. Rosemary is an active member of her community and church and participates in events with women’s organizations committed to end gender-based violence and empower survivors. Follow Rosemary’s work in educational technology at @Rosemary_Edu on Twitter.


Hey, is this thing on? Are we recording? Can I get a tech person? Oh, for the love of ed tech.

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Joining us today is Rosemary Jane, early childhood educator and technology leader with Cincinnati public schools. Hi Rosemary.

Rosemary: Hi, good morning.

Kara: So Rosemary, can you tell us a little bit about how you got into education? Because I know that you kind of have a unique story that has some winding roads.

Rosemary: Yeah, definitely. Well so my technology piece in education is that for someone who is over 40 I was a child who had access to technology from an early age. So, I currently identify more with digital natives. I played with technology from a small child. If you’ve ever seen the movie, Steve jobs, where he is having his daughter Lisa draw in Mac paint for the first time, we got that system the year it was available. And I was at home drawing on the computer. By the time I was 12, we had moved on IBM, but I was using Microsoft paint to create animations at 12 years old. So I’ve just always been drawn to the digital space because I’m not that gifted with drawing or art artistically with my hands, but on the screen, I can do a lot more and I loved how I could make pictures look the way I wanted them to look online or on the screen.

Kara: Yeah. That’s really cool. Which of your parents was the tech person?

Rosemary: Oh, it was definitely my dad. My mom still doesn’t even have a cell phone.

Kara: Oh my gosh.

Rosemary: No, she, we got her one and we finally gave it up. She’s just like she would lose it. She would forget to charge it, it just didn’t flow for her. Technology was all my dad and then me.

Kara: Okay. Yeah, that’s, that’s really cool. Like his influence on you in the tech perspective.

Rosemary: Well and his influence was I saw him love the work that he did in creating. And he was, he was on his screen a lot, but for me, he just let me play. He never like, was teaching me a lesson with it. So I was just always playing and creating. So I would either play a game or I would draw pictures. And then as I, when I went into my teenage years, I started to keep my journals on a computer. Kinda like dogie Houser, but not.

Kara: Oh, that’s cool. And he was never worried about you breaking it?

Rosemary: No, no, not at all. And as a matter of fact, he used to build them. He loved buy computers and then up the Emory. And so he always had computers taken apart. He was an engineer.

Kara: He was probably secretly hoping you would break it.

Rosemary: Oh, maybe . Yeah.

Kara: So then he could fix it.

Rosemary: Definitely a no fear approach to technology in our home

Kara: Which is so cool. So how did you then decide to become a teacher?

Rosemary: Well, so being a teacher is something I always wanted to do. I was that kid who was always drawn to the younger group of children in any crowd. I didn’t wanna hang out with the adults. And I, you know, I just wanted to be around little people. And so I was always leading some sort of game or playing with them in some sort of way. And so being with children was always natural for me. The time I was 12, I knew I wanted to be a teacher. But how I became a technology enhanced educator was through my program at UD. I found out that was an option and I completed my technology, enhanced learning masters. And I was the only early childhood major in my program.

Kara: Oh wow.

Rosemary: At the time.

Kara: Yeah. Cuz I feel like that’s something you don’t see a whole.

Rosemary: No I knew that it was something that I was drawn to. I knew that technology could enhance every facet of life. So especially education and I knew how engaged I was with technology from a young age. So I knew that it was something I wanted to do, but I also was like, this is a smart move for me career wise because you don’t see a lot of ’em so I thought it would make me more marketable. But I didn’t get there, like the traditional way. I actually didn’t finish high school and I got my GED when I was pregnant with my second daughter. School was not easy for me. I couldn’t pass the math score for the GED on the initial on the initial tests. So like the practice test. So I had to go to night school.

But I learned about this two year scholarship program at our local community college. If I just got the right GED score, I could get a full ride. And I was a young mom and I was broke and I get WIC for my kids so that they could have good nutrition. So I needed free and I needed to be supported. So I did that in my early twenties. And so my path was definitely not traditional. I’m not a traditional feature, my path wasn’t traditional. But it all, it all works for me.

Kara: Yeah. Well, and it’s probably added so much value in the non-traditional sense. I feel like when you’re exposed to different, whether it’s struggles or different settings, it maybe at the time you don’t realize how it’s gonna impact your teaching until later and then you’re like, oh my gosh, I’m so thankful I had that experience because I completely understand where this person’s coming from and I’m sure. It plays into that as well for you?

Rosemary: Oh, it absolutely has. Even across my 16 years or so in education almost every year during parent teacher conferences, I’ve had one or more parents in each year look at me and just either start crying or just be completely overwhelmed and then open up to me and say, “I’m sorry, I’m just so exhausted because I’m working nights. And I can’t get a decent job because I don’t have my diploma” or whatever they say. And they’re saying it, like, I can’t relate at all to which I usually just respond with what my story was like a little bit or how much I do empathize and ask. ’em what they need. But I’m constantly met with surprise that I walked a similar path.

And one time I even had a parent who was sharing that struggle with me. And a couple years later we ran into each other in a mall and she told me that she was almost finished with her nursing program. And that day when we talked during his parent teacher conference that it had really inspired her that, you know, well, she did it too. And I had two kids and she had two kids and we just bonded over that. I ran into that family a couple of times since then. And mom’s a nurse now.

Kara: That’s so cool. And it’s those moments that too kind of almost reward you for sharing.

Rosemary: Yeah.

Kara: Cause I know that isn’t always easy either, you know, to share your story.

Rosemary: Certainly not. But you know, it just is my story. And so I never come out with like, oh, Hey, I know how you’re feeling. So no excuses it’s you know, I just share something that helped me or something that motivated me. I’m often met with surprise, but then. Man when you have a shared story that really helps you bond.

Kara: Yeah.

Rosemary: And then we stay in touch through technology, enhance applications whether it’s glass dojo or emailing or whatever platform we’re using that year. We get to stay in touch and I get to find out how my kids continue doing and, you know, share success with parents.

Kara: Which is great. So on that note of technology, enhanced learning, kind speak on what that vision is for you. What that looks like?

Rosemary: Yes. So technology enhanced learning isn’t about how to use a tool. We learn how to use tools so that we can enhance our teaching and learning experience. So to me, it’s never about the tool. The tool needs to demonstrate what I can do with it, but I’m constantly thinking about what am I doing and how can technology make this a little bit better?

Simple example is today, this morning, before meeting with you guys, I was working on a little postcard traditional meet the teacher, picture me now, picture me back in first grade and I’m gonna snail mail it to their houses so that they can have something like this is added QR code to it, to a microsoft flip, formally Flipgrid. And I added that so that they can introduce themselves and that I’m gonna turn on commenting once we’re together and teach them how to comment properly. Just enhancing that now. I still want them to be excited when they get something in the mail and they’ve got a picture, but then I’ve enhanced it in a way that they can now interact with that and empower their voice and get them excited about sharing. I have unlimited response options on there even though drives me crazy to look through all those and approve, you know, you can mess up, you can bail, you can do it over and over again. It’s OK. And so I just enhance our everyday experiences with technology.

Kara: Which is fantastic. Especially with you focusing on younger students.

Rosemary: Yes.

Kara: So what kind of advice would you give other early childhood educators when it comes to enhancing with technology without losing some of those skills that are important for that age group with fine motor skills and developing that cross body?

Rosemary: Yeah. So what right now we’re having the conversation about the child’s experience and how to enhance that.

Kara: Mm-hmm.

Rosemary: And I would definitely say that you look at how you can enhance any experience. I enhance through my planning through my communication collaboration. Anything I create, if you’re ever gonna put anything on a coffee machine, I promise you there’s a way to digitally enhance that. And the more fluent you become, the more easy it is to just quickly add that element. You can enhance anything with technology for my young learners. The research is still thin out there as for best practices with technology used with young children.

So we wanna look at what we definitely know about child development, about those cross body movements about periods of sustained attention, things like that. What we do find still more anecdotally, it’s not that well formally researched yet is that children do stay engaged for longer periods with digital elements when they’re engaged than they do with the traditional thing. Now, part of that makes me a little sad. I think about like my grandson playing with blocks, and I want him to sit there. If any of you have ever seen a young child play with a toy. On and on and on, like you love when they get engrossed in that item. Yeah. And for some reason we’re all kinda afraid when they get engrossed with technology. But it’s always happened. Children get engrossed in whatever they’re interested in, whatever they’re having fun playing with. So we wanna think about, okay, what’s essential for child development? Social, emotional skills. So the academy of pediatrics has transitioned. And this isn’t news, this is years old.

But it’s not about screen time per se. It’s about quality of screen time. So I know like with PBS, for example, we encourage parents to sit next to their child and talk about the show. It’s why those shows like whether it’s Nick or whatever, or they ask the screen a question, cuz they’re trying to get a response two way thing. So we wanna focus on social, emotional development. We do wanna focus on fine and gross motor skills. We do not want our children just sitting consuming, but we don’t want them doing that at all. And it doesn’t matter what age the parents are or socio economic background. Every parent is guilty of at some point popping their kid in front of a screen so they can get some quiet time to get something done.

So we need to leverage that time. I love how PBS does that, Nick junior even like the Disney junior stuff, it’s so much more engaging now. So we’re using that in the classroom. And so I’m always looking at how my students are actually interacting with it. Mm-hmm if they have some way to respond other than just verbally, like the way when Dora asked the question on the screen and the kid may or may not. I give them way to reply, like with a Flipgrid or with a CSAW post or with a reporting in Schoology, and then I use those tools, but you notice, I only just mentioned tools just now. Cause what I’m really talking about is how we’re enhancing their experiences.

Caryn: Mm-hmm yeah.

Kara: Which I think is really important.

Rosemary: PBS is my favorite resource still. It always has been. Mr. Rogers is a personal hero in life for me.

Caryn: Yeah. Well, and they have so many great programs. I mean, I think about my kids, my kids are four and almost seven and they are obsessed with the wild kratts for example, and they sit and watch it and it’s a cute cartoon and it’s got some really dynamic Live action stuff too, but it has spurred them into becoming very interested in hiking or going on adventures mm-hmm or wanting to learn about different animals and, you know, animal adaptations and things like that. So I love those type of programs that stimulate interest. Lead our kids to ask questions. And that allows us to extend that learning further. I always remember I used to be a librarian and when I was in the library, I had some ed request to teach cause and effect. And I was teaching calls in effect using Jimmy’s bow bounces back.

And I just happened to be observed that day. Of course. and we’re reading, Jimmy’s boa, bounces back. And at the end, my kids are like, what’s a boa constrictor. And I’m like, well, it’s a snake, but I’m like, have you ever seen a boa constrict? No, they’d never seen it. They had no idea what it was other than this, as far as they know, like fictional creature in this book.

And I was like, well, let’s look that up. I’m in the library. Let’s research this let’s go on the computer. Let’s find pictures. Let’s find video let’s, you know, like see if we can find some sound and things like that. And I remember the principal being like, wow, I like how you pivoted. And weren’t just like, oh, well it’s just a snake.

And I just was like, why is everyone not doing that? Why is everyone not using the technology and the resources available to them to extend that, learning, to add that value? And I’m on a tangent at this point. Right. But I think some of us get so ingrained and focused on the lesson, how much we have to teach?

Rosemary: Right. And I know that one thing that I’ve learned to do over the years, which not knocking you at all, cause there’s also time and just, I’ve done it a hundred times, a billion times, probably where I’ve given him the answer, but you know what’s a boa constrictor? Go find out.

Kara: Right?

Rosemary: Here’s your resources. And when I use things like clever to organize my applications, I can just quickly drop a few that I know are safe or whatever. I can guide that a little bit still. I can still guide their experiences, but I can open up and empower them to find their own answers.

Caryn: Right.

Rosemary: You don’t know what a boa is? You’re gonna know today. You’ll find out this week, know, get with your group during learning stations and go investigate.

Kara: Yeah, I was thinking, as you’re talking, I used to do the same thing with tales of a fourth grade, nothing because he wore saddle shoes.

He goes shopping for shoes and the brother gets saddle shoes and the oldest boy gets loafers and like the kids didn’t know. Like loafers or Sal?

Caryn: No, they wouldn’t. It’s like, yeah,

Kara: you investigate. What the world, those things are.

Rosemary: Yeah. For one them even just seeing you look it up. That’s tech enhanced instruction. Mm-hmm OK. Empowering them. To go look it up. That’s the empowered learner under the ISTI standards. So as I said earlier, when we’re looking at technology enhanced my master’s in is in technology, enhanced learning.

It’s really technology, enhanced teaching and learning. I probably use more of the technology for my instruction then my students actually do. Going back to Kara’s earlier point about fine motor development and cross body functions and all those really important, critical things for young children. My students are totally still engaged in that. My learning centers have technology options, iPads, and QR codes. But it’s just that it’s enhanced nothing replaces hands on concrete experiences for children.

It’s amazing to look up and see something on a screen. It’s leveled way up. If you can put them in a VR experience. That’s, that’s really fun and cool. I’ve done that with my first graders. And I’ve got a colleague who we’ve introduced it as early as preschool. But you can give them all of those tech and hands experiences, but that’s one station or that’s one choice on their choice board. My kids are still fully engaged and hands on creating and building.

Some ways that I do that though, is like, let’s say that they’re making a model. Last year, we did animal parts, learning about animal parts classification and what those parts do for the animal. And then we built our own inventions inspired by animal parts. I wanna fly. So I’m gonna have wings like this Eagle, or I wanna be able to dive underwater and swim really fast. So I’m gonna have this sharks tail, but I’m also gonna have, you know, this, whatever spout so I can breathe. And they created all these things and then they built them with paper towel rolls and pipe cleaners and glitter and all kinds. Very good, messy, messy, fun project building things. Well, then they can snap a picture of that and upload it to their Seesaw journal and then tell you about it. Cause you know, when you get that super messy truly made at school by the child project that comes home.

Yeah. And mom and dad are. Wow. What heck is this mess? We all know it. We’ve all gotten the messy thing. And we most have learned not to say, what is that? Cause then they’re all about this. So I give them a platform to tell it. And then I messaging parents saying parents check your SI child’s Seesaw journal for an explanation of the project they’re bringing home.

Mom, grandma, auntie, whoever is the child’s caregiver can watch that. So when they get home, they can say, Hey, lemme see your shark design or lemme see your whatever. And they’ve already heard the child firsthand tell all about it. It just levels up the engagement, the connection and just little simple tools that you add on for students to do that.

Kara: Yeah, that’s really cool. Well, and I am gonna jump to the AR thing because I’m just curious what that looks like with younger students.

Rosemary: Absolutely. Well, AR VR are two very related, but different experiences. So augmented reality is everything from that postcard that I’m sending home to welcome students with QR code on it. QR codes are actually augmented reality. So they’re the most simple, and every day we kind of forget that that’s a AR, but to our codes are AR if I tag an object, let’s say that my mug, that I’m holding up that y’all, can’t see. But if my mug becomes a visual trigger and I scan that with an application you can create your own triggers and then make that come to life and tell the story. Or the child can be in a recording and pop up. Those are augmented. Some more instructional, augmented things might be through a device space, which is pulling out a live frog dissection or the globe and you can spin it. And it’s all appearing in front of you. VR on the other hand is a fully immersive experience. It’s where you put on a headset and depending on what level of it, whether it’s like a gaming based thing or you know, there’s all sorts of levels where you can have handheld interactions, you can have sound it just depends.

At our schools we’ve selected class VR as our fully immersive solution. So it does include sound and it is fully immersive on headset and then go to the space launch or walk around inside the windmill. And so we are using that with students as early as preschool at Cincinnati Public Schools, I was really thrilled to get to evaluate and select that technology. When I was in my admin job with the IT department, we did evaluate several of them and we landed on that one just for our own needs list. There’s lots of VR solutions out there for schools. But this one, our students can have a fully immersive experience and it comes with a whole lot of content already loaded.

So that’s what I like about it. If I’m teaching a unit on the powerful force of the wind, there’s tons of experiences already loaded about wind and windmills and storms and all of that. So I just go in there and upload those experiences. Now there is almost no research on best practices for immersive learning experiences for young children. There are some initial studies out of the UK that I can share with you later, if you want a link to it. When I was doing my my graduate thesis I really wanted to do young children and technology. And there just wasn’t enough peer reviewed research out there. And I do remember my professor at the time saying we can’t use this, but I challenge you to be one of the people who gathers this research but for now you gotta change your topic. So research is still really new. So the one thing that I would do for anybody looking to use these more cutting edge things is just dig right back into what you already know best practices about young children and learning.

When we show them things on the screen and there’s, you know, the monsters and the, this and that, there’s actually preschool standards around what’s real and make believe. And so we go back to those standards and we have conversations about, are you really going to the Amazon today? No, but you’re gonna see things like you are in the Amazon.

It’s gonna look like you can touch the water. And it was so cute because this little three and a half year old kid is reaching off to his side and trying to touch the water . But if you have that set up conversation of you’re gonna feel like you can touch it. You can’t really, can you? We’re reinforcing those concepts of real and make believe. We do physical things to make sure because VR can be a little bit disorienting. So we do some grounding things and we do some really big muscle movements before we get into it. We teach ’em how to ground themselves with their arms all the way down on the ground criss cross. And so we just think their little bodies and their whole experience. And we go back to what we already know about best practices in child development.

Kara: Yeah. Well, and I was gonna ask that because I know too, there’s been some recommendations for like how long you stay in a VR. That’s really based on, you know, an age because of your eyes.

Rosemary: That’s really for anybody actually. I don’t personally recommend anyone staying in a VR experience for more than 20 minutes. I would recommend under 15. And so for my young learners, they’re in for about five or 10 minutes.

Kara: Okay.

Rosemary: And 10 is on the far end. I did everything guided last year because we were just back in from our COVID year and we still had some individual and distance stuff. I will set it up as a station this year, as long as, you know, COVID restrictions, continue to be what they are. So I will set it up. So it’s just part of their learning stations. Which they’re in for about 15 minutes and they’re not gonna be headsets on that whole time.

Kara: Yeah.

Rosemary: They’ll put it on and then do a prompter activity and then maybe put it back on. So it’ll be limited times and it will be fully trained before they actually go to that in a learning station.

Kara: Okay yeah. And I was gonna ask too, what does your tech enhanced environment kind of look like?

Rosemary: So I don’t have individual desks. I have community tables. I have those set up so that students are socially engaged more than they are engaged with the teacher. They do have some whole group direct instruction. There is come down to the carpet time and I do mini lessons, but my mini lesson is the bulk of my whole group instruction. Almost everything else breaks out into small groups. And if they’re not with me or maybe the reading specialist or we’re very blessed at CPS, we have paraprofessionals as well, so I can usually have two or three teacher stations going at a time. And then I have one or two self-guided learning stations.

Kara: Oh, nice.

Rosemary: And that’s where the technology choice is implemented.

Kara: Okay.

Rosemary: So I have not done the VR as a choice station yet. That’s my plans for this. But then the technology is in and around the classroom. I have a touch panel that I can lower down and that can be a station so they can do things that we did in our class meeting. All of my morning meeting and the calendar and the graphing who all’s here today and the charting, the weather is all done through interactive Google slides.

Kara: Oh, okay. Nice.

Rosemary: So they can access that their own copy and their iPads, or they can go up to the interactive whiteboard and interact with that as a station. Then they’ve got their own iPads. There’s QR code to read aloud books. Mm-hmm and then there’s gonna be the AR VR station. This.

Kara: Gotcha. Sounds cool.

Rosemary: Yeah, it’s a lot of fun.

Kara: I know. I wanna come visit.

Rosemary: You should come visit. You should.

Kara: That’d be fun.

Rosemary: I get a lot of visitors. I get some from around our district and I get a lot from the University of Cincinnati.

Kara: Oh, cool.

Rosemary: Yeah, I did adjunct there. I taught digital communication with the emphasis on instructional design. And professor Sarah Schroeder sent me her students who made a credit hour here or there in field experience. So my class is very used to visitors and you’re welcome.

Kara: Okay. I’ll be talking to you.

Rosemary: good. Good. You should come in.

Kara: Yeah. So Rosemary, you have shared lots of great information with us today and some people may be thinking, wow, I could never do all of those things, but I’d really like to try something. So what is your tip or trick that you would give to a teacher that just wants to try something?

Rosemary: I would say the easiest thing to do to get started in enhancing anything with technology is QR codes. They’re overlooked. They’re super easy. I use the Chrome extension for mine. But almost everything is starting to build them in I know Flipgrid or now Microsoft flip has them already built in. So think about something you’re already using. Don’t think of something like, oh, I wanna go try and start using VR tomorrow. But I have trouble clearing out my inbox you know? Yeah. Just, just start with something you already do. Your email address can even be tagged as a QR code just to make it easier for parents to communicate with you. That question, that homework this week, reach me here. I would start with the simplest layer and that is linking people to something, right?

Kara: Mm-hmm.

Rosemary: The QR code is just a way to make it easier for people to directly connect with whatever content it is. So maybe focus on your parents first, your families and parents, and send them links to view something. You could have a digital photo album just of what happened this month in class. Don’t try to do it every week. What happened this month in class? And it’s just a photo album.

Caryn: Mm-hmm

Rosemary: Parents will love that. And you could just send a QR code home for that. And then you can begin to level up. Maybe then you can add in the layer of engagement, like a flip grid or flip, they just changed. But you can have Flip Grid or flip or some way for parents and students to share their reading at home or tell what they like the most about this week’s activity. Or tell about that project, that hands on thing that they made. Just think of a way to just level it up one step. I have tons of stuff on my Twitter. I’m @Rosemary_edu or on my YouTube account or my YouTube channel. I have tons of things I did our district training for our learning management systems Schoology. I’ve done it for clever our application portal. And I’ve got all kinds of tips and tricks, literally a playlist called tech tidbits, or your questions answered. I have millions of those, well, not millions, but a whole lot. If you wondering about the nitty gritty, you decide what you wanna do, and then you figure out which tool you wanna use. And then you learn, you know, the bare minimum of what you need to do to use it. And then just add on one, one level at a time.

Kara: Yeah. And don’t try and incorporate six tools or right. Just yeah. Find your favorite and that’s okay. Just because your neighbor’s using 10 doesn’t mean you need to too.

Rosemary: Yeah. One thing, if you’re gonna look for something to use I love Google slides. Because that can become, you could just have one slide deck that you update every month or day or whatever, with your content and then you can QR code, right to that Google slide deck. You put your settings to anyone with link can view, as long as you’ve got everything secure, like they’re not student pictures or whatever. But there’s ways to just Google slides is probably my number one. Application that I use.

Kara: Yeah.

Caryn: That’s yes.

Kara: And a good place to start.

Caryn: Right there with you. So first of all, people look at it and they think, oh, I’ve done PowerPoint. I’ve done a presentation, but you can really do a lot with it.

Rosemary: Oh yeah. My Google slides for my classroom are completely interactive. So there’s a space where they can actually edit the slide so they can move things around that copy is always a mess. Cuz first graders are getting their hands on it. But then I have my teacher copy that I use for teaching every day. We drag over the little sunshine when it’s sunny and we drag over the labels for the calendar. So I do a lot of interactive slides.

Yeah. That’s awesome. So, but you can just QR right to anything you’re already using, or just think of something that you’re already using. That’s not technology based. Anything that you make a copy of, you can scan that on these school copiers and printers. Most of ’em have a scanning function now. And so if you’re gonna copy it, scan it and just I have a folder link, a digital link that parents can click on, or when they lose their homework, they can see what it.

Kara: That’s nice.

Caryn: That’s great.

Kara: I think those are some good tips and tricks. Well, thank you so much for chatting with us today. It was great talking to you, and I feel like we learned so much about technology, enhanced teaching and learning.

Thanks for listening to our For the Love of EdTech podcast. We hope you enjoyed our conversation today and learned something that you can use with your own students. You can find the show notes, resources, and more at www.Fortheloveofedtech.org. For the Love of EdTech is produced by soda, the Southwestern, Ohio instructional technology association, and partnership with think TV and C E T the local PBS stations in Dayton and Cincinnati.