Carrie Busey Teacher Integrates Technology into Classroom

head and shoulders shot of Elizabeth Slifer

Elizabeth Slifer

Experts say that technology in the classroom should be like oxygen—ubiquitous, necessary and invisible. In Elizabeth Slifer’s 4th grade classroom at Carrie Busey Elementary in Savoy, technology—like oxygen—is breathing life into supporting critical thinking, generating ideas, reinforcing information and fostering communication.

Illinois Edition of PBS LearningMedia is one of the tools Elizabeth is using to integrate technology into her lesson plans in math, science and social studies. She can search for interactive games, videos and activities that enrich her students’ learning experiences, and find in-depth lesson plans that include PBS LearningMedia resources. Elizabeth is one of the 74 Illinois teachers who participated in our pilot of PBS LearningMedia last year.

“I think digital media helps the children visit places that they couldn’t otherwise physically go visit. I’m thinking of the science unit that I’ve taught on space,” she said. “We can’t go visit Mars but through the videos on Illinois Edition PBS LearningMedia, we could go visit Mars or other planets. We could go visit the sun and see the flares.”

She established a PBS LearningMedia page for her class. She recently integrated PBS video clips into a unit on animals, and posted a video link on the class page.  After the video link had been on her class page for less than 24 hours, it had 21 views, which means students were watching the videos at home.

Kids sick at home can go to the class page the catch up on what they missed. “I could highlight a video game that I wanted the kids to try out to go over a concept, whether it was magnetism, or maybe fractions in math. Even though they were sick that day, they could go to those same sites and play those games to get the same knowledge that the kids in class had gotten.”

“Illinois Edition really helped me connect all the aspects of my curriculum. I could talk about healthy eating, we could watch videos on it, and then we could learn movements through those same videos. I incorporated those into my classroom then,” she said.  When her students need a “brain break” during the school day, Elizabeth relies on interactive dance videos from PBS’s Fizzy’s Lunch Lab to get them up and moving for a few minutes.

She uses a new collar microphone she uses to record her voice during formal instruction. After presenting a lesson to her students, she combines her audio recording with images from her white board presentation and saves it to a site called Schoology. Then, using a key code, Elizabeth’s students can access the lesson at home. Elizabeth said her next goal is to use Skype to communicate with students in another state, geographic region or country so her students can compare information about topics like native animals.

Illinois Public Media is thrilled to support Elizabeth’s integration of technology into her classroom. By hosting professional development webinars for teachers across the state;  providing direct video and audio production instruction to students at Stratton Elementary; and integrating mobile devices, interactive white boards and other new digital tools into our work in early childhood classrooms, Illinois Public Media is helping to make technology like oxygen in Illinois classrooms.