Four outstanding Alabama teachers have been named APT Digital Innovators for their thoughtful tech integration in the classroom. These educators’ bold and enthusiastic perspectives set them apart as changemakers, unlocking new worlds for their students and fellow teachers. Meet the first class of APT Digital Innovators.
Spring Charles, Albertville City Schools
Spring Charles is the computer science teacher at Albertville Middle School. The 2019-2020 school year marks the first year that computer science has been offered at Albertville Middle, drawing much interest and regular visits from school and district administrators that want to see what the students are learning. In Ms. Charles’ classroom, students are encouraged to embrace technology and to share what they are learning with class visitors enthusiastically. Ms. Charles says each day offers new rewards in teaching her computer science classes, but her most important role is to shape the futures of her students’ lives.
“If I can touch just one student’s life while I teach then I have done my job as a teacher and as their friend.” – Spring Charles
April Chamberlain, Trussville City Schools
Trussville City Schools System Technology Coordinator April Chamberlain has been in education since 1996. As the System Technology Coordinator, Ms. Chamberlain works with educators in every grade in the district to develop their skills with and understanding of technology through hands-on learning. Ms. Chamberlain provides professional development workshops for teachers, librarians and administrators to develop a deeper understanding of the role technology plays in a modern Alabama. In addition to her work with educators, Ms. Chamberlain uses a “design thinking” approach in her work with students in the classroom that allows them to process and develop empathy for those facing the challenges that technology is working to solve.
“I am passionate about developing my students’ technology toolboxes so they can choose which tools are best for learning for them.” - April Chamberlain
Jennifer Smith, Tuscaloosa City Schools
Jennifer Smith is a 5th grade math teacher at University Place Elementary School in Tuscaloosa. Ms. Smith incorporates technology into her math lessons as frequently as possible to help make learning easier and more fun for her students. One tool Ms. Smith uses in her classroom is the “choice board,” which is a graphic organizer that allows students to choose different ways to demonstrate learning about a specific concept. Students can choose from creating YouTube videos, making Google slideshows, and more to demonstrate their understanding of different math concepts. This approach gives students the freedom to learn math in a way that works best for them.
“I believe that it is imperative to use students’ interest and strengths to cultivate an environment not only conducive to learning but also as a promoter of student autonomy.” – Jennifer Smith
Amber Moore, Madison County Schools
Amber Moore teaches math, science and social studies to 5th graders at New Market School. For each of her subjects, Ms. Moore strategically plans lessons that engage students through both technology and real-world connections. Ms. Moore is passionate about teaching her content areas through a global perspective that allows her students to make connections locally and internationally. One way Ms. Moore is using technology in her social studies class is through a digital pen pal partnership she set up with a school in Colombia. Ms. Moore’s students have developed a relationship with their counterparts in Colombia over the course of the year through writing letters, exchanging videos, and spending time together using Google Meet.
“At my school, I am known for global education and making global connections for my students. I am constantly planning lessons through a global lens and creating activities that engage my students and encourage them to be deep, bold thinkers.” – Amber Moore
Digital Innovators will work with APT to review and integrate educational content and advise on decisions concerning new educational content. They will also help promote APT/PBS events and resources and have opportunities for professional development. APT Digital Innovators will have the opportunity to learn about extensive digital content and curriculum resources from APT and PBS LearningMedia.