GRPS teacher helping GVSU students use tech in the classroom

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich -- A Grand Rapids Public Schools teacher’s passion project is really taking off.

Heather Gauck, who teaches at Harrison Park Elementary, created a website for other teachers around the world to share different ways to incorporate technology into their lessons.

Now, she’s getting future teachers involved too.

Four years ago, Gauck came up with the idea for Innovation Classroom; an easy and free resource for teachers to collaborate and share ideas for using tech in their classes.

“They’re very short videos, you can get on to the website and you can visually see in just a few minutes, how to integrate and do a lesson,” she said.

Teachers can choose from dozens of lessons, across any number of subjects, from language arts, to social studies.

But Gauck wanted to get future educators involved too, so she created a contest for Grand Valley State University pre-teaching students to create their own lessons.

She said, “We thought it would be great to take a look at these lessons, then pick a winner and a runner-up and they would be able to have their lessons filmed and then incorporated into the website.”

Last year’s winning lesson is now featured on the ‘Innovation Classroom’ platform and is an opportunity current GVSU students say really helped them think outside the box.

Cayci Marr, a GVSU Senior said she used the HP Reveal app to incorporate ‘choice’ with her math lessons.

“It taught economics, teamwork, and technology skills.”

Another Senior, Ashlyn Rowell took a different path for her English class.

She said, “When students produce writing, it’s just the teacher as the audience, so it’s a lot harder for the students to be motivated and really think about ‘what larger effect does my writing have on the world?’ So, I thought about bringing in Google Tours, which is a way to present your writing in a way that can be published online so other people can see it.”

Both students are also taking on student-teaching duties in area schools. They said they can already see a big difference when they have the class use a new app or online tool.

“I can see my students start to light up, because that’s something they’re already experts in,” said Rowell.

Noah Campbell, a Graduate Assistant at GVSU not only helped film the pre-teacher’s lessons, but said he see’s just how important they are.

“Students are going to need to know how to use technology when they enter the workforce because it’s going to be part of every job,” Campbell said.

Gauck is happy to see the students embrace her idea and knows they’ll take it even further.

She said, “I really feel that the new, the teachers of the future, and the newer teachers are the ones who might embrace this a little more. It’s just exciting to see the lessons that are coming in and the ideas that I’m not even thinking of.”

The next contest for GVSU students will start in Janury with the new semester.

If you’re interested in helping Innovation Classroom stay up-and-running, there’s a "donate" button on the website.

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