A Day In The Life Of: Mrs. Lisa Mims

By Leonard Medlock     Aug 15, 2012

A Day In The Life Of: Mrs. Lisa Mims

Transforming classrooms through technology is not a new practice for Mrs. Lisa Mims, who teaches 5th grade at a public elementary school in Delaware. Long before Dropbox--even long before flashdrives--Mrs. Mims was engaging young minds with a different technology for storing important artifacts: the cardboard box.

"I'd turn off all the lights and all of the students would make a humming noise," recalls Mrs. Mims, reflecting upon her NYC teaching days and the magical time machine that transported her and her social studies class. When the student designated as the time traveler climbed out of the box, the lights would go back on--and the class would proceed as if they were all in a different time and place.

These days Mrs. Mims has traded in the cardboard box for a laptop cart but her desire to think outside... ahem.. inside the box to engage fully with her students is stronger than ever. At any given time you can find the 28-year teaching veteran using any of more than 20 tools in her fifth grade classroom at Pleasantville Elementary in Newcastle, Del. (You can follow her on Twitter @BriteEyes49).

When school starts again this autumn, Mrs. Mims' classes will begin every morning as they frequently have--with a five-minute exercise, courtesy of Discovery Education. She finds it's a sure-fire way to engage students, whether she pulls up the site on her SmartBoard or whether the laptop cart is available for students. Her students are comfortable with Discovery Education, as Pleasantville uses it and BrainPOP schoolwide.

Like many teachers, Mrs. Mims is required to use district materials for all of thesubjects in her syllabus--but she likes to weave in other tools and digitalmaterials that to enhance or supplement her pedagogy.

Take science.Even though Mrs. Mims relies heavily on district-provided kits for day-to-dayinstruction, she has also taken time to use her Twitter Personal LearningNetwork (PLN) to find and invite a marine biologist to chat with students viaSkype. When doing social studies units, Mrs. Mims has found out-of-stateteachers willing to participate in "mystery Skype"-- a game wherestudents in each classroom provide clues until students in the others can guessin which state they are located.

The majority of edtech tools in Mrs. Mims's classroom, however, are targeted to helping students learn mathematics and writing.

During mathinstruction, for example, Mrs. Mims incorporates TenMarks, which she findshelps her gain a better understanding of students' strengths and weaknesses.She was initially drawn in by its alignment to the Common Core curriculum butnow also appreciates the reports she can generate for herself and for students'parents.

On a less formalnote, she employs SumDog and MangaHigh for supplemental instruction. Both allowher to create competitions that help students practice specific mathematicalskills. Students take the competitions "very seriously" she notes,often competing with one another--and with students at other schools-- outsideof school walls. She's proud that her students have really met thechallenge: three of her students have finished in the "top 10" inindividual SumDog competitions held across the state of Delaware.

When it comes towriting, Mrs. Mims is a huge fan of Kidblog. The simple blog site lets teacherscreate an umbrella account for a class and assign students individual blogswithout the hassle of creating individual email addresses or accounts. As theonly administrator of her class' Kidblog, Mrs. Mims can okay or veto any postor comment before it goes live. She can also issue temporary "guests'accounts" for parents and other non-classmates to view students' blogs.

Mrs. Mims doesn'tfind any value in formally assessing blogging. "I just want them to enjoywriting," she says. She does try to create many opportunities forfeedback. By relying on her Twitter PLN, Mrs. Mims reaches out to teacherswhose students will comment on Kidblog using the hashtag, #comments4kids.

Her classroom isalso entering its second year in QuadBlogging. The service, masterminded byUK-based educator Mr. David Mitchell, connects four classrooms around theworld, and gives students opportunities to receive and provide comments on oneanother's blog posts. It falls right in line with Mrs. Mims' stance that edtechprovides previously impossible exposure for students: "The most importantthing is that it opens them up to the world," she says.

As acomprehensive teacher in an elementary school, Mrs. Mims is faced with twounique challenges that our previous DILO portraits have managed to avoid. First:all of her fifth graders fall squarely under the jurisdiction of COPPA and CIPAlegislation, making it difficult to use many online services that requiresocial networking logins.

Edmodo hashelped alleviate this problem. Mrs. Mims, who's in her second year of using theso-called "Facebook of education," concedes that she "completelyand totally loves it." The biggest draw for her is the ability to embedvirtually any video, image, web app, or other digital media resource she wants.Edmodo lets her gather her resources in a central location that students cansafely access, eliminating the hassle (and distractions) of navigating betweendifferent websites.

The secondchallenge lies in the very nature of her job: Because Mrs. Mims is acomprehensive teacher, she switches daily between teaching math, arts, socialstudies and science. Accordingly, her edtech expertise--as well as the toolsshe uses in class--must extend across multiple disciplines. She solves that bytackling every class with zeal, a skill or talent that owes nothing totechnology.

Mrs. Mimsrecalls an epiphany back in 2002 when she began applying in class some of whatshe had learned from an Integrated Technology program. "It changed myclassroom.. my students were engaged and it gave them a chance to practicecritical thinking," she says.

Ever since thatyear, she's been on a quest to build the next iteration of her cardboard box.With two school wide "Teacher of the Year" awards and one district "Showcase Technology Teacher of the Year" award under her belt, it appears she's making great strides. 

Beyond engagingstudents, Mrs. Mims also finds that tinkering with the latest and coolestedtech tools provides another level of job satisfaction. As she writes in herDiary of a Public School Teacher, integrating technology brings "some 'ooomph' to what could be a boring day-to-day job."

Her advice to teacherswary of using technology in the classroom is threefold:

  • Don't let theedtech-teacher stars who use tons of edtech products intimidate you. (They hadto begin once upon a time.). "Just try one thing, get your feet wet,"she says.

  • If you're stuck,get help. She fesses up to relying heavily on her school's IT specialist andanyone who will listen on Twitter. "Many educators out there who are morethan willing to help," she notes.

  • Finally, if itdoesn't work the first time--don't give up. After all, asks Mrs. Mims. "Would youwant your kid sitting in a classroom where the teacher quits after the first try?"

Mrs. Mims' Toolkit


Products Mentioned in this Article

Other Favorite Tools Not Mentioned Here




A Day In The Life Of: Mrs. Lisa Mims

By Leonard Medlock     Aug 15, 2012

A Day In The Life Of: Mrs. Lisa Mims

Transforming classrooms through technology is not a new practice for Mrs. Lisa Mims, who teaches 5th grade at a public elementary school in Delaware. Long before Dropbox--even long before flashdrives--Mrs. Mims was engaging young minds with a different technology for storing important artifacts: the cardboard box.

"I'd turn off all the lights and all of the students would make a humming noise," recalls Mrs. Mims, reflecting upon her NYC teaching days and the magical time machine that transported her and her social studies class. When the student designated as the time traveler climbed out of the box, the lights would go back on--and the class would proceed as if they were all in a different time and place.

These days Mrs. Mims has traded in the cardboard box for a laptop cart but her desire to think outside... ahem.. inside the box to engage fully with her students is stronger than ever. At any given time you can find the 28-year teaching veteran using any of more than 20 tools in her fifth grade classroom at Pleasantville Elementary in Newcastle, Del. (You can follow her on Twitter @BriteEyes49).

When school starts again this autumn, Mrs. Mims' classes will begin every morning as they frequently have--with a five-minute exercise, courtesy of Discovery Education. She finds it's a sure-fire way to engage students, whether she pulls up the site on her SmartBoard or whether the laptop cart is available for students. Her students are comfortable with Discovery Education, as Pleasantville uses it and BrainPOP schoolwide.

Like many teachers, Mrs. Mims is required to use district materials for all of thesubjects in her syllabus--but she likes to weave in other tools and digitalmaterials that to enhance or supplement her pedagogy.

Take science.Even though Mrs. Mims relies heavily on district-provided kits for day-to-dayinstruction, she has also taken time to use her Twitter Personal LearningNetwork (PLN) to find and invite a marine biologist to chat with students viaSkype. When doing social studies units, Mrs. Mims has found out-of-stateteachers willing to participate in "mystery Skype"-- a game wherestudents in each classroom provide clues until students in the others can guessin which state they are located.

The majority of edtech tools in Mrs. Mims's classroom, however, are targeted to helping students learn mathematics and writing.

During mathinstruction, for example, Mrs. Mims incorporates TenMarks, which she findshelps her gain a better understanding of students' strengths and weaknesses.She was initially drawn in by its alignment to the Common Core curriculum butnow also appreciates the reports she can generate for herself and for students'parents.

On a less formalnote, she employs SumDog and MangaHigh for supplemental instruction. Both allowher to create competitions that help students practice specific mathematicalskills. Students take the competitions "very seriously" she notes,often competing with one another--and with students at other schools-- outsideof school walls. She's proud that her students have really met thechallenge: three of her students have finished in the "top 10" inindividual SumDog competitions held across the state of Delaware.

When it comes towriting, Mrs. Mims is a huge fan of Kidblog. The simple blog site lets teacherscreate an umbrella account for a class and assign students individual blogswithout the hassle of creating individual email addresses or accounts. As theonly administrator of her class' Kidblog, Mrs. Mims can okay or veto any postor comment before it goes live. She can also issue temporary "guests'accounts" for parents and other non-classmates to view students' blogs.

Mrs. Mims doesn'tfind any value in formally assessing blogging. "I just want them to enjoywriting," she says. She does try to create many opportunities forfeedback. By relying on her Twitter PLN, Mrs. Mims reaches out to teacherswhose students will comment on Kidblog using the hashtag, #comments4kids.

Her classroom isalso entering its second year in QuadBlogging. The service, masterminded byUK-based educator Mr. David Mitchell, connects four classrooms around theworld, and gives students opportunities to receive and provide comments on oneanother's blog posts. It falls right in line with Mrs. Mims' stance that edtechprovides previously impossible exposure for students: "The most importantthing is that it opens them up to the world," she says.

As acomprehensive teacher in an elementary school, Mrs. Mims is faced with twounique challenges that our previous DILO portraits have managed to avoid. First:all of her fifth graders fall squarely under the jurisdiction of COPPA and CIPAlegislation, making it difficult to use many online services that requiresocial networking logins.

Edmodo hashelped alleviate this problem. Mrs. Mims, who's in her second year of using theso-called "Facebook of education," concedes that she "completelyand totally loves it." The biggest draw for her is the ability to embedvirtually any video, image, web app, or other digital media resource she wants.Edmodo lets her gather her resources in a central location that students cansafely access, eliminating the hassle (and distractions) of navigating betweendifferent websites.

The secondchallenge lies in the very nature of her job: Because Mrs. Mims is acomprehensive teacher, she switches daily between teaching math, arts, socialstudies and science. Accordingly, her edtech expertise--as well as the toolsshe uses in class--must extend across multiple disciplines. She solves that bytackling every class with zeal, a skill or talent that owes nothing totechnology.

Mrs. Mimsrecalls an epiphany back in 2002 when she began applying in class some of whatshe had learned from an Integrated Technology program. "It changed myclassroom.. my students were engaged and it gave them a chance to practicecritical thinking," she says.

Ever since thatyear, she's been on a quest to build the next iteration of her cardboard box.With two school wide "Teacher of the Year" awards and one district "Showcase Technology Teacher of the Year" award under her belt, it appears she's making great strides. 

Beyond engagingstudents, Mrs. Mims also finds that tinkering with the latest and coolestedtech tools provides another level of job satisfaction. As she writes in herDiary of a Public School Teacher, integrating technology brings "some 'ooomph' to what could be a boring day-to-day job."

Her advice to teacherswary of using technology in the classroom is threefold:

  • Don't let theedtech-teacher stars who use tons of edtech products intimidate you. (They hadto begin once upon a time.). "Just try one thing, get your feet wet,"she says.

  • If you're stuck,get help. She fesses up to relying heavily on her school's IT specialist andanyone who will listen on Twitter. "Many educators out there who are morethan willing to help," she notes.

  • Finally, if itdoesn't work the first time--don't give up. After all, asks Mrs. Mims. "Would youwant your kid sitting in a classroom where the teacher quits after the first try?"

Mrs. Mims' Toolkit


Products Mentioned in this Article

Other Favorite Tools Not Mentioned Here




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