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Innovating Beyond the Classroom

TeacherSpotlight

Educators across the nation are doing some amazing things in their classrooms. I first came across Liz’s Twitter page when looking for meaningful ways to leverage EdTech in the classroom. Liz’s page boasts tons of STEM activities, Hyperdoc lessons galore, and a wide variety of G-Suite documents that she and her colleagues have created together and shared with the Twitterverse. Read on to see how she’s using the latest trends in EdTech to create some amazing opportunities for her students to collaborate, create, and get techy!

Name: Liz Stroud

Teacher librarian Liz Stroud

Email: estroud@dg58.org

Role in Education: Teacher Librarian

Location: Downers Grove, IL

Social Media Handle: @LRCFairmount (Twitter)

How long have you been in education? This is my 11th year in education.  I was an elementary classroom teacher for seven years and this is my fourth year as a teacher librarian in a K-6 school.

Please describe a “day in the life” of Mrs. Stroud. Most days are controlled chaos, and I love it!  I get the opportunity to be in the library teaching and also in the classrooms co-teaching.  The most chaotic days are when multiple grade levels are doing different projects. I’ll run back from a classroom (I do run when the halls when I shouldn’t) to the library after showing a student that her 3D prototype finally printed with no hiccups, teach the next lesson, then while the students are reading after book checkout, I’ll quickly vacuum our CNC carving machine to get rid of all the wood shavings.

2nd graders and green screen
2nd graders getting creative with green screen pizza boxes!

What is the best thing about your job? The best thing about my job is having the flexibility to have engaging and meaningful lessons with ALL of the students and teachers.   I’ve been able to schedule a day where every grade Skypes with an author for World Read Aloud Day. For the annual Global Read Aloud, I connect the teachers with another classroom from a different part in the world, and we use various digital avenues to share ideas about the book read. The primary students are code and problem solve with our Dash robots and Beebots. The intermediate grades design 3D printing objects for teachers in the building or as holiday gifts for their family. The lessons, tools, tips, and skills I teach them in library follow them into the classroom.  Then the teacher learns through the students. The teachers are able to see new technologies and possibilities, and that creates even more excitement. I feel like I am able to do more school-wide as a teacher librarian than as a classroom teacher. I really love that. Seriously, I think this is the best gig ever!

How did you get interested in EdTech and what are some of your favorite activities you do in your classroom/library? EdTech is another way to make teaching magical.  Even when I started eleven years ago, our district had a roaming cart of twelve MacBooks.   I was lucky enough to have great mentors who dove right in and weren’t afraid to use them.

We would use them to make podcasts during reading, screencasts of our explanations during math, flyers about National Parks for Social Studies (that could pass as a legitimate flyer), and iMovies book trailers.  Not only were these students creating “cool” projects, but they were bouncing ideas back and forth with each other and really focusing on the art and craft of producing this finished piece of work that they were so proud of.   Their creations always, always exceeded my expectations.

Using read alouds and the green screen to talk about perseverance

Within the past few years with the 1:1 iPads, students are making Adobe Spark websites about the states (that look like an adult created it!), recording green screen videos demonstrating their knowledge of a biographical figure, creating Apple Clips or Animoto videos for our Math Talks. The students become creators instead of just consumers.

You mention your love of collaborating with teachers. What are some easy ways that teachers can take what you do in your room and extend it into their own classrooms? I find that the best way to have teachers use new technology ideas in their classroom is to show the students first.  They become the experts and are easily able to integrate this independently into their own classroom. Our school invested in MakerSpace/STEM supplies my first year as a teacher librarian.  This could be intimidating to just dive into and incorporate these tools into a lesson as a classroom teacher with everything else going on. I tried to ease that process. For example, I would show the students how to use the Ozobots and connect the lesson to something they were learning in class.  We would draw a route for the Ozobot to show the major events of the story. The teachers and I could then brainstorm ideas together, but the students would really be able to hit the ground running in their classroom. Give the students the Ozobots, some markers, paper, and they are set! The burden of learning all these new tools is no longer on the classroom teacher.  

Our Carvey Machine bringing the designs the 6th graders made to life
The Carvey Machine bringing the designs of 6th graders to life

You share a lot of EdTech resources on your Twitter page. How do you find the resources you share? Do you have any favorites that you follow for ideas?

I collaborate with colleagues within my district, neighboring districts, and the surrounding public libraries.  I also look on Twitter and attend local conferences. I am so lucky to have such great resources around Downers Grove.  One summer I really nerded out and spent a bunch of time exploring Twitter, meeting with a technology specialist (Lissa Blake), and the Kids Department at the public library.   Lissa and I spent almost a whole day together just geeking out over ideas that we had done or had seen at conferences or from Twitter. One of my favorites is the green screen pizza box.  Lissa had seen this at the 2017 ISTE conference. The concept was so simple (green gloves, Starbucks green straws, painted pizza boxes), but it also seemed like the most amazing idea! It’s a game changer.

People I follow: @D60HolmesTech @bethkingsley13 ‏, @bhopteacher @luv2teachtech @savviteacher @KarlyMoura ‏, @JennyLehotsky @smalchow @Jordan_priestle @Andrea_Trudeau @DrKMattson @Liz_Delzell

What is your advice to teachers who are just getting started with using technology in their classrooms?

Just. Do. It. Get your hands on as much technology as you can and just go for it. Let the students explore with you and find people who will support you. If it can make a difference in your classroom and has meaning, just do it.

Is there anything else you’d like to share or include in this interview? Not to get cheesy, but I am honestly so lucky to be passionate about what I do and get to work with kids all day and then be able to help teachers out in their classrooms, too. It really is the best of all worlds.


Liz Stroud picture

Liz Stroud graduated from Illinois State University in 2008 with a major in Elementary Education.  A few years later, she earned her masters in Administration and then in Instruction Technology with a library science endorsement. Stroud has worked in the elementary schools in Downers Grove since she started teaching eleven years ago.  She lives with her husband and their rat terrier dog in Downers Grove. She’s lucky enough to spend most of her time in the summer on Delavan Lake – an awesome getaway with family and friends. Follow her on Twitter @LRCFairmount

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Kristin Oropeza

Kristin Oropeza is currently a TK-5th Grade Technology TOSA in Southern California. She holds a masters in special education and has worked in public education for over 10 years. Kristin also serves as a director on the CUE Los Angeles board and acts as their Communications Editor. Find her on Twitter @KristinOropeza.

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