NCCE Member Highlights: Mary Elizabeth Pearson
Our members are weaving the threads of education every day with people of all ages across the country. They are involved in improving lives and the overall well-being of our communities. With over 4000 members strong, NCCE would like to introduce you to a few peers. Every month we will take a snapshot of active NCCE members and find out what they are doing to make a difference in technology education.
In it Together: NCCE Members Making a Difference
Learn more about the leadership and members who contribute to Northwest Council for Computer Education (NCCE).
Mary Elizabeth Pearson
Instructional Technology Facilitator
Anacortes School District
NCCE MEMBER SINCE: 2009
Share with us – what is one new initiative you are working on in your district?
The Anacortes School District is in the process of implementing a 1:1 program for students and teachers. In the Fall, we rolled out laptops on carts to 3rd graders and then followed that up in the Winter with a 2:1 roll out in K-2. I have been creating professional development opportunities for teachers that will enhance their instruction through technology, as well as supporting them in the classroom. One of the opportunities that I have introduced is a SOLE (Self Organized Learning Environment.) Teachers ask big questions and then, aided with access to the Internet and any other learning tool available, students organize themselves into groups and research the question. After a specified amount of time, they present their findings to each other. The power of the SOLE is that it flips the “I do, we do, you do” teaching style on its head. We have done this with 1st grade, 2nd grade, 3rd grade and 6th grade so far. I am in awe of watching 4 students around 1 computer learn on their own. We say we provide students with many collaborative opportunities, but I have found that what we really do is teach them how to divide up the job and work individually toward a common goal. While this is not a bad skill to have, usually only the student that does the research is the one who really does the learning. In contrast, the SOLE requires students to all be engaged in the research and learn by talking about what they find. The SOLE is an on-going process where we teach students to learn how to answer questions that they cannot simply type into a search engine. It is a process that will help our students be workforce ready. My favorite part of the SOLE is the debrief at the end. Sometimes students realize they didn’t actually answer the question and they talk about how to do the work differently next time.
What is one strategy you use to have a more productive workday?
In my district, I am the only instructional technology support specialist. When I recognized that I would be supporting 32 teachers on my own, I had to figure out how to divide and conquer. I knew that being at a school for one day didn’t allow for project based work with teachers, so I divided my week by schools and focused on one school for 3 days at a time. The other 2 days are for me to work with district office staff, conduct research for teachers, and be available for meetings that support the technology initiative. This plan has allowed me to be more productive during my days instead of feeling scattered.
Name one thing your “mama always told you”?
“Actions speak louder than words” This was actually something my father always said. You can talk about it all day but if you don’t do it, those words really mean nothing. I have taken this into my work life by practicing what I preach when it comes to professional development. I am in classrooms doing the work with teachers and supporting students.
I have three children, a 10 year-old son and 7 year-old boy/girl twins. Most of my unplugged time is spent managing their schedules. When we aren’t doing that we are managing our labradoodle puppy, Zeus. We are currently working to train him to not eat the kid’s socks. We also try to spend as much time camping, in our travel trailer, around the Pacific Northwest.
Where was your last training for NCCE?
My last training for NCCE was in San Diego in March. Lisa Simmons and I trained for three days. We did a One Day Teacher academy and a 2 day MIE Train the Trainer. As a new trainer this year, this was the first time I felt truly comfortable with the material and could just speak to it rather than have to look everything up. It was a great feeling.