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Discovery workshops offer Hampton educator high-tech collaboration

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By Daveen Rae Kurutz
Thursday, Aug. 5, 2010
 

Erin Prosser knows the way to a child's mind is through a computer. A librarian and media specialist in the Hampton School District, Prosser uses technology to make topics relevant to elementary school students.

"My students come to school with the knowledge of computers in their daily life," said Prosser, 35, of Plum. "It's my job to help them use technology to succeed in life."

Prosser has traveled across the country each of the past three years to take part in the Discovery Education Network Summer Institute. Hosted by Discovery Education -- the group behind the Discovery Channel and Animal Planet -- the six-day program shows teachers different techniques and resources they can use in their classrooms.

This year, four Western Pennsylvania teachers were among nearly 80 from across the country to attend the workshop in Silver Spring, Md. Joining Prosser were Linda Michael, an elementary technology coach in the Connellsville Area School District; Jan Abernethy, a fifth-grade teacher in the Greenville Area School District; and Traci Blazosky, a first-grade teacher in the Clarion Area School District.

"It's rewarding just getting to network with other educators from across the country," said Michael, of Connellsville. "I'm hoping to collaborate with other teachers, including one I met from Canada. Hopefully, we can work on some projects together."

In addition to the networking opportunity, teachers participated in workshops. One, for instance, taught teachers how to combine music and images to have students make music videos. Other workshops focused on visual storytelling, which lets students use flip cameras -- an inexpensive video camera -- to create movies to tell their stories.

"Anything involving technology, these kids just eat up," Prosser said. "It's great for them to use technology to be creative and use their critical thinking skills."

Michael said she'll continue to use the writing prompts, quizzes and other technological tools she learns at the workshops in her third, fourth and fifth-grade classes.

"Kids learn so well with digital media," Michael said. "When I went to school, we didn't have computers like they do. Now as teachers, we need to keep up with those skills and make learning fun."

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