Name: Mary Beth Hertz (Website, @mbteach)
Organization: Edcamp Foundation, Alliance for Progress Charter School
Current title: Technology teacher, Board member of the Edcamp Foundation
Selected accolade: ISTE Emerging Leader in 2010
What is the best part of your job?
The creativity of my students.
What skill(s) do you feel are most important for today’s students to explore in academic settings (tech or non-tech related)?
It is important for young people to be able to read critically. In an age of information overload, it is imperative that future generations can weed out the ‘crap’ and form their own opinions.
For a teacher looking to use technology to connect with students, enhance learning or embrace 21st century skills, where do you suggest one begin?
My suggestion is to start small. Pick one tool or website to use each year and think carefully about the purpose that tool or site serves. Just because everyone else is using it doesn’t mean that you have to if it doesn’t fit what you are already doing in the classroom. In a nutshell, look at your learning goals for a unit and choose a technology that will enhance or better yet, transform how your students reach those goals.
What are you most excited about for the upcoming school year?
I have just rewritten my curriculum for this school year and focused it around four themes: Communicate, Create, Collaborate and Evaluate. Throughout the year, my students will be asking questions such as “How does technology help me communicate?” “How should I evaluate my work and the work of others when using technology?” With the help of my friend, Kristen Swanson, I have build units on those themes in various areas (Programming, Digital Storytelling, Research, Digital Citizenship…) and followed the Understanding by Design concept of Enduring Understandings and Essential Questions.
What was your path to your current position?
I graduated with a BA in French and African American Studies. I moved to Philly and wanted to become a teacher, so I applied to the school district’s Literacy Intern program and was accepted. I worked for a year and a half co-teaching with classroom teachers and getting my teaching certificate through night classes. My first assignment as a certified teacher was as a K-6 Science teacher, which I did for two years before being asked to take on the job of Computer Teacher when our school received 40 new iMac computers. The rest is history.