The MIE Spotlight welcomes Megan Lipinczyk, a 5th grade educator from Tampa, Florida. Megan uses OneNote to foster both expression, collaboration, peer-to-peer, and even peer-to-adult teaching with her students.

Hi, everyone! I’m SO excited to be a guest for the MIE Spotlight.

Let’s start with a little background about myself: Born in Tampa, I grew up outside of Chicago and played Division 1 Women’s Softball at the University of Kentucky (go Big Blue) while earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education. I am currently in my 9th year as an educator, teaching 5th grade, and will be graduating in June 2017 with a Master’s in Educational Leadership.

I have been incorporating some sort of technology within my lessons for several years but, as we all know, it’s always changing. What I did a few years ago with my students is WAY different than what I am doing now. As of last Spring, my classroom became 1-to-1 with Microsoft Surfaces. That is, every student in my class would have access to their OWN Microsoft Surface.

… What?! Is this real life? That, right there, was a total game changer. Possibilities: endless.

Fast forward to this school year. I looped with the majority of my 4th graders from last year to 5th grade this year. When this school year started, we were able to jump right into using the devices and pick up where we left off last year. The result? Pure awesomeness.

When you step into our Room 627 on any given day, you will see students using OneNote to:

  • Read text digitally and use digital ink to mark up that text, to help them better understand and comprehend what they are reading.
  • Solve problems.
  • Take pictures of handwritten work and insert the picture anywhere in their OneNote.
  • Screen clip articles found from research and insert the clippings into a specific section.
  • Take quick notes in class or during a Mystery Skype session.
  • Show what they have learned after a lesson.
  • Customize their sections and pages.
  • Fit their own individual needs.This is what it means to be an MIE Educator: giving my students opportunities to apply 21stcentury skills, DAILY, period.

So, how did I empower my students to take control of their own learning? For starters, I had to take a step back and let them take over. They could explore, fail, explore, fail, explore … and finally succeed.  One of the hardest parts, at first, was to let go and to hand over control to my students. But I HAD to create ways to make them responsible for their own learning. Giving them control allowed them to do so.

Yes, I can still set the stage for them at times. Yes, I can plant “seeds” but, ultimately, they do the work. And guess what? They LEARN. They become ENGAGED in learning because I am creating experiences for them. In turn, THEY are creating their own experiences, in control of their own learning.

From there, my students started to teach each other easier ways to do things and share their discoveries, especially within their OneNote Class Notebook. (Insert happy teacher dance here). Witnessing my students teach each other tips and tricks within OneNote, unprompted, was amazing.

The first technique they wanted to create and share with other students was how to screen clip. They thought it was the coolest thing to take anything on their screen, clip it, and insert it into their OneNote.

I am BEYOND proud of my students and feel extremely privileged to teach such a special group. Not only do they genuinely care about each other, but they also have a true love of learning. They have a hunger for everything and anything involving technology – where their learning is enhanced, not replaced. It is my responsibility to continue fueling their love of learning and I would not have it any other way.

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