Press Release

Technology becomes a teaching tool at Barfield

Reprinted from by Mae Yousif-Bashi /

Marco Island, FL - September 08, 2008 - As students and parents were making their way back home from a recent early release day, the staff at Tommie Barfield Elementary School was brushing up on technological skills.

Staff members were offered three different training topics to choose from: using the Mimio Board, the new Microsoft Word program and blogging.

Technology teacher Jody McCarty began the training as she led a roomful of fellow teachers through updates on an interactive whiteboard program called Mimio . All teachers have Mimio in their classrooms, allowing them to use their whiteboard in conjunction with their computer desktop.

According to McCarty, Mimio is the third wave of interactive whiteboards the school has used.

Art teacher Kathy Anderson and others like her said the board is one of the most useful teaching tools they have.

"I use it every day," she said. "... They're wonderful, it's like, how did I ever teach without one?"

Anderson starts her class with a lesson called "your daily art."

She uses a famous piece of art with which she ties in her lesson for the day. Mimio allows her to bring out certain features in the work of art, such as the horizon, which she can draw on the whiteboard right over the artwork, using Mimio 's "magic wand."

The wand takes the place of the mouse on the computer. Teachers have the option of using Mimio right on the whiteboard, projected from the ceiling or working from their computer, with the work showing up on the Mimio Board so the entire class can see the lesson.

As teachers went back to their classrooms in teams to practice using their Mimio Boards, other teachers were gathering in the Microsoft Word and blogging classes.

Class blog

Jon Mundorf, a fifth-grade teacher at Barfield, has been incorporating a class blog in his lessons for the past couple of years. Since starting the blog site - - he and his classes have drawn responses from bloggers as far away as Europe, Asia and Australia.

Since March 24, he has had 6,022 visitors on his site. Mundorf said he tries to incorporate technology into his lessons, but not just because it's such a growing trend.

"I want to use technology to support learning objectives, not just to use it," he said.

He started the blogging by first posting a homework assignment on his site and having the students check for their homework.

Then he began adding smaller items such as "you decides," a fictional situation including a moral dilemma, allowing the students to voice their opinion in an online blog.

In class the following day, the class would discuss the dilemma, but Mundorf said he was finding that not everybody was participating because it wasn't mandatory.

Extra points

Finally, he decided to award extra points to those who participate. Those who don't have a computer, he said, can come before school or stay after to use his classroom computers.

"School is too often one direction, a teacher talking to students," Mundorf said. "Blogging allows interaction. Now, there is information out there and we have to teach them how to get to it. Now, I'm not the only one with the knowledge."

Mundorf said he uses his blog in conjunction with most of his lessons, including math and music, allowing students to show off their most prized work.

"When I was in school, it drove me bonkers that I did all this work and the only people who were going to see it were my parents and my teachers," Mundorf said. "With this, (the students) can do this work and the whole world can see it."

Staff members Mabel Pena and Nancy Embree, among others, have become intrigued with Mundorf's blogging activities and are creating blogs of their own with Mundorf's help.


Although not all students favor the blog, Mundorf believes it helps the students to become engaged.

"There are three factors with teaching and learning," he said. "Can you get the information, do you know what to do with it and are you interested with what you're learning?"

Blogging, he added, allows teachers to change the way they present information, but not in a way that is too technologically advanced so that students who aren't that into it, won't be turned away from learning.

"You're differentiating for your different learners," he said.