Using Her Ed Tech Enthusiasm to Support Creativity
Ask Selena Ward about her ed tech philosophy and she will break it down to three words:
integration, literacy, and creativity.
Seven years ago, when she started
as a reading/language arts teacher at
Benjamin Tasker Middle School in
Bowie, Maryland, USA, there was
no computer lab and just a couple
of failing mobile labs for student use.
Thanks in part to her ed tech enthusiasm, the school now has four computer labs, more teachers are using
electronic whiteboards and capturing
assessment data, and students are
learning from the school’s i Touch
lab in new ways.
“Too many times educators get credit
for adding technology to their lessons,
despite how it is done,” says Ward,
who also serves as a tech integration
instructor. “I am still waiting for a time
when technology is another tool in
the toolbox that is integrated to meet a
need—better yet, a time when students
are allowed to choose their own tool or
app to complete the project.”
For Ward, creativity stands out as
the greatest loss in an age of testing.
And it is something educators should
be encouraging most in students,
because almost every occupation
requires creativity. Her class has a
creativity area that’s stocked with
materials and large tables at different
heights, so that students can work on
a variety of projects.
“At times it looks like a complete di-
saster, but the end productions leave the
students with a sense of pride,” she says.
Last year, Ward integrated gamifica-
tion into her teaching after reading up
on the topic with the Level Up
Book Club ( levelupbc.blogspot.com).
Gamification is the concept of
applying game-design thinking to
nongame activities to make them
more fun and engaging.
a new technology, she analyzes the
impact on all.”
As chair of the Maryland Society for
Educational Technology, Ward plans
events that help teachers in her state
connect and share knowledge. Her
enthusiasm has spilled over to ISTE,
where she has presented, served on
panels, and volunteered in lounges at
ISTE’s Annual Conference and Exposi-
tion. She also was honored as one of
ISTE’s Emerging Leaders in 2012.
Ward says her ISTE membership is
a source of inspiration that keeps her
ed tech energy flowing.
“My experience is probably not
unique. I wanted to continue to learn
but had a hard time finding opportunities beyond beginner-level classes,” she
says. “I love ISTE because it connects me
to new ideas, resources, and people.”