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Jennifer Orr Wins ISTE Kay L. Bitter Vision Award

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Jun 25 2012 Photo, Jennifer Orr, May 3, 2012, Teachinghistory.org

Congratulations to Jennifer Orr, 1st-grade teacher at Annandale Terrace Elementary, Annandale, VA, and writer and Teacher Representative for Teachinghistory.org! On Sunday, June 24, she received the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE)'s Kay L. Bitter Vision Award for Excellence in Technology-Based PreK–2 Education. The award recognizes a PreK–2 educator whose work has had "a significant positive impact on technology use in education."

Orr, a National Board Certified Teacher, came to teaching early elementary after teaching fourth and fifth grades. Passionate about using technology in the classroom, Orr met the challenge of finding innovative ways to use digital tools with her new, younger, often preliterate students. While upper elementary students could jump into blogging, creating Wikis, and using other tools that require strong reading and writing skills, first-graders needed a different approach.

Orr met the challenge of finding innovative ways to use digital tools with her new, younger, often preliterate students.

". . . the most critical thing for me as a teacher is connections," says Orr. "Technology offers my students connections that I could never provide them. They can connect with learners around the world, with content about anything, and with experts in any field." Orr finds ways for her first-graders to make these connections using tools like VoiceThread, Wallwisher and PrimaryWall, pocket camcorders, digital cameras, an interactive whiteboard, and video creation programs. She blogs about her experiences at her blog, Elementary, My Dear, or Far From It, and here at Teachinghistory.org. You can watch her in the classroom and in DC with her students in Beyond the Chalkboard.

Orr appreciates that ISTE offers an award recognizing the challenges of bringing technology into the early elementary classroom. "Previous winners are women I immensely respect, many of whom have served as mentors to me as I transitioned to teaching primary," says Orr. "I feel so honored to join them in this."

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