Shannon Miller giving presentation at UNIGiving students voice

An alumna's lessons in technology

For Shannon McClintock Miller, technology is all about relationship.

As a teacher librarian, she used new technology to help students explore their passions and connect with experts and others with similar interests.   Now a full-time educational consultant, Miller shared her experiences with University of Northern Iowa students and faculty in April.

Miller was the K-12 teacher librarian in Van Meter, Iowa, for eight years. In speaking with UNI education students, she recounted stories of how technology helped Van Meter students blossom.  She told of a kindergartner who started engaging at school after a Skype consultation and a high school student with autism who connected with others in new ways after a 3-D printer showed up in the library.  Miller did not know how to run a 3-D printer, but the student--who had previously communicated at school only through singing--started speaking and taught his peers, as well as the YouTube world, how to use the 3-D printer.   “It is all about giving kids a voice,” Miller said.

Twitter and Skype were key tools during her time at Van Meter.  She encouraged pre-service teachers, “If you need to teach something you don’t know, reach out [on Twitter] and ask someone to teach your kids.”  Her classes Skyped with many experts including diamond mine workers,  the creator of Halo, EasyBib librarians, and a New Hampshire class that taught them how to use GeoGuessr.  

At the request of the Curriculum and Instruction faculty, her faculty presentation was focused on ideas for enhancing their teaching with digital tools that pre-service teachers can use in their future classrooms.  She shared tools that are free for teachers and students to use for connecting, creating and collaborating, including Storybird, Buncee, Storyboard That, Canva, Padlet, and Symbaloo.

As a simple tool to start with, Miller recommended the e-book publisher Flipsnacks.  Before Skyping with Jean Marzollo, the author of the I Spy books, her students used Google Slides and Flipsnacks to create an I Spy e-book.  I Spy Van Meter was the first of many digital projects Miller added to the library’s collection.  “The kids started taking ownership of our collection so much, because all of their projects then were cataloged in our library system,” Miller explained.

Miller also met with faculty to discuss new ways to integrate technology into their educator preparation courses.  After meeting with Miller and other literacy faculty, Dr. Deb Tidwell walked away with several ideas for applying new technology tools to her assessment course.  "I'm getting jazzed for fall," she said.

Miller earned a master’s degree in school library studies from UNI in 2010.  She is the author of The Library Voice blog and has been recognized with a 2016 ISTE Making IT Happen award and a 2014 Library Journal Mover and Shaker award.  She was a finalist for Best Individual Tweeter (Edublog) and listed as one of the 100+ Influential Learning Professionals to Follow by Edudemic. 

Miller’s visit was part of the Curriculum and Instruction Transformative Learning Initiative and was funded through the UNI Foundation’s Pallischeck endowment and the UNI Faculty Senate.


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