Barrington teachers collaborate to write professional development book
Prairie Middle School teachers Meg Gaier (left) and Jamie Diamond are finishing a professional development book about the use of technology in the classroom. | Michelle LaVigne ~ Sun-Times Media
Updated: February 4, 2013 6:11AM
BARRINGTON — Prairie Middle School teachers Meg Gaier and Jamie Diamond are committed to integrating technology into the classroom.
Although Gaier and Diamond teach different subjects, they recently collaborated to write a professional development book on the topic because technology overlaps all educational disciplines.
“Our book, specifically, is integrating technology into all areas,” said Gaier, who teaches eighth-grade algebra. “Technology is constantly changing, and students need to adapt to that.”
Despite the fact Gaier was on the math steering committee while Diamond focused on literature, the educators agreed that similar technology could enrich their individual curricula.
“Since we were teaching across the hall from each other, we started sharing resources,” said Diamond, who teaches eighth-grade English.
The book, which is slated to be published as early as April, focuses on technological tools like podcasts, blogs and digital stories, which are podcasts with visual narratives created by the students. Diamond said blogs could be particularly engaging for students because a blog typically targets a very specific audience, so it’s more than just a teacher grading a paper or assignment.
“Technology is a great motivator,” said Diamond.
Explaining the ways in which technology is changing education, Gaier said there is now less emphasis placed on rote memorization and more on what a student does with information.
“We want to teach our students how to use it advantageously,” Gaier said.
When asked what sets their work apart from other professional development books, Diamond and Gaier pointed to their detailed literacy lessons and narratives on how the material is presented in the classroom.
“I’ve had my students write math stories using positive and negative numbers,” Gaier said. “We feel it’s so much more practical to see concrete examples.”
The teachers earned the book deal after they gave a presentation on their collaboration at the Illinois Reading Council Conference in March of 2011.
“It’s more than a tech presentation,” Diamond said. “It’s about how to use technology in a meaningful way.”
After the presentation, a representative approached Gaier and Diamond from Scholastic, expressing interest in publishing the work.
Diamond said they then went about sketching out the book’s contents. Last December, Diamond and Gaier got the go-ahead from Scholastic.
Since than, they have presented at conferences nationwide. Diamond said it’s rewarding to show teachers in other states and districts how to advance their teaching practices using technology.
“So other teachers are trying what we’re doing in our classroom,” she said.
Diamond, who lives in Marango, added that she and Gaier, a Chicago resident, wrote much of the book using shared Google documents to compensate for their physical distance.
“We used technology to make our book as well,” Diamond said. “I don’t think we thought this was possible when we started.”