"My first memory of being fascinated with computers came in 1969, at an Alumni Day tour at the University of Southern California," teacher Jennifer Wagner told Education World. "I spent more than three hours in the computer lab, just watching the computer play tic-tac-toe. I was nine years old and I was hooked."
Wagner, who grew up in Southern California, received her degree in early childhood education from Pacific Christian College. "I never thought of being anything but a teacher," Wagner said. "I've always enjoyed working with children, and I've always enjoyed sharing the things I love with others. The two just seem to go together naturally."
Wagner taught preschool for a number of years, then, in 1992, she taught seventh grade in Hawaii. "It was there," Wagner recalled, "that I first had a computer in my classroom. A couple of years later, a friend who was an administrator at a private school needed a computer teacher. I've always been comfortable around computers and had helped her with her first Mac, so she thought of me, and I jumped at the chance. It was a small lab -- four PCs and four Macs -- but I had a blast!
"People are always asking me if I went to school to learn about computers," Wagner noted. "In fact, although I'm currently taking classes toward a media specialist degree, most of what I know is self-taught. And most of it I learned in my job as computer coordinator at Crossroads Christian School in Corona, California. I don't know how to explain it, but computers just make sense to me. I just seem to be able to figure them out."
In addition, Wagner has created several PowerPoint presentations about computers and computer history. Her personal favorite, Computer Parts, contains videos that show how each computer part works. Another, Computer History, leads students through centuries of technological development -- from the abacus to fifth-generation computers of the future.
"Technology offers students possibilities," Wagner told Education World. "It offers a wealth of information 24 hours a day, and it offers a variety of ways for students to express themselves. It's my belief that technology bridges all sorts of gaps in learning skills and learning styles, allowing students to dream, to achieve those dreams, and then to dream beyond what they originally thought was possible."
"Technology," Wagner continued, "offers teachers the world! With the Internet, they can take their students on virtual field trips to places they could never actually visit. With digital cameras, they can capture a moment in time and save it forever. With video equipment they can record reactions, experiments, experiences, and more. With computers, they can offer learning opportunities to each student -- no matter how that student learns best. But, most important, technology offers teachers the opportunity to always learn more! With technology, it's almost impossible to become stagnant!"
Wagner, who has also tutored in AOL's Academic Assistance Center, will be leading two seminars -- Kid Pix in the Classroom and Teachers and the Internet -- at the upcoming Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) convention in Anaheim, California.
For other teachers who would like to create multimedia programs, presentations, or games but are not sure how to begin, Wagner offers these suggestions:
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