Doctoral Student is Outstanding Tech Teacher of the Year

USF's Diana Neebe '17 shows how she uses technology to improve student learning.

By Ed Carpenter, Office of Marketing Communications Posted Fri, 06/12/2015 - 17:00

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has named USF doctoral student and high school English teacher Diana Neebe ’17 its outstanding young educator of the year, for her innovative classroom use of iPads and other technology.

Neebe uses technology to create shared lessons, inviting students to add meaning to texts in the form of art, video, and written analysis. The approach draws on a variety of learning styles and allows students to explore assignments in ways that most engage them, meaning they’re more likely to remember, Neebe said.

Meeting students where they are

To support her students' reading of The Scarlet Letter, for example, Neebe created a multimedia iBook that allowed students to watch imbedded video footnotes about deeper textual meanings, and use iBook’s interactive features to define challenging vocabulary, annotate the text, and respond to questions. To further enrich the novel, students contributed their own illustrations and artwork to the digital text shared with the class.

Neebe uses a flipped classroom approach, having students tackle the hardest writing essays at school (rather than as homework), where she’s available to answer questions and offer immediate feedback. When students do write at home, she holds virtual office hours, editing their writing in real time using Google Docs and offering suggestions via chat.

"USF’s Learning and Instruction program has been incredible. I didn’t want to leave the classroom to earn my EdD, and the program’s flexibility for working professionals is just what I needed," said Neebe, who, in addition to being an English teacher and instructional-technology coach at Sacred Heart Preparatory in Atherton, is co-writing a book about teaching with one-to-one technology.

Transforming learning

"Diana is inspirational because of her great eye and talent for applying new ideas and research to classroom learning. When I heard about her award, my response was 'Of, course!'" said Prof. Mathew Mitchell, co-director of USF’s Center for Teaching Excellence and a professor of learning and instruction at the School of Education. "It’s obvious, she’s got a rare gift."

Mitchell recruited Neebe and doctoral students Colette Roche '16, who leads teacher development as assistant principal of Bishop O’Dowd in San Francisco; and Melisa Kaye '18, an occupational therapist who uses iPads for fine and perceptual motor skills work at San Jose State University and Dominican University, to help him develop a new online Digital Technologies for Teaching and Learning program set to launch at USF this fall.

Taking a leap of faith

The 10-course online master's program builds educators' knowledge of active learning techniques using technology. Topics include how to turn existing curriculum into technology-enhanced lessons, how to design online and hybrid classes, and how to be a peer technology coach.

"Having the chance to develop an online graduate-level program from scratch has been amazing. It has been an invaluable experience, and I am thrilled that USF took the leap of faith to let us create and innovate. It’s pretty rare for a university to do that," Neebe said.

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