Can you imagine walking into your 9th grade English class to find a computer and iPad on your desk instead of a few literature books next to a pencil and paper? That is exactly what Tami Ewell’s 9th grade English students see when they enter her classroom/computer lab at Copper Mountain Middle School in Herriman. Her classroom is paperless - Tami’s students learn to work in Google Docs, write and edit argumentative essays, research topics that are real world issues, and create two-voice poems with students in other schools and countries.
When I asked her how students respond working paperless, she explained that those students without personal use computers at home do have some level of hesitation, but are able to quickly overcome it with each assignment. For each project there is included a quick time video with her explaining the project and showing them exactly how to incorporate or navigate the technology portion of the assignment. They are able to watch this video as many times as desired to get the details on how to complete the assignment digitally.
You may wonder – how does an English teacher use technology to teach something like Romeo and Juliet? These 9th grade students picked characters from Romeo and Juliet and made mock Facebook profiles for them. Students used Google draw to create profile pictures, they used quotes from the novel to update the profile in areas such as: work/education, places you’ve lived, family and relationships, details about the character, and life events. Then, they would update the profile with a status and instead of including a date/time, the act/scene would be used.
Tami has always been an innovator and is constantly thinking of and exploring new ways to teach language arts and collaborative communication skills with technology. She has been teaching English for 10 years, as well serving as the Student Body Officer Advisor for the last five years. And, if those two positions don’t keep her busy enough, she is also the Language Arts Dept. Chair.
She has been preparing to start the 1st Google Club in Utah (Arizona is the next closest in proximity), and teach coding to students using Scratch which will allow them to create apps and digital stories.
Tami does not just hold her students to high standards with learning and innovation; she is ESL (English as a Second Language) certified, received her reading endorsement from BYU, and recently just received her Administrative Certificate from Utah State University. She also participates in SHIFT, a film making group that offers teacher programs to introduce documentary filmmaking to her students.
Tami Ewell was born and raised in Taylorsville, Utah. She attended Vista Elementary, Eisenhower Jr. High, and graduated from Taylorsville High School in 1998. She had career aspirations to be a fashion designer and it was her Taylorsville High School teacher, Mrs. Snow, who encouraged her to apply for English scholarships.
No matter what the career choice that students may choose, all of the choices would benefit from this type of English education. Teaching with technology requires additional work, but in the end benefits every student in her classroom. We are excited to see a Taylorsville resident make such a difference in the lives of future leaders with her creativity and passion.
If you would like to nominate someone for the Citizen Spotlight – please contact Tiffany Janzen at 801-963-5400 ext. 3010 or email@example.com