Tapped In Member Perspectives: Meet Jewel Reuter

Jewel Reuter is currently a teacher of Biology and Environmental Science at the Louisiana Virtual School and is a professional development consultant for the Archdioceses of New Orleans. Jewel is also pursuing a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction at LSU. Her studies focus on the use of animations with past, present and future visual fields in the study of photosynthesis and respiration.

Jewel's Perspective

I began in TAPPED IN when I was learning to mentor biology teachers on how to integrate the Internet into their biology lessons. I met with other educators for a semester on TAPPED IN to devise effective methods of mentoring the newcomers to the Internet. We shared our success and failures and made plans for better ways of mentoring. I fell in love with TAPPED IN. I learned about the philosophy of the TAPPED IN community. I learned how to evoke emotion and to give my sessions the feeling that we were all in the presence of each other. I learned to CHEER and to CLAP for the success of others. I learned how to hold up COW and PIG signs to direct the session.

As I learned more about TAPPED IN, I got an office and a recorder to have my students meet me for study sessions. A few of my students would meet me and we would discuss biology concepts such as fungus reproduction, immunity, photosynthesis and respiration. I would e-mail the transcript to all the students, and I made copies of it for the next day's class. The students really liked reading and studying the transcripts. They liked the dialogue and that they knew the characters of the session. The sessions were about complex and abstract biology concepts in the format of an online conversation. We continued to meet weekly in my office and the sessions and the transcripts were a big hit with all the students. They welcomed the transcripts as notes in the dialogue form. My students began to do better on quizzes and tests. I began to notice the nature of the discussions that we were having in the sessions. The students that attended the session had questions for me and I had questions for them. We did not always get directly to the answer. We had to ask multiple questions and we progressed to the answer. As I read the transcripts I could see that I was showing them how to do inquiry thinking. They could see the steps I took to answer the question and I revealed my thought process. Since we were typing, the pace slowed down enough that they had more "wait time" before we answered questions. Oral discussions in class did not reveal the methods of inquiry and the TAPPED IN Sessions helped many become better inquiry thinkers. I found their free response answers increased in quality very much and that their inquiry skills improved.

I also began to use TAPPED IN with my professional development classes. I teach the teachers how to use TAPPED IN during the workshop and we practice together before they are faced with the Tapestry interface alone. I would have office hours and we would meet to discuss workshop lessons implementation. The most significant series of professional development TAPPED IN Sessions that I hosted was during the 2001-2002 school year. I worked with Dr. Donald Cronkite of Hope College in Holland, Michigan on a two week National Science Foundation Workshop that brought teachers from across the country to Hope College for a Water Quality Inquiry Institute. We worked with the teachers for 2 weeks on water quality and inquiry teaching methods and we learned TAPPED IN during the institute. We decided that we would meet every Wednesday the first semester and once a month the second semester. I would e-mail the agenda before the meeting and the transcript after the meeting. We discussed the progress of the inquiry activities that were developed at the institute. We extended the institute an entire school year as a result of TAPPED IN. During the second semester each inquiry group hosted one of the TAPPED IN meetings and we discussed the specific inquiry project in detail. TAPPED IN helped to make the workshop a great success by providing a meeting place to support the implementation of the workshop methods.

Over the last five years I have trained about 400 teachers in how to use TAPPED IN.

Presently, I am teaching professional development courses for the teachers of the LA Virtual School via Blackboard infrastructure. We have teachers from across the state Blackboard has a Virtual Chat feature that allows many of the TAPPED IN features. We use that feature some, but we meet in my office at TAPPED IN. It becomes very obvious the community aspects that exist at TAPPED IN that are missing in Blackboard Virtual Chat. We realize the importance of the community and the opportunities that exit at TAPPED IN. It becomes very obvious that TAPPED IN is so much more that a "chat site".

I am proud to be a member of TAPPED IN and appreciate getting to know so many wonderful educators.