When technology teacher Paula Fleury began integrating ABCmouse.com into her work with the youngest grade levels at Northeast Elementary in Arma she wasn't planning on the endeavor receiving a lot of attention.
The program just seemed like a natural fit with her goals as she taught pre-kindergarten through first-grade students about how to use a computer and control a mouse.
This week, Fleury, kindergarten teacher Alicia Nunn and their students, became one of a select group from schools across the country that will appear in future advertisements about the Web site and its use in classrooms.
"My son, Andre, is three and loves PBS," Fleury said, adding that she saw commercials for ABCmouse.com while watching with her son.
"I checked it out and found it was a wonderful program for my three-year-old," she said, adding that she also began integrating it into her classroom, because it is free for educators.
About a month ago, she filled out a questionnaire describing her use in the classroom, then got a call from the company expressing interest in coming to Arma to film for a commercial.
"They said, 'I really like your story and how you're bringing it into the technology lab,'" Fleury said. "He said, 'I really like what you have to say.'"
Tuesday, a camera crew showed up and talked with Fleury and Nunn, and they recorded student sessions in the technology lab yesterday.
Fleury said the site has helped her cover a lot of educational ground, including creative aspects such as art and music, while teaching students to navigate the site.
"I have noticed that the students navigate very well through the Web site," Fleury said, adding that the children attend the lab every day and the site provides learning activities for which the students earn "tickets" that can be "spent" on virtual pets.
At the end of the week, students can play with their "pets" and learn additional responsibility and money management through those tasks.
Page 2 of 3 - Classroom teachers also have been enthused about the program.
"The kindergarten teachers thought it was fantastic," Fleury said. "My goal is, as a technology teacher, not only to teach those 21st Century Skills, but also to work with the teachers."
Nunn said the activities have tied together well.
"I use ABCmouse.com in my classroom for center use," she said, adding that it has been wildly successful.
"This is my first year to use it, and I can't imagine not using it," Nunn said. "It's really helpful and easy to use, and it's really parent-friendly."
She said the opportunity for the school to share how it is being used provided even more excitement.
"It's pretty exciting," she said. "Our kids have been really excited to have them come in."
For the teachers, being selected to be filmed was a surprise, but Taron Lexton, one of the producers from ABCmouse.com who visited Northeast, said the answers in the questionnaire just stood out.
"We sent out questionnaires to all the users and wait to see who responds," he said. "We find the best ones and go out and talk to them."
With hundreds or thousands nor surveys to choose from, he said the decision of who to follow up with isn't as much science as it is instinct.
"There's just a lot about it," he said. "Sometimes it just strikes you."
In this case, Lexton said it was the enthusiasm and the results with the students.
All told, about 12-15 schools will be filmed nation-wide.
Principal Dale May gave all the credit for the recognition to Fleury and Nunn.
"Our teachers honestly do a good job of being proactive individually," he said, adding that during a season of budget cuts and raised expectations the teachers' passion for education produces positive results.
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"I give great kudos to my staff for their willingness and eagerness to do what needs done," he said. "Certainly they go above and beyond what is asked of them."
He said the integration of ABCmouse.com into the classroom was through Fleury's efforts.
"That falls right back on Mrs. Fleury and her diligence to do whatever it takes," May said.