Teaching is more than just reading a lesson out of a book for Ann Knipe. She makes her lessons interactive and fun, utilizing chants, motions and iPads.
When Jersey Shore Elementary School teacher Knipe began teaching 12 years ago in Charles County, Md., she thought she would be teaching fourth graders, right up until two weeks before she began when they told her she would be teaching first graders.
"I said, 'OK, let's try this,' " Knipe said. "(Now) I never want to teach anything else. I tell everyone I really enjoy the age level, seeing the growth. When they start with me, they're very needy. As the year goes on, they become more independent, which I love."
Shown is Jersey Shore Elementary School teacher, Ann Knipe, working with her students.
Knipe started in the Jersey Shore School District in 2004 at Nippenose Valley Elementary School. This is her second year teaching at Jersey Shore Elementary School, where she teaches 16 students.
Since she began teaching, what has changed the most is technology. She began teaching on chalkboards and whiteboards. Now she works every day with smart boards, which are interactive whiteboards.
At the end of March, the students received iPads to further their educational learning experience, thanks to a grant from the First Community Foundation.
"I enjoy using technology to teach and reach kids," Knipe said. "Mainly (the iPad) is a learning tool."
She does not just give the students their iPads so they can play games all day though. Even though they only have had them for a short time, the students already are learning how to make movies and books with them.
"We're making ebooks around sight words," Knipe said.
She uses a program on the iPad so she can make sure all of the students are on the same slide, can see what they are doing at all times and can even give quizzes that the students can take at that moment.
"It's really interactive," Knipe said. "We're learning (the iPad) together."
One of her students who previously enjoyed writing now has started making books from what she has written. She enjoys doing it so much that it was what she wanted to do even during recess.
In November, Knipe took a class called iPads in Education, which gave her a good starting point on how to successfully use technology in classroom.
Yet not all of her teaching success comes from technology. Knipe uses what is called the whole brain teaching method.
To combat students' difficulty with lessons, Knipe uses chants and motions to help the students remember. She found it is especially helpful in grammar where she will come up with a chant and a motion for a particular rule, teach it to the class and then the students teach it to each other to really make sure they remember it.
"I find that it works really well because it helps reach all the kids in all the ways they learn," Knipe said. "Some moving, some hearing and some associating motion."
It also helps because six- and seven-year-olds are not known for sitting still very long. It gives them a chance to get them moving around the room.
Knipe said singing helped her learn best when she was in school. A Jersey Shore Area High School graduate, she received her bachelor's degree in elementary education from Lock Haven University.
She has noticed that her students will mouth the chants or act out the motions while taking tests, which helps them remember.
Knipe loves teaching all subjects, but she has a particular fondness for writing.
"I enjoy seeing what they come up with and what's in their little minds, what their view on the world is," she said.
While Knipe enjoys teaching first grade, that was not what she wanted to do in college. When she started, she went for journalism, yet she kept finding herself helping her elementary education friends with their homework.
"I love kids and I love being around kids," she said. "I've been an aunt since I was 10 years old. I really enjoy being with them and working with them, seeing them grow."
Her mother never had a chance to go to college, but if she did, Knipe said she wanted to be a teacher.
"She always wanted to do that and she kind of saw that in me that I could do it," she said. "Once I was in it, I knew I was exactly where I want to be."