Dunton receives ACTEM’s top educator honor

By Stuart Hedstrom 
Staff Writer

    DOVER-FOXCROFT — Earlier in the month SeDoMoCha Elementary School grade 3 teacher Jessica Dunton was honored by the Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine (ACTEM) as the organization’s 2014 Maine Technology Educator of the Year.

ne-dunton-dcX-po-43Contributed photo

    TECHNOLOGY EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR — SeDoMoCha Elementary grade 3 teacher Jessica Dunton, center, was selected as the Maine Technology Educator of the Year by the Association of Computer Technology Educators of Maine (ACTEM). Pictured with Dunton at the award presentation on Oct. 9 at the Augusta Civic Center are, from left, SeDoMoCha Principal Julie Kimball, RSU 68 Technology Director David Bridges who nominated Dunton for the honor, former district superintendent Alan Smith and RSU 68 Superintendent Robert Lucy.

    Dunton, who was presented with the award Oct. 9 at the Augusta Civic Center, was recognized for using technology in her classroom and making numerous resources available to students. Dunton’s efforts are not limited just to the pupils but to parents as well, such as with dozens of classroom lessons posted on her YouTube channel, and her fellow educators who Dunton teaches about technology possibilities available for their own classrooms.
    The Maine Technology Educator of the Year honor was presented as part of the multiple day, annual ACTEM conference, which enabled teachers and administrators from across the state to meet and share resources. “I always learn a lot and I get to connect with other educators,” she said. “It’s just nice to see everybody every year.”
    “I did two presentations,” Dunton said. “One on flipping the classroom and (technology teacher) Sean Malone and I did a presentation on SpellingCity.”
    In Augusta Dunton was able to share some of the technology tools she uses in her grade 3 classroom as well as for the parents and her fellow faculty members. In her award acceptance speech, Dunton said the tools now exist to educate all kids the way they deserve to be educated, and this is why she created the TransParentSEE Project.
    “It helps teachers meet more students’ needs than ever before,” Dunton said. The TransParentSEE Project is based on a book Dunton wrote and the resource, which she works on outside of her job at SeDoMoCha, can provide tools to assist in the learning process.
    “Right now I am just trying to get people to try it,” Dunton said, with a free trial available at “There’s a lot of resources here,” she said in giving a brief preview of the site.
    Now in her fourth year with her own classroom at SeDoMoCha Elementary, after a year teaching grade 6 social studies on the other side of the building, Dunton said she often had students with abilities ranging from grade 2-4 levels and “one neatly packaged lesson to the masses was hardly going to cover it.” She knew teaching this range of skills could be done with the assistance of technology.
    Dunton began to explore what technology tools were available to her students and then to let the pupils decide what was worth using. Google-based programs and learning websites with games proved to be popular with the children, but Dunton said she could not stop there.
    Trying to broaden her students’ view of the world, while also continuing to cover all of the necessary third-grade lessons, she had spent years learning about video conferencing technology. Incorporating this tool into the classroom, Dunton brought the youngsters up as leaders as they learned to operate the equipment themselves, making connections across the U.S. and to other countries.
    “That was all great, and the kids were having a blast, but I still wasn’t satisfied,” Dunton said. She said she wanted to be sure the students were being provided with adequate instruction to proficiently meet every learning standard. “The only way I could really do that was to know beyond the shadow of a doubt that my kids could access every single lesson or piece of material they would need to, when they needed to. I knew they couldn’t change the kids, so I had to change my mode of instruction.”
    Dunton said throughout her teaching career she has used a document camera in the classroom, and soon she began posting her recorded lessons on YouTube and today linked through her page at Former RSU 68 Superintendent Alan Smith asked if she could post a help video for parents on these math concepts. “I tried it, and it was a huge hit,” she said as today lessons on all the third-grade math topics are posted online. “It seemed almost like a no-brainer.
    “Then I knew I had found the answer. It wasn’t hard. And anybody can do it, even with limited resources.” Dunton said technology empowers teachers and students to have the best of both worlds, to explore with a voracious curiosity while at the same time meeting all the standards.
    “It’s really about teaching teachers to use technology,” Dunton said. She said the TransParentSEE Project covers topics such as Google basics and Google sites. “They are broken into 10 weeks, there are goals and a little tutorial. I try to keep it so we are covering basic things.” Dunton said other project courses are designed for administrators as all those in the field of education can incorporate technology in the student learning process.

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