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Jennifer Wagner

California, USA

What were your favorite subjects in school?

I enjoyed the arts as I was growing up.  I took many English courses, plus was on the newspaper, involved in choir, and participated in the drama productions.  I was not (and still am not) very good at math or language courses.  During my younger years, I tolerated science and history but now they are the subjects that intrigue me the most.

Did you have any teachers who made a memorable impact on your education?

I have had several teachers who have inspired me.  My second grade teacher (though alas, I can't remember her name) taught me that school could be entertaining.  She had a genuine junk box that she used as a behavior management tool (however, I did not realize that at the time).  She made learning fun and it was very, very hands on.  I was NOT the kind of student who could sit still for long periods of time, and she was able to utilize my energy with lots of manipulatives.

In college, I had a professor, Dr. Tiffin, who realized that I knew the information but froze on tests.  He allowed me to take my tests verbally and I will always thank him for that.  And Dr. Leark, Dr. McReynolds, and Dr. S. Vliet (all college professors) taught me to believe in myself and push myself beyond the comfortable limit and strive to do my best.  They were not only my teachers; they were my friends as well.

When did you decide to become a teacher yourself?

Except for a brief period in time when I wished to be Peggy Fleming and then another time when I wanted to be an OB/GYN ... I have always wanted to teach.

What was your first teaching experience like?

I began teaching in the spring of 1980 at the preschool campus we had on our college campus.  It was part of our college course to teach a semester there.  I found that I love the creativity part of teaching.  The bulletin boards, the singing, the fun stories, the silliness, and the movement.  I was not the kind of teacher to teach in the same old way.  I had to make it fun because if I was bored, then they probably were bored.  This same thought pattern has continued in all the grades I have taught.

What were your favorite activities as a child? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Hawthorne, CA.  At the time when I was growing up, the neighborhood was FILLED with children and we felt safe wherever we went.  Halloween evenings were great because we had at least 50 or more blocks where we were allowed to wander.

One of my favorite memories was the fun summer activities that were provided at Bodger Park.  I learned how to shoot archery there, how to make a wonderful banana pudding, and how to play many table games.  And Alondra Park had a walk-in pool - not the kind you dive into - but the kind you can gradually walk into (like a beach) where I spent many happy summer days.

What did you dream you would grow up to be?  Did you realize any of those early dreams?

The dreams of my youth and the reality of my adult life have not collided that much.  But I am quite content with where I am at this time in my life.

What were your least favorite or most difficult subjects?

I do not understand math nor can I learn languages easily.  I probably am my worst enemy because I tend to put up blocks when still trying to learn these subjects.

What path did you take to your present career?

I attended a Private Christian School in Southern California and also several Community Colleges throughout the year to continue my learning and enjoyment in taking classes dealing with technology.

I have taught students from Preschool through 8th grade in the traditional classroom setting and also adults online at

One of my favorite working jobs was at the Salvation Army Day Camp.  That experience has helped me a great deal to learn to deal with a variety of events, circumstances, staff, and student personalities.

I am currently employed as a Tech Support at a private Christian School in Southern California where I am truly enjoying being a support to teachers who are new to using technology but wish to learn more.  For now, it is so gratifying to see the "spark" in a teacher's eye as they get the "aha" moment of using the tools of tech.

Of the many online projects you have organized, what has been your favorite?

My most POPULAR of all projects are the O.R.E.O. projects.  They are simple to host, allow me to be creative with the same manipulative, and usually over 250 classrooms join up.

My FAVORITE two projects have been
a. D.C. Ducks: A mallard had laid her eggs in front of the Treasury Department in Washington DC and for 18 days we watched and waited for the ducklings to be born.  It was a true current event.

b. Shoeless and Bark: For two years, I organized an online project that taught students about the 200th anniversary of Lewis and Clark.  We all learned about the Corps of Discovery, Sacagawea, Seaman, and more.  I was lucky enough to be able to help the Lewis and Clark Historical Society when they created a 200th Birthday party for Pomp, Sacagawea's son.  My project, and my help, was documented in a book.  I learned a great deal about American History that I had not known before.

If you could relive your life, would you choose your present career path or would you like to try something different?

I would have liked to continue on my education so that I could teach at a university level.

What is Women of Web 2.0?

I started the Women of Web 2 website in late September of 2006.  I had attended a national conference that summer where the male voice of technology was dominant; and I felt that there was a great need for the female voice to have a place to be heard.  So, I put together a site where women (and we also invite men) can come and share ideas, frustrations, possibilities, and more.  We have a monthly newsletter, an active bulletin board, and over 220 members world wide.

What words of wisdom would you like to share with those who read this interview?

Teachers: Put yourself in your student's desk.  Pretend that you are listening to yourself.  If you are bored, then 10 to 1, they are too.  Use the curriculum as a guide and make learning FUN.

And you need to expand the walls of your classroom.  Our students' education is no longer contained within 4 walls.  Join an online project and learn to collaborate with classrooms all over the world.

Do you have any suggestions for kids who have difficulty with different subjects and may be "putting up blocks" to learning?

I think that the suggestion lies more with the teacher rather than the student to find ways for students to conquer difficult subjects.  I feel it is important for the teacher to be flexible and open to different ways of both helping learn a subject and also test or evaluate the student to see what learning has occurred.  With the tools of Web 2.0, there are a variety of ways to take the traditional way of both teaching and learning to a new level.  A student, who might not like to write, might find a voice by using blogs or wikis.  A quiet student might find their voice by pod casting and a student who is very artistic and visual might truly find skills with video casting.

I do think that the teacher needs to look at possibilities to help the child conquer difficulties...... with parental involvement as well.

Do you have a favorite quote (or a favorite person) that inspires you?

I am inspired by a great many people who impact my life on a daily basis by the way they live their lives with integrity and optimism.  I am inspired lately by the Corps of Discovery... who, at the request of Thomas Jefferson, set out to explore an unknown world (at least unknown to them).  I feel at times that that is what I am doing with technology - blazing a path for others to follow eventually - and learning a great deal along the way.

- 21 January 2007


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Last Updated:
21 January 2007

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