Therese Murray | Middle School French (Interview)


Therese Murray
Middle School French Teacher
Duchesne Academy of the Sacred Heart


So tell us a little bit about your personal teaching philosophy… if you could boil it down to just a few sentences?

  • Help students work to their fullest potential and develop respect for intellectual values in a caring environment.
  • Help students truly understand the purpose of learning a foreign language and develop a real appreciation and knowledge of the French culture.
  • Give students a feeling of confidence and success in learning a foreign language.


How long have you been teaching and how long have you been teaching in a one-to-one environment?

I am a certified teacher in France and I started teaching in 1973! I arrived in the US in 1983 and started teaching at Duchesne in 1985. I have been teaching French in the Middle School since.

I can say the 1998 to1999 school year was a milestone in my career with the introduction of the one-to-one laptop program in grade 7. I kept on moving along with technology, thanks to the support of our Director of Technology, Janet Thorson: Smart Board in 2004, tablet PCs in 2005. I was one of the teachers that started using DyKnow Monitor and DyKnow Vision with my French classes during the 2007- 2008 school year.


What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced with using computers in the classroom over the years? How did you overcome those challenges?

You will laugh if I tell you that my biggest challenge is keyboarding! I never used a typing machine before I started using a computer, and I never really developed any keyboarding skills. Do not forget, when I started teaching I was using a duplicator!

But overall in terms of classroom management with computers, I think I encountered the same type of challenges you would encounter in a traditional classroom except environment might have changed! For example a student who would write a note to a classmate during class would now try to go on email instead!

In the classroom I had to teach students how to be responsible with their tablet PCs and not to interrupt the class because of computer problems. Before we got DyKnow Monitor, I had to make sure students would stay [on the application or the website] where they were supposed to be. It was difficult also for me to make sure all of my students had accurate notes with the correct spelling this is a challenge in itself when learning a foreign language.

Once the program started, we were able to be a support system for the other teachers as they were receiving their laptops. The added benefit was the students who were in our classes with the laptop carts were actually able to help teachers and other students as well.


What has been the best part of teaching at a school that embraces this level of technology integration?

Technology has renewed my approach to teaching a foreign language. I do not feel limited in my classroom or to my textbook anymore. It has also changed the teacher-student interaction. As a teacher your place has changed in the classroom (at least for teachers my age). You are no longer the source of all authority. Students live in a media-centric world and they bring their own knowledge in the classroom. Technology is more interactive and develops cooperative learning. I think technology allows students and teachers to explore their own creativity more than in the past.


What do you love most about using DyKnow Vision in your classes?

  • The prepared notebooks which allow me to incorporate any outside material using the Screen Grab and Insert tools.
  • Transferring previously created PowerPoint presentations into a DyKnow notebook to make them more interactive.
  • Being able to use these prepared notes, and write additional notes during the session.
  • Using the Panel Retrieve or Panel Submit features for quick assessment, instant feedback, or peer editing.
  • Giving students accurate notes with correct spelling: notes are more detailed with multiple examples including the students work, and all their notes are compiled into one format.
  • Students can access their notes anytime, anywhere.


What do your students love most?

Probably the Share Control feature! I frequently give “control” to everybody at the same time and then I call on individual students to practice writing in the shared space. Remember, my students are in Middle School so the Share Control feature is fun to them… the same way the chalkboard or whiteboard was “back then.”

They also like:

  • Broadcasting
  • Peer editing
  • Group work
  • Being better organized with their notes with no fear of losing them!
  • Being able to review their notes one panel at a time.
  • And we all love the fact we are saving paper!


Do you use DyKnow Monitor? Why or why not?

Yes, I do. I use [both DyKnow products] every day and my laptop is always on projector mode. Students usually log in to DyKnow Vision as soon as they arrive to class and submit their homework through the software. When they join my DyKnow Vision session, I usually block them from all other programs [using DyKnow Monitor] and ask them to be in tablet mode.

Since I constantly switch from oral to written activities during class, I use the “attention” tool in DyKnow Monitor to ensure students’ are giving me their full participation and attention.


What do you think are the key factors/reasons Duchesne’s one-to-one program has been so successful?

The strong support on the part of our administration and our technology department is undoubtedly the key element of success in the development of our one- to-one program. Indeed as teachers at Duchesne we have always been encouraged to participate in on-site training sessions and attend technology conferences that could present any pedagogical interest to us. In addition, we should highlight the fact that we can rely on a strong technology team under the leadership of Janet Thorson who all over these years has constantly inspired us into integrating new approaches in our daily teaching.


Ok, last question: what advice would you give administrators who are apprehensive about pursuing a one-to-one program? What advice would you give teachers too?

We cannot teach students the way we used to in the past twenty years. We have to address the students’ needs and prepare them for their future. Most of our students who come to our classrooms are high-tech savvy as they are constantly exposed to new technology in their daily lives. I truly think it would be a great disservice to ignore this new reality.

Moreover young teachers have become familiar with these new approaches throughout their college years and are eager to continue on the path of innovation. It is important school administrators create a strong technology department to help the faculty to develop a one-to-one program. Of course teachers should be ready to work in teams and share ideas about integrating technology to strengthen and enrich their curricula.

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