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LT Student Spotlight: Marni Ginther

Learning Technologies (LT) is pleased to spotlight Marni Ginther, teacher candidate in the Second Languages and Cultures program in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Marni stood out this past summer when she was a student in the Technology for Teaching and Learning course offered by LT for initial licensure candidates within the college. Her teaching and work within the course is grounded in her passion for language learning and purposeful technology integration. She is respected by her peers and instructors for her willingness to take calculated risks.

Marni has a deep understanding of teaching and learning and the interplay between content, pedagogy and technology as she begins her journey in teaching language. For instance, the integrated lesson plan she created in class invites students to create a video postcard using iMovie. This activity has students narrating scenes of historical and cultural sites of Madrid, Spain creating unique opportunities for language production.

Tell us a bit about yourself…
I was born and raised in the Twin Cities and did my undergrad at the U in journalism and Spanish. After working in journalism and marketing for five years, I moved to Spain to try out teaching English. After two years, I decided that teaching was for me, so I applied to the Initial Licensure Program in Second Languages and Cultures.

Teaching is a second career for you. How did you know it was time to make the switch?
The industry landscape is changing so much in the world of journalism that it’s hard to make a living doing the things I loved about it. When I made the shift into more marketing- and advertising-related writing, I had more job security but less fulfillment. I wanted to do something that I felt was of service, and something that would allow me to use my Spanish. Teaching seemed like a good fit.

What is most exciting part about integrating technology into the ELL classroom?
It’s been really fulfilling to help out students who don’t have access to technological resources at home. For example, I’m currently student teaching in Saint Paul Public Schools (SPPS), which is rolling out its iPad initiative. I’ve been able to use activities in my class to help certain kids become more comfortable with using their iPads, when clearly they had previously thought that owning an iPad or knowing how to work with one was simply beyond the scope of possibility for them.

What’s the most challenging about teaching with technology?
Any time new technology is rolled out—whether it’s the district-wide iPad initiative or simply something I’m trying out for the first time in class—there will always be glitches and bugs to work out. Staying patient and rolling with the punches is probably the biggest challenge for me.

You’ve mentioned in class that you enjoy traveling. Where are you headed next in the Spanish-speaking world?
I’ll probably spend the summer after graduating just relaxing and prepping for the school year. I’d also like to spend more time exploring the “Spanish-speaking world” that we have right here in the Twin Cities. I think it’s often easy to forget that we have a vibrant Spanish-speaking community right here in the Twin Cities, so I’d like to find ways to build more connections there. In summers beyond 2015 though, I definitely have ideas for some South America and Spain trips.