By Ariana Estes

When Jessica Wampler’s students at Wise Minnick School started to expand their vocabulary in her writing center activities, she saw a need for more than her classroom had to offer.

“They did a great job sounding out words, using a picture dictionary and our word wall, but they were increasing in vocabulary and ability beyond these tools. I was working with other students and having to spell words as I was doing guided reading,” says Wampler.

She needed another support to help her students learn. Wampler started to explore how she could incorporate technology into her teaching. After finding a blog post from another teacher that spoke to all the ways an Amazon Echo Dot can be used for education, she decided to use her own money to purchase one for her classroom.

Using the Alexa technology, students set timers for different activities, get help with spelling words when they are stumped, and make requests of their favorite Kidz Bop songs to take a dance break when transitioning between activities.

“When I brought the Echo Dot in, the students loved it and were eager to be in the writing center so they could use it,” says Wampler.

The class also uses it to find out quick facts during lessons, most recently researching how Houdini died after reading a short biography on him.

The use of the Echo Dot has helped with more than just academics.

“I have a student who receives speech services, and he talks really fast. I explained to him that he would have to slow down and articulate to speak to Alexa. It has really worked for him, and I’ve noticed he is slowing down when he talks.”

Jessica Wampler’s generous decision to purchase this tool for her classroom is just one example of how Lutheran Family Services of Virginia’s Minnick School teachers and staff go above and beyond for their students. Their commitment to finding creative and new ways to help their students succeed is vital to fulfilling LFSVA’s mission — and their dedication does not go unnoticed.

“It just made me smile to think of the fun that this brings into the day for those students and the love that Ms. Wampler has for the kids to make that possible for them,” says Tresha Lafon, chief quality officer for LFSVA.