At Canton Middle School in Haywood County, 3rd year teacher, Kayleigh McAlister is leading in innovation with teaching and learning in her 7th grade Language Arts classroom.  Kayleigh is a former graduate of Western Carolina University, and currently a graduate student at WCU in the MAEd program for Middle Grades Education with a focus on Literacy. Throughout her early teaching career, she has found ways to use technology to help meet the diverse needs of her students, while providing opportunities for students to engage with the content they are learning in new and exciting ways.

In one example of her innovative approaches, Kayleigh shared a project where students were tasked with creating a digital or physical scrapbook as they took on the persona of a character from a novel they had read.  This project helped students to think from the perspectives of others, while considering different time periods and histories.  Some samples of time periods and events were World War II, the Vietnam War, and 9-11.  Many students chose to create their scrapbook using google slides while others opted for a physical scrapbook.  Kayleigh hopes to see this expanded in the future with students using platforms such as flipgrid, with the incorporation of video commentary and portrayal of characters.

More recently, Kayleigh created a project that was designed to “assess students’ comprehension of fictional literature and their ability to meet standards for reading for literature”.  She created a PowerPoint template that guided students though many critical elements within the unit while incorporating tech tools and websites such as Word It Out, which students used to identify either words of positive or negative connotation from within the text.  The project template that was provided to students could be used flexibly with students as they had the option to make edits or to present physical models of each element.  Here is a link to the PowerPoint template for the Fictional Literature Project: Fictional Literature PPT.pptx

Kayleigh uses tech tools like Mercury Reader (Chrome extension) which can help students to focus on what they are assigned to read, while adjusting font size and type as needed.  Additionally, she uses tools that help to re-word assigned readings to more appropriate levels for certain students as well as read aloud features for students, when needed.  She likes how “technology is very relatable to students, and she wants them to see it as a tool for learning, as well as an opportunity to see things from different perspectives, while adding diversity within the classroom”.

Kayleigh says that ”going to trainings and correlating with others who already use certain tech tools has been a helpful resource”.  She also stressed that “kids know a lot of things that we (teachers) don’t, and open discussions with the class can be helpful as they (students) can share and/or show resources”.



Below are some examples of digital scrapbooks that students made in Kayleigh’s 7th grade ELA class.

Digital Scrapbook Example 1

Digital Scrapbook Example 2

Digital Scrapbook Example 3







Kayleigh has received many awards and scholarships and here are some links that mention her achievements.

Bobbie Fund Scholarship:

WCU article: