Wanda Hanley from Turner Creek in Wake County, North Carolina is this week’s DEN Community Member of the week! Wanda is a 4th Grade Teacher, Mentor Coordinator & Teacher Leader Corps Team Member and has used Discovery Education resources for ten years. She became a DEN STAR in 2013.
“Being a part of the DEN has opened so many doors for me. Whenever I need a question answered or want to try something new, I just put the answer out to the DEN through my Facebook or on twitter and it gets answered. The engagement in my classroom has risen drastically and we are communicating, creating, researching, reading and are so much more involved with our learning, Sparks are flying!”
How do you start your day?
I start by going to the gym at 5:30 in the morning to work out with a group of girls and a trainer. We burn a lot of calories in 30 minutes. I have been going to the gym for three years straight and I love it. It really keeps me energized and in a positive frame of mind. Then I am home to send off my three boys to Middle and High School.
Why did you become a teacher?
When I was in High School my first job over the summer was with our recreation department in my hometown of Lockport, New York, I loved playing games with the kids and arranging arts & craft lessons. It came naturally and I love to have fun with others. So I found myself in education
What is one of your favorite ways to use Discovery Education?
My favorite way to use DE is to create a board to use as part of my Daily 5. I introduce a board I have created for the students during a mini-lesson, help them set up what they need in there readers journal, model what needs to happen and then when it is their digital literacy time, they complete the activity from the board, which was assigned to them, using their reading journal. I have created boards for pre-reading and post reading activities, integrating the Social Studies and Science content. I have included some SOS strategies like the A~E~I~O~U strategy. The kids and the parents love it!
What is a ritual you have in your classroom?
Students are always greeted at the door each morning and when we leave for the day we use a fist bump as we leave the room. Those are two rituals that are always used. I believe in exercise and movement in the classroom, so we often use our chairs for tri-cep dips or we will complete squats and squat jumps as we transition from one activity to next. I used this quite frequently until GoNoodle became so popular. Now we integrate dancing into the mix as well.
I have been mentoring teachers for 15 years now. I had a great mentor my first three years in education and I have surrounded myself with positive people. Therefor, I try and give back to the new teachers of today. I hold monthly support meetings, share my passion and love of teaching, and observe them and help with classroom management. However, I do gain quite a bit from them as well, as they come in with incredible ideas and new strategies.
What advice do you give to a teacher who is hesitant to use digital media in their classroom?
Find a colleague who is comfortable with digital media and ask to shadow a technology lesson. Find some coverage for your class. Then pick one web site you want to try, one digital activity you want to incorporate in your teaching routine. Start small and take it a step at time. Discovery education has some great SOS strategies that change the level of engagement in your room using simple digital media.
Keep your eyes and ears open. There is so much happening all around you! Greet everyone in the hallway you see adult and child. Talk to different teachers and look in the different classrooms in your building. Get to know your “Go to People” in your building. This will help you when you need information along your new journey.
What sites do you visit to assist in your teaching practice?
I am logged on to Discovery Education weekly, but I also like to use Padlet and Answer Garden to get a feel for the class or to summarize an activity. I really like Fit 4 the classroom as it has some great lessons. I also use Readworks.org, NewsELA, and SMART interactive.
What is your most memorable experience with the DEN?
I have several days as I am a part of the Teacher Leader Corp (TLC) team at our school. Where we get five days of technology training from Discovery Education infused with leadership strategies as well. It has rocked my world. We are in year two of our three year commitment and it has been a game changer. The Discovery Education trainer Katie Higgins has opened new doors for me, my colleagues and our school. She introduced me to the Summer Institute application and I was accepted last summer, which was the biggest memorable experience with the DEN!!
I love going to the gym to burn off steam. I love cross fit, yoga, and running. I work out with a group of girls at 5:30 in the morning and we hold each other accountable. It really gives me energy for the day ahead, but I do have an early bedtime!
What is your favorite kind of donut?
Jelly Filled with granular sugar sprinkled on the outside
How can others connect with you?