This week for we are checking in with Elaine Plybon from Keller ISD in Texas. Elaine works as the Facilitator of Transformative Learning providing PD for Career and Technology in Keller ISD. Elaine has been using Discovery Education for nearly 10 years. “I can remember someone handing me a sheet that had a passcode on it and he said “you might like this, it has videos.” Shortly after that, I attended my first Day of Discovery and my life was forever changed as I learned about how much more than videos the content in DE really is. The lesson plans alone saved me during that first year of teaching!” Read on to learn more about Elaine!
How do you start your day?
Taking care of my two dogs, Duke and Lady
Why did you become a teacher?
Before I even started school, I remember playing “school” with my older sister. She was the teacher and I was the student. As I experienced my own education, I experienced several teachers who understood the power of building relationships with their students and they kept my childhood interest in education alive. I am a lifelong student, and teaching was a natural fit – it kept me in school and it gave me the opportunity to build those relationships and, hopefully, ignite that same passion for learning in my students. It has never been about what I was teaching my students, but rather how was I helping them learn?
What is one of your favorite ways to use Discovery Education?
I love everything about Discovery Education! If I have to narrow down to one strategy, I would say the one I have used most repetitively during my career is using video segments with the audio removed to do formative assessment. I have students add their own narration to a short video clip. I learn so much about where they are in their learning from what they add and it helps me guide future instruction.
What is a ritual you have in your classroom?
One thing that I consistently did in my classroom is integrate the Discovery Education calendar into my bell activities. While planning a lesson, I would look at the calendar to find out what happened on that date in history. The day of class, I would have a slide projected with bellringer instructions for the day. Along with those instructions, up in the top, right corner I always had a date along with an image that was representative of what had happened on that day in history. Students had to guess what the date and image meant. It gave them an opportunity to think as well as to talk with their peers and get engaged in learning.
I am the founder of a not-for-profit called Teach Each, which aims to build awareness of the ways gender, culture, and socioeconomic status can influence the way students learn and how teachers can best meet the needs of each student in their classroom. I also am a consultant specializing in designing virtual courses, including development courses for pre-service teachers. I am also a frequent presenter at various state and national conferences.
What advice do you give to a teacher who is hesitant to use digital media in their classroom?
You don’t have to do it all! We are often bombarded with great new ideas, new resources, and buzzwords. It is great to be aware of all of those, but pick one that you will try and focus on, don’t try to implement everything you learn about. There may never be a relevant use of a certain technology in your classroom, no matter how cool it is.
What advice do you have for first year teachers?
In the months before I began teaching, a 2nd year teacher said to me “during that first year, just believe that it will get better.” That advice actually did keep me in there during that first, difficult year. Each year that you continue through your calling as an educator, it gets more comfortable. Nobody is perfect, and nobody gets it right every time. Even veteran teachers make mistakes. Just keep going.
What sites do you visit to assist in your teaching practice?
I visit Edutopia frequently. I also read EdWeek and other news sources to stay up-to-date on latest trends. I am an avid Twitter user. My favorite classroom resource, outside of Discovery, is NewsELA, where I can find articles with various reading levels about current events in science to enhance the connections between what students learn in class and the real world.
What other organizations/groups are you a part of?
I am a member of the Discovery Educator Network Leadership Council’s Social Media team. I am also a Discovery Educator Network Guru, class of 2012. I was named as one of the National School Board Association’s 20 to Watch in 2014. I am I am a Google Certified Teacher, a Common Sense Educator, Symbaloo Certified, LoTI Certified, and am a gender equity certified instructor.
What is your most memorable experience with the DEN?
Wow! This one is tough because the DEN has been such a large part of my life! I have often said my association with the DEN has been life-changing. The most memorable experience was when I had the opportunity to participate in the summer institute that included a three-day cruise to the Bahamas, I was a geology, meteorology, and oceanography teacher at the time, but I had never seen an ocean. The cruise was my opportunity to finally see and experience the content I had been teaching my students. The whole experience was also very memorable because we had such strong support from the Discovery Education folks who were with us throughout that week.
Spending time with my family, gardening, or at the theater.
What is your favorite kind of donut?
Cinnamon cake donut
How can others connect with you?
eplybon on all social media. My website is www.elaineplybon.net