This week we’re hearing from Susan Bowdoin, at Teacher-Librarian from Mitchell Elementary in Albuquerque Public Schools, New Mexico. Susan has been involved with Discovery Education since February of 2012. “Being involved has pushed my thinking and broadened my sense of what’s possible both personally and professionally. I love having a network of educators to share with and to draw ideas from.”
How do you start your day?
Slowly. Very slowly! I’m not really a morning person. It takes a hot shower and sometimes a cup of tea or coffee to get me energized.
Why did you become a teacher?
I became a teacher because that’s who I am. No matter what role I take on I always end up in the role of teacher/learner. It’s in my DNA, I think!
What is one of your favorite ways to use Discovery Education?
One of my favorite SOS strategies to use is Myth Bustin. I’ve used it with 4th and 5th grade students and find it to be a great way to involve kids in looking for evidence in text or media, which is something they need to know how to do. When you present that task as a myth that needs to be busted or confirmed, though, they are much more interested and engaged!
I see grade K-5 in the library for just 40 minutes every 8 days. I want kids to develop a love of reading, and a love of the library, so I try to make their library time fun and engaging. Of course there’s the traditional browse and check out books time. I also like to do more interactive things like: in January I built a 12 foot tall Eiffel Tower out of cardboard and used it to display books that had something to do with France. It was great because kids were exposed to books that they had never even considered checking out. They read underneath it and I put up a display of French paintings with placards that helped them learn something about the artists. I found an interactive 360 degree panorama of Paris that the 4th ad 5th graders explored and I taught the kids how to research Paris with Britannica School.
How are you involved in education aside from your role as educator?
I’ve had a lot of roles over the past 23 years. I started out in the classroom- mostly grades 4-5. I worked as a technology resource teacher, taught in the College of Education at the University of New Mexico and was an Instructional Coach for 7 years. I supervised a student teacher and taught gifted education, general education and provided intervention services.
What advice do you give to a teacher who is hesitant to use digital media in their classroom?
The best time to try is now, and the best entry point (in my opinion!) are the SOS strategies that you’ll find on the DEN blog site. I tend to be a perfectionist, but I’m learning that life is never perfect. There’s more joy to be found when you jump in and give something new a try. If it doesn’t work, learn from that and try again. The other thing I’d recommend is to surround yourself with friends who will try with you. It’s more fun (and successful!) when you collaborate with someone else!
What advice do you have for first year teachers?
Find friends and colleagues to collaborate and reflect with. They will help you refine your thinking and support you when things aren’t going the way you want them to!
What sites do you visit to assist in your teaching practice?
I’ve gone digital with my teaching this year, so Planbook.com is a site I got to every single day. Because I’m in the library I pull lessons together that align to both Common Core and the AASL standards. I love that Planbook has both sets of standards (and many more) right there for every grade level. I don’t have to hunt for them!
What other organizations/groups are you a part of?
Discovery Education Leadership Council and school-level teams.
What is your most memorable experience with the DEN?
My first “ah hah” experience with the DEN was the 2013 California DENing event in Irvine, California. It was my first opportunity to spend quality time with other DEN stars and I remember being inspired by the smart, talented and fun people who surrounded me that weekend! One of the things I was (am still) most impressed by is the open and positive attitudes of all the DEN community members I meet!
When you’re not working, where are we most likely to find you?
I have two very busy kids, so I’m most likely on the road shuttling them to music lessons, soccer practice, school events or youth group. I also love to quilt, so where time allows I go for a “fabric therapy” trip to one of the local quilt shops! I love to explore new technologies, so you may also find me tinkering with a new iPad app or experimenting with a new piece of technology.
What is your favorite kind of donut?
In Albuquerque we have a gourmet donut place that has a Red Chile Mexican Chocolate donut. Yummy. That’s got to be my favorite.
How can others connect with you?
On Facebook I’m Susan McCutchen Bowdoin. I don’t successfully blog, but I do have a website that I update frequently http://mitchell.aps.edu/library . My Twitter handle is @sbowdoin