Ally is a 5th grade Inclusion teacher in Clark County School District, Nevada. She has been using Discovery Education for a couple of years. She shared, “Using digital resources has helped me connect with my students and become a better educator. Students can read about volcanoes in their science text books, create foldables in their notebooks, then watch a recorded volcanic eruption happen in the classroom. Video streaming is far more accurate than the outdated baking soda and vinegar concoction in a paper mache volcano, so why not bring in accurate, informational clips to enhance their learning? I know my students enjoy watching youtube videos, so by connecting their interests with academic content, we are able to have more meaningful discussions of the content and material with the help of digital resources. Many of my students are visual and auditory learners, so digital media helps connect these learners with the content material. These resources have not replaced me as a teacher, but rather enhance my instruction by making the content and material more accessible to all learners.”
When you’re not working, where are we most likely to find you?
When I’m not working on school or graduate courses, I am most likely spending time with my fiance, my friends, or family. As co-chair of Sunshine (social) Committee, I also often find myself planning and crafting for an extraordinarily large number of bridal and baby showers. When I’m not covered in glitter and knee deep in burlap, I enjoy spending time outside reading in the hammock (temperature permitting), going on adventures, line dancing, and leisurely enjoying movie marathons. I am also a huge advocate for the nap. Never underestimate the power of a good #napchat.
What brings you joy?
In addition to the beach, naps, new books, sales, and Disneyland churros, I get really, really excited when other people are genuinely enthusiastic about their accomplishments. Whether it’s one of my students grasping a math concept after weeks of intensive grappling with the concept or a coworker having a successful lesson with a new strategy, I am thrilled when others meet their goals. I love to hear success stories and celebrate others’ victories. Of course, watching a student fall in love with the Harry Potter series for the first time is a very close second. Luckily as a teacher, I have almost unlimited opportunities to celebrate progress, growth, and the subtle, gradual change as students transform from reluctant readers into insatiable scholars.
How did you find yourself in teaching?
Growing up, I taught martial arts and mentored younger students. In college, I was a TA with a tremendous amount of freedom in designing and co-teaching my own honors course. I volunteered and was used to working with kids. Teaching was something that was always present in my life, but not necessarily what I imagined becoming once I entered adulthood. Once my dreams of being a marine biologist were shattered by my extreme dislike of the cold ocean water and I realized law school and politics weren‘t for me, I decided to become a teacher. I knew I liked working with others and wanted to make a difference. I enjoy working with young students and inspiring others. I also love learning and teaching allows me to be a life-long student. I am in a career that is constantly changing and I am blessed with the opportunity to keep on trying new strategies every year.
What is your favorite thing about Discovery Education Streaming?
It’s hard to pick a favorite aspect. I like that I can save all my video clips into folders so I don’t have to spend precious time on prep searching for the video link. I appreciate that I know there won’t be any inappropriate ads or commercials when I’m playing a video clip for my fifth graders (unlike other sites like teachertube). I enjoy the freedom to pick from a full video or just a short, several minute clip. Having related materials, printables, and lesson plan ideas is also a huge help for when I want to improve upon my lessons and get ideas from others. On any given topic, I have dozens (if not hundreds) of resources available to use immediately in my classroom.
How do your students respond to the use of Discovery Education Streaming? What do they like about it?
My students love streaming videos because we get to invite experts into the classroom. They’re well versed at gaining information from digital sources and know that just because a video clip is shown doesn’t mean it’s time to slack off. Instead, unfortunately, they sometimes are even more focused on the material because of the digital components. I’ll often show the video clips twice, once for enjoyment and the “big picture”. The second time through, we’ll pause discuss at strategic points in the video. We’ve also tried virtual field trips with Discovery Education this year and that was a huge success. Using Discovery Education streaming helps me bring the world into my fifth grade classroom.
What tips do you have for beginning users?
Take it slow. There’s a lot of great information and strategies out there and at times, it’s overwhelming. You don’t have to be an expert at everything right away. You’re already doing a great job as an educator. DEN is here to help you sharpen your tools. Try one new thing at a time, reflect, and repeat. Keep trying new things and when in doubt, reach out for help. Even if you’re the only one trying it at your school, you’re never alone.
What is your most memorable experience with the DEN?
Walking alone into a room of loud, passionate educators from across the country can be a tad scary. In the summer of 2013, I did just that and haven’t looked back. I heard about DENSI (Discovery Educator Network Summer Institute) at a training and decided on a whim and a lunch break to apply. I never dreamed I’d be accepted because I only had a few years of teaching under my belt and didn’t particularly feel I had anything worthwhile to share with others. Yet, Discovery saw something in my application video and invited me to attend DENSI in Burlington, Vermont. I hopped on a plane, headed cross country, and walked into a week long teacher institute without knowing a soul. I was the only representative from Nevada, which was intimidating. However, I immediately felt at home. I was instantly welcomed by fellow passionate educators from California to Florida. Once it was revealed I had no one else from my home state, it was decreed that Nevada joined California and Arizona representatives to create the tri-state of the West Coast. For the next week, I attended workshops and took the time to get to know my most valuable teaching resource–other teachers. I left with new ideas, strategies to try in the classroom, but most importantly, with a renewed sense of joy and passion for teaching. The DEN makes me feel connected with other educators around the country.
What’s your favorite SOS to use with students?
It’s hard to pick a favorite, but we’ve been having a lot of Snowball Fights in my classroom! 4 Corners is another great activity to add some movement into the classroom and combat the end of the year restless students syndrome. My students enjoy three truths and a lie with video clips and using A-E-I-O-U for video reflections.
How can others connect with you?
@AllyVice and http://msvice.blogspot.com/