Name: Lindsay Foster
Role/School: Teacher / NA Howry Intermediate School
Subjects/Grades Taught: ELAR / 6th Grade
Background: This is my 17th year in education. This is my first year with Lake Worth ISD. I previously taught in Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD and Oklahoma City Public Schools. I relocated over ten years ago to the great state of Texas! I have worked as a tutor and SAT and ACT instructor with private, for-profit education learning centers as well as privately tutoring and I am a consultant (when the occasion warrants) for student-athletes seeking information about the NCAA Clearinghouse and the Clearinghouse process.
How did you find yourself in teaching?
My grandmother taught first grade. My mother taught sixth grade social studies, and she coached the wrestling team too, but that is another story. I didn’t expect to become a teacher and didn’t start out my post-secondary education that way; in fact the last thing I wanted was to teach – I was a double major in marketing and economics. I sort of fell into teaching as I grew as a collegiate student, and I couldn’t be happier that my vocation is also my avocation. I am TRULY blessed that every day I get paid to experience my passion and I get to do what I love – learn!
What is your favorite thing about Science Techbook?
I love the fact that I can change the Lexile level to meet the needs of my readers. As a teacher who has an inclusion class, this is an essential tool that makes my Techbook accessible to all of my learners. I also really like being able to have the passages read aloud to my students.
How has using Science Techbook changed your opinion of your role as the teacher?
By having this tool at our fingertips, my students are much more in control of their own learning. This has been a challenge for them in that they have been led along, much like a horse to water, throughout their learning experience. Although sixth grade really begins that independence and responsibility phase of the learning experience, my students have gained real learning responsibility by having that personalized option while I’ve worked with smaller groups; it has made them more accountable for their own knowledge and comprehension, and I’ve had to learn to let them go on their own path.
How has using Discovery Education changed the way you teach?
Discovery Education has dramatically changed my teaching philosophy. While I have always believed that all children have the ability to learn, being involved with a company that truly believes and promotes connecting educators to other educators and providing the resources, tools and opportunities to do that, has given me the chance to learn so many different ways in which I can provide those opportunities for my students and actually give each student the best chance to be a successful learner. Additionally Discovery Education has connected me with experts in so many fields, and I no longer feel the need to be the expert in my classroom as long as I have the connections to the experts in other classrooms. Finally, I have the opportunity to bring the global community into my classroom and to introduce my students to the global community; a year ago, I wouldn’t have considered bringing a filming crew into my classroom because I didn’t understand that the ways in which I use digital media and integrate it into our learning experience are unique and special and could help build others’ learning as well.
What tips do you have for beginning users?
First don’t fear failure. It’s a First Attempt In Learning. Be prepared to fail in front of your students and help to show them that it is simply part of the learning process and that we often learn more from failing than we do from success.
Second while there are many, many tools, strategies, apps, websites, etc. out there, choose ONE and try it. Then stick with it and see what you and your students can do with it. Try adding additional pieces to that one initial concept – maybe app smashing – and see what happens. You don’t have to try EVERYTHING. Prioritize what you think will work best in YOUR classroom first – no matter how “cool” the latest tool sounds. I still have things that I have on my “to do” list…and it just keeps growing!
What other tools, resources, strategies, etc. do you incorporate with Science Techbook?
My go to is the SOS strategies. These tried and true ideas have changed my teaching landscape and helped to build my students’ comprehension. I love to hear my students ask, “When are we going to that thing again” and describe an SOS strategy that really helped them.
Watch Mrs. Foster’s students learning in groups using the 20 Questions & Visual Walk About Spotlight on Strategies (SOS).
Now see how that learning was applied when her 6th grade students create an organization chart to demonstrate what they learned during the SOS mini-lesson.
I like using Padlet for class collaboration. My students like that it reads like a social media page and I like that I can make it decorative. They love to change the backgrounds and they request that all the time. We also like to use collaborative documents (we’re a GAfE district) but I like to play with other tools as well.
How do you organize your classroom and planning to maximize your students’ learning experiences?
Because I teach three subjects: English/Language Arts, Reading, and Writing, I use a menu for my students. They get the menu on Monday and it is due on Friday. It resembles a tic tac toe board and students are required to complete activities from each column and earn a minimum number of points. While I work with small groups, students have choice to complete activities including basic review skills, introduction skills, and comprehension skills as well as project based learning activities. I have found it to be a very successful tool in helping my students to create their own learning experience as well as build their independence and responsibility.
How do your students respond to the use of Science Techbook? What do they like about it?
My students love the Techbook and how easy it is to use. They are much more engaged than they are with a traditional textbook and they like the incorporation of the digital media. For students who are accustomed to the instant gratification and answer age, this is a great solution. Using the Techbook along with reading strategies such as A-E-I-O-U helps me to connect science area texts to ELAR learning experiences such as summary and comprehension, which builds my students’ knowledge base and experience and helps to make real world connections.
Watch this classroom drop-in to see the SOS mini lesson referenced above through a more direct and guided facilitation.
Discovery Education in Action is a series of webinars, blog posts, and livestreams that share the view from educators using Discovery Education resources. Learn more here: http://www.discoveryeducation.com/what-we-offer/professional-development/discovery-education-in-action.cfm