Focus on the STARs:  Introducing Sara Fischer

5th Grade Teacher, Israel Loring Elementary School, Sudbury, MA  01776

Sara has worked on many technology related projects throughout her eight years at the Loring Elementary school.  Sara’s teaching skills are exemplary and apparent in the day to day happenings in her classroom.  Her students are attentive and eager to learn because Sara makes learning meaningful and encourages student involvement in every aspect of her classroom.  Sara is an “Activ” teacher who has completed a Promethean “Train the Trainer” course, making her a highly effective interactive whiteboard classroom teacher and trainer in our district.  Sara is also A STAR Discovery Educator!  She designs every lesson using the tools provided to enhance the curriculum and make it come alive for her students.  

Sara has incorporated wikis (online classroom conversations) in every subject matter in her classroom.  Students contribute to any number of content related topics using the laptops assigned to this school’s 5th graders during the day as well as from home.  This has enabled several of her more reticent students to contribute in ways they never could before.  Her students have also created a variety of podcasts which are accessible via her classroom web page.  All of her students have voice…

Sara incorporates Discovery Education’s video resources in both her teaching and her student’s learning.  As an example, her class recently completed a long term research project on the Aztec, Incan and Mayan cultures that took them to traditional resources in the library as well as resources online.  The final product was to create a movie that incorporated a handful of short video clips from Discovery’s resources, editing them, adding text and other features to make a movie presentation of their team’s topic.  What was so unique, and a perfect example of Sara’s knowledge of what it is kids need to learn most effectively, is that she gave the students the video clips with the audio removed.  Students wrote scripts and then recorded their own voices over the clips they chose to form a coherent and powerful presentation. This technique allowed students to more powerfully and authentically reflect their understanding of the content.  They also used FlipVideo cameras to videotape each other speaking the glossary terms which were added to the end of each movie.  Sara confidently puts the tools in the hands of her students!!  Yeah Sara!

Focus on the STARs:  Introducing Laura Burney

Laura Burney, grade 4 teacher at the Israel Loring Elementary School in Sudbury, MA.

Laura Burney has been a classroom teacher for grades 3-6 since 1992.  Currently a 4th grade teacher at the Israel Loring Elementary School in Sudbury, MA, Laura has sought many leadership roles in Mathematics and Technology within her district.  In addition to being a STAR member, she is also an ActivTeacher and serves on the ActivCouncil for Promethean’s interactive whiteboard technology.  Laura embraces the use of DEStreaming video into her teaching in multiple ways.  She not only embeds video into her flipcharts for teaching content, but she empowers her students by giving them the tools to create, process and demonstrate understanding.  

Last year Laura’s students became researchers, filmmakers, and producers!  Taking sample MCAS questions from the previous year’s state proficiency tests, her students were assigned the task of creating their own ‘Maths Mansions’ videos!  ‘Maths Mansion’ is a series of videos in DEStreaming’s repertoire that covers a wide range of math topics/concepts.  Each episode is an adventure in which contestants are trapped in a Gothic mansion by their host, Bad Man, until they can successfully crack a range of math challenges.  Laura’s students were very familiar with the ‘Maths Mansions’ series, eager to assume the roles of the characters they had come to love!

Working in teams, students developed and wrote the script for the particular MCAS math concept they chose from the samples.  In addition to writing the scripts, they also designed their sets and costumes, and were then filmed using a FlipVideo camera.  Many students used the ActivBoard as one of their teaching tools!  Parts of the original Maths Mansion videos were incorporated into the final iMovie product to ensure authenticity!

Kids were immersed in the math by not only watching the Maths Mansion videos, but also by creating their own content, further developing their own understanding, and then demonstrating what they knew to others.. These videos are going to be shared with the other 4th grade classes for their review of the math!  Yeah Laura!