Thursday, December 8, 2016

Teacher Feature: Julie Willis- Making Science and Social Studies come alive!

Teacher Feature: Julie Willis- Making Science and Social Studies come alive!!

When it comes to testing there may not be as much emphasis on Science and Social Studies as there is Reading and Math, but you would never know that walking into Ms. Willis' 6th grade classroom at Southern Middle School.

If there is an idea to tie effective technology into a lesson, she has had it. Probably once a week she is in my office planning some other project that she wants to do with her class. I get questions like: "Can we do a maker space to make pyramids?", "Can we do an augmented reality periodic table?", "Can we 3D print instruments that the kids make?", "Can we use the green screen so some students can use Pokemon to explain states of matter?"; and we have managed to do all of the projects that she comes up with. That's the beauty of teachers like Ms. Willis. Not only is she excited about what is happening in class, but I'm excited, and most importantly her students' are excited.

Most days when you walk into her room the kids are out of their seat. Not in the undisciplined kind of way. But in the we are doing this really crazy experiment that requires me to walk around the room and collaborate with my friends kind of way. And it's not just about the technology, although that is technically what I'm there to support her with. It's just the excitement that she brings to her classroom that can be so infectious to everyone else.

Recently she approached me with an idea for the students to use a 3D creating website called Tinkercad in order for the students to build their own sound machines so that they could study sound waves and how they change based on the size and measurements of the sound making device. It started simply enough, but by the time we were done, they were creating some of the most interesting sound devices I have seen, and they were all so different. All of the minds in the room came up with so many different ideas that no 2 were alike. The project was beneficial in so many ways, including a great number of her students asking to create more 3D objects in the future to further their understanding of concepts. Isn't that what we want from our students? To WANT to do great things?

In my time on the Southern Middle School campus, I have witnessed some amazing learning opportunities for students. Things like augmented reality, computer coding, country fantasy leagues, maker spaces, and digital art projects. There are so many opportunities being offered to these amazing students and Ms. Willis is one of the teachers leading the way.

Go Dragons! Show Me Success!!

Beth Alderson
Digital Integration Facilitator
Southern Middle School/ Aberdeen Elementary School

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