Some people were born to be educators. You can tell the moment you step into their classroom that the students who have the privilege of being in this room are in for an amazing year. There are lots of teachers that come to mind when I think of natural-born educators, one of which is Traci Keith, a fifth grade teacher at Cameron Elementary School. She has all the things a principal would look for in an exceptional teacher. She’s creative, passionate, knowledgeable, and her students love her! She creates a learning environment where her students are set up for success. A lesson that stands out for me is when her class participated in a novel study and the setting of the story was a cafe. Guess what the students walked into the first day of the novel study…...a cafe. Yep, she decorated her entire classroom like a cafe. You’ll find Miss Keith doing things like this all the time to get her students excited about their learning. Another amazing learning opportunity that Miss Keith created was when her students were studying the industrial revolution. This may not come across as the most engaging unit of study as a student, so Miss Keith and I collaborated on a project where her students would bring the inventions from the industrial revolution to life using www.tinkercad.com and our 3D printer!
Students were assigned an invention that is associated with the industrial revolution, they had to research this creation and explain how it made life easier for people during this time frame. Once this was completed, students hoped on their Chromebooks and created a model of their invention using the Tinkercad website. What better way could a teacher bring their lesson to life than to have her students actually re-create the inventions that they are studying! Then, once her students completed their models, we printed them with our Dremel 3D printer! Take a look at some of their models:
I always enjoy picking the brain of teachers who I look up to, so that I can hopefully take something back from them and add it to my toolbox. Take a look at what Miss Keith shared with me when I sat down to interview her and hopefully you’ll be able to take something from this phenomenal teacher:
Question: What allows you to be able to take risks with your students?
Answer: I think I take these risks because sometimes when students do things they’ve always done in the past, it’s boring and it becomes monotonous. If I take a risk and do something new with them, it becomes a learning process for both of us where I learn to be a better teacher and they learn to be a more creative learner or think more critically.
Q: How would you describe your teaching style?
A: The best way to describe it would be flexible because of the fact that every day is different and every learning style is different. You can plan as many avenues as possible but there will always be outcomes that happen that you can’t predict so you have to be ready to change at the drop of a hat.
Q: Where do you start when you are planning a lesson that includes technology?
A: For me, it starts with what I would do if I didn’t have technology and then how I can turn those things into digital pieces. For example, in vocabulary in reading instead of having them make vocabulary flashcards they used digital flashcards using Quizlet. Also, a lot of project-based learning is easier because there are more options in the digital world. It adheres to what the students like because they’re living in a world of technology.
Q: What are some of your favorite technology tools that are your “go to” tools for digital integration?
A: I use vocabulary.com a lot. I can assign the vocabulary words and then they practice those words in a number of different ways. I like Google Classroom because I can post different types of assignments and they all get turned into the same place. I can assign anything from Google Slide projects, to webquests, to Classworks reading or just give them link to check out when we’re studying a content specific area.
Q: You’re an inspiration to many people, including myself, what inspires you?
A: I think our whole staff here at Cameron because we have a staff that has tons of different teaching styles and they all make their specific teaching styles work for them. And they all have the best interest of their students in mind which inspires me to think outside of the box because what’s really important is what they learn and how they learn it. And the students, of course because honestly there’s nothing better than completing an assignment or project and seeing the light bulb go off and they finally get it.
Q: What is your favorite part about being a teacher?A: Having fun with the kids. The best part about my job is being able to experience things with them and see their reactions when they learn something new. While lots of the things we do in class, I may have done before, they are brand new for my students so it creates a new experience for all of us and a bonding experience that helps us form relationships that last for years to come.
It truly is a pleasure to work with teachers like Miss Keith. She's always looking for ways to make the learning meaningful for her students. She has a fantastic rapport with her students and her colleagues. Thank you Miss Keith for everything that you do for your students at Cameron Elementary School.