Featured Teacher #3
Featured Teachers is an initiative by ClassHook to recognize the amazing work that teachers do every day. Each Featured Teacher post will focus on the work of one particular teacher and how that teacher engages and inspires his or her students using popular media.
This week’s Featured Teacher is…Kate LeFebvre!
Kate teaches 3rd grade students at Weber Elementary School in Arvada, Colorado. Her favorite food is sushi, and on her free time she enjoys hiking. Weber Elementary is a rather tech-savvy school, though one challenge it faces is having enough technology in each classroom. Weber Elementary has a clear commitment to using technology to enhance learning: it has adopted a set of technology standards that teachers are required to follow.
Kate uses technology in the classroom just about every day, not only because she has to follow the technology standards set by the school but also because her students respond well to it. If she hands one of her students a tablet or a laptop to play an educational game or run a simulation, that student will be instantly engaged. Kate has a SmartBoard in her classroom and uses it to present content to her students. She uses websites such as LearnZillion and Discovery Ed to keep students engaged and build content mastery.
Kate starts off her lesson with three learning targets and uses them as a basis for every lesson. Her learning targets are as follows:
- What will students be learning?
- Why will they be learning the subject?
- How will they be successful?
These learning targets help Kate define her learning objectives and convey the purpose of the lesson to her students. As studies have found, creating relevance in this way helps students see the value in their learning and is crucial to creating engaged and motivated learners.
Kate uses clips from popular television shows and movies frequently for teaching subjects such as Science, Matter, Math, and Social Studies. With the new, tech-savvy generation of students, Kate finds that these video clips are excellent ways of engaging her students. She also uses popular media clips to diversify her lessons. For Science, Kate uses clips from Bill Nye, the Science Guy. As you might expect, her students love Bill. Kate has also had success using clips from Schoolhouse Rock!.
Kate finds it beneficial to use clips from TV shows and movies to kick off a lesson, teach content during instruction, and to wrap up a lesson. When she decides to show her students a given clip depends on the nature of the clip and how she wants to formulate the lesson. Kate would like to incorporate more clips from television shows and movies that her students are watching in their personal lives; she feels that such clips would resonate more with her students.
Kate’s advice for other teachers would be to create engagement within the classroom for students. Engagement could be media, experiments, hands-on activities, etc. The more students are engaged, the more passionate they are about learning, and the less management is required for behavior.
Also, Kate ranks using clips from popular television shows and movies as the best engagement technique, so she encourages other teachers to find ways to incorporate them in the classroom, especially for subjects that are not quite as exciting to students, such as reading, writing, and math. Popular media clips will make such subjects more fun and engaging for students. Kate has experienced it for herself: her students are completely engaged whenever they watch a clip and get really excited when she announces an activity involving video clips.
Aside from entertaining students, Kate believes that TV and movie clips help students learn how to interpret non-traditional texts, which the learning standards do not cover. Some of the state tests in Colorado are introducing a media literacy component in which students are required to watch a video and interpret it, similar to how one would read a text and interpret it. Television and movie clips help students develop the media literacy skills needed to succeed on these tests and in other aspects of their lives.
Thank you, Kate, for creating a compelling learning experience for your students! We appreciate it very much and are sure your students do, too!
Are you an educator? Do you use media to engage and inspire your students? Let us know in the comments!