Innovation in Education: Meet the LMS science trio
Posted Monday, February 25, 2013
February is digital learning month in Loveland, so we are introducing you to dynamic teachers who know how to put technology to work to enhance education for students
With a combined 21 years teaching in the Loveland School District, Nick Hartings, Jenn Ramage and Catie Rudisell are a powerhouse of science pros, using their teaching skills to empower students at Loveland Middle School (LMS).
The teachers regularly incorporate technology into their lesson plans, using programs like Quizlet, to develop flash cards for studying vocabulary, and ExploreLearning, an interactive website that provides curious learners the chance to investigate scientific concepts. Earlier in the year, their students developed websites featuring time periods of the geologic time scale using Google Sites.
But, the trio took technology integration to a whole new level after attending workshops hosted by The Curriculum Engineers; the three worked together to transform a simple experiment examining ketchup characteristics into a three-week project encompassing multiple facets of technology.
"We are fortunate that the district supported our desire to attend an excellent trio of workshops in the fall,” said Ramage. “That opportunity for professional development focusing on the new science standards provided the foundation for our unit contrasting selective breeding, genetic engineering and natural selection."
“The expanded experiment prompts kids to explore scientific possibilities that would produce more desirable tomatoes for the production of the most appealing ketchup,” Rudisell explained.
“We integrated technology from the start,” said Hartings. “We wanted the students to survey people on the taste and texture of the ketchup. In the past, we would have had students raise their hand in class to take a survey; with this lesson we used Google Forms, which sends surveys electronically and compiles the data to be analyzed.”
The team set up the project in Schoology, a secure online portal available to teachers at LMS to enhance instruction beyond the classroom. They added videos and online research articles relevant to the experiment and posted project elements online.
“It really expands their opportunities for exploration and growth,” said Hartings. “We have multiple resources for the students to reference on Schoology that go beyond the textbook; our students are no longer in a single-resource situation.”
While the science teachers pushed themselves to test the limits of technology in the classroom, they are asking the students to do the same with the final presentation.
“The sky is the limit on how they can present their findings,” said Rudisell. “They can be as creative as they want to be. We have set up links on Schoology on how they can use animation or develop videos to show the class. All of the resources we selected are free to the students.”
“We are excited to see the different avenues the students choose to demonstrate their knowledge of selective breeding and genetic engineering in regard to something most of them love: ketchup,” Ramage added.
“Students are learning true problem solving with this setup,” said Hartings. “They are not just reciting information back to us that they memorized from a book. They are using a scientific technique to develop new ideas and find new solutions, which is exactly what scientists do.”
Photo caption (L to R): Jenn Ramage, Nick Hartings and Catie Rudisell