Here at LearnBop we have a team of amazing educators with diverse backgrounds who have come on board to author content for our interactive Bops. To help you get to know them better, we're starting a series of Author Profiles. Today's is the first installment, written by Amy Ryan, a valued member of our author team.
Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher or a principal like my dad. My plans changed in college when I decided to major in Business Administration. I’ll never forget the day just before Thanksgiving break when I struggled through a grueling Corporate Finance class, only to return to the dorm to see my best friend wearing a turkey hat she had made from construction paper. My extreme jealousy was my first clue that I should have followed my heart and become a teacher.
After working in sales and marketing for several years, I returned to school to earn my certification in Elementary Education. I later went on to earn my Master of Education degree. I taught grades 4, 5, and 6 for ten years before resigning my teaching position in the spring of 2013 to work in curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
Leaving the classroom was a decision I struggled with mightily. I felt ready to move on and tackle new challenges both personally and professionally, but I will always miss the day-to-day excitement and activity of a school setting. I had a great connection with my students and miss the stories, jokes, and even the tears they would share with me. Being special in the life of a child is a wonderful gift.
Math has always been my favorite subject to teach, and I was fortunate to teach two to three sections of math each day. I love the “a-ha” moments that occur when a student reaches understanding of a challenging concept. I especially enjoy teaching fractions and geometry, where use of manipulatives, drawing, and modeling is a natural link to the content material. I believe learning should be a fun, hands-on experience for both the student and the teacher.
I got involved with LearnBop in October of 2014, when I became a content author helping to create Bops. I really loved the idea of creating tutorials that are aligned to academic standards, but exciting and enjoyable for students as well.
I very much enjoy sitting down to author a Bop. First, I consider the standard and think about an engaging, real-life context I can use to pique a student’s interest. Then I think about how to best create art that the student can interact with. I spend a great deal of time reflecting on the topic and generating a list of
common misconceptions a student might have. I base these mostly on my own teaching experiences, also drawing upon lessons I have learned as a curriculum writer and editor. I have been known to bounce ideas off my two elementary-aged daughters from time to time, too!
I use this list of potential misconceptions as the basis for writing the components of the Bop. After writing the question, I break it down into steps, tailoring the answer choices and hints to guide a student through any misunderstandings they may have about the topic. Finally, I pull all the components of the Bop together with colorful, fun-looking art to keep the student interested and enjoying him or herself.
The biggest challenge for me as a Bop author is knowing how far to go in breaking down a standard. Some of the early standards in a domain can be tricky to break down into steps, while some of the more complex standards could take many steps to explain. And I could go on and on!
I take great pride in being a part of an excellent team and an excellent product at LearnBop. I really believe we are making a difference in how students learn math!