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 second installment, written by Marsha Tischler, a valued member of our author team.
Hi! My name is Marsha Tischler, and I’d like to take some time to introduce myself. I think you’ll find my teaching career somewhat unusual in its unpredictability! Before I retired from the public schools, I was a classroom teacher for over 35 years. I have taught mathematics, as well as other subjects, in both lower and upper elementary grades and at the middle school level.
Background in Education
The first few years of my career found me in self-contained classrooms, teaching kindergarten, second grade,fourth grade, and sixth grade. I then moved to the middle school, where I spent severalyearsteaching sixth grade math, pre-algebra, algebra, geometry, and algebra II. Along with math, I taught technology for several semesters, and even tried my hand at teaching creative writing! (Not my choice! ☺) Next, I moved back to the elementary level to teach gifted students and whole-class enrichment lessons in all subject areas. The final years in the classroom offered a variety of experiences at many grade levels, working primarily on mathematics with gifted students.
Why so much change? No, I was never forced to move. Rather, I requested each transfer. I believe that change forces an evaluation of one’s perspective, which, in turn, promotes personal growth. My commitment to myself is to continue to invite change, remaining a life-long learner! (Since I retired four years ago, I have taken classes in calculus, graphic design, computer programming, Arabic, and religion. I volunteer at a nearby middle school teaching robotics, work as a curriculum consultant with my previous school district, offer professional development to elementary teachers, and ... create Bops!
How do I create a Bop? That’s a complicated question–which, in turn, requires a complicated response. When I’m assigned a Standard, I take several days to prepare before I even begin writing. I read through the Standard, then familiarize myself with related Standards from other domains at that grade level. I refer to correspondingStandards from previous grades, as well as from the next grade. I search for related activities and assessments, and I analyze questions from the curriculum guides of several states, taking note of the manipulatives that are used, the strategies that are emphasized, and the types of questions that are posed to students. There are always different approaches to teaching a concept, and I try to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of each. Of course, the ultimate authority to which I refer is the associated Progressions document.
the students at that grade level? How can I maintain the interest of second graders, for example, in three-digit numbers? Do they care about 205 insects in a collection, or would they prefer to calculate the number of days until their next birthday?Then, I’m ready to write. My first task is to establish the context for my questions. What would be meaningful to
Inclusion of graphics is an integral part of Bop design. There are very few websites that offer copyright-free clipart that is related to math content while appealing to students. That means we often have to create our own! In my opinion, the time and effort it takes to do this are well worth it—for older students, as well as for the youngest children. Effective graphics are one of many aspects of Bops that make LearnBop stand out from other programs.
For me, the challenge of Bop writing is determining how to turn a multiple-choice question into a learning experience. Which vocabulary words are essential to the concept? What wording will make the most sense? How can I keep the prompt short enough for those who struggle with reading? What are the common misconceptions about the concept? How can I include often-made errors as answer choices?
And then there are the hints. What previous learning should be reviewed? Which manipulatives will be most effective? How can I sequence the tutorial steps most effectively? Which hints need graphics? How can I reinforce the idea that there may be more than one way to approach the problem? And, finally, how can I address a variety of learning styles?
Yes, for me, writing Bops is complicated. I have to admit – my initial ideas for Bop creation are NEVER the same as the final result. (What a surprise!) In conclusion, I love writing Bops. I want the Bops that I create to be an invitation to learn—one that results in my ultimate goal for students, which is for them to be able to say, “I can do this by myself!”
A little more about Marsha: Marsha Tischler is a Presidential Award winning teacher (PAEMST, Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching), who represents her state mathematics organization by leading professional development each summer and serves on the Steering Committee for DESE's annual Interface Conference (Mathematics and Science Professional Development).