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 have a series of Author Profiles. Today's installment is written by Stephanie Long, a valued member of our author team.
Hello! My name is Stephanie Long. I have been in education now for 19 years. I spent the first 17 years of my career in an 8th grade classroom teaching students about Math, Algebra, and Media Literacy.
I have been very fortunate over the years to spend an extensive amount of time in high quality professional learning that has stretched me as an educator and helped me to provide a fun and engaging environment for my students. In addition, I had the opportunity to become a certified eMints teacher in the state of Missouri, which focuses on a Constructivist approach to learning with technology integration. This training really taught me how to use technology and inquiry-based learning to pull my students deeper into the content and also provide a collaborative classroom environment. A few years ago I completed my master’s degree in History, which might seem odd given that I have always taught math, but I love history and I love to learn new things! I know this is why I chose to become an educator. My love for learning and working with kids just seemed a natural fit.
Me and Education Technology
A couple of years ago I was presented with the opportunity to become an educational technology specialist, helping teachers integrate technology into their classroom environment. I was up for the challenge, but knew it would be hard to leave the classroom. Fortunately, my range of experience in different content areas and my technology background helped in the transition. Even better, I still get to work with kids on a regular basis as I help them and their teachers in the classroom.
Last year, I was asked to develop a Project-Based Learning program at our middle school. Having some background in inquiry-based learning provided a great starting point for me. The development of this program has been a wonderful journey. One of my goals right now is to develop the program across all grade levels in our district and expand the program to more teachers and students. I love that this type of learning allows me to use all of my previous experience and education in such a powerful way! The projects that I see our students producing are incredible—not only are they learning the content, but they are developing those 21st century skills, such as critical thinking and collaboration, that are necessary for being competitive in their future endeavors. This type of learning makes the standards relevant and meaningful!
When the new Common Core State Standards were introduced a few years ago, I was initially concerned. Having many professional learning opportunities to unpack the standards helped me to gain perspective on what these new standards meant for our students. Then, when I was given the opportunity to author for LearnBop I jumped at the opportunity. I was confident in my previous math experience, but I also knew that helping to author would ultimately help me as an educator teach my kids how to attack the new standards.
My experience in teaching math has helped me develop Bops when I think about all of the possible choices students might be thinking about as they work through a problem. In addition, developing bops has forced me to focus more on scaffolding with my students. The Bops really guide students through each step of the process, providing hints at just the right time and offering personalized support when needed.
Right now, I’m working on my specialist degree in Educational Leadership. This program, along with my job in educational technology, has pushed me to spend a lot of time researching and studying the learning that our students need to experience to be competitive when they enter the workforce one day. One thing I know is that technology is not going away. I also know that our students must be presented with rigorous and relevant content that challenges them and forces them to think deeply and make connections about what they are learning.
We need programs that integrate technology, like LearnBop—that give students “practice” with these types of higher-level problems. I have kept “higher-level learning” as a focus as I author for LearnBop. I want to create problems that connect math to the “real world” and are also challenging. If our students are going to be asked to show their capabilities in math on major state or district assessments, we need programs to not only guide students through the learning of standards, but also offer teachers one more type of formative assessment for each of their students. As educators, it is critical for us to find and use tools, like Learnbop, that help us determine the learning gaps for each student so that they can move forward into deeper learning!