by Nicole Reitz
Wendy Sachel, a sixth-grade math teacher from Emerson J. Dillon Middle School of Phoenix, has been selected to the 2013 LearnZillion Dream Team.
She is one of only 200 chosen to the highly selective group that will travel on a paid trip to San Francisco next month for TeachFest, an intensive professional development conference.
Sachel’s application was chosen out of a pool of more than 3,000 teachers, instructional coaches and administrators from across the country.
The application process is comprised of two parts. The first asked teachers their reasons for wanting to be on the Dream Team, including their teaching philosophies and thoughts about the Common Core.
The second part asked that applicants complete a lesson set outline of three scaffolded lessons and a sample lesson PowerPoint based on one of the lessons.
Each lesson included extension activities and quizzes to check for understanding.
“I did stop to think once or twice that this was quite a bit of work, given the thousands applying,” said Sachel. “However, as I began the process, I knew that whether I asked to join the Dream Team or not, this work could only help me in the classroom, and it already has.”
Ultimately, Sachel was chosen for the Dream Team for her ability to create high-quality, highly conceptual lessons that are easily understood by students.
“It really is such a huge honor,” said EJD Principal Susan Anderson. “She took on this huge undertaking all on her own. What an incredible example she’s setting.”
Sachel has been with the Phoenix school district for 15 years. With the introduction of the Common Core standards, teachers have had to adapt their teaching methods.
“The curriculum tends to change every so often, but this time the changes are not just related to what we teach at each grade level, but how we teach it,” said Sachel.
To give students a deeper understanding of math, they are using models and pictures to represent real world situations. Students are also working with partners and groups to use mathematical reasoning, which goes beyond the memorizing processes.
Sachel said the new style of teaching in the classrooms takes some getting used to for students, parents and teachers, but believes that students are already reaping the benefits.
It is more interactive learning that brought Sachel to the free online program, LearnZillion, which combines video lessons, assessments and progress reporting.
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