Archive for Thursday, September 29, 2005

Middle school ‘exciting’ for veteran teacher

September 29, 2005

Sheila Martin is new to Lansing Middle School, but by no means is she new to teaching.

Martin comes to Lansing with 14 years of teaching under her belt. She last taught first and second grades at Nettie Hartnett Elementary School in Leavenworth, and she's been teaching primary grades for the past 10 years.

Martin said her last stint in middle school was teaching seventh-grade language arts, but she said she loved math and science and wanted to get back into a middle-school setting. She's now teaching sixth-grade math and science.

"That has always been the area that I wanted to teach," Martin said. "Making the break into middle school has been very exciting."

Martin said the transition from elementary to middle school wasn't so hard for her. To prepare for her new job, she said she talked to other middle school teachers to find out what worked for them, and what research showed were effective ways to communicate with the students. Plus, she said her experience from elementary school would help her at her teaching sixth-graders.

"Good teaching practices are good teaching practices," she said.

Martin said her educational philosophy was "Doing is learning."

"Hands on - I think that's the best way to learn," she said. "Keeping kids actively learning is the key."

While it's easy to come up with hands-on projects in science, Martin said, "Math takes a lot of planning ahead of time." One method she's used in math is giving students blocks to help them visualize problems. Instead of writing on paper, the students use the blocks to work out the answers. Martin said the blocks seemed to increase students' understanding of new concepts.

"Understanding skyrockets when they get to touch and manipulate things," she said. "I always refer back to what they were touching, and light bulbs come on. It helps them make the connection. They didn't even know they knew it."

Martin, who received her master's degree in teaching and learning with an emphasis in curriculum and instruction in 2001 from the University of Saint Mary, said she was getting involved in the districtwide curriculum alignment, which she said would help students in each grade learn the materials on their state assessments without teachers repeating what students have already learned. She also sits on the problem-solving committee at LMS.

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