Meet an eMINTS Teacher1505-Stichnote-sm

Kim Stichnote, Secondary Mathematics, Southern Boone School District, Ashland, MO

Kim Stichnote has been a secondary mathematics teacher for the past 24 years in Southern Boone County in Ashland, MO. Kim is completing her final year of eMINTS Comprehensive Professional Development.

Since Southern Boone County is a relatively small school district of approximately 500 students in the high school, teachers can get to know each student personally and can shape each one so that they are meeting their potential. Kim described how she helps students who are struggling, “I ask them the little questions to give them a bread crumb trail to follow and then eventually they will end up where you want them to go,” Kim explained

Kim cultivates student engagement by scaffolding her students’ learning. Students create and solve their own mathematical problems when studying specific topics (such as solving quadratic equations) as opposed to solving problems from a textbook. Students develop significant ownership for their work and are much more persistent in seeking a solution to problems they have generated themselves. Students then present the problems that they have created and solved to their classmates. The practice results in all students completing the assignment and also in students wanting to have the best problem and the best solution to share with their peers. Kim doesn’t lower grades for wrong answers but rather uses each wrong answer as an opportunity to help students understand key concepts. They learn that solutions to difficult problems often require multiple attempts, working with other people to arrive at an answer, and understanding why an answer is right.

Kim uses technology in her classroom as a supporting tool that extends beyond word processing and research. She also encourages students to use platforms such as Google Docs so that they can access their work anytime anywhere. Students use laptops, iPads, and their own devices so that they can learn to troubleshoot in multiple formats.

Kim related an example of how technology helped her support one of her students who was suspended from school. Kim used technology by having her other students use apps on their iPads to capture how they solved problems used in class as part of Kim’s instruction. The students’ solutions and dialogues were varied in their complexity. Kim then added vocabulary and additional dialogue explaining key concepts. The files were uploaded to Google Docs where the suspended student accessed them on a daily basis. Kim has since perfected the process for use with students who are out of class for extended periods of time for illness or other reasons.

Kim described one of her favorite assessment techniques called “Can You Move It.” See the structure at:  Students chose their problem and graphed the equation. Students then shared their graphs with classmates and the peer feedback allowed them to see immediately if they were on target or not. When students were then required to use their graphing skills later in a formal assessment situation, they were able to with ease. Students were able to recall and then apply what they had learned months before.

Kim related how important it is for her and her colleagues to know that their students have developed the accountability needed to maintain and then retrieve knowledge they have learned over time, not just for the short term. She believes it is critical that teachers layer learning in a manner that provides students with opportunities to retain, retrieve, and apply what they have learned over the long term.

In what she calls her “Twitter Travels,” Kim follows a wide variety of teachers from as far away as Alaska and Australia to glean ideas and ways to deal with instructional challenges. She plans to become a contributor to her Twitter Travels as well as a consumer of information.

Kim offered advice to others who are working to personalize learning for their students: be open to change and realize that the worst thing that happens is it doesn’t work so you have to try another way. “If teachers are asking their students to try even if they might fail and then support them, teachers have to be willing to do the same thing…try even if you fail and keep learning. Surrounding yourself with people you trust and who will support you when you try something outside of your comfort zone is really important.”

This teacher profile will be featured in the upcoming white paper Connections and Convergence: eMINTS and Personalized Learning by Monica Beglau and Christine Terry. To receive a copy of this paper when released, sign up here.