Spotlighting Alexia Forhan
Assabet Valley Technical High School, Malborough, MA
"The Best Part of Teaching is it MATTERS.
If you can reach them...you can teach them!
Yes, this 'selfie' - is not of me, but it could be of any one of my students. They are exposed to technology at a very young age. As an educator it is my job to use what they know to teach them what they need to know. Hanging in my class you will find this quote, "I do what I do because I believe in you, and I'm committed to your success."
Teaching high school students is a second career for me; it allowed me to take my former life experience and infuse it into a place where I can innovate education by removing the walls between my classroom and real life providing a more realistic snapshot of what the modern work force looks like.
Fast forward over time...as I begin my 13th year as a high school science teacher. When I first started teaching, our science department shared one computer. Since then technology has exploded, and I have been a part of many exciting changes. Through various grants, I have brought several technology tools into the classroom and exposed students to a variety of learning applications. Most exciting experience was witnessing the growth of my students and the collaboration among my colleagues due in large part to the Verizon Innovative Learning Schools (VILS) grant received this past year. It has exposed students and teachers to iPads and numerous technology applications and tools and has really enhanced the way students learn and teachers teach. Students are more engaged and teachers are given ways to reach different types of learners and assess student understanding through multiple means using images, tools for visualizing models, sounds, and text. My classroom has been turned into a home for exploration, creativity, and peer to peer communication. And at the end of the day, I find myself feeling a sense of success, looking out into the eyes of my students and thinking we taught each other something today.
Last week I started off the new school year by introducing some new and old tools including:
Kids were excited to create accounts in class on their mobile devices. They let me know how thrilled they were to receive a welcome message from their teacher on their cell phone through Remind 101 that evening as they were at home preparing to head back to school the next day. It made coming to school more welcoming.
Forever Learning Always Growing
I continue to learn and share my knowledge by presenting and participating in many professional development workshops and conferences. This past year I attended
- Social Innovation Summit Conference 2013 in New York City 5/28 through 5/3/2013 with Verizon VILS members on Revolutionizing Learning Using Mobile Technology.
- 2013 ISTE Conference
At Assabet Valley Regional Technical High School, I am a science teacher and VILS technology coach. My goal is to facilitate and mentor on how to integrate technology effectively in the classroom. MIT/Biograph simulations are a big part of learning in my classroom including virtual labs, complex systems thinking, and computer models designed to bring biology to life. I designed and teach an online biology course for at-risk students through Virtual High School. Most recently, I was selected as one of five finalists for "The Hall at Patriot Place 2012-13 Massachusetts STEM Teacher of the Year" - for my commitment to advancing STEM achievement. Thank you to Verizon and ISTE for allowing us the opportunity to grow and develop as educators along with our students in a partnership that benefits everyone.
VIDEO: Teaching and Learning using Technology Enabled Tools
Example Projects using technology:
- Podomatic.com - Podcast | Minicast
- Educreations - Nitrogen Cycle
- Class Blog - Mrs. Forhan's Science Classes
- Glogster - Australopithecus Africanus
- Zoo burst - ZooBurst
Words Through Pictures
1st Day QR code Get to Know the Room Scavenger Hunt!
Collaboration: PLT - Professional Learning Teams
Biograph/MIT Models - Learning Science using Simulations
Lots of Hands on Learning
We Explore, Create, and Communicate Through Projects
Students can analyze and problem solve as they work together to find, process, and synthesize information they have found using various tools. They also use the same tools and applications to share their information with others, fostering an environment of rewarding collaboration where everyone learns from each other.
Sampling of TOOLS & APPLICATIONS implemented this past year with the help of VILS & ISTE ongoing Professional Development
My Web pages:
Field Trips - Keep it real! Both virtual or real world.
I have to remind myself that anyone can educate, but how do I motivate. After all, my job is not only to teach kids but also to have them learn. It seems my students don't care about how much I know or what I do, but they do care about how and why I do what I do, and mostly about how much I care. So stimulate their minds; provide relevance to their learning. Be creative with field trips and they will remember.
- Inside the Lab is a virtual forensics lab my students love to enter.
- Classzone.com offers a variety of virtual labs where students can enter and conduct their own investigations.
I try to take my classes on at least one field trip per year, usually to a biotechnology company to work with scientists for a day during Mass BioTeach - Job Shadow Day each spring. The kids love it! Field trips over the past two years have included NatickArmy Laboratories, Abbott Bioresearch Laboratories, and Masy Bio/Pharma Systems.
Yes, another 'selfie' - not of me, but of any one of us (God willing we make it to this age.) I am a strong advocate of lifelong learning, and I know I will be using technology to continue learning and improving myself, the world around me, and those whose world I am blessed to be part of...forever.