Middle School has come a long way from lengthy, chalky notes scrawled on a black board.
Just ask teacher—and social studies curriculum leader—Dr. Stephanie Muson, who was recently awarded Teacher of the Year.
Muson, who has been teaching history for 18 years, the last 10 at BMS, is also a freshly minted PhD with a doctoral degree in Educational Technology. Lessons learned during and prior to her course of study have been readily implemented in the classroom.
“It’s a combination of integrating educational technology and differentiating instruction as much as I can,” Muson said, referring to program specifics. “It is also about addressing the different learning styles in the classroom…allowing the students to gain the knowledge and skills they need.”
Superintendent of Schools Neal Miller is clearly more than satisfied with the results.
“Dr. Muson's expertise in teaching is evident every day in her 8th grade social studies classroom. She seamlessly blends content knowledge with the development of reading, writing, organization and research skills into student centered activities designed to foster critical thinking as well as meeting standards for 21st century learning, praised Miller. "The result is an engaging classroom where students find history comes to life through collaborative activities, simulations and thoughtful discussions."
Further acknowledging the diversity of learning styles, Muson incorporates an array of teaching techniques that may include visuals, manipulatives and modeling, to name a few. Students are given the option to present Muson with projects produced in a variety of media to illustrate they have successfully grasped the material. Poems, essays and museum exhibits are just some of the ways students can express their knowledge of a particular subject.
“Getting to know the students and helping them to know themselves and their learning styles is important,” said Muson. “And identifying what works for the students and developing strategies to get better at it.”
BMS Principal Susan Howard offered kudos as well.
“Dr. Muson has deep understanding of the cognitive process that leads to learning. Blending technology and best practices to meet the needs of middle school students, Dr. Muson 'hooks' students and guides them toward an appreciation for history. Inquiry based constructivist lessons include games, simulations, discussion and cooperative tasks that engage our children in learning, extolled Howard. "It is no wonder that her students love her."
But Dr. Muson’s technology tasks are not over yet.
“I’m always working with the district to bring in new technology, said Muson. "It is ever-evolving.”