Every month, we proudly honor a BirdBrain teacher who has gone above the beyond in his or her dedication to their students. Read our interview with Beth Donoghue, a veteran teacher from Chippewa Middle School whose strong commitment to her students ensures their success every day…
Congratulations! How does it feel to be named BirdBrain’s Teacher of the Month?
At first, I thought it must be some kind of mistake and then, I was shocked and excited. I feel honored to be chosen from all the educators using BirdBrain Science.
What led you to become an educator?
I have always wanted to be a teacher. I thought teaching first or second grade would be fantastic, but after some observations in college, I found middle school was the place for me. I enjoy how students are beginning to think for themselves and make connections to the world around them.
Tell us about what you enjoy doing outside of the classroom.
I like to spend time with my family and play games with my daughter. I enjoy photography and making photo books for my family and I to enjoy.
How did you get introduced to the BirdBrain platform?
I first heard about BirdBrain Science on the National Science Teachers Association list serve. I applied for the free trial and found the articles interesting for students to read.
What’s your favorite part of the program? How about for your students?
Finding leveled reading resources with the same concepts had been a struggle, so I love how BirdBrain articles are leveled for individual reading levels, but still have common examples and vocabulary we could discuss as a class.
I also like knowing the lower level readers have the ability to have the text read to them. Knowing students will be challenged after passing a benchmark and will receive the next reading level is fantastic.
My students enjoy the humor behind the articles and the cartoons at the start of each article. They have also realized they can improve their scores by re-reading and re-taking the comprehension quiz.
You’re one of our most active BirdBrain users ever – tell us more about how you use BirdBrain in your classroom!
I use BirdBrain Science in two ways. First, I use it for vocabulary practice in the beginning of a unit to help build background knowledge. [By reading the articles], they practice the vocabulary words introduced in class in a more authentic way.
My favorite way to use BirdBrian Science is as a leveled center. The students can answer similar questions as they learn about a particular topic, but at their own level. It’s minimal work for me to help students succeed. Sometimes they complete the free response questions on BirdBrain Science and sometimes they use information to complete a graphic organizer in their science notebooks.
Do you have any innovative instructional practices you’d like to share with other teachers?
I enjoy teaching science in small groups, so the students can have a more focused learning experience. I create stations – based in visuals, reading, and hands-on activities – which are designed to give students confidence and the ability to succeed.
Typically, students rotate to a teacher guided reading or demonstration station, a video station, an independent reading station, and real life application learning task all in one class period. Some stations are independent and some are completed as a group. BirdBrain is always an independent reading station, which students find engaging (ed. note: We absolutely love this idea and encourage BirdBrain teachers to implement this!).
Sound off on your own instructional practices in the comment section below. You can send your nominations for Teacher of the Month to firstname.lastname@example.org.