Get to know Jackie Stevens
Introducing Edulastic Innovator Spotlight member Jackie Stevens! Jackie is an English Teacher and Instructional Coach in Mora, MN. Jackie has known she wanted to teach since she was in 2nd grade! Check out her Edulastic Tips – they are truly great.
What inspired you to work in education?
I decided in 7th grade that I was going to be an English teacher and my confidence with that decision has never wavered! I had an amazing 2nd grade teacher, and during the summer following that year, I realized I missed being at school. It was the first time I recognized that I genuinely enjoyed going to school instead of viewing it as a requirement. My love of learning continued to grow over the next several years, along with my love of writing. For a time, I thought that I wanted to be an author – until I became intimidated by the thought of having to sell my writing in order to make that a career!
When I started 7th grade, I was terrified. My small bubble of 20 classmates at my private elementary school ballooned into my public middle school’s large sea of over 250 classmates. And yet, my 7th grade reading teacher helped me focus on my learning again. I still remember very specific details of her classroom, her voice, her lessons, and her demeanor. I realized that I wanted to be able to spend every day making other students feel how Mrs. Foust made me feel in her class: calm, confident, and accepted.
What do you love about Edulastic?
First, I love the live class board, especially while students are taking an assessment. It allows me to monitor which students might be rushing, which students are stuck, and which students might be cheating, if their colorful box matrix is identical to the student in front of them. During our daily warm ups, the live class board allows me to see with which questions students struggled, so I can provide some instant re-teaching.
Next, I love the standards-based reports. Each benchmark assessed on a summative assessment is reported as a separate assignment. Then, if a student has one or two benchmarks that were particularly challenging, they are able to work on those specifically as opposed to retaking the entire assessment. This practice would not be possible without the ease of Edulastic’s standards-based reports. I am also absolutely obsessed with the different question types and the multitude of options within each question type! Not only do the drag and drop question types help prepare students for state standardized assessments, but they also allow me to create questions that ask students to think differently than they do on a traditional multiple choice question. The passage question type is fantastic for close-reading questions.
Finally, the ability to embed different media into the questions opens so many possibilities for an assessment. I have embedded YouTube videos, Vocaroo audio clips, Google Slides presentations, and more! The embedding capabilities have led me to expand my use of Edulastic to not just summative or formative assessments, but ongoing study guides as well.
What tips do you have for teachers who are new to Edulastic?
- Tip 1: Check out Edulastic’s YouTube channel! That hooked me right away and gave me so many ideas. The how-to videos are fantastic for beginners, as are the videos that discuss the different ways other educators are using Edulastic in their content areas.
- Tip 2: Reach out to the Edulastic support team and community when you have questions. The support team responds super quickly and solves all my problems! And the online Facebook community can provide ideas or feedback on assessment/lesson ideas.
- Tip 3: As you start to move your previous assessments over to Edulastic, try to incorporate one or two of Edulastic’s unique question types into each assessment. If you try to change your whole assessment at once, you might find yourself overwhelmed, or you might possibly make some questions more complicated and less clear than the original versions. Slowly trying out the different question types will build your confidence in using them and get your students more comfortable with them over time.
What is your teaching philosophy?
I have no control over which students become my students. They are assigned to my class roster, they arrive in my classroom, and they become the young people for whose education I am responsible. I can’t hand pick them. I can’t change the experiences they have had in school before they became my students, the families by whom they have been raised, or the brains and bodies they have been given. What I have control over, is HOW I teach them. I can change that over and over and over again. I can try new strategies and learn new things. And that is what I will do every day of my career. I will change what I can control in order to reach my students and help them experience success.
Share an #EduVictory from the past year. In other words, do you have a particular success story that has happened in your classroom or at your school?
I had a student this past year with whom I had a hard time making a connection. In fact, most of her teachers had a hard time making a connection with her. She didn’t share aloud in class and preferred to work by herself instead of in a group or with a partner. She had frequent absences, so she was always playing catch up in school. She wasn’t a high-performer on our class assessments, and most of her work was turned in incomplete. Then, we started studying poetry in the beginning of February. Students took a mid-unit assessment on Edulastic which included a question that asked them to write a haiku. What this student wrote was not a haiku – it didn’t follow any of the syllable requirements for that form of poetry. However, it was a BEAUTIFUL poem. Because I was able to see her poem right after she finished it, thanks to Edulastic’s live class board, I talked to the student one-on-one in class that day and told her how much I loved her poem.
As a culminating project for the unit, students worked on creating poetry anthologies including some their own poems. It was the first project all year that this student completed in its entirety and by the due date. It was wonderful. Through the poems she wrote, I got to see a different side of her that she hadn’t been comfortable sharing before. A month later, we moved into distance learning for the remainder of the school year. My student was without internet access for the duration, so paper packets were sent home for each of her classes weekly. I was able to connect with her mom via text only a couple of times over those months. I asked her to encourage her daughter to keep writing poetry. At the end of the year, when we collected paper copies of assignments from our students, she had completed absolutely everything I had sent home for her. It wasn’t an earth-shattering connection. I don’t know if I have had any impact on this student’s educational journey. However, I know I was able to see a talent of hers and encourage her to share it. I was able to give positive updates to her mom, which weren’t the types of communication she was used to having with the school. And I was able to see that she had engaged with her school work and accomplish something during distance learning that I hadn’t seen from her all year. I’ll take it!
The embedding feature available in any question!
Favorite type of question in Edulastic?
What subject(s) do you use Edulastic for?
“I’ll Give You the Sun” by Jandy Nelson
Pride and Prejudice
Must have classroom decor?
A reading nook for comfort and some plants to reap the benefits of biophilic design!