We are excited to introduce our second Sunday Spotlight, featuring Barbara Zingg! We had a great time chatting with her about teaching and how she uses Edulastic. Read on for our exclusive interview, which included carrots, Edulastic tips, Game of Thrones, and making math fun. This interview has been condensed and edited.
9th Grade Math
Washington High School
Charles Town, West Virginia
Years teaching: 23
“Edulastic gives you real, actionable data to change your teaching.”
Get to know Barbara Zingg
What do you love about teaching? Why did you get started & what motivates you?
I love seeing kids make a connection. When they can get it and understand what they’re doing, and it’s not just doing problems, but solving something and applying it to something. Just to see them have that moment is exciting. I started wanting to be a teacher in high school because I had a horrible math teacher and an amazing social studies teacher. I thought, there has to be a better way to teach math than how that math teacher taught it, because she was terrible.
What is your “Edulastic story”?
I discovered Edulastic as a result of my second master’s degree, in a class where they recommended top free resources. Once I found it, I was hooked because of all the math enhanced question types, but it also tied into the computer based assessments that were being introduced in my county. Having watched my students struggle with tech-enhanced questions, I started doing weekly Edulastic assignments so that they got comfortable with that kind of question. I’ve done weekly Edulastic assignments since then. Edulastic gives you real, actionable data to change your teaching. If everybody’s missing number 10, you can look at number 10, you can look at their answers, you can see the piece that’s missing, and you can fix it.
Describe your Edulastic “aha” moment in more detail (the moment where you discovered Edulastic and realized it was going to be a great fit).
The biggest “aha” moment came when I was preparing to do a presentation about Edulastic and I discovered the reports function and just how rich that reports function is….it was like, yes, this is what we need! We need to be able to see these kind of reports. I’m working on it being what we use in our county for benchmarks.
What are your teaching/learning goals this school year?
I have a class of what we call “math one support.” My goal for them is to get them re-engaged. We do nothing but games and software, Edulastic, that kind of thing, to get them engaged in mathematics. We’re going back to number sets and number line activities, because some of these kids missed that crucial piece.
Reflecting on challenges that you had to overcome last year, what are some tips for teachers who are new to Edulastic?
Start small. Start with something that was created by somebody else rather than start creating your own assessments. Test it on your students and establish a format like I do: midnight Sunday to midnight Sunday, they have a week to do it. Start with one assignment a month and establish those norms and patterns with your students to get used to Edulastic. We assume that this generation are digital natives. Some of them are not. Even something like plot a point on a graph; they don’t understand how to do that. So you have to take them through that.
Favorite Edulastic question type?
Favorite thing to snack on while using Edulastic?
Coffee or tea?
Fall or Spring?
Best tactic to get the class quiet?
Must-have classroom decor?
Favorite time of the school year?
Fall, because I get to know a whole new group of kids.
Kindest compliment you have received from a student?
That I made a difference.
Funniest student moment?
There’s generally a funny moment in every class. Usually it’s because a student has not been paying attention, and comes in at the tail end of something and asks a question that’s totally totally off topic that causes the whole class to laugh. But laughing happens a lot in my class. I try to make math fun.
Greatest accomplishment in the classroom this past year?
Turning a group of immature 9th graders into beginning mathematicians.
How do you like to spend your free time?
I love to read, I do all kinds of needlework, handcraft, cross-stitch, crochet, knitting. Also, watching a good TV show — right now, it’s Game of Thrones.
Ask and answer your own question!
How do we get and keep good young teachers? Support them in the classroom, in the teacher’s lounge, and at the bank.