We are launching a new interview series! Check out our blog once a week for informative and fun Q&As with rockstar teachers. Each Sunday we’ll share inspirational background stories and laugh-out-loud classroom moments from some enthusiastic teachers and admins who use digital assessment with their students.
We are proud to introduce our first Edulastic Innovator Sunday Spotlight, featuring Betty Scola. Betty is joining us for this interview during her second year on Edulastic’s Innovator Team. Read on for our exclusive interview, which included astronauts, Edulastic tips, chocolate, and Betty’s love of technology.
Get to know Betty Scola
What do you love about teaching? Why did you get started & what motivates you?
When I was in 3rd grade my dream was to be an astronaut or a teacher. (It was the early 1970s and the Apollo astronauts were our heroes.) I met my husband in college and knew I wanted to stay home and raise a family. So teacher and astronaut went on the back burner and I took a high paying job as a computer engineer. I did that for 10 years, saved some money and spent 10 years home with my kids. When they were old enough, I went into teaching. My favorite part is I never know what is going to happen during the day but I know I’ll be smiling.
What is your “Edulastic story”?
Part of my job is to integrate technology into the curriculum. We knew to prepare students for online testing, we needed to start putting our assessments online. We tried Google Forms but were very limited in what we could do. And since our tech director did not allow add-ons to be added to our Google suite, the only way we could use things like Flubaroo, Autocrat, etc., was by inputting hundreds to thousands of lines of java code into our docs. (Not fun.) I realized we need something better and luckily I stumbled onto Edulastic from a google search of online PARCC like assessments – FREE. The rest is history.
Describe your Edulastic “aha” moment in more detail (the moment where you discovered Edulastic and realized it was going to be a great fit).
My major in college was Math and Computer Science. I live for analyzing data. When I gave my first test and saw the dashboard, I was hooked. I can not really focus on what the students understand and what they don’t. Our first year of using Edulastic, our number of students passing the PARCC double from the year without Edulastic.
What are your teaching/learning goals this school year?
I have the same goal every year. I want to give the students 100% no matter how I feel. If I don’t, I’m cheating them. They will never get that time back.
Reflecting on challenges that you had to overcome last year, what are some tips for teachers who are new to Edulastic?
When you first start using Edulastic, creating new questions can seem overwhelming. Watching the videos to see how to create each question type helps. Just plug away and by your 3rd test you’ll be an expert. Also share the work load. If you have 4 teachers in a grade level, you’ll only need to create a quarter of the tests because you can share. I tend to make my own questions rather than use the ones in Edulastic’s database but that’s because I’m a control freak.
Favorite Edulastic question type?
Drag and Drop. You can be so creative with the background images.
Favorite thing to snack on while using Edulastic?
Coffee or tea?
Fall or Spring?
Best tactic to get the class quiet?
I stand in the front of the room, hands on hips, death stare on face and just say, “I’m waiting.”
Must-have classroom decor?
This year I made a giant white circle with the word “can’t” and drew a red circle and line through “can’t.” That word was forbidden in my room.
Not fair to ask a Media Specialist. I love reading Young Adult books best and Historical Fiction is my genre but I tend to spend more time looking up the “real” history behind the book. My two favorite to read over and over books are The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton (pick happiness over money) and The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo (you can find happiness wherever you are if you try).
Favorite time of the school year?
Right after standardized testing. The pressure is off and you can have fun.
Kindest compliment you have received from a student?
I had a very difficult student this year. At the end of the year she wrote me a thank you note and told me I was her hero.
Funniest student moment?
Too many. My most embarrassing moment was when I was teaching and went to sit down and there was no chair under me. I went right to the floor and just kept teaching like I was standing. Finally a student said “are you OK?”. I was but I knew I couldn’t gracefully get off the floor so I tried to pretend it didn’t happen.
Greatest accomplishment in the classroom this past year?
Teaching my 4th graders how to program in Python.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Reading, spending time with my family, eating chocolate and playing online poker (Maybe you can skip the last one).
Ask and answer your own question!
What do I wish was available in schools when I was a student? Technology. The extent of technology when I was in elementary school was film strips, record players, black and white TVs and if we were lucky, tape recorders. I would love to be a student in a classroom now.