We are proud to introduce our twenty-sixth Sunday Spotlight, featuring Kyle Nielsen who is a social studies teacher in Henderson, Nevada. Kyle loves all of the dynamics of teaching except for grading which is why he’s glad he uses digital assessment! Enter his classroom and you may encounter Señor Globo(a giant inflatable globe), a huge timeline of human history, and some pop tarts, which are Kyle’s favorite snack to munch on when using Edulastic. We hope you enjoy getting to know Kyle in this featured interview!
Middle School Social Studies
Pinecrest Academy Inspirada
5 years working in education
“I love that no matter how well I plan my day, I can still always be confident that no day at work is quite the same as another, and I’ll always be surprised or challenged in unexpected ways.”
– Kyle Nielsen
Get to know Kyle Nielsen
What do you love about working in education? What motivates you?
I love so many things about teaching! I love that teaching incorporates so many different skills and activities. I find great creative outlet in planning engaging lessons, enjoy the technical satisfaction that comes with helping students perfect research and writing projects, and love the social aspect of working with other teachers, parents and students. I love that no matter how well I plan my day, I can still always be confident that no day at work is quite the same as another, and I’ll always be surprised or challenged in unexpected ways. Mostly I love the electrical charge I feel when I get to be part of that “light bulb moment” for a student truly understanding or caring about something new for the first time!
Why did you become a teacher?
I have always loved History and was pursuing a degree in that field while also working as a supervisor at a call center. I was placed in charge of a team of new recruits, most of whom were right out of high school and struggling to transition to the adult world. I found it very rewarding not only to train them in the skills of the company but also to help them develop the life skills they needed to be successful. When I graduated, I decided to merge these two aspects of my life, and immediately went back to school for a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education.
What is your “Edulastic story”?
My principal challenged all of us to find better ways to assess students, incorporating more depth of knowledge type questions and multi-part questions that would help prepare them for our state standardized test. I also really wanted something that could incorporate the filling out of graphic organizers and other classification related tasks. I think I did a Google Search of “Drag and Drop assessment programs” or something similarly vague. Viola! Up popped Edulastic! After exploring it for a while I signed up and never looked back!
Describe your favorite Edulastic “aha” moment.
When I saw how easily I could create just about any question type I could imagine, and then used it for the first time with my students, only to find how extensive the data on their performance was, I knew I had found something great. I have used many tools that do certain parts of what Edulastic can do, but nothing that can do ALL of the things Edulastic can do!
What are your teaching/learning goals this year?
My goal is to do a better job communicating my students’ progress to their parents, and to be more effective at using data to drive my curriculum going forward. Edulastic can help me do both!
Sum up your teaching philosophy in a few sentences!
Teaching and learning are two sides of the same coin, and the only thing that matters for either one is this: If you can do a little better today than you did yesterday, and a little better still tomorrow, that is the definition of success.
Favorite motivational idea:
“Things won’t always be awesome, but your response can be,” – Kid President
Tips for new Edulastic users:
I would recommend starting small, especially if you are introducing a new question type. While the website is relatively user-friendly on the student end, I have found it’s best to assign a “practice assignment” with one or two of the same question type, and go over it in preview mode with the whole class. That way, students are not thrown off when they are taking an assessment and encounter that type of question.
Favorite Edulastic question type?
Its a tie between Drag and Drop and Classification.
Favorite snack while using Edulastic
Spring or Fall?
The Beekeeper’s Apprentice by Laurie R. King (or any book in that series)
Best tactic for getting the class quiet?
Count down from five, just like their moms used to do. There’s a primal instinct within each one of them that tells them its time to quiet down. 🙂
Must- have classroom Decor:
My giant inflatable globe (his name is Señor Globo), and my even more giant timeline of human history!
Favorite time of the school year and why:
The beginning! Everyone is excited and hopeful of the possibilities the new school year will bring!
Kindest compliment you have received from a student or teacher?
It wasn’t really a compliment, but it has always stuck with me because it is so rare and yet so simple. I had a student during my first year teaching who would always, without fail, quietly say “thank you,” on her way out of the room after every lesson. It was especially meaningful on those days when her classmates had been difficult or disruptive.
Funniest student moment?
I once had a student who insisted on arguing with me about just about everything. He was a very intelligent kid who just found he needed to push his boundaries as much as possible. One day he was standing beside my desk, debating my teaching philosophy with me. As he did so, he was also fidgeting with the stapler he had picked up from my desk. He was right in the middle of what I’m sure would have been a brilliant rebuttal, when he stopped talking and his eyes went wide. He held up his hand to show that he had accidentally stapled his index and middle fingers together. I don’t like seeing students get hurt, but that one felt like Karmic justice.
Greatest accomplishment in the classroom this past year:
I have managed to move my classroom as close to a flipped classroom as my school’s policy allows. It has been a tremendous amount of work, but I am very pleased with the results and hopeful that the work will continue to pay off in the future.
How do you like to spend your free time?
Playing hide and seek with my two and four year old daughters.
What’s the worst part about being a teacher?
Grading assignments, hands down. Thanks Edulastic, for making that easier too!
Join Kyle Nielsen and other educators:
- Sign up for Edulastic for free
- Learn more about the Sunday Spotlight
- Kyle shared some of his teaching strategies in our Teacher Talk webinar series on social studies. Check out the webinar to hear what he had to share!