2010-2011 Winning Application

2011 Marilyn Prince Award-winner Lindsey BerkowitzLindsey Berkowitz

1) What was the most memorable classroom moment in your first year of teaching?
Early in my educational experience, there were never just one or two reasons to become a teacher.  It is more of a calling than a conscience decision to become a teacher.  Probably the most compelling reason was the desire to have a part of a child's life, no matter how small.  It could be to create a desire to read, or inspire a young writer, but even the consistent nurturing of confidence on a daily basis is important enough to be a teacher.  After getting hired as a fifth/sixth grade teacher at Alta-Dutch Flat Elementary, I wanted to know what makes a child bloom.  Do they enjoy art, math, science, etc?  I wanted to know about their family, their home life, their favorite things, and if a child likes to read and if not, why.  While it is important to understand a certain learning disability, I don’t necessary want to know about their past “issues” with other teachers. I wanted a fresh start, a new path for both of us.  This path began with me getting to know and understand each and every one of my students; and for me it was the most memorable classroom moment in my first year of teaching.  Knowing the knowledge of each of my student’s learning style and social skills assisted in how I was going to teach the unit of matter.  The needs of an auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learner can all be met in one lesson with careful planning.  By understanding every student, I was able to find the place in each student that shines.  The place that makes the child's eyes light up.  When I found that place, I was able to reach other areas that needed work through that place. 

2) What's a specific example of how you believe your teaching helped a student, or students?
One specific example of how I believe my teaching helped my students was when I taught my fifth graders a lesson on weather.  The central focus of the learning segment was the ability to comprehend and understand science terms and/or concepts relating to weather.  The students were presented lessons on the hydrosphere, water cycle, and cloud types.  Looking at the earliest pieces of data, I knew my students would benefit from utilizing graphic organizers because these students have had very little experience sorting out the important information or main ideas from the text. After teaching the lesson on graphic organizers, I was impressed on how well they grasped the concept.  To check for understanding, the students were assigned the next section in their book, and had to show me how to organize the main ideas on a graphic organizer.  I provided the students with a blank three column note form graphic organizer, and they had to fill it in with only the important information from the section.  I was very pleased with the results.  In fact, I felt the graphic organizers were of advantage for all my fifth graders because it helped them to classify ideas and communicate more effectively.  Also, the students were able to remember and comprehend the content subject being taught.  They were able to see all the information on one sheet.  They did not have to take home their book to study for the test, which can be very frustrating and confusing.  With one diagram, the students have all the essential facts; making studying a far less painful endeavor for them.  From analyzing the evidence, I learned that the majority of these students are visual learners.  They learn best by seeing the words.  By creating graphic organizers, each enhanced their ability to recall information more completely as well as retain it.  Furthermore, providing hands-on activities got the students more motivated and engaged in the lesson, and it helped them to become independent learners.

3) What are you most looking forward to in your second year of teaching?
The most important thing I am looking forward to in my second year of teaching is returning to Alta-Dutch Flat Elementary.  I was extremely lucky to have been given the opportunity to return after being pink slipped.  Not only do I get to come back, but I will continue to teach the fifth/sixth graders.  This year I am excited to see how the sixth graders have grown since I had the opportunity of having them last year.  I am also eager to meet and teach the incoming fifth graders.  In addition, I will be teaching the entire science curriculum, while my co-teacher teaches social studies.  By teaching science, I am looking forward to creating a classroom environment that will help my students build a solid science vocabulary, gain a strong understanding of key scientific principles and topics, and see how science is related to all other disciplines.  Also, I want my students to see science as useful and meaningful, develop critical thinking skills, and solve real-life problems.  Most importantly I want my students to have FUN!!!  Furthermore, I intend to teach my students the skills, information, and attitudes necessary for proper adjustment to their community and to society.  Students will learn a great deal of synthesizing, interpreting, explaining, and organizing; all of which are essential to a successful future. Overall, I look forward to letting the students learn through experimentation as well as to discover things for themselves. 

Updated 4/5/12