This week, we caught up with Ms. Kelly Quinn, one of our K12MATH Course Designers.
Hi, Ms. Quinn! To begin: What work have you done with the Saylor Foundation?
I am currently working on (almost finished with!) the Sixth Grade Math Course.
Nice! [Like we mentioned in the past, we have several K12 courses still under development. So hold on tight!] What keeps you busy outside of working with us?
I teach sixth grade math in Spokane, Washington. At the middle school, I also coach cross country running, boys and girls basketball, and track. In addition, I am the Math is Cool coach for 6-8 grades. Outside of work, I enjoy competing in triathlons – I’m headed to the Ironman 70.3 World Championships in September. I also love to explore the amazing area where I live – hiking, snowboarding, biking, camping, and other outdoor activities.
Wow! Your lifestyle is quite active and busy. In the midst of all this, why did you decide to join the open/online education movement?
I can see that open educational resources are the way of the present and future. I wanted to be a part of the shift to help provide educational opportunities to all who are interested.
We’re certainly glad you decided to be a part of this movement. How has your work with Saylor affected your life as a teacher in Spokane?
The state of Washington and my school district (Central Valley School District) are using the CCSS and working with these standards through the Saylor Foundation has not only helped me thoroughly learn the standards at my current grade level but also the grade levels above and below where I currently teach.
Cool, that’s a nice view of the bigger picture. On the flipside, what parts of your experience have been advantageous to your work with Saylor?
I have also come across an overwhelming amount of resources and will be able to provide them to my students throughout the school year in my classroom. I have been working with other teachers in my school district mapping out our curriculum so I was able to bring that knowledge to my work with the Saylor Foundation.
What advice would you give to other teachers interested in open and/or online education?
Take the time to look through the resource before giving it or recommending it to your students. Some resources require some pre-teaching while other resources might not meet the specific needs of your students. Take advantage of the variety of open resources – it is fun to change things up in the classroom, whether it be through a video, project, group quiz, or just an online game to practice skills.
That’s some great advice! What do you truly enjoy about your work?
Working with sixth graders is awesome. I have the best job in the world. I love time with the students but I also really am enjoying thinking about curriculum and how to deliver it in the most effective way possible. Finding a balance between inquiry-based learning and direct instruction allows me to interact with my students and the math in a variety of ways.
Great! What do you think about the future of K-12 education and/or less-formal learning?
I don’t think that textbooks are the way of the future. Textbook companies aren’t keeping up with the changing standards and I think technology will become the primary method for teaching and obtaining information. I think teaching and classroom instruction will also be valuable. However, there are already so many options available to enrich the learning outside of formal teaching methods.
And, what other advice would you have for our young student readers?
Strive to learn. Don’t be content with memorizing answers and ideas. Own the learning and understand why things work (or don’t work). Read, ask questions, listen to the answers, challenge yourself, and challenge others around you.
And for the last of the advice questions, what advice would you have for those who have graduated or are parents themselves?
Don’t tell your kid they are smart. Remind your child that working hard and persevering leads to success and knowledge. Some concepts and standards might not be grasped easily, but effort and the willingness to endure will take you far. Please do not tell your child that it’s okay that they aren’t good at math because their parents aren’t either. Make a change – nobody is good at something right away. Encouragement can go a long way.
And is there anything you’d like to mention before we sign-off?
I’ve really enjoyed my work with the Saylor Foundation and hope to continue to contribute to course development after my sixth grade math course is complete. If you’d like to know more information about me and my life, please see my website.