Today, we took some time to chat with Ms. Debby Grawn, one of our awesome K12MATH Course Designers!

Hello Debby, and thank you for sharing with us!
You’re welcome!

“One of my favorite practice standards for the new math curriculum is ‘Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.’

Let’s begin with the first question — it’s an easy one. What do you do for Saylor?
I have been working on the Seventh Grade math course that is aligned to the new Common Core Standards. In addition, I just completed the final exam for this course. This is really exciting to me because students, parents and teachers can use this seventh grade course to help them for free!

Yes! K12MATH007 is ramping up in popularity. But enough about Saylor…what else are you up to?
I am a very BUSY lady. I write for a number of different companies. One of the big projects that I have been excited to be a part of is writing the 6th grade modules for New York State and their use on the Engage NY website. I write activities, lessons, and even high stakes assessment questions for various other companies. I teach online math classes for a few different colleges as well.

Have you taught in a brick-and-mortar classroom?
Normally, I would also be teaching 7th and 8th grade math at a nearby middle school in New York, but my husband and I welcomed baby number three in March of 2012 and I have been on an extended maternity leave since his birth.

Congratulations on the new addition to your family! How does everything come together at home?
debbybeesI am VERY busy with three children, a hubby and a dog. I have a daughter and two sons so far and we hope to have more children in the future. We spend lots of time outdoors, hiking, playing at playgrounds, visiting state parks, or just dancing around the house! My kids and I love to cook together and try to make as much of our food as possible from scratch! In addition, my husband and I are starting our own apiary. For those of you that don’t know what that is, we work with honey bees. This includes pollinating food so that it will grow into the fruits and veggies we love to eat and also collecting honey, wax, pollen and other byproducts for our use as well. This has been very exciting for my family! Even my older two children take part in taking care of the bees.

That’s cool, and terrifying (bees!). Our heartiest regards for your brave kids, who are clearly getting fantastic real-world education. Which leads us to how you became involved in open/online education?
My work with online education began with my own blog for students to use at home. I do not keep it up at this time because I am not teaching right now. This grew when I began to teach students online and saw the necessity for appropriate and engaging materials to be used while trying to help them learn. While continuing to work online, I came across the Saylor website and fell in love with their project and what they were doing to help everyone have a chance to learn.

And we’re glad you found us! Next question, how has your work with the Saylor Foundation changed your professional practice or added to your professional/personal repertoire?
My work at Saylor has really opened my eyes to the work that still needs to be done in making online learning available to everyone. With the Common Core still so new, I think that there still needs to be open resources created that are more closely aligned to the rigorous requirements that all students and learners can have access to. My work has also led me to come to know many wonderful resources that I did not know were out there. I can now give this knowledge to my students and their parents to help them. I even use some of them with my own children.

Thank you for helping us make access to Common Core education online a reality! On the flip side, what did you bring into your work with Saylor that was advantageous?
I think I brought to Saylor my ten years of experience teaching and writing about math. I also brought my passion for trying to find the best open resources that are currently out there. I love math and I hope that some of the resources that are part of this course will help others love math too.

debbypicGetting students to love math can be a tall order (although we think math is pretty great), so it’s important for us and for our learners that the resources comes with love…thank you! What is it that excites you?
I truly love math. I always have. I like thinking about math, thinking about teaching math and trying to help others see the beauty in math. Writing curriculum and teaching courses gives me the chance to create math materials that can help math make sense and help show students the real life applications of math.

What advice would you give to other teachers interested in open/online education?
For other teachers, I would let them know that there are great open resources out there. It might take a lot of searching, but you can find things that will align. In addition, keep looking. Every time I start to search, I find new and even better materials that have been created.

In addition, I would also share with teachers that these open resources are great additions to any program you might be using. Parents and students often need extra help or extra practice. This is a free way to get them the help that they might need.

The Internet has changed “extra help” a lot…we still remember the newsprint drill books for parents to use at home. What are your thoughts on the future of K-12 and less-formal learning?
My hope for future K-12 learning is that it always has students thinking deeply and problem solving. One of my favorite practice standards for the new math curriculum is “Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.” I want students to keep thinking and building on their understandings, and never give up! I hope that this practice keeps building in the future.

On behalf of society, we hope so too! Any advice for our young student readers?
My advice to learners is to keep asking questions. There really are no dumb questions. Most often, if you are wondering the answer to a certain question, there are other students wondering the same thing. So be sure to ask questions and build your learning and understanding from the answers.

Excellent! What advice would you have for graduates and parents of students?
To parents and graduates, I would say, never stop learning! There are so many free courses online at Saylor, you don’t ever have to finish learning. If there was a class you wish had taken in general, or a class you wish you had taken more seriously, take it again on your time when you are ready. Just keep learning.

Images property/courtesy of Debby Grawn.