BOISE, Idaho — What's the difference between a setback and an opportunity? Some would say it's all in how you look at it.
Boise sixth-grade teacher Lisa Stitt saw the setback of closing schools last spring because of the pandemic as a chance to try something different. After two decades in the classroom, Stitt made the switch this year to full-time online teaching.
"I was really just up for a challenge. I thought it would be fun," she said. "I enjoy technology, and I enjoy trying to find creative ways to reach kids. In the spring when we had our shutdown I took it as a huge opportunity to be able to connect with families in a different way. And it went well. So I thought, why not? Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
At Boise Online School, Stitt hit the ground running - or actually walking.
"There's my feet. I'm moving. So I'm kinetic energy," Stitt tells her students as she records herself walking around her neighborhood on a 'potential and kinetic energy field trip.' She pointed out different things that were potential energy, such as a parked car, and examples of kinetic energy, like a moving stream.
"I think it's important to be engaging. I get bored fast," she said. "So I need to be moving and engaging myself, and I'm also not afraid to be as ridiculous as it takes."
Another project involved rigging up a rollercoaster contraption made of pipe insulation, a cardboard box, lots of masking tape and a marble.
"So I needed to increase its potential energy by adjusting some of the height on this," Stitt explained to students. "So as I went like this, then I could see that it would go better and this would loop up and come up to about here."
The creative curriculum has had a domino effect. The kids came up with personal projects on potential and kinetic energy, involving guitars, baseballs, and other objects in their own homes.
Stitt also wowed her students with a live launch of a homemade rocket, captured in slow motion.
"Just the shock registering on the kids' faces, I think it entices them and brings them back wanting to know what else is going to happen," she said.
Stitt also hosts theme Fridays, including Hat Day and Pajama Day.
Although teaching remotely is a big change, Stitt says she has not lost any of her love for teaching.
"My mom has a journal of me in fourth grade saying what I wanted to do with my life, and teaching is it," she said.
If you would like to nominate a teacher who is going above and beyond, send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Educators, for more information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation, visit www.capedfoundation.org.
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