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Local teachers on DreamTeam
Cheryl Lang, above, wears her LearnZillion tee-shirt while she works on a literacy lesson. Lang has taught for 15 years at Oxford Hills Middle School. She was selected to be a part of LearnZillion’s “Dream Team” of teachers this year. Jennifer Wells, below, has been teaching for nine years. She works as a math teacher at Oxford Hills Middle School. “Scale your Impact” is LearnZillion’s motto for how to make a difference.
Jennifer Wells has been teaching for nine years. She works as a math teacher at Oxford Hills Middle School. "Scale your Impact" is LearnZillion's motto for how to make a difference.
OXFORD HILLS — Cheryl Lang and Jennifer Wells stumbled into the next big trend in teaching. Both teach at Oxford Hills Middle School, Lang as a literacy coach and Wells as a math teacher. They applied to be a part of LearnZillion's Dream Team of teachers with an online application.
“Initially, I was just looking for a way to make some money in the summer,” said Lang, “which is typical for a teacher to do.”
Not only did Lang and Wells get a free trip to Atlanta, they worked on a program funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and were part of a “Dream Team” of only 100 teachers selected from the 1,000 that applied.
LearnZillion began in Washington, DC to help teach individual students with lessons that they needed, but didn’t have time for in the classroom. Due to the success they had with it, co-founders Eric Westendorf and Alix Guerrier, decided to expand it for broader use throughout the country.
Now, “LearnZillion is a learning platform that combines video lessons, assessments and progress reporting.” (LearnZillion.com). Beginning August 28, 2,000 lesson plans will become available for students and teachers to access on their website. Lang and Wells were a part of the group of teachers that wrote these lessons.
They began creating the lessons at the TeachFest in Atlanta, a congress of the top teachers who were selected for the program. There, the teachers strategized on how to “scale their impact beyond the classroom,” a press release from LearnZillion stated.
Lang’s experience at TeachFest was “…simply amazing! It was so welcoming, inspirational, and energizing!” she said. “Most of all, what I took away from TeachFest was the networking of educators who are making a difference. …throughout our time in Atlanta, we were shown how one person, with a supportive foundation, can make a difference.”
Wells was in agreement and added, “I enjoyed being able to hear about the different types of work that is going on in classrooms and schools across the country.”
Not only is LearnZillion.com a resource for teachers who are looking for either initial lesson plans or new ideas on how to broach a topic, but students can access it as well.
“The lessons will be a great resource for students who may need some extra time or help when learning a new topic,” Wells explained, “they can also be used for students who are ready to challenge themselves with harder material.”
The lessons were created simply, so that students and teachers can focus on particular skills and not the technology. While they provide a lot of information and teaching aides, LearnZillion is trying to help – not replace – teachers.
Both Lang and Wells came away from this experience happy to be able to build stronger plans for teaching, a job that both are very passionate about. While Wells loves the “Aha!” moment when students learn something new, and Lang will never look back to her previous job, both teacher’s enthusiasm for teaching showed through in their applications, and in their selection to LearnZillion’s “Dream Team.”
Through the lessons they crafted, Lang and Wells will be able to spread their passion and enthusiasm to students and teachers everywhere.