Welcome to Mary Blow's Classroom

By Mary Blow on August 2, 2010
  • Grades: 6–8

I teach 6th grade English at Lowville Academy Middle School in New York’s Black River Valley, located in the rolling foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.

I teach 6th grade English at Lowville Academy Middle School in New York’s Black River Valley, located in the rolling foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.

Lowville is an agriculture-dependent community in the heart of Lewis County, one of the lowest socio-economic counties in our state. Despite economic struggles, Lowville is rich in small town culture, which is attractive to many of the 10th Mountain Division soldiers stationed at nearby Fort Drum. We are pioneers in alternative energy. Not only are we home to the infamous Maple Ridge Wind Farm on Tug Hill, the largest wind farm east of the Mississippi, but we have a nearby biomass plant and a hydropower plant. 

Becoming a teacher was a career change for me. Married and with children, I earned my Associate in Arts degree at Jefferson Community College; a Bachelor of Arts in English and Childhood Education and a Master of Science in Education Literacy Specialist (grades 712) at SUNY Potsdam; and my NYS certification to teach English (grades 712). This is my second year as the chairperson of the Madison-Oneida Model Schools ELA/SS North Committee. During the summer, I work for the St. Lawrence BOCES, leading professional development workshops and assisting teachers with integrating technology into the classroom.

This year, I have approximately 105 students, divided into five inclusive sections. My inclusive classrooms are designed so every child can succeed. Whenever possible, I give students voice and choice, encouraging them to take ownership in their learning. My 6th grade students engage in writer’s workshops and literature circles, working at their instructional levels while collaborating with peers of all abilities. Mini-lessons target whole class and individual needs. My favorite projects are those where the students are in charge of their learning. When they designed a medieval wiki, they researched a topic, wrote an article, and published it online. The most exciting part of the project was when my 6th graders were invited to present the wiki at a regional technology conference in Alexandria Bay in the Thousand Islands! 

Each year, I empower my students by having them design a unique project using technology. When our year is finished, I want my students to leave my classroom with a sense of adventure for learning. I want them to believe that barriers can be broken, and that if they are willing to work hard enough, they can be whoever they aspire to be. They will leave knowing that they are a part of our school family, and as such, my door is always open — now and 20 years from now.

People might say that my greatest strength is technology. I believe my greatest strength is my passion for learning and my desire to share with and learn from others. Collaborating with colleagues is especially critical in developing curriculum and integrating technology into my classroom. It is my drive to learn from and network with others that has brought me to this exciting endeavor, working as Scholastic’s 20102011 Grade 68 Teacher Advisor.

Comments

Good morning, Missou. It is nice to have you join us. ~Mary

good morning madame

Hi, Theresa,

Middle school students love to socialize, as I am guessing you have figured out. I would tap into their desire to socialize with group work and classroom presentations. Offer choices whenever possible. Perhaps you can put them into groups and debate climate control. The level of participation goes up with a little competition. Technology is also a great hook. They could present in groups using online web 2.0 tools: glogster (digital posters: http://edu.glogster.com) or voicethread (presentation tool which allows them to collaborate on line: http://voicethread.com/) or Prezi (a zoom-in presentation tool: http://prezi.com). Most middle school students know how to use these tools. Hope this helps. ~Good Luck, Mary

Hi Mary! I was recently hired by 4-H on a part-time basis. I am teaching middle school students a fabulous curriculum on climate control. Can you tell me the best way to keep them engaged in learning? I have tried to mix it up (DVD, hands-on, posters, etc). Any ideas are welcome and appreciated! I hope you're having a great year!

Debbie, You are welcome. I'd like to see what you are doing with your SMART Board. Thank you for your kind words. I should say contratulations to you as well as our new NYSRA president. Good luck this year. ~Mary

Congratulations Mary! I can't thank you enough for all you have shown me about interactive whiteboards! Scholastic is very fortunate to have a teacher who multi-tasks 24-7! You Go GIRL!

Congratulations. Your bio is great. I love the pictures of the teacher advisors. Everyone looks so happy to be a part of this exciting team. I look forward to raeding about all of the exciting things you will be doing in your classroom.

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