Greetings From Top Teaching Advisor Mary

By Mary Blow on September 2, 2011

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 7-12) at SUNY Potsdam; and my NYS certification to teach English (grades 7-12). This is my third 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 110 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 Model School 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 impelled my journey as Scholastic’s 2010-2011 Grade 6-8 Teacher Advisor and their 2011-2012 Common Core and State Assessments Top Teacher Advisor.

Comments

Great Teacher

Hi, Roni,

I am hardly a hero, but thank you for the compliment. It is I who am honored to have collaborated with you and your students. Good luck this year. I am sure we will be in touch.

Congrats Mary! You have been my hero since the day I met you! Thank you for taking the time to collaborate with me and my students over the last two years! I look forward to more great blogs! Enjoy your year, Roni

Hi, Justine,

You are not alone. My hope is that educators like us will be able to use this blog to find guidance, support, and share ideas. There are many of us who are apprehensive because of the high-stakes teacher accountability with so many variables out of our control. I believe if we teach literacy skills and teach students to utilize them in all subject areas, they will be successful. You have an advantage because you don't departmentalize. You can teach them how to transfer these skills into other content areas, so your students will be able to tackle any task put before them. Thank you for sharing. ~Good Luck, Mary

Mary, I teach 3rd grade, and we are starting our first year without departmentalizing this year, so I will be teaching all subject areas. I am nervous about the changes to state testing that they are implementing this year, but I hope that they are for the better. We were thrown-off a little bit with the addition of the 3rd book to the ELA exam last year, so the increase to four books over two days will be a challenge.

Hi, Justine. It is wonderful to have fellow bloggers so close. I look forward to a successful year of sharing ideas and strategies as we transition to the Common Core and tackle the state assessments. What grade/content area do you teach?

Hello Mary! I am surprised and excited to see someone from Madison/Oneida on Scholastic.com! I teach in Camden, NY, so I am not too far from you. I look forward to reading your posts, as I am an avid Scholastic Top Teaching follower. Have a great school year! Justine

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