Teachers should stay home if they’re not taking risks

RiskyShinn

Cameron Shinn Real educator, risk taker, STEM champion

“If you’re just going to play it safe, you might as well stay home.” This is how Cameron Shinn, a 6th-grade English teacher at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado, feels about his profession. He believes risk taking is part of the job of providing students with an authentic education that prepares them for real life. Continue reading

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Students find their spark, help others

When students discover their spark–what excites them and moves them to action–it’s a Ibanezclassbeautiful process to witness.

Directed by their teacher, Rachael Ibanez, and guided further by mentors provided through the International Mentor Program, some students at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado, connect their passion with community service. The juncture of the two is where authentic learning takes place, but having mentors providing encouragement makes all the difference. Continue reading

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What do you want to be when you grow up?

Blake, one of Turek's students, communicates with his mentor via the ITP website.

Blake, one of Turek’s students, communicates with his mentor via the ITP website.

This question stumps many young people and causes them a lot of anxiety the closer they get to high school graduation. But without much life experience or solid information on which to base an answer, how can they know?

Joan Turek, a teacher at Parkway High School in Bossier, Louisiana, offers her students an opportunity to explore various career areas in which they are interested. She also offers them help in doing so from top professionals in their career area of interest through the International Telementor Program. Continue reading

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STEM School Sows Seed of Success for CSA Farm

CSA Farm treeStudents enrolled in the Westview Middle School’s STEM Academy are allowed space in their academic agenda to explore topics in which they are interested. When given the freedom to explore real-world issues and support from real-life professionals through the International Telementor Program, students have turned out real-world results. Continue reading

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Northern Colorado Epicenter of World-Class Learning

NOTE: Listen to 88.9fm KRFC on Thursday, June 13, at 5:55 p.m. MST, to hear Cameron Shinn, English teacher at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colorado, tell why he partners with ITP.

Move over traditional pedagogy. There is an earth-moving learning approach producing amazing student outcomes around the world and it is centered in northern Colorado. Continue reading

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Bobcats, A Lion and Measurable Student Learning Outcomes—Oh, Deer!

PrestonMiddle School 6th-grade students are learning about and improving wildlife habitat mtnlion_nightin their 3,000+ acre science classroom located at the Sylvan Dale Guest Ranch west of Loveland, Colorado. International Telementor Program Founder and Director David Neils arranged for northern Colorado students participating in ITP to use the ranch to conduct real experiments that impact Colorado’s wildlife. Wildlife management professionals are assisting the students with research through ITP’s secure online messaging system. Continue reading

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Feedback Fuels Refinement

“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted.” Albert Einstein

Some people avoid evaluation, fearing less than satisfactory feedback. (It’s much like why  some people avoid going to their doctor; they are afraid they might hear bad news.) To have the most effective program with the highest possible outcomes, however, it’s necessary to periodically review methods and processes to determine what’s working well and make refinements in areas that need improvement.

Dr. Chance Lewis of UNC Charlotte

At the International Telementor Program, we are grateful for the recent evaluation of our work by Dr. Chance Lewis, director of The Urban Education Collaborative in the College of Education at The University of North Carolina (UNC) at Charlotte. Lewis collected quantitative and qualitative data by surveying participants about their ITP experience. Read a just-released, special issue of Telementor, The Journal of the International Telementor Program to learn how we fared. It summarizes Lewis’ findings and recommendations for improvements, as well as comments from teachers and students. Continue reading

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Preston Students Getting Wild!

Amy Schmer has never seen her class quite like this. Amy is a sixth-grade science teacher at Preston Middle School in Fort Collins, Colo., where she and her students are participating in a unique wildlife research project in conjunction with nearby Sylvan Dale Ranch, an historic working horse and cattle ranch in Loveland. David Neils, director of the International Telementor Program, an academic project-based mentoring program that matches students with real-world professionals, arranged for the multi-year, project-based association to take place between the school and the ranch. How did he do it? He simply asked the ranch owners and they said yes. Continue reading

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Getting ‘Authentic’

As a tip for educators, David Neils, director of the International Telementor Program, says projects that include the following elements will ensure that students are truly engaged, informed and connected to their learning and can experience what he distinguishes as ‘authentic’ learning:

1. Students are making a real-world difference working with leaders to address local issues (or in some cases, specific state, regional or international issues) as identified by those leaders. Continue reading

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How to Predict the Future? Invent It!

Palmer Tetley, an inventor and community volunteer, was recently called upon by North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple to present his anti-flood system to a team of civil engineers working to avert future catastrophes as occurred in Minot, N.D., last June, where thousands fled their homes after some of the worst flooding in 40 years. Continue reading

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