Hear from Elijah, Our 2018 Student of the Year

Meet Elijah, Our Student of the Year

June 28, 2018 | Regional Spotlight

(Pictured left to right: Jasmin Camarena, Parent of the Year, Elijah, 2018 Student of the Year, Ms. Bonaparte, 2018 Teacher of the Year)

Meet Elijah, a sixth-grade student from P.S. 279 in the Bronx and PowerMyLearning’s 2018 Student of the Year. Earlier this month, we honored Elijah, his mother, and his teacher at the 2018 Innovative Learning Awards.

During the ceremony, Elijah’s principal said that his success is a testament to the strength of the PowerMyLearning Triangle; a student persevering and deeply understanding learning concepts, a family that is supporting him each and every day, and a teacher who works to make learning fun, to meet his needs as a learner, and to inspire him to do his best.

After giving a powerful speech of his own, Elijah presented his mother, Jasmin Camarena, and his teacher, Ms. Bonaparte, with the awards for Parent of the Year and Teacher of the Year.

We present to you Elijah’s speech:

As my principal said, my name is Elijah Ortiz. I’ve always loved math. A lot of kids I know dislike math, but it’s always been my personal favorite since I’ve started learning it. The reason why I love math is because of the challenge it gives me.

In school, we use PowerMyLearning and it has made math even more fun for me because of the fun Playlists they assign. Sometimes we work on the Playlists in class, and then we reinforce what we learned at home with Family Explorations.

The Playlists that we do in class have a lot of cool things. First, they give you a video to watch to learn about the lesson you’re doing in class. Then after that, it gives you another part which lets you do some math problems based on the things you learned in the video. Once you complete that there are two multiple choice questions, which are my favorite part, because I like multiple choice. After I complete the assignment I go on the Explore section, which is where you can play different educational games about any subject.

My personal favorite is this game called Dirt Bike Proportions. I love this game because I get to compete with my friends. It gives you one fraction and the denominator of the other fraction so then all we need to do is find the numerator of the second fraction to get a boost. So basically, the game is about equivalent fractions.

Overall, PowerMyLearning is probably my favorite school activity, and I’m not saying this because they told me to. It’s just that I really love PowerMyLearning.

Now on to one of my favorite teachers, Ms. Bonaparte. Ms. Bonaparte is a very good and very kind teacher. She makes sure everyone in the class is on track, and if they aren’t, she helps us until we understand the work. She is very patient. Ms. Bonaparte is inspirational; the reason I say this is because she is a very smart person and encourages me and the class to do our best effort. She helps my brain expand with knowledge. She is also really good at explaining things because when I’m confused she will explain the work really clearly to me. Ms. Bonaparte is a great teacher, and I know deep down inside she hopes everyone in my class, including me, is successful in life.

Last but not least my favorite person ever, my mom. She is very caring for her family and kids. She makes sure that I understand what I am learning, and when I have trouble she will go through it and help me with my work until I understand it. My mom means a whole lot to me. She pushes me to be the best person I can be. My mother is beautiful, smart, and a great cooker, but what inspires me most is her strength. I love her because she cares for me and my siblings, and because she works hard to keep us happy. Right now, I wouldn’t be where I am if it wasn’t for her.

In conclusion, PowerMyLearning has really helped me be a better student. Ever since I got introduced to PowerMyLearning, I’ve been more confident in my work and in being successful in life.

With the help of Ms. Bonaparte and my mom I feel inspired to be the best I can be. I am grateful to be chosen as Student of the Year, and I am even more grateful to present the Teacher of the Year Award to my teacher, Ms. Bonaparte, and the Parent of the Year Award to my mom, who helped me to be standing here today. Thank you!

Greater Los Angeles | The Power of Family Involvement

Greater Los Angeles | The Power of Family Engagement

May 13, 2018 | Regional Spotlight

PowerMyLearning would like to thank the All Points North Foundation for helping to support our family engagement programs and personalized learning support at Camino Nuevo Charter Academy’s Jane B. Eisner Middle School this year!

Here’s what one of the parents we worked with, Veronica, had to say about the partnership and her son Julio’s experience this year:

(Note: This interview has been translated from Spanish)

Q: What’s your name, and what is your child’s name and grade?

“My name is Veronica, and my son, Julio is in 7th grade.”

Q: Which PowerMyLearning family workshops have you attended at Eisner this year?

“I’ve been to all of them!”

Q: What did you think of the family workshops? Were they useful?

“Yes, they have been useful. For example, it’s helped a lot to learn how we as parents can support our kids with school at home during their free time – these are things that we’ll remember. All the parents are really happy.”

Q: What has your experience been like following our workshops?

“It’s been a big help to have a computer at home – my son Julio, a 7th grader,  has always been great about finishing his homework, but now he’s doing it on his computer – and achieving more at school.”

Q: What are some of the achievements you’ve seen this year?

“He’s still in 7th grade, but they have been mixing him in with 8th graders for part of the time – he says his friends can’t believe he gets to do 8th grade work!”

Q: How has family involvement changed this year at your school?

“We’ve had bilingual workshops before, but now I’m seeing more parents want to get involved and come to the evening workshops. It makes me happy to see that.”

Q: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your experience with PowerMyLearning?

“Your whole team is kind, you give us the space to participate and try new things, and we feel like we can trust you.”

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Greater Los Angeles | Meet Mrs. Gibb

Greater Los Angeles | Meet Mrs. Gibb

May 9, 2018 | Regional Spotlight

By Earl Turner III, Blended Learning Specialist, PowerMyLearning of Greater Los Angeles
For students to self-actualize, reach their maximum potential, and prepare for 21st-century life, schools must provide an academic environment that enables constructive and creative learning opportunities.

Giving students the opportunity to tinker around and create things provides them with a wealth of cognitive challenges and expanded engagements across various branches of knowledge including STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), literacy, and the arts (Vossoughi, Escudé, Kong & Hooper, 2013). In underserved communities, these creative opportunities to learn are few and widely scattered, limiting students’ access to high-quality learning experiences.

Equitable access means that every student in any classroom in America should have the same opportunities to learn as any other student. One of our partner schools in Los Angeles, ICEF Vista Middle School serves a student population that is 70% African-American and 28% Latino. Almost 90% of ICEF students are eligible for the federal Free and Reduced Priced Meals Program (FRPMP), a nationally recognized measure of economic poverty.

At ICEF, students have the special privilege of being taught by a teacher who goes above and beyond to ensure that her students have authentic learning experiences: I invite you to meet Mrs. Gibb.

Mrs. Gibb, a seventh-grade math and science teacher, gives her students many access points to a high-quality education. One distinct example is when she challenged her students to tinker and make an apparatus containing lots of simple machines.

In this case, Mrs. Gibb used the Rube Goldberg contest as her guide. Rube Goldberg is an organization that promotes the creation elaborate projects where one machine is manually put into action, which causes the next to start, and the next, and so on; a domino effect of machines, which eventually does something in the end. In this instance, the something at the end was a machine that could pour cereal into a bowl (to learn more about this cereal machine project, click here).

I witnessed 30 to 40 students ecstatically engaged in creating their crazy contraption, which accomplished a simple task (i.e. to pour cereal) in the funniest and most challenging way possible. I saw collaboration, critical thinking, communication, and creativity. But, most importantly I saw joy, happiness, and love—love of learning and love of each other.

To bring these complicated, labor-intensive, and time-consuming projects to life for her students, Mrs. Gibb calls on her own personal village. I have met both of her parents on-site and after school, putting in countless, invaluable hours supporting kids in completing their projects. I know for a fact that Mrs. Gibb’s students’ lives will be forever changed by these experiences.

A comprehensive learning experience includes not only teaching students abstract concepts out of a textbook but also providing hands-on learning experiences that allow students to apply the knowledge they are learning in textbooks to real-world situations. Those experiences allow students to learn from their own encounters with problems through active, constructive processes. Thanks to Mrs. Gibb, students who historically would not have rich learning experiences are accessing them today and will ultimately use these experiences to access the opportunities of tomorrow.

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San Francisco Bay Area | Meet Ms. Aronson

San Francisco Bay Area | Meet Ms. Aronson

May 1, 2018 | Regional Spotlight

Meet Ms. Diane Aronson, a seventh and eighth-grade science teacher at Burnett Middle School in San Jose. Ms. Aronson truly embodies PowerMyLearning’s vision by collaborating with teachers and families and sharing her vast knowledge of blended learning and fun tech tools to make learning more engaging and personalized. Teachers and families truly value her and reach out to her for support without hesitation.

Ms. Aronson described how she works with PowerMyLearning Blended Learning Specialist Kendra Frank:

“Our collaboration was very beneficial to my teaching as it helped me accomplish things that I had wanted to do for a long time. I needed that outside feedback to help me to figure out how to best implement strategies for checking for understanding and holding students more accountable in group work.”

She also shared how she used Google Apps in her classroom:

“I used Google Apps to facilitate a Material Analysis activity as part of a design challenge relating to building the best bumper for a toy car during a collision. Students first tested one material and inputted claims and evidence on to a class Google Doc. Next, students used the class data to rate each material on a Google form which led to students writing their own hypotheses of which combination of materials would be most effective to use in the design of their bumper.”

New York City | Meet Carla Bonilla: Mother, Volunteer, Advocate

New York City | Meet Carla Bonilla: Mother, Volunteer, Advocate

April 1, 2018 | Regional Spotlight

By Liz John, Executive Director, PowerMyLearning New York City

At PowerMyLearning, we have an incredible team of volunteers who help drive our mission forward to strengthen the learning relationships between students, families, and teachers. This month, we want to introduce you to Carla Bonilla, a mother of three whose story exemplifies the impact of our work in New York City.

A couple months ago, Carla received a call inviting her and her daughter, Alina, to attend PowerMyLearning’s Family Learning Workshop at P.S. 567 Linden Tree Elementary in the Bronx.

Not too long after, we had the pleasure of meeting Carla at our offices as a volunteer!

Carla knew that Alina would receive a computer loaded with educational software at the workshop. However, Carla didn’t realize how much she’d learn about her daughter and how to support her learning.

Afterward, we talked to Carla about her Family Learning Workshop experience and what prompted her to want to help give other families that same feeling.

What stuck with you about the workshop?

I was very impressed. What impressed me most was the idea of helping those who are less fortunate–giving families both tools and the knowledge on how to use those tools to help their children.

It’s easy for parents to forget about schoolwork or not know how to get involved, and just let their child do the work alone. I think it’s the parents’ responsibility to help educate their child; it’s more than just the teachers, and just the school–it’s teamwork.

I have so many friends at that school whose children never had a computer at home. We had a family computer at home, so everyone had to take turns. Alina’s face lit up when she saw her personal computer. Now, she loves showing my husband and me what she is doing in class and we can do different activities together.

What made you decide to volunteer?

The workshop inspired me. I want other families to have the same opportunity. I can also give my personal perspective to the families I speak with, answering questions that I had myself before the workshop. A lot of families need Spanish-speaking facilitators, which I am able to do.

I’ve been volunteering a lot in my daughter’s school as well, which is great because I get to know their teachers and the principal. Now, everyone there knows me already. It is good for my daughter to see me involved and she feels that school is important. Because mommy is putting in time to learn about her school, she feels like she should do well, and she is.

Have you noticed any changes in your daughter’s learning after working with PowerMyLearning?

I recently noticed a big change in my daughter. She loves writing, but she never really spent much time on her work. And then she got her little laptop and now she’s writing whenever she feels inspired. She goes into her bedroom and writes what she’s feeling. I think that having a personal laptop is one of the reasons she’s writing a lot more than usual.

She also shares her animal writings that she is working on. In fact, she is working on a book/short paper right now about animals, just because she loves to write and now has the chance to do it when she wants.

 An excerpt from Alina’s book about dogs, called Doguments

What are your goals for Alina?

My daughter sees that education is very important to me, and I know that she will be successful in life if she finishes what she starts. The goals I have for my child are that I want her to finish school, go to college, and get a career.

My husband and I weren’t able to finish college–we started but we never finished–so we want my three kids to do it. We want them to have that opportunity and to be able to work in a field that they love. That’s what we want for them.

We are all gearing towards that goal—Alina, my husband, and I. She actually already knows what college she’s going to. She decided she wants to go to New York University.

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We are incredibly grateful to Carla and all of our volunteers, who are helping us empower students, families, and teachers every day.

Greater Los Angeles | Meet Ms. Salazar

Greater Los Angeles | Meet Ms. Salazar

Feb. 12, 2017 | Regional Spotlight

This month, we invite you to meet Ms. Salazar who teaches 7th grade social studies.

How she uses technology in the classroom to personalize learning:
“One of the tech tools I use is Google Earth where students can analyze the geographical layout of different continents. I want to give my students a perspective of the real world given that some students may only know a two-mile radius.”

How using tech tools in the classroom relates to the PowerMyLearning Framework for Teachers
Tech tools encourage student agency. “The teacher fosters students’ enthusiasm and curiosity by showing them how to self-remediate and how to explore content beyond the assignment to extend their learning.”

Favorite part about teaching: 
“Teachers are always learning, both from teaching experience and from students. Teaching also helps me learn more about myself. As a teacher, there is always something to learn.”

Favorite student quote:
When reading historical excerpts – “But Miss, why were women treated like that?”