The Rochester Area Colleges Center for Excellence in Math and Science is pleased to introduce Mr. Robin Hill– a teacher at Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School #9 in the Rochester City School District – as a nominee for the 2010 Excellence in STEM Teaching Award.
This award is given annually to recognize effective, engaging, and innovative Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) teaching in grades K-12 in Monroe and nine surrounding counties.
Hill is dedicated to teaching math and science from an inquiry approach to learning. He believes that this approach allows his students to find multiple pathways to solve problems while constructing new knowledge. Hill also makes an effort to incorporate technology into his instruction on a regular basis.
For example, at the culmination of many hours of instruction on fractions, Hill involved his 4th grade students in an activity he titled Mathsterpiece Theater, which involved the planning, filming, and producing of a video dramatization of a math story problem.
In this activity students were given the problem, “How can four friends share seven cookies equally?” A small group of students developed the story around this problem and worked out the solution.
The activity was filmed by one of Hill’s students who had been trained in video production. The first half of the video shows how the seven cookies were shared equally using a concrete model. The video was then shown to the entire class, who were responsible for writing explanations of how the cookies should be shared for the second half of the video. Students shared their written explanations with peers, and were given feedback on accuracy, clarity, and use of vocabulary. The second half of the video depicts the explanations developed by these students.
This video can be used as an instructional tool for groups of students studying fractions. There is an interactive intermission between the two halves of the video, which calls for viewers to come up with an explanation of the work seen in the first half. Viewers are then able to compare their explanations to the ones depicted in the second half of the video.
When asked why he integrated this activity into his classroom Hill said, “I created this activity in direct response to a need I saw in my students. That need was to be able to clearly explain the steps that were used to solve math problem and to provide reasoning and proof. To that end, this activity had a great impact on my students. Students worked cooperatively to draft explanations needed for the second half of the video. They took suggestions from peers and the result was that my students wrote several explanations that were clear, rich in vocabulary, and varied in complexity of the math used. This activity was not only highly engaging but it allowed the students to share their knowledge and take ownership of their learning. “
This kind of instruction exemplifies what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School No. 9 Principal, Sharon Elaine Jackson, wrote about Hill in her recommendation letter. “Mr. Hill is a hard-working, dedicated, and diligent teacher. Het sets high standards for himself, and most importantly, his students.”
Hill, has taught in elementary classrooms in the Rochester City School District for 18 years. He recently moved into a new position, teaching technology to K-6 students in a computer lab at Martin Luther King Jr. School #9. With a focus on media production, Hill helps students create pod-casts, animation, video, and print media using content learned in the classroom.
Hill also serves as a lead teacher mentor for the Rochester City School District where he works with first year teachers to help them and their students have a successful year.
Article by RACCEMS’s Graduate Assistant Katie Monroe at firstname.lastname@example.org