We are proud to shine the spotlight on Tina Coffey, Level Up Village’s U.S. Teacher of the Year for 2017. Tina is the Instructional Technology Resource Teacher at Oak Grove Elementary School in Roanoke, Virginia, and taught four sections of Global Inventors to fifth graders starting in late February. At her request, all of her students were all paired with Spanish-speaking global partners. Her goal was to have students engage in a 3D printing collaboration with partner students while exchanging video messages entirely in Spanish.
“Tina was passionate about our program the very first time we spoke. She understood the impact our courses could have on her students, both in terms of the STEM skills and the cultural exchange. She spent months trying to figure out how to get approval and funding to pilot a class,” said Katie Cook, Sales Director at Level Up Village. “Once Tina got the go-ahead, she created an incredible, immersive learning experience by bringing in her Spanish teacher to collaborate on the course, as well as high-school students to assist the younger kids. We are thoroughly impressed by her tenacity, her creativity and her dedication.”
The AP language students Tina recruited from the local high school presented group lessons, worked individually with students to help them customize phrases for their video letters and played games with the entire class using tools such as Quizlet and QR codes that link to audio of Spanish phrases.
“It’s been amazing how much our kids have practiced because they are in awe of the time the high schoolers are spending with them. I love it when things like that happen in projects!” said Tina.
Much excitement in our #Levelupvillage class today. High school buddies teaching us Spanish and 3D printing! #rcpslearns pic.twitter.com/kvwCDNloeE
— Tina Coffey ☕️ (@elemitrt) February 28, 2017
In Global Inventors, Tina’s students co-designed solar-powered flashlights and studied the engineering design process in collaboration with global partners at Juan Delmonte School in Argentina, Honduras Child Alliance in Honduras and NicaPhoto in Nicaragua. As part of this project, Tina’s students have had thoughtful discussions with their partners that have helped them develop greater empathy and understanding.
“I can’t tell you how rewarding it has been to work with the kids on this project and to watch them grow. Even the discussions that arise spontaneously have been so rich,” said Tina. “Best of all, students made a global friend, and shared aspects of their lives with them, and learned a lot about a different country in a very personal way.”
As a culmination to the project, the students had live Skype conversations with their global partners, starting with a call with NicaPhoto in Nicaragua.
“It was absolutely amazing to watch–our kids gave up recess because they didn’t want to stop talking with them,” said Tina. “I think possibly it was one of the best things I’ve witnessed in this job–and I’ve skyped with other classes before. I think what set it apart was the fact that the kids knew each other from the videos and had a relationship already.”
LUV seeing Ss smiles while watching partner videos.More endearing how nervous Ss get recording ones to send back @LevelUpVillage #rcpslearns pic.twitter.com/pOX9W0B4YB
— Tina Coffey ☕️ (@elemitrt) March 6, 2017
In addition, the four classes of fifth graders have also been blogging about their Level Up Village projects to reflect more fully on the experience.
One student blogger wrote, “It’s cool talking to someone in another country. It Is like you’re there or something. I had a good time with this project!”
“It was so much fun learning how to do 3D printing,” wrote another student. “I hope that someday I will make something extraordinary that will help people all around the world. I will never forget this amazing experience.”
“We’re able to make a difference in the world,” another student reflected. “It may not be a big change, but if each person would pitch in we could change the world little by little and soon almost everything will be great again.”
Tina, who has been posting on social media throughout her students’ Level Up Village project, recently wrote about the experience for The Learning Collaboratory blog. Global Inventors at Oak Grove Elementary was also featured on the front page of The Roanoke Times. Now Tina would like to see more teachers in her district have the opportunity to offer Level Up Village courses.
“We are loving the project, and I so want to try and encourage enough attention that it will spread in our district. I’d love for every 5th grade teacher in our district to have the option to teach one of these classes as part of Global Studies. That’s my goal,” she said.
"it was really hard & took really long to finish.But we might be changing someone's life here so it was worth it" -5thGrader @LevelUpVillage
— Tina Coffey ☕️ (@elemitrt) May 5, 2017
Love 5th grader's post about the impact of @LevelUpVillage project! https://t.co/2nxvFBkHdF #Comments4Kids #rcpslearns #GlobalEd
— Tina Coffey ☕️ (@elemitrt) May 5, 2017
Follow Tina on Twitter at @elemitrt. Read her article on The Learning Collaboratory blog, the front page article about Tina’s Global Inventors project in The Roanoke Times and these additional news stories:
WDBJ7: Teacher Wins Award for Using Technology in classroom (TV news story)
WSLS10: Roanoke County teacher wins U.S. Teacher of the Year award (TV news story)
Roanoke County Public Schools: Technology Teacher is Named U.S. Teacher of the Year by Level Up Village
We’re very proud of Tina and all her work with students at Oak Grove! She is an outstanding teacher and mentor for teachers! Way to go!