Hands-On, Real-World Activities: Teacher Shelley Boyce Engages with Her Students
Shelley Boyce didn’t always plan on being a teacher. Her educational background was in animal behavior and zoology. She wanted to study gorillas and orangutans in the wild, but, after volunteering at her daughter’s school, Boyce knew she wanted to be an educator — a career path not too far from her original plan. Now she would be studying young students in their natural habitats.
“When I stepped into my daughter’s kindergarten class and volunteered, I didn’t leave. I came back every day and I taught science lessons and art lessons and got hooked,” she said.
Boyce said she enjoys adjusting her curriculum to make it more colorful and engaging for her students.
“My favorite part is being able to take the concepts and make them accessible to the unique group of students that I have. I love being able to take the standards and work with them and make them hands-on and exciting,” Boyce said.
When Boyce teaches her students about fractions, she brings out graham crackers so that they can visualize different parts of a whole and understand how math is relevant to them. Also, it’s a delicious lesson — the kids eat the graham crackers afterwards. She uses problem-solving and science integration in order to encourage her students to think deeply about the concepts being presented to them. She asks: How do these concepts relate to your everyday lives?
Boyce found that when she integrated science into other curriculum, her students learned in a more organic way. Reading and writing came into play through laboratory classes where the students learned about new science terms. Math was used when they built Lego robots and applied scientific understanding to hands-on activities.
After a heavy rainstorm hit Ptarmigan Ridge Elementary, the school where Boyce teaches, she turned the aftermath into a scientific assessment. She took her students to the playground and asked them to observe areas where water damage had occurred. Several puddles dotted the grass. A flowing river of mud created a division between the slide and a set of swings. Some students discovered that one of the storm drains had two cracks in it and they feared it would collapse completely and create a sinkhole. Another group of students noticed that the corner of a play-shed was continuously dripping, which created a hole in some concrete. They worked together to develop solutions to these problems, actively engaging in a scientific process: first questioning, then researching, hypothesizing and experimenting.
“It makes the learning much more interesting and relevant to the students — they’re hungry to read about these concepts because they’re curious about what makes the world work. That’s what’s so exciting about science — there’s so much we don’t know,” she said.
What are KCTS 9 Golden Apple Moments?
The Golden Apple Moments program celebrates educators, programs and schools making a positive difference in Washington State education, from early childhood through high school. KCTS 9 shares these bright-spot success stories of innovative educators and programs through all its content delivery channels: KCTS 9, KCTS9.org, social media and partner channels.
Golden Apple Moments are profiles of those who inspire us. Those who think a little differently and are reimagining the way we teach our young people. They are individuals who are not waiting around for someone to tell them how to move our education system forward. They are pushing the boundaries, engaging our youth to advance and succeed in a rapidly changing world. Golden Apple Moments focus less on complex statistics and benchmark results and more on a teacher, a program or a school’s novel idea or approach — why and how it is challenging the status quo and inspiring others.
Golden Apple Moments highlight the educators, program administrators and nonprofits/organizations working to improve education outcomes and discover new blueprints for success for children in Washington State and around the country.
The KCTS 9 Golden Apple Moments are made possible through funding from PEMCO Insurance. Nominations are now open for the 2021 school year.
PEMCO Insurance is a proud sponsor of Golden Apple Moments, which recognizes those who have made Washington schools better places for learning.