Formative is great because of amazing educators like you. The impact that you have by using Formative in the classroom is undeniable and you continually inspire us to continue to make our platform increasingly powerful. In the past few months, it’s been an absolutely incredible experience to bring you all together in our community and see the amazing things you can achieve by collaborating with one another. With that, we want to start to highlight some of the greatest members of community as not only a means of showing our appreciation for them, but also to help you all (every member of our community) take that next step in learning from others and enhancing your use of technology in the classroom.
So without further ado, I’d love to introduce / re-introduce you to @mgarcia ! She’s a 7th grade science teacher, the 2018 SVCUE Teacher of the Year and a Formative Certified Educator. When she joined our community, she brought a passion for collaborating with other educators and our community has never been the same. We got the chance to chat with her last week and she graciously shared how she uses Formative in her classroom as well as advice about how you can make the most of it as well…
Mariana Garcia Serrato (@mgarcia) working with her student on Formative
Mariana, what are your greatest interests in education?
My ultimate goal is to increase student agency and engagement in learning. With this in mind, my interests include project based learning (PBL), which helps me bring relevant, hands-on curriculum into my classroom, and use it as a tool to develop 21st-century skills in my students. I have been teaching using PBL exclusively for 8 years and I continue to hone my units, sometimes scrapping them completely, as what works and what does not evolves depending on the students I have in my classroom in any given year.
I also am very interested in gamification and game based learning, and see them both working together to bridge the engagement gap by providing not only a playful aspect to the content, but also by allowing me give continuous feedback to students in a way that is familiar and low-risk. My gamification journey started 4 years ago with a simple leaderboard, and has progressed to a full on year-long game that continues to be finessed.
Last, but not least, I would have to mention ed-tech integration. Platforms and technology evolve, and so do my students. This is not about what what technologies are available now, but the ability of my students to adapt and integrate tools as they become available to solve a problem they may face. I don’t know what tools will be available to students, even 6 months from now, but what I do know is that my students will need to be able to learn how to use a tool quickly and effectively to remain competitive in the ever-evolving technology landscape, regardless of their chosen profession.
How do you use Formative in your classroom?
One of the things I absolutely love about Formative is its flexibility. When I first “discovered” it, I saw it only as a place to create formative assessments. I loved the idea of being able to see all my students’ responses to one question in one screen and used it to discover patterns in answers, informing my practice. I also loved the idea of being able to upload material that I already had (docs and pdfs), and transforming them into digital versions, which saved me paper and time at the copier.
As I tried more of the “add content” and question types, It became evident that I could use it for so much more. I started adding videos, simulations and games to my formatives, quickly developing class-work that would keep my students engaged and allowed me to provide synchronous feedback as my students progressed through the formatives.
Fast forward a few months to where we are right now. Once I learned to use iframe generators, and making use of the embed content function, I use Formative for practically everything. From lab activities and side quests (in my gamified classroom) to hyperdocs and project work, I embed all my content into formatives that students progress through as they work in my class. The beauty of formative is that everything is in one place - the content, their answers and the feedback, which helps keep my digital classroom organized and gives my students easy access to all their work.
Why did you join the Formative community? What are your favorite things about it?
The Formative community has been an invaluable source of inspiration and collegiate feedback that has helped me grow my practice and use of all that Formative has to offer. I joined simply because I wanted to learn more about Formative and was looking for some support. What I got was much more than that. This vibrant community of educators goes beyond Formative in their support and inspiration. Not only are questions answered, but going through the posts I have learned about novel edu-protocols, different tools and how to adapt them for educational settings, and new ways to approach and present content. I love having a community that I can rely on for answers and inspiring ideas to bring into and use in my classroom “the next day”.
What advice do you have for teachers who are new to the community? Any community topics/posts you recommend checking out?
My one piece of advice for teachers new to the community is to not be afraid to post/ask questions. We’ve all been there, and although it may seem that a question like “What are some things you can embed on Formative?” may have already been asked, these questions often serve as reminders to us all of the tools we may not have shared or have forgotten about. If you share what you are doing, someone is bound to find it useful and reply with a second idea, which leads to a third and so on. I sometimes feel like the community is the perfect place to brainstorm with other innovative educators as we grow together.
I highly recommend watching the Formative webinars. These webinars continue to help me understand Formative’s capabilities and I love that they remain as active spaces where teachers discuss the ideas and tips that were presented. My “go-to” post whenever I share Formative is @michael.lutz’s “An amazing formative within a formative”, a don’t miss that continues to add ways to use Formative in any setting.
Who are some of your favorite educators to follow on Twitter and in community?
It is hard to come up with a quick list of educators to follow since they all bring so many things to my practice! My list on Formative has to include @michael.lutz, @fichtlis, @msashlylcot, @d.vendramin, @clairesedoyle and of course @david. On Twitter, I highly recommend following @Rdene915 , @mrmatera , @MrPowley, @alicekeeler, @KRScienceLady, and @daleyscience!
Thank you, Mariana, for being a great teacher and for continuing to help other educators be great as well!