Educator Spotlight – Joanne Burger

Joanne is a middle school teacher from Illinois who has been using TCI’s History Alive! for nine years. Prior to adopting TCI, her district made their curriculum where they had taught Ancient History in 6th grade, Geography in 7th grade, and U.S. History in 8th grade. In 2010, Joanne’s district was exploring new curriculum options to incorporate geography into their lessons and spread U.S. History over 2 years. They saw TCI as the ideal curriculum for their district as it does a great job engaging the students in the learning process and aligns perfectly with the state’s new national social studies standards.

You can follow Joanne’s Twitter @Joanne_Burger to get a glimpse into a TCI classroom.

What drives you as an educator? 

There are many things that drive me to be an educator. It started by having incredible teachers who have impacted my life and inspired me to go into education. Being an educator is more than having a love for kids; it’s about making a connection with students. It’s about having a passion for your subject and knowing that you are helping kids become passionate about what they are learning. Watching them learn and grow and become impacted by what I am doing and hopefully inspire them to pursue their passions as well.

How do you integrate the TCI curriculum and tools into your classroom?

Since I have been using TCI History Alive for 9 years, I have been able to see how the program has evolved. I have used a blended approach. There are many past lessons that I have picked pieces from and integrated into the latest TCI version. My students use the interactive notebook both as hard copies and online. I utilize the online text, and students have access to the online text at home only. In class, we have a hard copy that we often refer to when doing some shared reading or working on our maps. I have taken the TCI Maps and expanded the students’ knowledge by having them label and site places on larger sizes maps that they use as a reference throughout the unit. This has shown to benefit them as we have heard back from the high school about how well prepared the students are with doing geography as well as critical thinking since their first class as freshmen is Human Geo.

What is your favorite TCI lesson?

This is a hard question, as I have many lessons that I absolutely love! I have to say a favorite for my students is reenacting the Revolutionary War by playing Capture the Flag. One personal favorite is teaching about the Bill of Rights because it’s great to see when my students make a connection and see how their rights are not shed when they enter the school building. Another is when the students take on the roles of Hamilton and Jefferson and hammer out the differences between our first political parties. This allows them to step out of their comfort zone and create songs and speeches to support their sides’ views.

What specific results have you seen from implementing our solution? Did it help drive student test results/assessments and engagement?  

At the start of the school year, I have the students take a multiple intelligence test to identify what type of learner they are. The motivation in the TCI activities throughout each lesson enhances the learning of all types of students. Each lesson works on varied learning styles and allows the students to be actively engaged. Our district has adopted a pre/post-test to measure our students’ progress. As part of this process, I have been able to monitor the student’s progress, and throughout the year, I see how well the students are performing and meeting their goals.

Can you walk us through an impactful student experience involving TCI?

In 7th grade, we cover the U.S. Constitution. This unit tends to come with added anxiety for the students because it is a graduation requirement. While doing the political convention in class, the students take on the role of delegates to “act out” the Constitutional Convention and the three compromises. I set up my room in the dark with candles on each desk and quill pens for each student. The fact that the students feel like they have traveled back in time and are actively engaged makes them forget that it is a constitution unit. Please take a look at my Twitter to see pictures and videos of this lesson as well as how I use TCI throughout the school year!

What online tools in our platform do you find helpful?

I use almost all the online tools. Daily, we are on the online lessons and students are using this for their notes. One of my favorites is the online lesson games. I use this as a great review for students after we have completed the lesson.

What would you say to an educator that is new or just getting started with TCI?

Don’t be afraid to step out of your element or comfort zone. You will realize that when you love what and how you are teaching, you will see the excitement in your students as they are learning!

Do you have a teaching tip that you would like to share with other teachers?

It’s ok if you don’t get to everything! Sometimes our schedule limits us, but you can pick out what you love and put more time and effort into those lessons. Please look at my Twitter to see the amazing pictures/videos of my lessons using TCI’s History Alive! program.

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