Educator Spotlight- Niccole Tiffany

We are excited to launch our new Educator Spotlight series. This ongoing series will highlight educators using TCI programs and give you a glimpse into their classrooms. Niccole Tiffany, an elementary teacher, helps us kick off the series by sharing her classroom happenings.

Niccole is in her 20th year in the classroom, currently teaching at the Carmel River Elementary, home of the otters in Carmel, California.  We got to meet her at TCI’s customer retreat last year, where she shared some amazing feedback about our program and how she uses our curriculum to drive student engagement.

How long have you been teaching?
I have been teaching for 20 years in a variety of capacities: 4th grade & GATE for 4 years, Physical Education/Visual and Performing Arts/Occupational Therapy/GATE for 3 years, and GATE teacher/coach/coordinator for CUSD for 5 years.

What drives you as an educator? 
I am driven by my students’ curiosity and the subjects I teach.  I love to create learning activities on topics that are significant to my students’ lives, and that take them beyond the classroom and into the real world.  

How did you hear about TCI? 
I first heard about TCI when our school district, Carmel Unified, adopted the curriculum beginning the 2019-2020 school year. 

Did you have a previous curriculum/solution that no longer met your school’s needs? If so, how did your needs change? 
The social studies program that we were using was very outdated and not applicable or relevant to students’ lives. The activities were not student-centered and there were few projects, simulations, or opportunities to make learning relevant to students. 

How do you integrate the TCI curriculum and tools into your classroom?
We do social studies almost every day now that we use this program. We use a mix of online tools and the book and Interactive Student Notebook. The students love social studies now!

What’s your favorite TCI lesson?
So far, I love the underwater archaeology lesson in the 5th grade program. In the lesson students take on the role of underwater archeologists to examine objects from an explorer’s ship. 

What specific results have you seen from implementing our solution? Did it help drive student test results/assessments, engagement?  
Students enjoy social studies more and are really engaged and involved. The lesson games are excellent and varied so it doesn’t get repetitive. The assessment tools help me understand what they learned and what reteaching I need to do. I love the option of working online or using the book. Everything is well designed and easy for students to comprehend.

Can you walk us through an impactful student experience involving TCI?
The Act-it-Outs for lesson 6 were not only fun but educational. It really helped them to understand the reasons for settling in the New World. Their performances were based on facts they learned while taking their reading notes and using the directions for the activity. The skits exceeded my expectations and they really enjoyed doing them.

What online tools in our platform do you find helpful?
Honestly, almost everything! I really like the green dot that shows what students can also see and have access to. This is really helpful so I know what’s available to them. My students love the online games at the end of every lesson. I appreciate the various types of assessment questions and tools available to teachers, as well as the trends tab that show the percent of students who got each question correct so I can reteach difficult concepts. Finally, the lesson guide slides are incredibly well written and easy to follow for teachers and students.

What would you say to an educator that is new or just getting started with TCI?
You’re going to LOVE it, and so will your students! It feels like a “luxury” model of curriculum. When it’s time for social studies, students actually cheer and are engaged and learning the entire time. It’s developmentally appropriate for kids, easy to implement, and FUN!