California Educator

December / January 2017

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Page 8 of 75

W E ' R E E X C I T E D to introduce a new way to interact with CTA's most engaging content: The site contains the latest Educator articles, as well as news and relevant stories. It's a great visual experience whether read on your desktop, tablet or smartphone. And you can easily connect with us to give feedback and submit and share content. Tell us what you think, at or via One of many posters made by students at schools affected by the North Bay fires in October. Credit: Mike Myslinski The Innovator Within I N M A R C H , researchers at the Univer- sity of South Florida (USF) published a report on the process of innovation and characteristics of innovators, including problem solving, motivation, creativity, curiosity, risk-taking, a positive attitude, persistence, passion and vision. The educators we showcase in our a n n u a l I n n o v a t i o n I s s u e c e r t a i n l y d e m o n s t r a t e t h e s e t r a i t s . D a v e Menshew turns his classroom into a CSI lab, engaging rapt students in forensics and biotech to solve simulated crimes. Google Innovator and middle school teacher Meagan Kelly thinks learning for educators should be customized, just as it is for students, and designed a guide for teachers to transform their lessons through technology. Art educator Reta Rickmers has her students market and sell th eir w ork, an int erdi sciplinar y exercise that teaches artistic creation, persuasive skill and economics. See "On the Leading Edge" (page 21) for other impressive innovators. e good news out of the USF report is that everyone possesses at least some innovative characteristics (and there are ways to awaken and cultivate them). But we knew that. All educators are innovators, since they think on their feet, work relentlessly to keep 25-plus young minds engaged, and often make do with limited resources. Passion and vision kick in, too. Science and engineer- ing teacher Susan M. Pritchard tells how she guided a group of La Habra middle school girls to a national award-winning conser vation project that expanded into a new state law ("Watch Out for the Water Guardians," page 16). High scho ol m edi a ma estro John D alton overcame severe health challenges to become an Alameda Teacher of the Year and launch public TV stations where his students can gain real experience ("A Media Master," page 19). More and more teachers are embracing virtual and augmented realities that immerse students in n ew w orld s ("Alt ernat e Realities," page 34). It's not just students who benefit from innovative educators. "It's Show Time" (page 39) describes how San Bernardino Unified School District identified 34 (and counting) excellent "demonstration teachers," who open their classrooms to model lessons and share expertise and ideas with colleagues. e program has met with accolades from both sides. e outstanding educators recognized as the 2018 California Teachers of the Year, of course, possess many if not all of the qualities that are hallmarks of inno- vation. Read about them on page 62. An o t h e r m u st - re a d i s " Te a c h i n g About Religion" (page 51) — not the same as teaching religion. Teaching facts about belief systems of various religions is essential to understanding human culture. "Religion has inf luenced how we behave and what we value. I couldn't imagine teaching history without includ- ing it," says David Fulton, a social studies teacher and Fairfield-Suisun Unified Teachers Association member. And finally, do not miss "Union Com- munity Spirit Rises" on page 64. The Nor th Bay f ires in O ctob er ki l led 43 and destroyed thousands of homes and oth er str uctures, includin g scho ol s. Scores of educators and an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 students were affected — and still are. Despite their personal losses, many of th ese educators and C TA m e m b e r s r o s e i m m e d i a t e ly t o help and heal their communities. While amazing, innovative ideas that spring from the minds of educators are rightly praised, the love and compassion from their hearts is even more awe- inspiring and appreciated. Katharine Fong E D I T O R I N C H I E F The Educator's New Website! 7 D E C E M B E R 2 017 / J A N U A R Y 2 018 E D I T O R ' S N O T E

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