Marlise Burton, Sixth Grade Teacher at Lincoln Middle School

Marlise Burton
Photo courtesy of Marlise Burton

1. What is your education background and where are you teaching now?

I earned my undergrad at The College at Brockport in 2010. My certification is in Inclusive Childhood Education (elementary and special education). I currently teach sixth grade English Language Arts, AIS and AVID Elective at Lincoln Middle School.

2. Can you tell us a little about AVID?

AVID is an acronym for Advancement Via Individual Determination. This is one of the district initiatives in the Syracuse City School District in our Henninger quadrant (the north side schools). The AVID Elective is an elective class that introduces information about college to students, offers career readiness, and teaches students how to be organized.

3. Part of why you were nominated as Educator of the Month was because of how flexible you have been during these times in education. How have you maintained your creativity with remote teaching?

I have tried hard to keep the kids at the forefront of my decision making. I try to incorporate music and their favorite new trends – for example, I have downloaded TikTok, which, jokingly, is hard to admit. We also love to warm up before virtual class starts by playing games.

I give kids a weekly survey to see what they are struggling with, what they need help with, and what they are enjoying. It is done in a private way, so they feel comfortable. More games have also been available on different platforms to share with students to review academic material. There is one game called Blooket that the kids absolutely LOVE! It has different game modes. The kids can challenge each other, steal points, or have a virtual race. They love playing this game with our ELA concepts. This game has been easy to use in person and virtually.

Another way I have also been keeping kids engaged is making them aware of monthly celebrations. For example, Black History Month, Hispanic Heritage Month, Women’s History Month, etc. We introduce what the focus is and then we gather the information. The kids create something as their end product to show their learning.

Student choice is a big focus in my teaching (pre-COVID and now). I believe that if kids have a choice, then they are much more engaged in their learning.

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