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OMS Teachers Selected for Nationwide Educational Program

OSWEGO, NY – “Common Core” has become a common phrase in education.

New standards have been introduced and what has been created is a nationwide network.

Recently, two Oswego Middle School teachers Suzanne Fox and Sarah Therrien have become immersed in the “Core Curriculum” through LearnZillion Inc.

Suzanne Fox and Sarah Therrien were congratulated by Superintendent of Schools Bill Crist and Oswego Middle School Principal Mary Beth Fierro as the Oswego teachers prepared to leave for San Francisco to participate in the LearnZillion program.
Suzanne Fox and Sarah Therrien were congratulated by Superintendent of Schools Bill Crist and Oswego Middle School Principal Mary Beth Fierro as the Oswego teachers prepared to leave for San Francisco to participate in the LearnZillion program.

LearnZillion Inc. is a social mission company committed to supporting the work of teachers and improving educational outcomes for all students. The web-based learning platform combines video lessons, assessments, and progress reporting. Each lesson highlights a “Common Core” standard, starting with math and English Language Arts in grades 3-9.

According to the organization website, “LearnZillion is a web-based platform that delivers high quality video lessons – produced by teachers around the country – to students and teachers.”

Therrien noted, “I am excited and honored to have been selected for the “Dreamteam for LearnZillion. Not only will I be able to create math video tutorials for the LearnZillion website, but I will be collaborating with teachers from all over the country,”

LearnZillion flew the two Oswego teachers to San Francisco for “Teachfest” which is a four day workshop where the goal of the all expenses paid trip was to train and work with coaches.

Therrien said, “We have already begun getting to know one another through on-line social sites so it will be awesome to meet each other and delve into our content for four days.”

Fox noted, “Sarah and I were assigned to the new algebra core curriculum. I am honored with the opportunity to meet and work with teachers from around the country.”

Being selected wasn’t easy. Therrien noted, “Our application process was split into two sections, interview questions and a PowerPoint lesson (with a specific font, three specific colors and outline), with an optional personal video.”

Continuing she said, “I February I attended a conference in Albany and two of the co-founders of LearnZillion were speaking. We were told that while they were only selecting 200 people, over 3,000 had applied. In late March I received an email congratulating me and I couldn’t believe it. When I told my children they started dancing around and cheering.”

LearnZillion started at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington, D.C. because of a need to solve a problem.

It was noted that the teachers knew what lessons our students needed but didn’t have enough time to teach each student the right lesson. To create more time, and to share best practices across classrooms, E.L. Haynes’ teachers began to capture their expertise on screen casts. These were posted on a homemade website and coupled them with a short quiz to help track student progress.

Soon the idea began to grow as there was a desire to have teachers from across the country contribute to the site.  There was a quest for new teachers to learn about the “Common Core” from experienced teachers.

Students could get a playlist of lessons that matched their needs.

The founders felt that over time, the video lessons would get stronger and stronger, as more teachers contributed and the data showed which lessons had the biggest impact.

Two Oswego teachers will be bringing back a wonderful experience that will assist others within the Oswego City School District family.

Therrien summarized by saying, “Professionally, this is huge. I will be working with some of the greatest teachers in our nation, so I am quite humbled. I will come back from San Francisco with a stronger foundation and understanding of the ‘Core Curriculum’ standards in mathematics. Also, the videos I help create will be part of the nationwide initiative to provide students, teachers and parents an online source for our new standards in mathematics.