A Rural Iowa Beginning
Mr. Campbell, my sixth grade teacher, was a scientist at heart. I was lucky enough to attend a small rural elementary school in Iowa that had a dedicated science lab, and Mr. Campbell took full advantage of the space. We tested mystery powders, conducted gravity investigations, and wrote lab reports. I looked forward to science class everyday because it was interesting and engaging. Mr. Campbell’s classes gave me a solid science foundation to build upon as I progressed through school, and as an aspiring teacher, he also gave me an exemplary model of what effective science instruction should look like.
But that doesn’t mean replicating his methods were easy. My first year of teaching was a disaster. My classroom was a loud, not well-managed place where I felt stuck teaching a worksheet driven curriculum. One of the few bright spots in an otherwise gloomy year was a unit on habitats where each section of fourth grade chose a habitat and created a display model to use to teach the other classrooms. My students and I turned our entire room into rainforest immersion experience. Carpet rolls turned into tall palms and painted foam balls and feathers turned into toucans.
I spent hours upon hours gathering books, videos, supplies, and ideas to help my students explore the rainforest habitat, but I couldn’t spend that amount of time on every lesson I planned. That’s why I am passionate about helping teachers quickly find the resources they really need, so their lessons can be more engaging and effective without a bunch of extra time and effort.
When I taught fourth grade, I spent a lot of time searching for informational texts to support my science and social studies standards. It was time consuming and frustrating. Even when I was successful in locating a text, I only had one copy for my entire class, and most of my students couldn’t read it on their own. Having a library of texts that allowed all of my students to read the same content at their independent reading level would have been a game changer in my classroom, and that’s why I created StarrMatica Texts: Science Your Way and Social Studies Your Way. My goal is to help teachers more easily and effectively teach NGSS, Social Studies, and Common Core ELA standards while differentiating instruction for every student.