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'I'm not afraid to be ridiculous:' Boise teacher finds creative ways to engage her online students

Lisa Stitt taught in the classroom for two decades, but this year made the switch to teaching in the brand new Boise Online School in the Boise School District.

BOISE, Idaho — What's the difference between a setback and an opportunity? Some would say it's all in how you look at it.

This week's Innovative Educator saw the setback of closing schools last spring because of the coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to try something different.

Lisa Stitt taught in the classroom for two decades, but this year made the switch to teaching in the brand new Boise Online School in the Boise School District.

"I was really just up for a challenge. I thought it would be fun. I enjoy technology, and I enjoy trying to find creative ways to reach kids," Stitt said. "In the spring when we had our shutdown, I took it as a huge opportunity to be able to connect with families in a different way, and it went well. So I thought, why not? Nothing ventured, nothing gained."

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She hit the ground running - and walking. She took her sixth graders on a live, virtual lesson she called the Potential and Kinetic Energy Field Trip.

She walked through her neighborhood pointing out different things that were potential energy, such as a parked car, and kinetic energy, a moving stream.

"I think it's important to be engaging. I get bored fast," Stitt said. "So I need to be moving and engaging myself, and I'm also not afraid to be as ridiculous as it takes."

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Such as rigging up a rollercoaster contraption made of pipe insulation, a cardboard box, lots of masking tape and a marble.

The creative curriculum has had a domino effect. The kids came up with projects of their own on potential and kinetic energy.

One student set up a row of dominos on a table and set them in motion. The final domino toppled off the table and bounced off the strings of a guitar that was positioned on its back below.

Another student got the ball rolling on her own idea using a baseball.

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"If I were to push it, it would have kinetic energy, but right now it is not moving, so it has potential energy," the student explained in a video clip for the class.

Ms. Stitt also wowed her students with a live launch of a homemade rocket.

"Just the shock registering on the kids' faces. I think it entices them and brings them back wanting to know what else is going to happen," Stitt said.

She also throws in 'Theme Fridays', including Hat Day and Pajama Day.

"Oh, it was hilarious! Kids had blankets on their heads. They had their sleeping bags beside them," Stitt said.

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And you have plenty of evidence that Lisa Stitt is making the most of a new opportunity based in a lifelong love.

"My mom has a journal of me in fourth grade saying what I wanted to do with my life, and teaching is it," she said.

If you would like to nominate a teacher who is going above and beyond right now, send us an email to innovativeeducator@ktvb.com. Educators, for more information on submitting an application for a classroom grant through the Idaho CapEd Foundation visit https://www.capedfoundation.org/.

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