Scholarship Interview: Ishva Mehta

scholarship interview online tutoring platform

“This is part of a series of interviews with our scholarship recipients for our 2021 Build A Better Future scholarship sponsored by Honors Graduation. We hope you will find their stories as inspiring as we do! For information on our 2022 program, click here

Our final scholarship winner is Ishva Mehta with her online tutoring program. Ishva started her project in 2020 at COVID’s peak. She spent her time in the National Honor Society tutoring elementary school children that were not proficient in English. She was finding that as schools were shutting down and COVID was at its peak, these students were struggling even more. Upon researching why she realized they were coming from non-English speaking homes, so they did not have the extra help they needed. Many of these parents could not afford tutoring either. 

Ishva set out to change this and help these students that were struggling the most. She wanted to focus on English with reading and writing. She started with a small website and through word-of-mouth. As she continued her program, more and more parents caught on and wanted more and more. This sparked her idea to create a feedback form to see what parents were wanting from this tutoring website. 

From this feedback form, she realized a lot of requests came for read alouds for their kids to watch. Ishva got to work and went full force with animating the stories herself, creating the videos, and even creating worksheets to go along with the videos. Beyond this, she wrote her own book as well. 

Funding the website became a challenge for Ishva and because she was helping low-income families, there was not a lot of community funding, either. To solve this problem, she took up a job at her local library to be able to continue this website. 

In the future, Ishva hopes to find a more permanent solution to funding the website, write more children’s books, and publish the current book she has written. 

Ishva is amazing and has created such a great resource in her community!

You can see her tutoring website here. 

You can watch her video here.

Phone Interview Tips

COVID has made some crazy times for all of us. Because we are trying to be more socially distant in all that we do, many interviews for jobs or schools have been adapted to phone or video call interviews to stay a little safer. Here are our tips for having a successful phone interview! 

  • Plan to be in a quiet area with no distractions during the interview. You should treat it just like a regular interview and not be browsing the grocery store or driving in the car when they call. 
  • Test out your phone connection before the call. You may decide to do the interview in a quiet room in your basement, but it may have bad cell service and the call may be dropped or hard to hear. Avoid this by calling your parents or grandparents for a quick check-in, they’ll appreciate it and you’ll be able to get a feel for where your connection is best! 
  • Keep a notepad and pen for notes you might need to take during the interview. 
  • Avoid using speakerphone if possible. It can be low-quality sound on their end. If you need hands-free calling, consider using headphones with a microphone instead. 
  • Make a note for if you need to call them, or if they will be calling you. It’s more common than you’d think to miss an interview because of miscommunication of who will be calling whom. 
  • Stay calm and speak clearly! 

Have you had a phone interview for school or a new job yet? What other tips would you add? 

A Free EdTech Resource For The Classroom And Distance Learning: Virtual Field Trips

I originally planned to write about virtual field trips in late May after I went to the UCET conference in Provo, Utah. I was pumped up and ready to dive deep into virtual learning/ using technology in education! However, soon after the UCET conference, COVID took over our education systems, forcing us to use technology to learn, socialize, and even grocery shop. By late May, I couldn’t bring myself to write about one more technology use in the classroom because I was burnt out. And I’m not even teaching right now, so I cannot imagine how educators feel!! Instead of writing about my original plan of virtual field trips, my post on slowing down and remembering the simple, one-room schoolhouse came about instead. It felt more appropriate. 

Now that I’ve had a break from writing about the tech world for a little span on time, I feel more ready to write about my original idea. Here it is: virtual field trips.

Did you know virtual field trips were a thing? I did not! Don’t you (especially those social study teachers) wish you could put all of your students on an airplane each year and bring them to Alcatraz or the Eiffel Tower? While there are so many reasons this can’t work out, there is one simple way you can do this with your students. It’s simple. It really, truly is so simple and FREE. 

Do you have a computer? Good. Open Google Maps. Search your desired location. Turn on street view. You’re there. You did it. See, I told you it was simple!

Matt from Ditch That Textbook wrote about it here on his website that gives you a better rundown of exactly how to use it to its full potential. Or if you’re looking for an even easier route, he put links to 20 different field trips for you. All you have to do is click the link and you’re magically walking through Yellowstone National Park.

Matt was our keynote speaker at UCET and where I learned this new trick. His website is packed full of great educational tips and free resources, never once would he link us or send us down a path that costs money, he truly believes educational materials should be free and is doing a wonderful job at accomplishing this.

A screenshot from my computer during a virtual field trip. A cell in Alcatraz.

It may not have the same impact as walking the streets themselves, but I will attest to the fact that it’s more engaging than pictures in a textbook or on a computer. It’s different, it’s interactive, and it’s educational. 

Another screenshot from my Alcatraz field trip.
The White House

I invite you to play with these virtual field trips this summer while school is out so that when your students come back in the fall you can be ready to do this in the classroom with them, or send them home with the assignment to explore a new place during distant learning. When you’re done, come on back here and let me know how it went and share any tips you have for other teachers! 

Cover photo from pexels.com

You Don’t Have To Be Screen-Free To Be Successful

How many times do you see on any social media platform “Screen-Free Summer!” or, “How our family became screen-free” maybe the “Screen-Free Challenges”? These titles are indicating that using screens such as iPads, movies, and electronic games are bad. But is it bad if you aren’t screen-free in your homes? 

Our schools are using technology and can even be thriving through its use!! But then we go home and are pressured into being a screen-free home. Media can be harmful. But also… It doesn’t have to be. You don’t have to be screen-free to be successful. Say it with me again, you don’t have to be screen-free to be successful! 

Media can be powerful. It can pull teachers and students together during a global pandemic. It can give a teacher a few minutes of free time to grade papers or join a zoom meeting because she’s still a mom with kids to teach and entertain herself. It can be a platform for friends to collaborate and create, hello Minecraft! 

Scree-free for some households works great. But media filled households can also function and have just as much success. Let’s stop focusing on what we need to add or take away from our lives and start growing with the resources we have, media, and all! 

Gone Are The Days Of Computer Labs

If you are old enough to teach right now, there is a good chance that while you were in school you had a computer lab instead of a laptop cart. There was one room in the school with the classroom set of computers every class shared throughout the school year. Your computer time was about once every week or two weeks where you would spend an hour typing your papers, playing cool math games, or testing. And there is a really good chance that if you’re teaching now, this isn’t the case for your students. 

Computer labs are a thing of the past, irrelevant to our day. We aren’t setting aside time for utilizing technology in our classrooms, we are picking up this tech and solving everyday problems with it. 

Typing our written papers isn’t a treat anymore, it’s expected. 

Finding learning-based gaming isn’t to kill time in the computer lab, it’s used to boost test scores and teach on a tier-three basis to each and every student. 

Coding isn’t just for fun, it’s there to teach students how to plan and think ahead. Later, they will use these basic fundamental skills in their future careers as adults. 

Thinking tech-minded in schools is becoming easier and easier with more technology access throughout every grade. More often than not, each classroom is equipped with a 1:1 ratio of technology to student, whether that be by laptop, Chromebook, iPad, or cellphone. 

When it comes time to learn about penguins for science, we don’t line up our class and march them down to the computer lab to research the subject. Instead, we ask them to pull out their iPads, watch the videos about the habitats, read the online articles on the different kinds of penguins, create their own presentations, choose their own images, and present their findings to their classmates and friends. What used to take weeks and weeks of time to research now can take one afternoon. 

How are you shifting your technology mindset from a “computer lab” to an “iPad” in your classroom or school? 

My Experience At The 2020 UCET Conference

Recently I went to Utah Coalition for Educational Technology (UCET) conference in Provo, Utah. A big conference for tech nerdy teachers, and those aspiring to be. It was incredible. 

We started each day with a keynote speaker- Matt Miller @jmattmiller and Richard Culatta @rec54 where each spoke about technology in the classroom, the benefits, and how easily accessible it can be. Richard focused on digital citizenship and the responsibility that it entails.  

During breakout sessions, they had options to learn more about everything tech imaginable spanning from Google Drive, Google sheets, to Nearpod, to Skype and more. Technology is advancing and we as teachers are here for the hype. 

The timing of the conference could not have come at a better time with Covid-19 shutdowns all across the world. Teachers, coaches, and administrators walked out of there with the tools they needed for schools being based online and at home for the foreseeable future. 

After being surrounded by AR, VR, Microsoft, Google, Apple, iPads, laptops, and more, I am feeling fired up and ready to put these ideas to use! But wait…. I’m not teaching right now! That’s where you will come in. I’ll share my findings on this space over the next few weeks and YOU can implement them into your classrooms and then share with me. 

Next year if you’re in the area, check out this UCET conference and learn more for yourself, your school, and your students about technology and digital citizenship, it won’t disappoint. 

This post is not sponsored by UCET.

Troubleshooting Global Collaboration In Classrooms

Recently I wrote about writing to a global, authentic audience, and now I want to take it a little further. Collaboration. Globally. 

How do we collaborate between classrooms, schools, and students? It seems so easy, and so hard at the same time. Where do you start? I’m here to tell you just how easy and cheap it can be. 

Do you have internet access? Do you have a webcam and a microphone on a usable device? Can you easily navigate a website? Is your budget $0? This is for you. 

skypeintheclassroom.com where you can set up virtual field trips, Skype with other classrooms, invite a guest speaker via skype, collaborate on projects, and MORE. You can easily search what you are looking for and apply filters. Browse the website for five minutes and you’ll see just how easy it can be. 

Google Drive- a tool the majority of teachers know, but let’s use it beyond our classroom. Think, penpals across the nation or across the world using a GoogleDoc. Students solving problems by bouncing ideas off of other students in different states, with instant results. 

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” -Matt Miller 

Are you a dual immersion teacher? Or a teacher of Spanish? French? Imagine a Skype call in your French class with a classroom in France learning to speak English. 

What about a history teacher? Maybe finding a classroom who has been on a field trip to a historical site and can tell your students all about it. Both benefit. Or vice versa if you’ve been on a cool field trip with your students that they can share. 

But what if you can’t find a classroom to Skype that fits your needs? Get creative. Social media is a huge global tool. HUGE. Tweet out your idea of a skyping classroom, ask for friends to retweet and share, and see where it goes. Contact schools worldwide to see if they have any teachers with the same interest as you. 

Are you seeing the same benefits I am? Why learn from one single teacher when the possibilities of education literally have no walls or limits? There is too much knowledge in this world to keep it within the four walls of our classroom. 

Now go out and be global teachers and create global learners like this class!