Teacher Spotlight: Brie Benjamin-Baker

Teacher Spotlight - Brie Benjamin-Baker

Brie Benjamin-Baker
Science Educator
Primavera Online High School
Chandler, Arizona

One of the most common questions I get when I tell people that I am an online science teacher is, “How do you do lab projects?”  A joy of teaching science is having students do hands-on labs.  Since Primavera is a fully accredited high school it means that our students are doing hands-on projects in all lab science classes.

The simple answer to how we do labs is that students use basic materials to create experiments right in their home.  In my first semester biology class, students will make yogurt at home and determine if yogurt is best made at room temperature or in the refrigerator.  My general science students will explore Newton’s 3rd Law of Motion by making balloon rockets.

Providing hands-on labs is one thing, getting student to do the labs is another.  While some students can read the lab directions and jump right in, most need more help.  Here is where I use Adobe Connect meeting room. Since I am not sitting in front of my students, Adobe Connect allows me to teach live and get real time feedback from them on class concepts. It also helps to personalize the class for my students.  Finally, they are taking a class from a real person, not just scrolling through activities.

Adobe Connect is a web-based platform for meetings and/or teaching live to student that may be living hundreds of miles away.  Some of the features I use most often include:

  • Real time chat and video – I have to make sure that I am not teaching in my pajamas on live session days.
  • Screen share – This allows both the student and myself to share our screens.
  • Whiteboard – An endless amount of whiteboards are available that can be accessed by both instructor and student.  Instructors can also limit access to select students. They can also be saved and reused later too.
  • Polling – Create unique poll questions to check student comprehension throughout a lesson
  • Share documents and videos – Capability to upload and share PowerPoint presentations, .pdf files and also Youtube videos.

More information for Adobe connect at http://www.adobe.com/products/adobeconnect.html

Looking for ideas that have similar features, but not the cost associated with Adobe Connect?

As more and more schools and districts bring in an online component for teaching students, it is helpful to stay abreast of ways that you could interact with students that may access your class from miles away.



Teacher Spotlight: Mary C. Palasi, M.Ed.


Mary C. Palasi, M.Ed.
Science Educator
Tucson Magnet High School
Tucson, Arizona

This year I am teaching two topics: STEM Science & Sustainability to freshmen and Earth/Space to mostly juniors and seniors. Students are making use of CPS clickers, computer labs, cell phones and in the near future, iPads.

All of my students are trying online homework on KES.  I first learned about the website during a workshop at the University of Arizona, just prior to the start school year. It has taken some practice to both learn and get comfortable with the KES system, but the results are worth the effort.

Here are the highlights of site qualities that are rather useful:

  • The ability to use assignment dates with specific start and stop times
  • Each student can join the site on their own with a class code
  • The analysis tab allows an educator to see how long each student took with each answer, thereby demonstrating documentation of giving extra time with testing for students with IEPs. This tab also allows for a rapid summary of individual success with questions. Since more than 90% of the students are using home computers, this also meets a need for quiet testing location. Additionally, students are allowed to use computers labs in the school library and/or their local PIMA county Library for computer use.
  • The site allows me to access questions from other off campus teachers on the same topic.
  • Most recently I have invited a colleague to my KES site as a fellow instructor to assess student progress with me.
  • Finally, the ability to allow software to do all the grading, in real time, has improved my ability to monitor and adjust lessons to meet the specific need of each class.

In closing, the company has walked me through any concerns and assisted in correcting any problems. I recommend other educators give KES a try!

YourLabs Hosts Teacher Workshops with the University of Arizona

This week we had the wonderful opportunity of hosting a STEM workshop with the University of Arizona. Over 40 teachers from around Arizona joined us to discuss using technology in the classroom to strengthen student learning. A number of wonderful resources were discussed, some of them are highlighted below:

Ted Ed: Lessons Worth Sharing
Collections of short, educational videos and lesson plans on hundreds of topics.

PhET™ project at the University of Colorado
This site provides fun, interactive, research-based simulations of physical phenomena.

High-interest articles are available in 5 different reading levels for students in grades 3-12.

YourLab’s Knowledge Evaluation System
And of course we got to share YourLab’s Knowledge Evaluation System (KES)! The teachers had an opportunity to create classes and work with colleagues to develop questions to assess student learning.

Still haven’t tried the Knowledge Evaluation System? Give us a try… it’s free!

We had a great time meeting some of the wonderful teachers around Arizona… thank you to all who attended and helped make these workshops a success!

Workshop Photo 1 - Cropped Fantastic Arizona Teachers!



Knowledge Evaluation System 2.0 Released

The YourLabs team is happy to announce the next version of the KnowledgeEvaluation System.  Based on your feedback, we’ve implemented some exciting new and enhanced features!

1. Improved layout and navigation.  We’ve improved the layout and colors of the dashboard, we’ve consolidated our navigation, and we’ve streamlined the setup process to get you to where you need to be faster.

2. Equation editing. This was our most requested feature and we’ve delivered.  Easily add equations to your questions using ASCIIMath (a natural way of inputting mathematical expressions) and get a live preview as you type.  You can even add equations as answers.

3. Embed (almost) anything.  Embed external content like YouTube videos, Kahn Academy lessons, Wikipedia images, etc. into your question by simply copying and pasting a link or URL into your question – no need to add these as assets anymore.

4. Rich editor. We’ve added a rich editor toolbar to the question creator so you can have more control over the formatting of your question content.

5. Improved search.  We reworked our search to make it much easier to navigate and copy questions to your assignments.  We’ve also expanded search to standards and feedback widgets in the question creator.

6. International support.  We’ve added multi-language support so that users can register and use KES from anywhere in the world.

7. Time zone support.  Set time zones for yourself, your institution, classroom, and students to support distance learners and remote classrooms.

8. Better student management.  Add individual students to your classroom and manually reset student passwords.

9. Instructor invites.  Invite other instructors or teaching assistants to your classroom to help creator questions, manage a classroom, or analyze data.

10. Help videos.  We’ve started a YouTube channel with some getting started videos.  We’ll add more over time.