Karen Kennedy-Allin: caring for students so that they care
Year: 2019 – Province: Saskatchewan
Certificate of Excellence Recipient
Physics 30, Biology 30 and Environmental Science 20
Weyburn Comprehensive School, Weyburn, Saskatchewan
"Mrs. Allin to us was more than just a teacher. She is a true inspiration of an extraordinary human being. … [She] never gave up on [our son]. She pushed him above and beyond his limits and expectations and occasionally pushed us as well." — Parents of former student
Even after 25-plus years of teaching, Karen Kennedy-Allin works tirelessly to improve her classes, being of the view that every semester is an opportunity for growth and change. As president of the regional teacher's association, she also supports teachers from across grade levels and disciplines.
Karen's primary directive is that students will not care until they know you care. She ensures that the students who need the biggest challenges to stay engaged get them, and that those who can only handle smaller ones get what they need. All the while, she strives to give young adults independence.
In the classroom
- Adapts to various learning styles: students review video lessons at their own pace; she makes class notes available, since some students don't benefit from taking them; produced 10 video lessons for students to do at home so physics class time is free for inquiry-based activities.
- Emphasizes formative evaluation to student understanding prior to formal assessments; these techniques (e.g. open book assignments, short quizzes) give students feedback so they can improve; students work in groups to discuss practise test answers.
- Uses both high-tech gear (e.g. probeware and online simulators) and whiteboards: groups of students prepare quick summaries of concepts on the latter to share with the class; merry-go-round problem solving sees students make a circuit of eight stations, each with a problem to solve.
- Stresses importance of hands-on projects to prompt innovative thinking and learning through trial and error: students launch marshmallows with catapults they have designed, gather data on trajectory, and two days later must be able hit a target in three tries.
- Conducts student survey at the end of every semester and strives to take into account the constructive feedback the results contain to improve her courses for the next semester.
- Created school's health and anatomy symposium: students create displays with information on the structure and function of a human organ and how to keep it healthy; the event features interactive learning activities, and parents, the media and the public are invited to attend.
- Wrote the new Physics 30 curriculum with three other Saskatchewan educators; creates lessons and projects for senior science classes that are shared with all teachers in the province.
- Received Canadian Association of Physicists Award of teaching excellence in 2017.
Get in touch!
Weyburn Comprehensive School
629 King Street
Weyburn SK S4H 2S5
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