Featured Teacher #4 – Angela Van Batavia

Featured Teacher #4

Featured Teachers is an initiative by ClassHook to recognize the amazing work that teachers do every day. Each Featured Teacher post will focus on the work of one particular teacher and how that teacher teaches, engages, and inspires his or her students using popular media.

Today we are featuring Angela Van Batavia!

Angela Van Batavia and her family

Angela and her family

About Angela

Angela teaches 8th grade ELA and Social Studies at New Mark Middle School in Kansas City, Missouri. It is currently Angela’s 16th year as a teacher, and it is her first year at this school and district. New Mark Middle School is the first of the five middle schools in the district to use an open classroom design. With movable furniture and divided spaces, this design allows for the creation of environments appropriate for each class type, whether it be a Music, English, or Science class. Just this year, New Mark has become 1:1 with iPads for students and teachers.

Outside of school, Angela enjoys running and listening to Outlaw Country music. She has run 7 marathons and 35 half marathons since she started running in 2002. Also, she was a winner of the Showcase Showdown on The Price Is Right back in 2003.


Teaching Habits

As a movie buff, Angela uses videos heavily in her classroom. She finds that they are great ways to support what the class is learning on a given day. Angela finds that videos from movies such as The Sandlot are particularly effective at illustrating figurative language and literary devices to her ELA students. For example, she uses this clip from the movie to serve as an example of foreshadowing.

Angela likes to accompany any videos with activities and games. One of her classroom activities called “Name the Literary Device” requires her students to watch a series of clips from Toy Story and identify the literary devices contained in them as well as analyze how the devices are used “to develop setting, reveal character, advance the plot, and contribute to meaning.” Angela uses that particular activity to frontload literary devices with her students before they begin reading narrative short stories.

Angela’s ELA students are required to read numerous novels and short stories throughout the year. Once the class begins to read short stories, Angela continues to focus on figurative language as a way of improving critical reading skills. Some of her readers will have difficulties identifying the literary devices at play, especially those that were newly introduced, so she will show them a clip that depicts the device. After the students see the literary device in context from the clip, they continue their reading. Angela finds that this technique has been successful at improving figurative language detection rates.

This year, Angela is teaching in a new district and is not accustomed to having 70 minutes with each class. To pique the interest of her students, she uses television and/or movie clips as a bell ringer to help them focus on the topic to be discussed. For example, in a lesson on European Exploration, Angela showed her class a clip from Bugs Bunny.


Angela’s Recommendations

Angela enjoys getting to learn about her students. Her advice to other educators would be to try to get to know at least one personal aspect or fact about each student. Ask students questions about their likes, dislikes, family, pets, and hobbies. This will indicate that you care about more than just their school work.

Angela likes to keep in touch with her students’ parents as well. She suggests making positive phone calls home. Her commute to school takes 15 minutes each way, and she tries to make one positive phone call home each day during her drive.

With regards to videos, Angela recommends using clips of varying nature from television shows and movies. This includes clips from comedies and dramas as well as clips that are old and new. When you expose students to a variety of clips, they may come across a show that they didn’t even realize they might enjoy.

Thank you, Angela, for creating an exciting and supportive learning environment for your students! We appreciate it very much and are sure your students do, too!

Are you an educator? Do you use media to engage and inspire your students? Let us know in the comments!

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