In Case You Missed It: Robyn Howton, Mt. Pleasant High in EdWeek

June 10th, 2015

Category: Policy and Practice, Student-Centered Learning

Teacher Robyn Lynn Howton works with students Maria Obuya (left) and Avery Jones at Mount Pleasant High School in Wilmington, Delaware on May 12, 2015. --Charles Mostoller for Education Week

Teacher Robyn Lynn Howton works with students Maria Obuya (left) and Avery Jones at Mount Pleasant High School in Wilmington, Delaware on May 12, 2015. –Charles Mostoller for Education Week


More exciting news from the Rodel Teacher Council!

Earlier this week, RTC member Robyn Howton was featured in the cover story of EdWeek’s annual special report, “Technology Counts,” which covers a large host of issues related to technology in education.

The cover story by Ben Herold–“Why Ed Tech is Not Transforming How Teachers Teach”–takes a  snapshot of Howton’s class to showcase education technology and its potential to transform teaching and learning. The report also covers topics that range from the rollout of 1-to-1 initiatives to choosing digital curricula and open educational resources.

Here’s an excerpt from Robyn’s passage:

On a warm May morning, 26 Mount Pleasant 11th graders were scattered around Ms. Howton’s room, sitting in groups of three or four. They were midway through a project-based unit on social-justice movements. Their goal: Produce independent research papers on topics of their choice, then collaboratively develop a multimedia presentation of their findings with classmates researching the same issue.

After a brief welcome and introduction, the teens were on their own. The 15 iPads on a cart in the back of the room were quickly gobbled up.

Nicole Collins, Courtney Norris, and Quincy Vaughn, all 17, went to work at a small table. Using iPads and a cloud-based tool called Google Slides, they collaborated in real time on their group presentation about injustices in the U.S. criminal-justice system.

Ms. Collins said she had chosen the topic because “my own family has problems with the law, so I understand part of it.”

Mr. Vaughn expressed a different motivation: “With everything that’s going on with Ferguson and Baltimore, it’s a little overwhelming,” he said, referring to the police killings of black men and the resulting protests in each city. “Sometimes, you need to speak out.”

The trio worked enthusiastically for 25 minutes without any interaction with their teacher. Ms. Howton slid to the back of the room. On her laptop, she logged into the Google platform to check students’ work. Occasionally, she circulated around the room, asking probing questions or issuing challenges to individual groups.

“I’ve probably stood in front of that class for three hours the entire school year,” said the 24-year teaching veteran, who has received intensive training in technology integration from a local foundation and a consortium of Delaware school districts that promote personalized learning. “I decided my personal goal was to turn my classroom into a model so other teachers who want to start down this pathway have someone to come and [observe].”

Along with the special report, EdWeek’s “Digital Education” blog posted an in-depth look at how Howton uses technology to harness individual students’ interests. The piece explored how Robyn and AP English student Ta’Nia Henson turned to Ta’Nia’s love of music and music production to explore concepts from English class. Robyn’s unique teaching skills helped put Ta’Nia in the driver’s seat of her own learning, with Robyn as the facilitator and guide.

We are so proud of Robyn and the other members of the Rodel Teacher Council, who consistently demonstrate their innovative approaches and work to share their practices with their peers!

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Rachel Wiggans Chan



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