Studies Weekly Spotlight: California Teacher Jen Mello
Jen Mello has been an educator for 15 years and doesn’t plan to stop anytime soon.
Her very own elementary teachers as a child were her inspiration.
“They made learning fun and made personal connections with myself and my classmates,” she said in a recent interview with Studies Weekly. “I still keep in touch with many of them through social media.”
Following their example, Mello, a literacy integration teacher in California, tries to impact her students’ lives for good. She knows the importance of intervention and catching students before they fall too behind. Mello also believes in the power of informational text in those efforts. She works with teachers and principals to create lessons that use informative text to teach literacy skills, and those lessons always include Studies Weekly.
“We have focused on integration this year as a district, and Studies Weekly was perfect to use to teach literacy skills through informational text and maximize our instructional time,” she said. “The online platform offers text to speech to help our ELL population, engaging videos and interviews, and other great additional resources that don’t take up our cupboard space.”
Mello used Studies Weekly materials in her classroom, and this year she was part of a team helping teachers with the district’s first district-wide Studies Weekly adoption. She’s been teaching other educators how to use Studies Weekly in their language arts block.
“All these other adoptions, their materials were so overwhelming, but Studies Weekly is so easy to use. Our teachers love this curriculum and how it is set up. We love the Studies Weekly publications and the fact that they aren’t a typical textbook,” Mello said.
Mello said many teachers were grateful for the versatility of Studies Weekly’s curriculum during distance learning this past spring. Because the majority of her district’s population has no access to technology at home, most teachers relied on print publications, especially in the lower grades.
“Studies Weekly is so great because everything is on it. It can just be sent home, and the kids already know what to do with it,” she said. “We love that students are able to write and annotate directly on the text of the articles to support the teaching of critical reading skills.”
Not only did the Studies Weekly curriculum help Mello’s colleagues with the challenges of remote learning, but it is helping with the district’s move towards more inquiry-based learning. The district has been transitioning from the “Sage on the Stage” style of teaching to “Guide on the Side.”
Mello said this was a challenge for her previously as a 5th and 6th grade teacher, but worth the effort.
“When I’m passionate about what I teach, I tend to get excited and want to share my knowledge with my students, but that leads to me being the ‘sage’ and not allowing my students to explore on their own. I have worked hard to make the shift to being the ‘guide,’ by using my skills to engage students in first-hand learning experiences and projects. They learn so much more this way,” she said.
Watching students get excited about learning is one of the best parts of teaching.
“It’s the best feeling to know that you were able to help someone make sense of their learning and be able to take off with it independently,” Mello said. “When you help someone make sense of their learning, that’s a pretty cool feeling.”
That’s what makes being an educator such a rewarding career.
“We literally raise up our future citizens. We not only teach the standards, but we teach about community, empathy, tolerance, and how our government works,” Mello said. “We have the ability to make a difference in our students’ lives that will stay with them forever!”
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