Get to know a CBE

Professional Development with CBE of the Month Julie Kuzma

Posted by cemignano on

We’d like to welcome August Certified BrainPOP Educator of the Month, Julie Kuzma to the blog! Julie is part of the Loudoun County School District where she’s an Instructional Facilitator of Technology. Read on to learn about Julie’s experience building a Makerspace in her school, and inspiring other teachers to dive into BrainPOP!

What grade(s) do you teach? Subject area? 

My official title is Instructional Facilitator of Technology. My main role is to train teachers on technology integration. Since modeling and co-teaching is one of the best ways to learn, this allows me to work in the Makerspace Classroom. I use all of the tools we have available and embed them in all subject areas, therefore I teach the content that is currently being worked on. The best part about that is it gives me a birdseye and in depth view of core subjects from Kindergarten – Fifth grade. 

How long have you been teaching? 

24 years! Gosh that went fast. I had a few years in southern Florida, Clewiston to be exact, then moved up to northern Virginia where I’ve been in elementary schools, graduate and online platforms. 

What inspired you to go into education? 

While I was in 3rd grade I was asked to grade papers and thought it was fun! Crazy, right? Being the student that couldn’t sit still I was bored and knew there had to be a better way to teach than to ‘sit and get.’ The thought of more young minds not being given the opportunity to physically dive into their curriculum was frustrating, therefore I knew that I could be that teacher to excite them. It hasn’t helped my classroom neighbors since my room was always the loudest – guess that’s why a principal had me move to a learning cottage outside. It ended up being the best thing that could’ve happened to myself and my students. 

Which CBE class were you a part of? What do you like about being a CBE? 

I’m a proud member of the 2016 ISTE Denver class. 

What is one of the most memorable projects you’ve done with your class using BrainPOP resources? 

Although simple in nature, the most memorable one was getting my teachers to use BrainPOP with multiple research projects. They have used other tools in the past and saved this one for review (watch the video and take the quiz). After some conversations, they realized the value BrainPOP has in the videos and how it can easily be embedded into so many other projects. They’ve shared how it’s been a starter for different research projects, a quick information gatherer when working on limited time and a great place to review a skill that had been taught earlier in the year. After our many conversations and co-teaching experiences, the amazing teachers in my building would tell me how their students are ready to work on our Makerspace project because they’ve done the research in the classroom using BrainPOP. 

How has BrainPOP impacted a specific student (or group of students)?

My direct students are the teachers. My colleagues are brand new to veteran teachers. Trying to get them on board with something they haven’t done or aren’t comfortable with can be a challenge. My biggest charge to date has been to start a Makerspace Lab. I was given an empty classroom, some money and told to make it happen. There were some educators that jumped all over this with unparalleled excitement, while others were a bit more apprehensive. Coding was the biggest hurdle as teachers knew about this but didn’t understand the ‘why’ behind it. They had already been sold on BrainPOP so when Creative Coding came out I thought this was it! This is where I could convince them why coding is necessary. During our grade level meetings, I sit in on all of them, we discussed upcoming skills, videos in BrainPOP and then I offered the idea of coding. We developed a plan, co-taught the lesson and let the students fly. After the first lesson or two of this method, they came into the Makerspace Lab a few weeks later with a lesson they created! The teachers were creating and delivering lessons on coding, students were given assessments different than a traditional test and I was being asked about the next step in coding!

How has becoming a CBE impacted you? 

CBE’s impact on me has been tremendous. It has allowed me to connect with educators from all different locations. This has led to conversations, friendships and new ways to see the same content. Through different opportunities, it has helped me set and achieve new goals. 

What are you most passionate about when it comes to education, technology, and your approaches to teaching? 

Robotics and 4 C’s! Teaching students a skill, then giving them wires, computers, conductors and more, they create items like cardboard dogs that bark, tour the map of the world complete with a working clock from “It’s a Small World,” and video games based on the ocean layers. In a class of 25 learners, I can give students the same skill, the same tools and get 25 different assignments. Each one will meet the goal yet allow the student to explore their own interests and personality. This past year I was given an empty classroom and told to ‘create a Makerspace.’ Over the last 12 months it’s been filled with devices, Ozobots, Spheros, Hummingbird Kits, and Bloxels. This has caused everyone in my building to be pushed a bit out of their comfort zone and rethink the way they teach their curriculum. The products that have been developed have blown us all away. Students are engaged, excited, and they aren’t as apprehensive to try something that may not work the first time. 

What’s on your BrainPOP wish list? 

My wish list…BrainPOP already offers so much. The quizzes are a wonderful feature that many use. What if a student takes the quiz, teachers grade it, then send it back to the student to make corrections. The learner will then need to return to the video and post a part of it where it was located. BrainPOP already offers the ability to pull a section of the video during the Make-a-Movie, let’s use that same tool during the quiz. Also if Moby was to make a special appearance at my school that would be pretty awesome!