On June 6, the Vermont Association for Middle Level Education (VAMLE) named Charlotte Central School 6th grade math and social studies teacher Natasha Grey as the recipient of the Rising Star in Middle Level Education award.
Grey, who has been teaching at CCS for three years, was recognized for her “student-led, proficiency-based approach to teaching and learning, and the infusion of interdisciplinary and multimedia projects with her students.”
This year Grey worked with her students on two interdisciplinary projects: Trout in the Classroom and on an exploration of NASA and the International Space Station.
“This is our second year using Trout in the Classroom as a tool to engage students in cross curricular activities where they can apply and learn new science, math, language arts and social sciences skills by raising and releasing approximately 100 brook trout,” Grey explained.
In the spring, Grey partnered with Allan Miller, a Champlain Valley School District instructional coach, to implement a study of NASA and the ISS. Learning opportunities were woven throughout the students’ science and social studies work, and they were called to use their language arts skills and to apply their math skills in practical ways.
The students experimented with thermal transfer during a science project that mimicked a real-life emergency faced by NASA, designing an insulator, examining data and then redesigning based on the experiment results.
“First, students self-selected a current ISS research project,” explained Grey, “then they investigated and summarized the details using a variety of online, paper and human resources. Next, we partnered with the Regional Educational Television Network (RETN) to develop videos about these research projects that utilized students’ summary and writing skills.”
In the process, students learned about latitude and longitude. They used the information they gathered to order photographs from the ISS’s camera (the EarthKAM). Finally, they used these photographs as evidence to support a claim about where civilization develops, using screencast and a slideshow to display their arguments.
As for the award, “It was a complete surprise,” said Grey; “I found out when I received my invitation to the award dinner!”
For Tasha Grey the passion for her work grows from the ways in which things are always changing in the educational setting. “I get to learn right alongside my students,” she says, “helping them build a community and environment in which they can explore their interests, be exposed to new ideas and face their own personal challenges in a safe and supported way.”
“In her three short years at CCS,” says Principal Stephanie Sumner, “Tasha has initiated and implemented approaches and components in her classroom that inspire students to be the drivers of their educational journeys.”