LHS Teacher Receives Grant to Increase Student Cooperation
Lancaster High School Science Teacher Amy Balling implemented a fun and innovative way to reinvigorate student cooperation and confidence. Mrs. Balling was recognized with a New York State Computers and Technologies in Education (NYSCATE) Award for her plan, “Rubik's Cubes to Build Community for Remote and Hybrid Students.”
The impetus for the plan developed during the early stages of the pandemic. However, the effects of remote and hybrid learning models of the past two years continue to be felt throughout classrooms today.
“Sometimes, the online world, no matter how enriching it may be, can become too small and you need a physical space where you can resolve your queries and practice with real tools. Remote students were struggling with a lack of self-confidence and needed to build relationships with peers to find success,” Mrs. Balling explained.
The award from NYSCATE came with a grant of $2,000 and was utilized to enable students to master a Rubik’s Cube through in-person and online groups to support, problem solve, design, and teach others to also solve the cube.
“Rubik’s Cubes can be used to facilitate camaraderie, teach focus, following directions, memorization, sequencing, problem solving, critical thinking, and perseverance,” Mrs. Balling added. “The Rubik’s cubes will also be used in Biology, Earth Science, and Geometry lessons in a transformative way to improve teaching and learning.”
When Mrs. Balling isn’t showing students how to solve a Rubik’s Cube in 20 moves or less, she is teaching Living Environment and Earth Science at Lancaster High School. An educator for 25 years, she is also a NYS Master Teacher and in 2013 was named the NYS Biology Teacher of the Year by the National Association of Biology Teachers. Mrs. Balling is known for her innovative ways to increase student engagement through hands-on learning opportunities and teamwork. She has designed and instituted a blended biology class, integrating traditional in-class laboratory investigations with online interactive lessons and games. Amy also creates her own short, engaging instructional videos, has an iTunes podcast called “Bio To Go” and an online blog.
High school students can borrow the Rubik's cubes from Mrs. Balling to practice and learn until the end of the school year. Mrs. Balling said there is interest in starting a Rubik's Cube Club next year. With over 43 quintillion moves possible on the iconic cube, that would be one challenging and busy club.