Middletown teacher wins national contest

Middletown Elementary kindergarten teacher Beth Ballard sits beside Virginia Barr, 5, during computer lab class at the school recently. Ballard has received recognition for her applications of a progress monitoring classroom tool used across the nation.  Rich Cooley/Daily

Middletown Elementary kindergarten teacher Beth Ballard sits beside Virginia Barr, 5, during computer lab class at the school recently. Ballard has received recognition for her applications of a progress monitoring classroom tool used across the nation. Rich Cooley/Daily

Middletown Elementary School kindergarten teacher Beth Ballard has received recognition for her applications of a progress monitoring classroom tool used across the nation.

Ballard won Istation’s “Getting Started” classroom contest in November after learning about it at a professional development conference and entering directly afterward. Frederick County Public Schools have been making use of the program for elementary grades since 2011, and Ballard has been using it since she started teaching at Middletown Elementary School that same year.

Ballard said that students in all grades at the school make use of the program, so her kindergarten classes spend a portion of computer lab time learning about it: mastering their login and seeing how they can track their progress.

“For kindergarteners, it’s teaching them exactly what they need to do from the very beginning,” she said. “It’s really exciting because this year, 90 percent of my students can get on there already and that’s never been the case.”

Once her students receive their logon information in a colorful, laminated card, she said they become excited to use the program and motivated to do their best in the assessments.

“For myself, I like learning new things – I like seeing how different pieces can improve how I’m doing my job and this year I really felt that I’m using the Istation reports with more fidelity,” she said. “I do see the benefit…it’s targeting specific areas that I might not have been aware of.”

The program places students in groups based on monthly progress assessments that they can also visualize with graphs, she said.

Istation awarded Ballard with a $500 Amazon gift card and some lanyards for her and her classroom in December, although she said she had previously forgotten about that portion of the win. That money has gone toward items for dramatic play and storytelling centers in her classroom.

Istation staff also asked Ballard to attend its Educator Conference on Feb. 25-26 in Dallas to speak about her use of the program.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com

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