Stephanie Thomas Wins Community College Teacher Development Award

By Gretchen Bitterlin

Congratulations to Stephanie Thomas who has won the Community College Teacher Development Award, sponsored by National Geographic Learning.

Stephanie received the award at the annual CATESOL State Conference in November, 2015. The award is awarded to a teacher who exemplifies the following:

  • Effective and inspiring teaching strategies using technology to connect students to the wider world;
  • Effective teaching strategies that encourage students to engage with their surrounding community and make a difference in their community;
  • Evidence of creating a rich learning experience for students; and
  • Other pioneering contributions to excellence in teaching.

Stephanie has taught nine years in SDCE's noncredit ESL program. She has taught beginning level ESL, multi-level ESL in the CBET program, and is now teaching an English for Careers advanced ESL course.

Two examples of how Stephanie meets the above criteria are as follows:

1.    In fall 2015, Stephanie facilitated a multi-cultural project- based activity in which students learned to describe dishes from their countries. The students downloaded images of the dishes, which were posted on the hallway bulletin board. The students then created scripts describing the food and ingredients. Under the teacher’s direction, they video-taped themselves, uploaded the  videos to Aurasma Studio, and attached a trigger image (food) so that when outside students came up to the board, they could download the Aurasma app and by following simple written instructions, could view and listen to each student’s presentation  by pointing  their phone to each visual.  Students were intrigued in using this technology to learn about each other’s dishes and customs. Stephanie uses the same tools to animate her core text so students are exposed to reinforcement of the course content outside of class. They can place their phone over the text in their book and can hear the passage aurally.

2.    Another strategy Stephanie uses is making other curriculum come alive by  using QR codes. She creates audio files of text and links them to QR codes. She then inserts the codes into the student materials for our EL Civics lessons. By putting their phones over the written material in their packets, they can listen to the dialogues or passages outside of class. Stephanie also has students use their cell phones for other learning related activities, for example, using Kahoot.it, a quiz game tied to their phones.

Besides enriching the learning experiences of her students through this innovative technology, she has enriched our program through training other teachers to incorporate this technology. As a result of her innovative strategies, all of our EL Civics materials include QR codes to afford students the opportunity to practice their English outside of class on their cell phones or other devices.

We can’t wait to see what Stephanie will come up with next to enrich our students’ learning and move our program forward in the area of integrating technology.

Mission: San Diego Continuing Education commits to student success and community enrichment by providing accessible, equitable, and innovative quality education and support services to diverse adult learners in pursuit of lifelong learning, training, career advancement, and pathways to college.