Mrs. Ball has taught in Idaho Falls for more than thirty years. Twenty-two of those years have been spent teaching a multi-age classroom. She and her husband, Doug, are the parents of three children and have three adorable grandchildren. Mrs. Ball’s family is an immense support in her life. She has been married to her husband for over forty years and they enjoy a life of cross country skiing, snowshoeing, running marathons, and mountain biking. Their dog, Ellie, loves to go on all their sport adventures and brings such joy every day.
- Her Teaching Method
- If you were to spend the day in her classroom you would see first, second, and third graders thriving and learning at their academic levels. Core subjects, math and reading, are taught in small groups at instructional levels. This allows students to receive instruction tailored specifically to their needs and provides them the best opportunities for learning and growth. Grades and ages are mixed and students learn with peers that are at the same instructional level. These groups are fluid and students are moved around as their academic needs change. Mrs. Ball rarely sits and moves from one group to another giving lessons, facilitating learning, assisting students, and providing feedback. Students quickly learn the importance of staying on task and being responsible for their learning. Parent volunteers assist with groups and it is a bustle of engaged, learning students. You will see students on task, helping one another, learning together, challenging their peers, and being mentors and leaders. The dynamics of students in reading groups are different from math groups.
- How Students Learn
- After the students have stretched their minds it isn’t uncommon to see them engaged in a few minutes of yoga, or dancing and laughing. Afternoons in her class are spent studying and discovering. Students are engaged in Project-Based learning with partners that support and enhance their learning. It might be the Biomes, or Space, The Constitution, or the Human Body. Students delve into these subjects collaborating with each other as they share and learn knowledge. Students then create something visual. It may be a PowerPoint, a Project Board full of essays, or a portfolio of literature studies, They write, they arrange, analyze, reflect, ask critical thinking questions, and become experts on what they are studying.
- Why It Works
- In Mrs. Ball's classroom, you will not see students sitting in rows listening to hours of teacher instruction. You will not see worksheets which are meant solely to test students on a teachers lecture. You will see engaged students who learn to love knowledge and discovery. The philosophies of Mrs. Ball's program fit so well with the Programmes of the International Baccalaureate. With the IB Programmes as a foundation and the principles of Mrs. Ball's classroom, Alturas provides a rigorous, high-quality education. She has had incredible success with student growth and achievement and we look forward to seeing more teachers embrace and execute these philosophies.