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Virginia AEM Brett Bailey finds CAP activities help deepen student learning

Posted on 08/13/2021 at 10:07 AM by Virginia Smith

Portrait of teacher Brett Bailey

Gifted resource teacher Brett Bailey loves project/problem-based, open-ended STEM instruction for her elementary students.

August 13, 2021

Meet Brett Bailey, a gifted resource teacher for Hanover Public Schools/Cold Harbor Elementary School in Mechanicsville, Virginia. Ten years ago, she began her teaching career, and she is about to start her second year of teaching as a Civil Air Patrol Aerospace Education Member (AEM). Several years ago, she sought master's level training on serving gifted students, and now that is her full-time role. Her teaching team "consists of innovative women who are constantly striving to find the best instructional opportunities to implement that will instill a love of learning in their students through authentic experiences. They introduced me to CAP last fall, and I've never looked back!" She implements STEM topics as much as possible in her classroom. Last year, she used CAP paper airplanes and balsa gliders for her students to conduct distance trials. She called it "one of our most valuable learning experiences all year!" She also has used CAP's Bee-Bot STEM Kit. "CAP has allowed me to try new, exciting topics and tech gadgets with my students that I know are solid activities to deepen student learning," she says. We asked her some questions about her teaching career and experience as a CAP AEM. Her answers follow: 

Tell us about your school, the grades you teach and your role there.

Hanover County Public Schools: Cold Harbor Elementary School (CHES)
Role: K-5 Gifted and Talented (GT) teacher 

How many years have you been an educator? .

I began teaching in Henrico County, Virginia, 10 years ago in 3rd grade at a Title I school. I remember in my second year of teaching, I had my first identified gifted student and felt very unprepared to meet her

Students test their balsa gliders

Brett Bailey's students conduct test flights with CAP paper airplanes and balsa gliders.

needs and enrich her experiences. This little girl prompted my first master’s class that spring toward earning my gifted endorsement, and I’ve never looked back.  I’ve learned to love the project/problem-based, open-ended STEM instruction which lends itself to providing opportunities for students to experience a healthy, productive struggle to reach an end goal. 

While obtaining my endorsement, I was transferred to a gifted zone center teaching classes of fully identified GIA (General Intellectual Aptitude) gifted 4th- and 5th- grade students, dually gifted in both math and reading. Teaching 24/7 gifted instruction was such a phenomenal experience. Learning how to plan, implement and really just facilitate student learning versus spoon feeding information helped me form my identity as an educator.  After a few years in this program, I was hired as a gifted resource teacher to serve identified students around the county too young for gifted zone program options.  

Last year, I transferred to Hanover County, Virginia, as a gifted resource teacher at Cold Harbor ES!  In my first year in Hanover, I was blown away with the knowledge, support and professionalism within my school and my gifted resource team. My GT team consists of innovative women who are constantly striving to find the best instructional opportunities to implement that will instill a love of learning in their students through authentic experiences. They introduced me to CAP last fall, and I've never looked back! 

Please describe the Civil Air Patrol programs you participate in and why you participate. What benefits do your students get from the CAP programs you use?

So far I’ve participated in Aerospace Connections in Education and the Bee Bot STEM coding kits! I am so impressed with the ACE curriculum available to teachers! My students love the Bee-Bots! These are crucial for early coders. Kids benefit from creating multi-step codes for the bots to travel while working in teams. Communication and problem solving are key for success on Bee-Bot challenges!

We noticed your social media posts about using CAP materials. Please let us know how your students liked the experience.

We had CHES 1st graders and 4th graders construct both paper airplanes and the ACE wooden gliders provided by CAP. Students had to conduct multiple trials for each plane and compare which model flew a further distance based on measurements. In first grade, student standards require them to estimate length. Students used their footsteps to estimate how many feet the planes flew and compared data. In 4th grade, students had to use a ruler to measure how many actual feet the planes traveled in each trial, and then compute length measurements into both inches and yards. This was not only fun for both grade levels, but also one of our most valuable learning experiences all year!

If you'd like to share, tell us how you made the best of the situation for your students during the challenges of teaching during a pandemic?

Teaching in 2020-2021 was unforgettable for all teachers. I was very proud of Hanover County for offering both virtual and face-to-face options all school year to our families. Seeing how flexible and resilient students are when faced with difficult situations gave us teachers strength and determination to carry on!  I taught both virtual GT groups on Zoom and K-5 face-to-face GT kids at CHES. When I was able to implement CAP topics, regardless of online or in person, both groups were equally engaged and thankful for the fun lessons that enriched learning! 

How long have you been involved in Civil Air Patrol? 

I have been involved as a Civil Air Patrol AEM for one year.

How did you get involved in the Civil Air Patrol AEM program? 

Wonderful coworkers introduced me to the program.

Why do you teach in the Aerospace Education/STEM area?

I am a gifted resource teacher who implements STEM whenever possible for hands-on learning and problem-solving skills.

What do you like about Civil Air Patrol programs/materials?

As an educator, I love the ready-to-implement curriculum and resources.  There are so many topic options and kits to explore. CAP has allowed me to try new, exciting topics and tech gadgets with my students that I know are solid activities to deepen student learning. 

What is the best advice you have for a new AEM working with CAP programs and materials? 

Take time to read through the resources provided on CAP’s website. It may seem a little overwhelming at first, but looking through the organized curriculum, activities and resources is 100 percent worth the time invested!

First graders code with bots Fourth graders track data of plane flights

Brett Bailey's students work on coding, left, and tracking flight data, right.

 

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