Karen Himmelheber

Karen Himmelheber

Location: thomas stone high school, waldorf, md

About me

I am a retired Army officer, and this is my 5th year as a JROTC Senior Army Instructor and program leader. I'm learning a lot, and I have much still to learn. I enjoy interacting with others.


anything outdoors, motorcycle riding, traveling, organizing, watching tv & movies


analysis, communication, planning, organizing, decorating, landscaping


I've learned that through active learning techniques, students will learn and retain much more than through traditional lecture. Activities, such as cooperative/collaborative learning and problem based learning (PBL), are excellent ways to ensure the students practice reading, research, writing, presenting and especially critical thinking skills.

This lesson reiterated again on active learning and the shift of the teacher becoming the facilitator, who enables the students to conduct their own research, higher leve thinking and expression of their outcomes through various methods. I liked the idea of student reading or watching a video prior to class, and then using class for a synchronous conversation. However, that has been impossible to get my students to do in the past. I will always keep trying though, especially using information/learning chunking. This will hopefully not overwhelm them and get their interest with no daunting effort on their part. I… >>>

We are learning that the children who grew up with electronics are learning more efficiently and effectively in active learning environments, as opposed to how I learned from lectures, individual reading and studying and memorizing information to pass standardized tests. So I must adapt my teaching style and release my control of content introduction. In an active learning environment, I become the coach or instructional facilitator, and the students become responsible for their learning through shared discussion, research, listening, strategy development, leading and teamwork, and problem solving. This will likely mean more work for me in the beginning to develop… >>>

Even in the classroom, especially with our larger classes, strong engagement is difficult, and online classes will challenge that even more. This year, I'm going to come up with more interactive exercises/activities for them, which will hopefully also help with assessments. There isn't a lot of time for one-on-one engagement in a traditional schedule and only 4 mins between classes. Written and verbal feedback with students, parents and administrators is going to be key. I'm setting our asynchronous learning days as the day I will focus on student feedback and reminders. Online motivation strategies will be something I will look… >>>

This lesson reminded me just how glad I am of my Type-A organizing skills, because it will be critical to maintain and be able to easily locate communications, student work, response/chat dialogues, etc. Another good reminder is to determine and monitor the various e-learner types, and to take appropriate actions, in accordance with school handbooks, for unacceptable online behaviors. I already have a good email organization system, and I've spent most of my professional life using email for communication, so I have no concerns about that. Likewise, our new digital student work software should provide me with an organization system… >>>

Communication is key with asynchronous learning. I need to ensure each student is participating, give meaningful and encouraging feedback and provide constructive criticism, if necessary.

Students have a right to know our credentials as teachers. There are many ways to share this with them, especially with today's technology. Another key thing is to get to know your students and their needs. I use the first day solely to introduce myself and to talk about the class. The children have 2 weeks to request a class change through their counselors, so we try to weed out the ones who really don't want to be there, since we are an elective. Day 2 is all about getting the kids up in front of their classmates to introduce… >>>

This lesson did not present any new information for me, but the critical key for successful online teaching/learning that has me most anxious is learner engagement. It's challenging enough with them all sitting in the classroom. I think online teaching will be much more demanding and stressful, which is why structured lessons and a good lesson plan will be key.

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