A Story of ... A Passion for Integrated Learning

Rich Boschetti, DPIE Academy Director
November 6, 2020

“Tell me and I forget.  Teach me and I remember.  Involve me and I learn.” Benjamin Franklin.

That quote which comes from one of our nation’s founding fathers, can be found on the website of Frederiksen Intervention Specialist, Felicia Suminski and pretty much sums up her philosophy about teaching and student learning.

Asked why the quote had special meaning to her Ms. Suminski said, I am a huge believer that students and adults learn more from hands-on activities than they do from completing a worksheet. For example, while playing dominos, students develop their number sense skills by counting the Dots on a domino to add their score. As they improve their ability to add, they begin to see that the five dots on a tile have the same value as the symbol for the number 5.”

Making Learning Concrete for Students

Ms Felicia Suminski

Ms. Suminski who has worked in the Dublin School District for the last 20 years, has taught most grade levels at the elementary school as well as students in grades 10 – 12. Now, in her role as a Title One Intervention Specialist at Frederiksen, she is helping teach and motivate students in grades K -5 in a variety of subject areas. Her goal is to support student learning by making what students learn relevant to their life experiences. “I have a strong desire to make learning concrete for students.  I want to clear up any missing foundational skills they may have so they can be more successful in school regardless of what grade they are in.”, explained Ms. Suminski.

Utilizing the creative instructional skills she has learned over the years, Ms. Suminski has cleared time in her demanding schedule to offer a unique hands-on, real-world and integrated math appreciation course in the DPIE After School Program this fall and winter sessions.  The course, “Solve Real World Problems and Publish Digital Solutions,” is designed to help students understand how math concepts are used in daily life.

Interview with Ms. Suminski

I have read your course description and it is pretty clear that you are going to integrate math instruction into hands-on activities that help students understand how math is used in the real world. Why do you feel it’s important for students to make that connection?

In elementary math classes, we too often hear students asking, ‘Why do I need to know this?’ I believe it is important to make the answer more obvious in elementary school to encourage and motivate students to see math skills as tools we use in the real-world and not just a way to complete an assignment.

Can you provide us with an example of one of the activities you have planned for the course?

I will ask students to explore how to turn one of their favorite family recipes into a meal that will feed 100 people. Using units of measurement and the concept of scaling will help students understand why ratios and fractions are so important.  We will then produce our own digital cookbook for families to enjoy.

What is different about your class from a typical math class? How will multimedia be used to enhance the course?

We are going to publish our learning outcomes with multimedia slideshows, create video stories as well as a podcast. This will help students recognize that there are many ways to express the mathematical concepts that we use every day.  In addition, they will learn to use technology as a tool which they will be able to use in future years.

In the end, what do you want kids who enroll in your program to take away from your class?

I hope students in the class learn to enjoy exploring math.  I want them to learn that hard work is hard, but it can also be fun. I really want to unleash the creative storyteller that is within each one of them while we publish our accomplishments for a larger audience.

Making Connections to the Real World

Ms. Suminski has made it her life’s work to reach, teach and make connections for kids in meaningful ways that help them succeed. In her after school course students will work independently and collaboratively to design, measure, craft, scale, and display information. They will draft, build, and make models at home and digitally as well as document problem solutions utilizing digital media resources. Students will learn the usefulness of ratios, geometry, mass, volume, and area.

In summary, Ms. Suminski said, “All of the DPIE classes that I have offered to teach include an element of student creativity and either advanced math skills or advanced English language arts skills. I strongly believe that if there is a final product to care about then the learning along the way will be more fun and more meaningful. Students benefit from wanting to learn new information. They benefit from being involved in the process beyond repeating back new knowledge.

To enroll your student in Ms Suminski’s class, click here.