Teacher Spotlight: Ellie Schoelen

This Fall 5th grade teacher Ellie Schoelen was one of the small group of MPACT teacher fellows to pilot MPACT lessons in their classroom.

We caught up with Ellie this week to hear about her experiences teaching MPACT. Some of the questions have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Q. What did students think of the Soma Cube puzzle? (The Soma Cube puzzle is the intro lesson for 5th grade. It asks students to create a 3x3x3 cube out of 7 unique pieces, learn more here).

They loved the Soma Cube puzzle, even though several of them never finished it, they would request 5 more minutes to keep working on it. I would give them the Soma Cube puzzle when they were working in small groups, they kept going back to it because it was so interesting, if they did solve it , they wanted to solve it in a different way or teach someone how to do it. The puzzle was a great way to start the year and to keep them engaged literally all year. We made them each a set so they all got mini Soma Cubes to take home. 

Q. What were students’ experiences with TinkerCad?

Once students figured out the CAD they started to focus on it and made a toy for their Kindergarten book buddies for their projects. It was so cute because they’d already been really focused on their book buddies, and it was fun to watch them get excited about something that wasn’t centered around me, I wasn’t there to be the deliverer of information.

Q. Where did you use the MPACT lessons?

I used the lessons in preparation for my volume unit and to support student understanding of 3D objects. It was really nice to understand this is an easier way to understand volume in multiple ways, things fit inside something else. This year’s class understood volume better than previous years and had stronger spatial reasoning after doing the MPACT lessons.

Q. What else do you want to share about your experiences with MPACT?

What I thought was the best thing was that I got to do things that I don’t get a chance to do or don’t prioritize, like I wanted to do more hands on learning and things like that but didn’t have the exact thing that I needed to do it, so this gave me exactly what I needed. Kids thought they’re taking brain breaks but they were doing math, and they would beg me to do it more.