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Battelle for Kids turns spotlight on Beechwood teacher

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Beechwood Elementary School teacher Shawnie Susie is videotaped by a crew from Battelle for Kids last week. Susie and her class will be featured on the organization's website highlighting high-quality teaching practices.

Educators from both the United States and China have visited Shawnie Susie's fourth-grade classroom at Beechwood Elementary School to admire and learn from her teaching practices.

But last week, a production crew from Battelle for Kids decided to document Susie in action, filming the teacher and her students as part of a statewide video project capturing the efforts of educators using formative instructional practices.

"The kids were obviously excited," said Susie.

She said she was humbled when she learned she had been chosen for the project.

"There are a lot of teachers who embrace high-quality teaching practices," she said.

Formative instructional practices, better known as FIP, are defined as the formal and informal ways teachers and students gather and respond to evidence of learning. The strategy is based on four components: clear learning targets; student ownership; the collection and documentation of evidence; and effective feedback.

"It gets students involved in their education and in setting goals," said Susie, who added she has seen her students flourish under the model.

When using FIP in the classroom, students work more independently than in other settings, moving at their own pace, she said. They help set their own goals and track them, too, fostering a sense of ownership that can lead to success, she said.

"When they do all this, they can make meaningful choices in their education," Susie said.

She also does a lot of sharing in her classroom.

"I feel like kids are very honest," she said. "They need to be honest about where they are and where they are going."

But it's not just themselves the students are concerned about, she added.

"The kids are very good about monitoring each other, too," Susie said. "It's not about tattling; it's about letting down the family."

Susie first learned about FIP in 2012 and said she immediately was attracted to the practice. She already was using many of the components in her classroom, she said.

"When I found FIP, it just brought everything together for me," Susie said.

The short video will be featured on Battelle's website along with a handful of other videos highlighting FIP in classrooms across the state. Visitors can filter by subject, topic and grade level to find an example that best matches their own classroom.

While all of the teachers at Beechwood have adopted the FIP model, Susie said each one is on a different level of implementation.

"Because FIP is so strong and effective, it's great for any classroom," she said.

According to Battelle for Kids, more than 27,000 educators across the U.S. are now using FIP in their classrooms.