How one teacher built the perfect space for learning for all of her students
Four years ago, when Wendie Turner was preparing to start her new position as the multimedia specialist at an elementary school in Whitehouse, Texas, one of the first things she did was take to social media with a wishlist for Osmo products to help build her makerspace.
It was an important detail, she said, in building a space that could be exciting each day that students came in to learn with her. Her room also houses a library in one half of it and on the makerspace half there are Lego walls, magnetic walls and more for hands-on learning. She had been introduced to Osmo at a conference when she was teaching second grade and at the time, Osmo only had a small amount of games and it became not only a favorite of hers, but her son as well. As the company grew, so did Wendie’s collection.
To her delight, when she requested the help for her classroom, the donations quickly came through.
“I just started getting boxes and boxes,” she said. It was enough to build out 12 Osmo stations, which she now uses when teaching students at every grade level at her school.
“What I like about Osmo is I can introduce it to them at a young age, and when they come back the next year and the next grade, now they know how to do it and we know how to change it up so it’s more developmentally appropriate to them,” she said.
Wendie remembers wanting to be a teacher from an early age. She said her grandmother often tells the story of her teaching a lineup of dolls on her bed. “I just feel that’s where I can minister to kids, help them emotionally and socially,” she said of teaching. “And when they have that rapport with you, they’re going to open up and learn so much.”
While she loves the excitement from many students when it’s time to use Osmo in her classroom, she points to one particular student who was having a hard time behaviorally at school as a favorite success story. When the student used Osmo’s coding game, something seemed to click immediately.
“Something with that learning how to rotate the arrows to push Awbie to go a certain way, something with that clicked and that was his thing and he was so proud of himself. He didn’t get to hear ‘I’m so proud of you’ very often and that was his spotlight and his time to shine,” she said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in 2020, Wendie’s job was often helping other teachers get quickly proficient with the technology tools they were using to teach remotely. Once students were back in the classroom, she had to rotate her Osmo and other learning tools to make sure they were sanitized properly. And this year, with the students back at school, she’s noticed a strain on everyone with the return to full-time in-person classes. “The kids are having to adjust to coming back to school,” she said. “It’s almost that they’re worn out because they have to build up that stamina again.”
Now that they’re reaching the end of the year, Wendie, like all teachers, says she is just looking to keep her students engaged a little longer.
And if there’s one thing she would tell parents, she said, it’s that teachers will never give up on their children.
“Everything we do, we do it to better their child,” she said. “We love them, we want the best for them, so our goal is to push and give them everything they need so they can be the most successful student possible.”