Angie Beavin’s first goal for her fifth-graders each year: instill in them a true love of reading. Beavin, who teaches at Peaks Mill Elementary in Frankfort, Kentucky, has led the school’s adoption of the Public Education and Business Coalition’s “Thinking Strategies,” an inquiry-based teaching philosophy that infuses every lesson, including the year’s opening focus on reading. Beavin gets to know each student’s hobbies and passions and recommends books she thinks will resonate. Students keep reading journals in which they take notes about how the text relates to themselves and the world. Beavin encourages them to notice and capture the things they’re wondering about while they’re reading, leaving what she calls a “trail of thinking.” She introduces concepts like inferring, visualizing, determining importance and synthesizing as students read and discuss texts in small literature circles, or “Book Clubs.” Beavin’s students run her classroom: Her focus is teaching them to become independent thinkers and learners, with rigorous standards rooted in respect and concern for all.
Beavin is Peaks Mill’s go-to educator for instructional practices. The first in the building to go through the Thinking Strategies training, Beavin shared her takeaways with colleagues; her energy and enthusiasm for the program became a driving force for its adoption. She leads professional development, presents at faculty meetings and mentors fellow teachers, providing resources and instructional strategies. The school and district frequently send observers to Beavin’s classroom during peer learning labs, which include both pre- and post-observation meetings. A National Board Certified educator who has taught both third and fifth grade, Beavin has served on the program review and curriculum committees as well as the hiring and teacher leadership teams. She relies heavily on assessment data to understand each student’s needs, helping struggling students to exceed benchmarks and challenging high achievers. Peaks Mill has gone from the lowest-performing elementary building in Franklin County Schools to the highest, with Beavin’s students delivering the best math and reading growth in the district.
Beavin’s current role includes working to reach Peaks Mill’s at-risk students. Her summer professional development included strategies for engaging students of poverty and their families. Beavin encouraged fellow teachers to participate in an outreach program, gathering in local parking lots for food, games and other activities designed to promote trust. She coordinates summer home visits and welcomes family members into her classroom. To show parents what student achievement looks like, Beavin mimics her peer learning labs, bringing parents in for classroom observation periods sandwiched by pre- and post-conferences. Parents often comment on the impact Beavin has on their children, whose leadership qualities shine long after they leave her classroom.
Beavin earned a bachelor’s degree in 2007 from Eastern Kentucky University and a master’s in 2012 from Georgetown College.
Press release: Teaching Students to Teach Themselves Earns Angie Beavin a $25,000 Milken Educator Award
“I’m really big into just teaching kids how to think. That’s the basis behind any learning. I’m teaching them how to be problem..." (read more)