Introduction: We are excited to continue our popular Educator Spotlight series, and also to expand it to feature both classroom and office educators who are the heart of Gibbons. In doing so, we offer readers a glimpse of how Gibbons educators care for and engage with students, forming them as men and women of faith, service, and leadership in church and community. So far this year we have spotlighted counselor Susan Ellis, Latin educator Whitney Crabbe, and Director of Classroom and Educator Tech Support Rodolfo Argueta.Today we spotlight English educator Amy Rokita.
It was quite the journey for students in Amy Rokita’s freshman English class. On this recent Tuesday afternoon, they are preparing for a “big test” on part two of The Odyssey, Homer’s famous epic poem.
With equal parts patience and passion, Rokita skillfully guides her students through a recap of the adventures of Odysseus, the warrior king who spent a decade outmaneuvering monsters and surviving shipwrecks to return home. As clever as the classic hero her class is studying, Rokita reviews the lessons raised in the poem with a fresh perspective – one that combines digital technology with interactive learning.
Using such technology-based tools as Gimkit and Kahoot Rokita, a Gibbons educator for 13 years, bridges the classical past with the digital future. With their laptops at the ready students – sometimes working individually, other times working in groups - tackle such questions about the poem as: “Who joins Odysseus in his fight against suitors? How was Argos treated in Odysseus’ absence?
Rokita sees the tech tools as inventive ways for her students to understand the use of and the meaning behind such literary devices as figurative language, epic poem, and epic hero.
It also “allows them to have the experience of testing themselves against their classmates—a little friendly competition is always fun,” she notes.
For the review to be effective, it needs to have substance. Rokita - whose love of stories, language, and teaching - is evident delivered that in spades. How? It was clear that she and her students had journeyed with Odysseus.
“It also “allows them to have the experience of testing themselves against their classmates—a little friendly competition is always fun,” notes Amy Rokita.
Throughout the review, Rokita is her students’ biggest cheerleader, rooting for them and challenging them to dig deep for the answers she is sure they know. She walks around the class and tosses out a question or two, helping them discover their inner Odysseus.
She follows those questions with others like, “Everybody happy?” “Are you ready for the test?” There are also hints, including “You definitely want to know THAT!”
At the end of the review, her students realize that Homer’s tale of escape and adventure is still relevant today. They also learn that it takes critical thinking and creative problem solving to understand the story – and to ace their test.