Mr. Karlmichael Jones, a Duncanville ISD science teacher at Reed Middle School, uses unique and innovative methods to keep his 7th grade students engaged while classes are being taught virtually. Jones suits up for his online classes in goggles and other gear, such as a professor might wear to his science lab. He sometimes wears an apron that proclaims “Science Rocks.”
“I have always loved science, since I was maybe three or four, and I have had two teachers to keep me engaged. One is my father, a retired high school teacher from Grand Prairie High School. The other was my 4th grade teacher, Dr. Tony Bott, who always pushed my friends and I to find the ‘Why’ or ‘How’ in almost everything,” Jones said.
After 14 years of teaching, Jones said he realizes the importance of keeping his students involved. He tries to create “the atmosphere of science” by using the classroom as a stage, with himself as the director and sometimes actor. Huge photography lights make sure the students can see him. Jones grew up in Grand Prairie, where both parents were dedicated teachers.
“I have taught middle school and elementary science, middle school math, social studies and Language Arts. Most of my time is with science, unless a principal needs me to step into another subject to assist. I am also in my 2nd year teaching Drone Technology for a college prep program where students get to learn to build and fly Drones,” Jones said.
“My most memorable science experience was being able to compete in NASA’s Pre-service teacher competition for Math and science teachers and being in the top 20 teams, as well as attending a week long internship at the Johnson Space Center in Houston for first year teachers. It has allowed me to view teaching science in a more hands on approach and has drastically impacted my instructional value,” he added.
Jones says he likes to use elements of surprise to keep his 130 virtual students—spread over five classes—interested. He projects pictures illustrating the lesson topic onto a green screen behind him. He asks questions to involve the students in discussions among themselves. If he feels their discussion is going off track, Jones uses a surprise tactic, such as turning on a filter to make it look like he’s wearing sunglasses, to refocus their attention.
With Duncanville ISD resuming in-person classes Oct. 19, Jones said, “I am definitely looking forward to in person teaching, as it will allow the students to get the laboratory experiences. THAT is what makes teaching science so much fun.”