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TCI Employee Profile: Mrudula Sarode


For this month’s TCI Employee profile, meet our wonderful QA Automation Engineer Mrudula Sarode! Learn what brought Mrudula to TCI and how her role has evolved by reading further.

 

Mrudula

 

Describe your role at TCI:

I am a QA Automation  Engineer.  My role is to test features to keep our software bug free and user friendly.  This involves manual testing as well as writing Ruby test scripts to run our automation test suite. Occasionally I do performance and load testing.

 

What is a typical day like for you?

The focus of my day varies. I run automation test suites in the morning.  This tests new features on our development server to see if there are any issues that need to be addressed. The focus of the rest of my day varies.  Every other week, we have software releases, where we release updates into Production. As the only QA member, I collaborate with three developers to make sure the features are bug-free and ready for release. I also work with Customer Support on any software issues that might come up.

 

How did you find TCI?

Through Craigslist. As a mother of a seven-year-old, I was interested in the fact TCI was an education company and the impact they had on students. I started as a contractor before moving to full-time four months later. I am now in my third year here at TCI.

 

What do you like best about working here?

I like the energy of the software team and the fact that TCI follows Agile principles in software development.  This allows us to move more quickly in creating new features and releasing updates for customers. I also appreciate the work/life balance, and the flexibility inherent in it.

 

What do you think others would want to work here for?

I think other people would want to come to TCI because it is a great company and mission to be a part of. For the software team specifically, it is full of great people who really believe in the value of teamwork.

 

How has your role evolved since you started at TCI?

I was originally a manual QA engineer, which involved a lot more clicking around and took up more time. Later, I studied Ruby on Rails and Selenium as we started moving towards automation.  Now I write scripts in Ruby and run them via Selenium.

 

What do you do outside of TCI?

Outside of work, I like hiking around the area and spending time with my son.

Teacher Highlight: Melody Greene


For June’s Teacher Highlight, we would like to introduce Melody Greene! A veteran teacher for thirteen years, she is also currently a TCI Implementation Specialist, helping schools bring learning to life!

 

Melody Greene

Melody Green is a fourth grade teacher at Greystone Elementary School in Hoover, Alabama

What initially drew you to TCI? What about the program jumped out at you?  

During my first year as a U.S. history teacher, I was spending massive amounts of time creating hands-on lessons for my sixth graders until another teacher told me the school had materials she thought matched how I wanted to teach. Music played, and the lights did shine when I first saw those old TCI History Alive! binders. The interactive lessons, powerful images, and skill-building activities were fantastic resources and provided great guidance for a first-year teacher on how to encourage students and provide an amazing learning experience. The following summer, I had the opportunity to attend a TCI training, and it was the best Professional Development I have ever attended.

 

How does TCI help enrich your experience as a teacher? (Does it help you prepare for a lesson? What features do you find the most useful/use most often?)  

I first used TCI when teaching sixth grade U.S. history. I later began using Social Studies Alive! Regions of Our Country for my fourth grade class, which helps me teach my students a tour of the United States. The TCI lesson cycle sets students up for success by accessing their prior knowledge, building on it in an activity, and then distilling the new information through an authentic processing assignment. They  learn so much without even realizing it.

 

What do your students like best about the program?  

Students like the interaction of the program best of all. I have students from years ago who ask if I still draft for World War I or have students act out people groups from the Great Depression. My fourth graders love experiencing history by imagining that they are cowboys, factory workers on the assembly line, or tasting chocolate in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

 

Do you have a favorite lesson or activity thus far? Why?  

Picking a favorite lesson is hard to do! When I taught U.S. history, my favorite lesson was on World War I trench warfare, which includes a trench life simulation for students. I loved including extras like fake mice, hardtack, and recorded sounds to add to the students’ experience.The letters the students write afterwards to reflect on the experience are always so amazing.

 

From Social Studies Alive! Regions of Our Country, my favorite lesson is the Bus and Boat Tour of the Southeast. Despite living in this region, there are so many characteristics for my students to discover. They love learning about Jamestown and doing  the Jamestown activity. Visiting New Orleans is also a favorite. It not only sets up many great class activities, but also opens the door for parents to come in and share their own experiences living in these places. This year, we celebrated Mardi Gras with a King Cake, homemade jambalaya, and red beans and rice. These memorable moments have been made possible by TCI.

 

It’s That Time of Year Again: June 30th Reset


june30_full-150x150

On June 30th of every year, TCI resets your Teacher and Student Subscriptions so you can start the new school year fresh!  

 

Here’s what will happen:

  • -Student accounts will be removed and their scores deleted.
  • -The number of Student Subscriptions available to you for the new school year will be reset to reflect the removal of expired subscriptions.

 

What you will need to do after July 1st:

  • -Select the program you will teach in the new school year when you sign in to your subscription. If you select the same program, your custom presentations and assessments will be available to you.
  • -Create new classes for the new school year. Once you get your student and class assignments, you can create classes and add account.

 

What you might want to do prior to June 30th:

  • -If for any reason you want to save your students’ scores, you’ll need to export them to a spreadsheet prior to the June 30 reset. To export scores, go to “My Classes” and click the “Student Scores” button. Click the “Export scores to CSV” button and save the data on your hard drive.

On July 1st, your new subscription will also get some complimentary upgrades.  Stay tuned for more details!

TCI Employee Profile: Michael Hall


 

This month for our TCI Employee Profile, we met with our one and only Junior Systems Administrator :Michael Hall! What does Michael’s role at TCI entail? Read on to find out!

Michael

 

What is your role here at TCI?

I am a Junior Systems Administrator.  My primary responsibility is making sure all of the infrastructure is running on a day-to-day basis. I maintain the computers and server racks, organize tech for TCI events, and collaborate with other projects as needed.

 

What is a regular day like for you at TCI?

My mornings are dedicated to helping the TCI staff with any tech requests. At 10:00 am, the tech team holds a standup meeting to review the previous day’s work, see if anything urgently needs attention, and discuss our intended tasks for the day. Based on those needs,I might set up equipment, improve the infrastructure, plan upcoming projects, or keep up general maintenance. For work on the servers, I’ll pair with our Systems Architect, who is based in Seattle.

 

How did you find TCI?

At the San Jose State University job fair. I was a couple of months away from graduating and was interested in TCI’ s  mission. I initially started as an intern, but was later hired full time; this will be my third year at TCI.

 

How has your role evolved since you started?

My role has really done a one-eighty from when I first came to TCI. As an intern, my role was focused on desktop support – I answered the phones and tech tickets regarding hardware questions. My role has expanded so that I am more involved with servers and take part in direct decision-making roles for how we implement technology.

 

What aspect of TCI do you like the best?

Honestly, just the fact that I really enjoy my work – there is nothing I like more than being in front of a computer. Not only am I given a lot of freedom to make decisions about how we use technology, but I am also able to see the direct results, and it’s fantastic. The culture is great, and everyone is both really nice and dedicated to making education better, and everything done here really contributes to supporting teachers and students.

 

Why do you think others would want to work for TCI?

When people see what happens here and the work we do, they want to be a part of it. The mission to make a difference in education is a draw in itself, and teachers love our programs. I was lucky enough to run into a teacher while I was out with a couple of coworkers on a lunch break. She recognized the TCI logo on my shirt, and spent nearly an hour with us talking about how much she loves the program, how it has changed her teaching, and how much her students love it. It was amazing.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I dirt bike, hike, and work on cars. I also play video games and work in my home computer lab.

Free TCI Lesson: Memorial Day


Memorial Day Image

Why do we celebrate Memorial Day?

In this activity, Teachers help students uncover how the holiday is celebrated, and research the conflicts in history that Americans commemorate on the last Monday of May each year. After gathering information, the class will then build a timeline of these events together, and consider the importance of this national holiday.

 

Download this free lesson plan here: Memorial Day Lesson

TCI Employee Profile: Ray Oto


 

 

This month for our TCI Employee Profile, we sat down with our Product Support and Community Specialist: Ray Oto. How did he hear about TCI and what are the key responsibilities of his role here? Read more to find out!

 

Ramon

 

What is your role here at TCI?

My official title is Product Support and Community Specialist, but my responsibilities can be divided into four different aspects. I provide customer support to answer questions or resolve  issues regarding our products. I collaborate with the middleware engineer to test features in our ERP software, I coordinate TCI events and professional conferences in conjunction with our Sales team, and I process sales orders submitted by our customers, to ensure timely fulfillment of orders.

 

What is a regular day like for you at TCI?

Honestly, it varies depending on the time of year. Summer is approaching, so right now the sales orders are my priority; we are already seeing an uptick in volume. Otherwise, my day-to-day tasks include customer support, collaborating with the fulfillment team, and working in the ERP software.

 

How did you find TCI?

I learned about it from a high school friend of mine who also works at TCI; I was close to graduating at the time and was interested in hearing what he had to say about the company. Once I interviewed, I definitely wanted to be a part of the team. I have now been at TCI for two years.

 

How has your role evolved since you started?

I was initially a Product Support Intern, so my primary responsibilities were answering phones and tickets. All other elements of my role grew out of my interest in learning about different aspects of TCI and helping out with other tasks. For example, Salesforce was new to TCI when I started; I jumped in to help set it up and add new features.

 

What do you like best about working at TCI?

The goal, knowing that everything we do here will in the end contribute to creating a better and stronger learning experience for students. We are always seeking to improve ourselves; if a new tool or idea comes out, we are always willing to test it out. It’s also just a great place to work, with great people.

 

Why do you think others would want to work for TCI?

I think there is a lot of appeal in the variety of different things we do and the fact that TCI as a company is always pushing to improve our processes. And, again, it has a great atmosphere.

 

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m an active person who plays football, swims, and bikes. I also enjoy reading adventure books and playing strategy and puzzle games.

Cinco de Mayo Scavenger Hunt


Cinco de Mayo image

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican army’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Today, many in the United States use this occasion to honor Mexican contributions to our country. For this activity, students are challenged to look for three examples of Mexican tradition and heritage within their own communities. They will then bring in the photographs of these influences to share with their classmates.

 

You can download the lesson here.

Teacher Highlight!


 

If you follow us on Twitter, you may have noticed that we retweet a lot of pictures of student work in action. Many of these pictures are from the classroom of Denise Yassine at the Congressional School in Virginia. We are always happy to see her updates, and we reached out to ask her a little more about her process.

 

Denise Yassine, teacher for both 5th Grade American History and 6th Grade World Geography at the Congressional School.

 

What initially drew you to TCI? Did any aspect about the program jump out at you – that was different from the way you taught before?

I learned about TCI while in graduate school at George Mason University. I remember sitting in a boat made of tape with my cohort, imagining what it was like to be a Pilgrim crossing the Atlantic.

 

I have always valued hands-on, experiential learning, so the interactive classroom activities woven into the lessons set this curriculum apart. I also appreciate the online offerings, such as the engaging presentations, built-in textbook, and interactive notebook.

 

To date, I have used three different TCI programs: Social Studies Alive! America’s Past, History Alive! The Ancient World, and Geography Alive! Regions and People.

 

How does TCI help enrich your experience as a teacher?

I find the TCI curriculum to be the underpinning of everything I do. It is a springboard from which I can launch a variety of assignments, and it provides me with the brain space to exercise my creative juices. Having the notebook worksheets available as PDFs allows me to tailor my lesson handouts with both TCI and my own material. I also augment the lessons with additional videos, texts, writing exercises, and projects.

 

Here are two examples of projects I’ve created to complement the TCI units:

  • -The Thematic Maps Projects: After learning about a variety of thematic maps in the Geography Alive! lesson “A Spatial Way of Thinking” and through my own online resources, students explore U.S. or world issues and create their own maps to find cause and effect between them. Students can choose how to share their data through a variety of methods, such as Mindcraft or Google slides. You can find my rubric here: Rubric
  • -My Migration Story Project: During the immigration unit, my students are tasked with the job of researching the pull and push factors that led their ancestors or family to come to the United States. Many students don’t know their immigration story and, together with their families, find this project to be very meaningful. Some students have even recorded their migration story using Storycorps.me. Here are the links used for this individual project, one for the project overview (Migration Project Information) and for the rubric (Rubric).

 

What do your students like best about the program?

My students love the active learning opportunities. The foundation of knowledge piques their interest in the content and helps them delve more deeply into their questions.They also love the fact that many activities let them be in the driver’s seat while I act as their facilitator.

 

Do you have a favorite lesson or activity? Why?

Oh my, that’s like asking who is my favorite child. I love them all!

However, I’d have to say that, in terms of being engaging lessons that have a depth of subject and that also capture my students’ imaginations, the following really leave a lasting impression:

 

  • -Underwater Archaeology
  • -Nile River tour
  • -Slavery unit
  • -Civil War sibling metaphor
  • -Emigrant Interviews
  • -African Women Entrepreneurs

 

I know I am successful as a teacher when my lessons linger, and the TCI curriculum helps me make that impact on a daily basis.

Thank you, Denise, for sharing your TCI experience with us! You can follow Denise and her class on Twitter (@dayassine) and don’t forget to check out TCI (@TeachTCI) as well!

We Appreciate You!


 

TCI Giveaway: Enter to win a $100 Amazon gift card to by sharing why you love TCI.

 

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, TCI wants to show our gratitude to all of the teachers who help bring learning alive! We will be raffling off a $100 gift card for one lucky participant.

 

Rules:

 

1. Follow us on Twitter at @TeachtTCI.

 

2. Post a photo on Twitter of TCI curriculum being used in the classroom. Whether its students collaborating or worksheets and projects, we want to see TCI in action.

 

3. Tag @TeachTCI and #TeacherAppreciationWeek in your post.

 

4. Each post will get you one raffle ticket. There are no limits on how many tickets you can get.

 

The contest will end at 11:59pm (PST) on May 4th. We will announce the winner on May 5th. We can’t wait to see how YOU use TCI!

 

Teacher Appreciation Week Blog

Exciting Methods for Formative Assessment


This quick 20-minute webinar focuses on strategies and ideas for using formative assessment during all phases of the lesson cycle.  Scroll down for the presentation used, with embedded live links.

  Exciting Methods for Formative Assessment

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