“I thrive on promoting my students and their ideas. Microsoft in Education gave me and my students a voice. It gave my students validity, support, encouragement, and inspiration that was lacking in the most imminent way.” – Patricia Ragan Stokes, USA
Patricia Ragan Stokes
Fayetteville-Manlius High School
Manlius, New York
For MIE Expert Patricia Ragan Stokes, attending her first MIE event in 2012 was a career-defining experience.
“As a business teacher, my overriding mission is to get my students hired, promoted, or accepted into the college/career of their dreams,” she explains. “I was literally feeling like I was hitting dead ends as a teacher who wanted to push boundaries. That’s when I found out I was accepted to go to the forum, and that I would be competing with other educators from around the country. It was surreal for this teacher who typically received negative feedback from fellow educators in school for whatever reason. But, when I met all of the MIEE’s, I found we all had common ground and similar experiences in education.“
Since then, Stokes has employed a host of Microsoft tools to help prepare her students for their next steps, from designing digital portfolios, to developing their first professional learning networks. One of the highlights is her final exam, which requires students to complete a TED-style talk that sums up one of the course’s main objectives: how to get hired.
“[One] student’s talk was so endearing, I think he could be a spokesperson for Microsoft!” Stokes says. “This student started the course shy and ended as one of my best speakers. His confidence went through the roof.”
Another student who had great success in Stokes’s class created a video for his digital portfolio. “Nolan is a huge fan of Microsoft and has his own Surface, as does his twin brother,” Stokes says. “These two dynamos really get engaged with technology, and Nolan even started his own blog about technology in my Web Design and Development course.”
Stokes is a big believer in combining multiple teaching approaches.
“I am a project-based-learning style teacher, but I do know that even PBL can be too much,” she tells us. “Too many projects become overwhelming. So I mix direct instruction, creating mind maps, and other methods into my teaching. I use a variety of evaluation instruments including rubrics, objective quizzes/tests, one-on-one feedback, checklists, and other methods that work for evaluating what I taught. I think mixing up our instruction and our methods helps the student have a diverse type of learning experience.”
To showcase what she does in the classroom – and what she believes is working — Stokes started a blog.
“I have what I call a spherical view on education, and my blog is 360teach.wordpress.com,” she says. “I titled it this because I want us, as educators, to take a full, 360-degree view on how we teach, evaluate, innovate, and implement new ideas.”
About Patricia Ragan Stokes
- Educational background: Bachelor’s Degree from Oswego State University in Business and Distributive Education, Master’s Degree from Syracuse University in Instructional Design, Development, and Evaluation.
- Favorite Microsoft product, tool, technology: Skype
- What is the best advice you have ever received? Don’t ever stop being the passionate, innovative educator that you are because your students need you.
- Website I check every day: Twitter
- Favorite childhood memory: Learning to ride my first dirt bike in Oklahoma that my Dad built for me from a frame he found in a dumpster. We built the motorcycle together (he did most of the work) and I learned to ride and graduated to adult-size dirt bikes.
- Favorite book: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee