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Amie Canter's Innovative Classroom is Engaging Students with a Hands-On Approach

March 31, 2017 | TeacherReady

Amie Canter
Amie Canter, TeacherReady Alumni

Amie Canter, TeacherReady Alumni, is turning the traditional classroom experience on its head. Amie became a certified teacher through the TeacherReady program in 2011. Ever since, she has been changing the way her students learn in her ground-breaking class: Advanced Concepts for a Better Future.

Canter’s Innovative Classroom

Canter’s program takes accelerated students and helps them dig deeper into complex subjects. Each year, Canter’s students pick a classroom theme. Last year, the theme was “Government.” The class met with mayors and even visited the White House. A teacher at the Merit School in Stafford, Virginia, Canter makes engaging field trips a common practice in her classroom. Canter explains the method behind her process:

“I have found that by establishing effective classroom management and using evolved methods of instruction, students can be successful.”

This year, Amie’s students chose a new theme: doctors. But, Canter didn’t just take her students to a clinic or local doctor’s office, like you might think. Instead, her students visited the University of Mary Washington (UMW) to disect sharks with biologists. Lisa Chinn Marvashti detailed the visit in the UMW blog:

“The future professionals, who might one day serve the Fredericksburg area as healthcare workers and scientists… sliced through the sandpapery skin of dogfish sharks, exploring the animal’s cardiovascular structures, digestive systems and more. The group learned the difference between veins and arteries, located the sharks’ livers and colons, and discussed the functions of major internal organs.”

My Patronus is a Biologist

The shark dissection wasn’t the classes’ last visit to UMW. After reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in class, students returned to the lab, where they were sorted into four Hogwart’s Houses. Their Potions Class Professor (UMW Assistant Professor of Chemistry, Leanna Giancarlo) taught them about the three stages of matter. Canter’s students loved learning about the subtle science and art of chemistry in a Harry Potter-themed lab. You can read about more of the little wizard’s experiments in the article, Students Mix Potions at UMW Harry Potter-themed Lab.

Advanced Concepts for a Better Future

While developing her program, she recognized the hunger that her students had for a new learning approach:

“My students inspired me the most when developing Advanced Concepts for a Better Future. I could tell my students were ready for more and no matter what I threw at them, they tackled it and asked for more.”

Canter has teaching experience in both the public school system and private school sector. She wanted to create a program that can benefit teachers and their students in both learning environments.

“I wanted to prove that private school teachers, with the appropriate training, are capable of incorporating many of the positive aspects of public education into their classroom,” said Canter. “Not only that, but prove that public school teachers could teach beyond the standards, which is what private schools strive to do.”

After writing her white paper on Advanced Concepts for a Better Future, Canter sent it to education experts, Harry and Rosemary Wong, looking for feedback. They encouraged her to publish the paper. Canter’s program is pending review by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD). If approved, it will be published in ASCD’s Educational Leadership journal.