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Ranch View educator named Outstanding Secondary Mathematics Teacher

RVMS Teacher Tiffiny Niederhofer Vaughn

HIGHLANDS RANCH – The Colorado Council of Teachers of Mathematics (CCTM) recently recognized Tiffiny Niederhofer Vaughn of Ranch View Middle School as one of its 2013 Outstanding Teachers of the year. 

Niederhofer Vaughn, a seventh-grade math teacher at Ranch View, received the award in October during CCTM’s State Mathematics Conference at the Denver Merchandise Mart. 

The organization cited Niederhofer Vaughn’s innovation and creativity, along with her integration of technology and interdisciplinary instruction. She is not only a MATH COUNTS coach, but also the sponsor of the school’s new CODE Club, which has extended learning opportunities both before and after school at the International Baccalaureate school. 

Niederhofer Vaughn has been teaching for 28 years, but she says it wasn’t until she moved to Douglas County and took the World Class Education course, taught by DCSD Superintendent Dr. Elizabeth Fagen, that she began to change the way she taught, integrating technology.

“I’m not the same person I was in 2003, when I moved from Texas to Colorado. I’m a totally different person,” Niederhofer Vaughn said. “I did not grow up with all the technology that I use now in my classroom.”

Emboldened by a video about how computer coding could improve student engagement and the teaching of critical thinking and other 21st century skills, and a Superintendent’s Innovation Grant, which provided 10 MacBook Pros and 10 iPads, Niederhofer Vaughn dove in.

“I’m not computer science teacher; I’m a math teacher. This was a great risk for me because I’ve never done this in my life and have no idea how to do it,” Vaughn said. “I embraced the change instead of fighting it. It has radically changed kids lives and that is what it is all about.”

“I used to be afraid of technology, but I’m not afraid of it anymore,” she added. “I love it. I love what it does for kids. I love how the level of comprehension increases dramatically.”

This month, she taught Pythagorean theorem for the first time using iPads and found that kids understood the concept better through technology.

Niederhofer Vaughn uses backwards-planned interdisciplinary units to nurture student creativity. Her classroom is project-based, with an emphasis on technology-based instruction. Prior to class, students complete vocabulary reviews and interactive labs through an online flipped classroom. Students record all of their online education in their mathematics journal, and come to class ready to apply their learning through hands-on mini labs and projects.

“They’re learning about it before they come to class and then I’m doing innovative labs, projects and task performance activities that take them to their highest level of creativity. They have to think at the highest level of Blooms’ taxonomy, because they’re designing something, creating something, solving problems that require thinking outside of the box,” Niederhofer Vaughn said.

Niederhofer Vaughn credits the district with providing the support and resources needed.

“I love this district. It is the most amazing school district I’ve ever worked for. The tools I have access to in this school district,” Vaughn said. “All the professional development I’ve gotten over the last three years is so superior to any professional development I have had over my whole career.”

Follow this link to learn more about Niederhofer Vaughn and the rest of the 2013 CCTM awardees.

Related story: Student-designed app wins best in state

January 29, 2014 | By SCPaulsen | Category: Ranch View Middle School, Middle School Education

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