Haverhill Middle School Educator Named Brain Quest® Teacher of the Year

Seth Macomber

Seth Macomber, a teacher at Haverhill Cooperative Middle School in North Haverhill, N.H., has been named the Brain Quest® Teacher of the Year. Macomber was chosen by a panel of eight educators based on the creativity of his idea and the quality of his writing. He was selected from a pool of 12 "Teacher of the Month" winners (May 1, 2012 - April 30, 2013). His winning essay explains why the Declaration of Independence can be considered the "World's Most Famous Breakup Letter."

For 20 years, Brain Quest® has been used by students, trusted by parents, and approved and used by teachers. Comprised of question-and-answer decks and workbooks for children ages 2-13, Brain Quest® content is based on the latest state and national curriculum standards and approved by an advisory board of Milken Award-winning educators. Based on the stuff students need to know when they need to know it, Brain Quest® shows students that it's not only fun to be smart, it's smart to be smart.

In addition to a recent partnership with the Chrysler Brand (the two are teaming up for a year-long marketing campaign featuring a 100-city road tour that will deliver educational events and programming in addition to a select number of fund-raising test drives), Brain Quest® celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2012 with a new Brain Quest® app, from the award-winning studio Dreamkind.

Brain Quest®'s Teacher Awards Contest is designed to recognize creative teachers who make learning an adventure in the classroom. Brain Quest and the Chrysler Brand will select one teacher per month who best exemplifies this mission, to receive a $500 cash prize and $500 worth of Brain Quest products for their school. In addition, winners will also receive a special discount on any new Chrysler Group vehicle purchase. One grand prize winner is selected out of the 12 recipients to receive a $5,000 cash prize, $1,000 worth of Brain Quest® products, and a "Brain Quest Challenge" event for their school.

Macomber has been teaching seventh-grade social studies at HCMS since 2011.

According to the school's principal, Brent Walker, "In addition to his work as a highly regarded social studies teacher, Mr. Macomber has coached soccer and begin the school's involvement in the National History Day state competition held each spring at Plymouth State University. Under his direction, students have received top prizes at this competition. HCMS is very fortunate to have Mr. Macomber on its staff."

Macomber will receive a $5,000 cash prize; Haverhill Cooperative Middle School wins $1,000 worth of BRAIN QUEST products and a BRAIN QUEST Challenge Event.

Macomber's Winning Essay:

My seventh grade social studies classroom is all about providing students with hands on activities. Drawing from John Dewey's Experience and Education, I engage students through interactive history lessons where the goal is to learn by doing. Students get to see how the medieval system of feudalism works by paying out M&M taxes to the "lords" and "kings." To help understand the culture of the Renaissance, students analyze and discuss pieces like Ghirlandaio's An Old Man and his Grandson. A game of Capture the Flag is used to explore the strengths and weaknesses of both the Confederacy and the Union during the Civil War.

Depending on the day, my classroom could be transformed into a courtroom in order to determine what should be done with Native American bones or several trading hubs to explore the relationship between the terms "import," "export" and "favorable trade balance." During a unit on "how-a-bill-becomes-a-law" students become Senators and Representatives and in order to write, debate and, hopefully, pass bills. Although my classroom is always located in the same place, its purpose depends on the day and activity.

While these activities are meant to be fun, they are also meant to be educational. When studying the Declaration of Independence, students are fully engrossed while I read to them a breakup letter that I "found from the previous day." Students hang on my every word as I describe a relationship that went sour because of high demands and an unwillingness to compromise. When the note is revealed to be a fake, students have a laugh while gaining the important lesson that the Declaration of Independence can be considered the "World's Most Famous Breakup Letter." Students then have to put their knowledge and creativity into action by writing their own letters.

In a different unit, students get to experience the deadliness of the Black Plague first hand by traveling table-to-table and drawing blocks from a bag. Some of the blocks represent exposure while others represent safety. The students nervously put their hand in the bag and their result is quickly known by the sigh or bellow that they let out. The drama is only part of the activity, however, as students are also required to calculate the odds of contracting the disease at each stop. Beyond the math skills, students learn why the Black Plague is considered one of the worst diseases in history.

The goal behind this philosophy is to engage students on a daily basis which will help promote learning. For students that continue to struggle, I provide more direct instruction individually or in small groups. I also create podcasts for each unit that students can listen to in preparation for major assessments. The children have found these enjoyable and have even gotten to join in on the fun when they created review songs about the Revolutionary War. The 45-second songs were then placed on my website for students and parents to download.

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