Third grade class has fun discovering math and science

Ms. Hodo is proud of her third grade class at Wilsonville Elementary School.

Marlana Hodo is a wonderful third-grade teacher at Wilsonville Elementary School who has known she was made to teach students since she was in elementary school herself.

Since she was a child, she used her grandfather’s copy machine as she taught her stuffed animals.

“One of the best gifts I remember receiving as a child was a big dry erase board that was hung in my ‘classroom,’ aka bedroom,” she said.

Her dream to grow up to be a teacher prepared her to be even more talented at reaching students and helping them to understand each day. She expects a lot out of her students believing you will get from them what you expect of them. She loves seeing the students understand something for the first time.

“When they get it, I know I have done something right. I love my job, and I especially love the area in which I teach.”

Hodo’s third grade class is having a very exciting year. This is the first year the students begin the state’s standardized tests and they begin preparing early on to perform at their best.

“Thanks to AMSTI (Alabama Math Science Technology Initiative), the learning process has become a lot more fun and effective,” Hodo said.

Hodo explained that for the first time in her teaching career, math and science have topped physical education as the students’ favorite subject.

The class began learning the scientific process this year by experimenting and comparing the durability of brand name and off-brand diapers.

As the students studied rocks and minerals, they performed some of the same tests that geologists perform.

“Due to proration and the state’s economy, we would not be able to take part in these fabulous experiments with the hands-on materials if it were not for AMSTI. We are truly thankful,” Hodo said.

The class began learning about the human body in the unit for this month.

“This is my absolute favorite thing to do with my students and the kids love it,” Hodo said.

The students learn about the body systems and will be dissecting owl pellets to study the bones, which the owl could not digest. It is common for the students to find the skulls of field mice and even come close to reconstructing the skeleton of the mouse with this project.

Hodo creates a video of the students with this project and they get to view themselves on her blog site. Last year, the video was titled “The Bone Collectors.”

A Regions Bank manager will be visiting soon to share banking skills with the class, which has been learning how to make change and work with money in math. The math skills that the students are mastering this year will help them achieve the goal of an 84 percent proficiency rate they are challenged to achieve on the ARMT (Alabama Reading and Mathematics Test) this spring.

“I have a great class this year. It’s a melting pot of personalities and learning styles. Also, I am receiving incredible support from the parents,” she said.

Kennedy Tolbert is the community columnist for Wilsonville. She can be reached at