2017 News Stories

Stavros Center hosts workshop to help teachers creatively infuse ‘Harry Potter’ into classroom lesson plans

Gus A. Stavros Center for Free Enterprise and Economic Education

by Abby Rinaldi

At least one wand was seen protruding from the pockets and bags of local teachers as they arrived at the Gus A. Stavros Center for Free Enterprise and Economic Education on Feb. 23 for a workshop on "Magic, Markets, and Morality: Using Harry Potter to Teach Creativity, Economics, and Ethics."

Teachers, some of whom were dressed in shirts and scarves representing Hogwarts houses, characters and quotes from the series, gathered to discuss how to tie the world of witches and wizards into their lesson plans — in subject areas ranging from creative writing to economics.

Educators from multiple Florida counties such as Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco and even Manatee were in attendance, some having taught for more than 30 years.

Jean Harmon, a marketing and customer service teacher at Alonso High School, has been teaching in Hillsborough County for 32 years. Harmon called the Stavros Center as a "hidden gem," and said she enjoys the workshops the staff offers because of the resources and new perspectives on subject content that she gets from them.

"As educators, we never stop learning, and it's always good to learn something different in a different way," she said.

David Scott, the BB&T Master Teacher Educator at the Stavros Center who led the workshop, explained the workshops are a part of the center's larger mission to help K-12 teachers who are already in the school districts, develop themselves professionally.

"These workshops provide them with the resources and experience to address new concepts or old concepts in new ways taught in their classrooms," he said.

Scott said the workshops are always focused on something new, not necessarily in subject matter but in approach.

"It helps broaden teachers' perspective so that teachers who are not used to an economic perspective in their subject area have an opportunity to see its relevance for themselves and their students," Scott said.

Workshop attendees also included new visitors to the Stavros Center as well, including three teachers from Newsome High School — Leslie White, Montine Vana-Pergola and Carlyn Goodpaster. White, who teaches English and theater, said she was drawn to the lecture because of the opportunity to help her students relate to what she teaches.

During the workshop, Scott touched on the concepts of creativity, economics, and trust. For each subject, he connected Harry Potter through movie clips, plot points and ideas from the series.

One particular example of creativity that attendees took to heart was the conversation about creativity in students and educators alike. Scott used the example of Dolores Umbridge, the testing-focused, rule-making professor from the Ministry of Magic who becomes headmaster of Hogwarts for part of the series.

After showing a clip of Umbridge telling her students they didn't need to practice the spells they learned, as long as they knew them for the examinations, Scott asked the audience, "Do tests prepare our students for the future?"

The teachers in attendance answered with a chorus of no's. Scott went on to encourage teachers to foster creativity in their students by allowing them to break some rules. He encouraged this same measured rule-breaking in the teachers, as well.

Throughout the workshop, Scott presented the teachers with lesson plans that incorporated multiple teaching techniques, such as Cornell notes and interactive notebooks. All of the resources from the workshop were provided to the teachers to take back to their schools and put into practice.

Scott concluded the workshop by saying teachers needed to figure out how to add creativity to their classroom lesson plans. The biggest takeaway from the workshop, Scott said, is creativity, which he said is an inherent part of human beings.

"We need to encourage (creativity) in our students," he said. "We need to seek it as teachers, and we need to appreciate it as a society. Creating new value is essential to the American Dream."

About the Gus A. Stavros Center for Free Enterprise and Economic Education:

The Gus A. Stavros Center for Free Enterprise and Economic Education works to advance the effective teaching and integration of free enterprise, financial literacy and economic education into the K-20 curricula. To learn more about upcoming workshops and events, please visit the Stavros Center website.