Monday, December 31, 2012

As I Approach the New Year...

I think of how this year started and how it comes to a close.  I constantly think about how my education has shaped me as a teacher this year.  While I have not been able to share day-by-day Aha! moments through my blog, I feel I should close this year out by reflecting on the following.

Technology Integration
It's not what you use to support education, but how you use it.  This year my understanding of technology to such a dramatic turn in my classroom.  I used to feel that the resources were not enough, but then I realized that I didn't need a million types of technology. I just needed to find the ones that work for my students and use them well.  Some technological resources that made a difference for my students this year were Titanpad, Video Software Tools, YouTube, Paper by FiftyThree, Explain Everything, and GoAnimate.  Each tool supported instruction both inside and outside of the classroom in a variety of ways.  Most importantly, my students began their own hunt for technology we could try in the classroom.  I remember one student who wanted to make sure I knew how to read my analytics for the classroom YouTube page.  I year ago I would have never imagined any of this.

Over the years, I have been back and forth about homework.  One thing I realized was that I had to do what worked for me.  One idea that has definitely crossed the thoughts and movements throughout education is the flipped classroom.  While I do not follow all of the practices, it did help solve my homework issue.  The idea of what normally is done at home is now done at school. What about what use to be done at school? Well, that's where I break away from the flip model.  EVERYTHING is done at school.  My students watch the videos, listen to podcasts, and complete all tasks right at school.  This approach is the best for my students based on the current levels of need and support.

Demonstration of Mastery
This probably has been the most challenging task yet this year.  All my tasks are performance related, but I still limit the degree of freedom my students get in choosing how they will demonstrate. I typically give them choices or I choose one approach (like making a video) and they have full range for creativity and originality.  I have tried to increase the emphasis of creativity and originality in efforts to discourage  poster board projects, which are no longer acceptable forms of learning to me.  If you've seen one poster board, you've seem them all.   I love to see a 3D model, a PSA (public service announcement), or online infographic that my students create to demonstrate understanding.  Learning has to be more than just a colorful large sheet of paper.

One of the greatest changes in my teaching and personal life is content curation.  I used to be one who would just look at what others did and use that to support my classroom.  Now, I create my own work.  The benefit is that my content is targeted toward my audience: my students!

What can I say about the importance of constant reflection of your teaching and student learning besides that IT IS IMPORTANT! You can't grow or change without reflecting on where you are and where you want to be in your teaching career.  At the same token, you have to think about where you want your students to be by the time their year with you is over. Take time to reflect at is is one of the most rewarding experiences you will have in your profession.

So I am ready for the New Year? Am I ready for new challenges? Am I ready to challenge myself even more? The answer to these questions is YES!

What about you?

Continuing on my journey...

Wishing you and your families a Happy New Year!

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