Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Taking Good Advice - From Students

For school night in miniature I asked the middle school students at school to give the teachers and parents advice on how to make this a great year for them.  I used wallwisher to have them post advice and then showed that website to the parents tonight.

Here's my 7th grade students's wall:

Some of the advice really got me thinking about policies and practices in our classroom.  Is homework meaningful? Am I giving the students enough time in class?  Do I vary the presentation style enough?

This activity really has me thinking.  Teachers do so much planning to try to make it a good year for the students.  The plans, the tests, the field trips, everything teachers do to try to make it a good year for the students.  Do we ever ask them?  What do they think we should do this year?  What ideas do they have for how the class should run?  This activity allowed them to tell me what would make a good year.  I shared this with the students, hoping to develop a sense of ownership in our classroom, which will lead to pride in the classroom.  This represents a little bit of me letting go of control of "my" classroom.  What a powerful idea to turn the room we work in everyday into OUR classroom instead of "my" classroom.  Letting go of control is happening more and more in our classroom and it has really led to a lot of great things happening.

Comments on this or anything else on the wall?  Thanks.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Irony - Tech Style

On Thursday, in my new classroom, there will be a Smart Board installed over, wait for it, a CHALKBOARD.  As I planned out where the board would go and all the peripherals I couldn't help but chuckle at the irony.  It's like going from a unicycle to a Jaguar.

That technology along with all the technology now available online has empowered teachers like never before.  Gone are the "not in the budget" or "I don't have time" excuses.  We have great tools, great resources, great coaches and now we have great power, all within budget!

I am reminded of a great line from Spider Man - "With great power, comes great responsibility."  Our students today are growing up in a world unknown to me 11 years ago when I started teaching.  We as teachers today have the responsibility to the students we are blessed with each day to guide them in this digital world.  They will leave our classrooms needing more and a different kind of knowledge than we could have possibly imagined just a few years ago.

More irony surfaces when I think about the fact that all this power, and the responsibility that comes with it, is best used when we give up some control in the classroom.  Letting the students run the classroom in this manner can be frightening.  But showing them a new skill and empowering them to demonstrate and teach it will serve them best.

I am very excited to reinvent myself as a teacher, one 2.0 skill at a time.  What a great time to be a teacher!  In a time when things are down and out in many areas of the world, (oil spills, nuclear threats, and joblessness oh my!), it is an absolutely great time to be a teacher! hmmm, more irony!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

NOW WHAT?!?!?!

Over the summer I have become enamored with Twitter. The ideas, the connections, the resources, the professional content, all GREAT. I have found so many new Web 2.0 tools, new ideas, new websites, new new new! But now what? How do I know how to integrate what where with who?

As I sat down with that blank lesson plan book,(silly content and standards), my mind tried to recapture ALL the great things that I had learned over the summer.   “OK science, now where was that one site? Oh wait, go to diigo, oh there it is. Now how can I integrate that . . . . ?” It is very overwhelming.
Take a step back and think. I don’t need to put it all in at once, I know that. BUT, what if I miss an opportunity? What is I forget to use it? There is SO much, how I do I keep it all straight? \

I have come up with a goal to integrate one new idea, tool, etc per unit per subject. I hope this is not as overwhelming. It would be nice to be able to totally revamp my lessons, integrate tech 100% (see @teachpaperless), but for me that is not going to happen in the school year 2010.

So I ask myself if being content with that goal is OK. I have come to the point where I think yes, because the alternative is to try to do too much and then get frustrated and go back to *GASP* textbook lesson plans.

Blessings on your school year preps!