03 June 2010

Closure Part 2

Today was the final official day of work today for Putnam City teachers. This signals the end to an amazing year. There are so many things about this year that were awesome, yet during school, I felt like I couldn't wait for it to be over! Since I really prefer to remember things in a positive light, let's reflect:

I blogged more than ever before. I spent a ton of time talking about myself, but I feel like I've begun to truly reflect on my method as a teacher. According to the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards, that convention is one of the single most important things to implement in an effective teacher's practice. So, while it may have seemed that I was "tooting my own horn", I'm really just trying to think about what I do.

I was challenged by some extremely smart students. Not to downplay the intelligence of previous students, but this year there were several students who really made me want to know my subject area better. Fortunately, I have found some really good blogs to read and I've learned so much! Reading blogs by teachers, physics professors, and researchers has really taken my thirst for knowledge to a whole new depth. I've devoted a page on my feed reader to science and one to teaching. I admit, some days I just click "mark all as read" because I simply don't have the time I'd like to devote to some in-depth reading. Other days, I drink in the knowledge and end up on an hour long "link-flow" from one good article to another. This year has been one which has seen expanded horizons for me.

I started a Master's program at SNU. That has been the onus for my increase in blogging. We are required to journal over our experience while we are in the program. Originally, we were supposed to write in a book! "What the duece?!?" was my first thought. I couldn't believe in a world of Skype, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, I was being asked to do some good old-fashioned handwriting! This was crazy to me. After just two years of teaching, I was already integrating some of this technology into my classroom, so why not in Higher Education? Shouldn't they be modeling what we are supposed to be doing in class? I'm almost halfway through the program now (after this next module) and its totally flown by!

I have gotten more heavily involved in the use of social media and technology in the classroom. I created a Facebook group for my students. (So far only the AP class). My thought was students are already using this technology. Why not have a homework reminder in their newsfeed? I mean, duh! Right? I have embraced the transparency of friending student on Facebook and its simply a way for me to model digital citizenship for my students. I sense that there are some other teachers in my building are beginning to catch on to this trend. At least that's my perception. (Perception is reality, right?)

I embraced the use of GoogleDocs in my classroom. If you don't currently use it or know about it, you should consider it! In my AP class, this has resulted in an almost entirely paperless. Students need to turn in a lab report? Have them share it with you on GoogleDocs! Students need to collaborate asynchronously on a presentation or document? Have them share it with one another on Googledocs! Would you like to embed a test into your teacher webpage? You can via GoogleDocs! Would you like to give a test with no paper used? GoogleDocs! Want to make a document and have it available for students, in other words embedded in a webpage? Yep, you guessed it, GoogleDocs! Oh, wait, don't have a webpage? Google can fix that with GoogleSites. BTW, if you are interested, and you are a Putnam City teacher, I'm teaching a couple of classes on how to use GoogleApps in your classroom! Check out .pc for information.

I was able to get some new technology in my classroom. I got a new laptop computer before the year started (a MacBook Pro). I got a new SmartBoard after I mentioned that mine was not working correctly. I was able to check out a new product put out by SchoolCenter, the company that hosts our teacher webpages. Its a pretty secret project so I can't talk much about it, but I'm going to get to take part in a presentation in Denver at the end of the month as a result of my involvement in the project. Speaking of Denver, I am being afforded the opportunity to go to the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) conference. I was blown away when they asked me if I wanted to go. Of course I wanted to go!

This year, I have even been given the opportunity to teach some other classes. I am going to be teaching a Bridge course at SNU. Its a course called Earth's Natural Disasters. If you are not familiar with the Bridge program, SNU has a deal where you can finish your undergraduate degree in 18 months, but you can only into the program if you have 60 hours. Bridge is where you get your hours to that level. So, I'll be teaching adults. This is going to be a major shift in my practice, at least as it concerns my interactions with students. I'm auditing a class right now and these guys are some major gradehounds! I used to think my students were worried about grades, they are nothing compared to these guys.

So, overall this year has been a fantastic year. I think I am in some of my best years of teaching. I am finally figuring out what I am supposed to be teaching. I am finally beginning to find out how to really do some authentic assessment of student learning. That's new. That's not something I learned in college. That is a skill that can only come from experience. I'm stoked to be looking summer vacation right in the face. However, I'm also excited at the prospect of what the next year will bring. What are you looking forward to?

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