31 December 2010

2010 in review

2010 was a really good year in the Science Classroom. We integrated technology even more than before and I grew a lot in my practice.

We spent quite a bit of time working on the textbook over at the Science Classroom Wiki. Students produced some great products and we even got some AP students to peer edit. I think this was a really good opportunity for all students to learn from each other.

Students created some presentations as a part of learning and they can be found here. This was one of my first forays into GoogleDocs and we haven't looked back since. This blossomed into a more recent adventure wherein students created the lecture notes we used in class. Students have taken the integration of GoogleDocs in our classroom to a new level, they have started using them in other classes, they share documents with me instead of turning papers in, they collaborate together on note-taking, and the list goes on and on.

Spending time in GoogleDocs in the classroom resulted in the creation of a presentation I gave to the Oklahoma Science Teachers Association called Google Will Change Your Life. (I'll also be giving this presentation to the Oklahoma Technology Association at their annual conference). I gave a presentation about Wikis, Blogs, and Discussion Boards with one of my colleagues to OTA back in February. Giving presentations has been an enriching experience and I've made a ton of contacts as a result. It has certainly increased the number of people in my Peer Learning Network.

Putnam City High changed over from a 4 block day to a 7 period day and there have been some pains involved (as usual) with the change. I personally have really enjoyed it but it has taken some getting used to. Students have had to learn how to get to class on time in spite of the fact that they now have nearly twice as many opportunities to be late. Teachers (especially those of us in science) have had to redo our curriculum while keeping labs as a part of our classes. This has certainly been a challenge. For whatever reason, it has been easier for me to add labs.

At the beginning of this school year, I decided it might be a good idea to toss my Lesson Plan book into the trash (figuratively not literally, Janie if you are reading this, don't freak out) and start putting my curriculum online. I created a Google Site and started organizing my curriculum to include every component required on our Lesson Plan forms. I really like having it online since I can access it from any computer that has an internet connection and requires no programs. I've even started including a link to each of my assessments since they have all been given online and are self-graded as a Google Form. Students have reacted positively to online tests and really like the timely-ness of the feedback I can give since they are graded before they walk out of the room. The online curriculum will be what everyone is doing in the near future, so I just thought I'd be a trend-setter and set the bar instead of trying to reach it!

I've been working on my Master's in Education and that has affected a lot of what I do in the classroom and has certainly changed my outlook on who I am as an educator and the confidence or lack of it that I have in myself. Everything I have learned through this program has been seen through the eyes of technology. This degree program has caused me to consider going beyond the Master's and look at a terminal degree. That's something I never thought I would do and certainly not something I thought I was capable of doing. Of course, I suppose that outcome remains to be seen since I haven't picked a school (or program)!

Finally, I just registered the domain jodybowie.com to make it easier for my students to access our classroom website. I think students will be more likely to use the site if they can access it easily. I'm working hard to make our website useful to students. One of my goals for this next year is to begin doing video capture of my lectures and embedding this for students who either miss class or need extra time to study.

So, this past year has been a year of growth for me. Has everything been positive? Probably not. Have I been more effective in my practice. I hope so. Have I solved all of the problems in my classroom? Definitely not. However, I think I have learned to engage students more effectively and that's certainly a big part of the battle. What kinds of things have you tried this year? What kinds of things will you be trying in the coming year? I've learned this year I don't have the answers to being the perfect teacher, but I have learned that if I ever stop trying to learn something new, I'll definitely never be the perfect teacher.

I think 2011 is going to have even more opportunity for growth. I surely hope so.

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