Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Reflective Teaching through Blogging

What better way to jump start the school year than participating in TeachThought's Reflective Teaching: 30-day blogging challenge for teachers?  The +TeachThought challenge is focused around reflection and connecting with other educators through blogging, and prompts are provided for each day.

The challenge encourages teachers to blog everyday in September, but since I'm just jumping in now I'll reflect on the first three prompts in today's post.

1.  My Goals for the School Year

This summer, a colleague asked me about my goals for the 2014-15 school year, and although I didn't have a very polished answer at the time, her question provoked some good conversation, and I've narrowed my goals for this year down to the following three:

  • I will encourage, support, and integrate app-smashing while working with my staff and students.  
    • Reasoning: app-smashing allows for student choice in how they show what they know.  It also gives students a chance to show their creativity, and to think outside the box.  
  • I will continue to integrate coding and computer science education into my work with students, and into projects and lessons in various grade levels and content areas.
    • Reasoning: after spending the summer teaching coding to kids, and doing a fair amount of coding myself, I'm even more convinced of its value for students.  The skills developed through learning to code, such as collaboration, persistence, and problem-solving, apply across subject areas and grade levels.
  • I will model the maker mentality for my students by being a maker myself; sharing my failures, successes, and milestones of learning, and by celebrating the process over the product.
    • Reasoning: our school was awarded a grant to create a makerspace this year.  Our makerspace will be an undefined makerspace, as it's not confined to a physical space in our school.  Instead, we can bring it to any place through the materials we use or simply through our mentalities and the language we use with students.  I think that's powerful... and, I just really love making things (this week, I wore a shirt and a skirt that I made, and I can't wait to make more!)...  
2.  New Technology for this Year

This year, I am excited to try out Chromebooks with students.  I was recently awarded a grant to purchase Chromebooks to use for coding with 6th graders, and I can't wait to get started!  Chromebooks are so cost-effective, powerful, and easy-to-use... I think they will be popular with students and staff alike.  I bought myself a Chromebook this summer (an Acer c720p), and I absolutely love it.  I rarely use anything else!  A big bonus from an integration standpoint is that Chromebooks are compatible with Flash, which is perfect for coding on Scratch, and I've heard that they can also connect to Arduino and Makey Makey kits.  I also love that they run (virtually) everything through the cloud - no need to download, print, or save to a shared drive.  I'm still deciding which Chromebook model to purchase for school.  I'll be sure to post updates as the year unfolds.

3.  An Observable Area to Improve Upon

I recently went through the first round of ENVoY training, and I'm excited about the power of non-verbals in teaching and learning.  I've already enjoyed trying out some of the non-verbal classroom management strategies, such as above pause whisper, which is a technique to bring a group back together.  I tried it with students and also with staff, and was impressed by how well it worked.   The clearer and more intentional I am about my non-verbal messages to my audience, the clearer and easier to understand my message will be to them (hopefully). 

I'm looking forward to blogging about reflective teaching this month!  I'd love to connect and hear about your thoughts and experiences.  Feel free to leave a comment below, or connect with me on twitter @wilsandrea.