As I reflect on my last year of teaching, there were several things that fundamentally changed the way I teach and function as a teacher:
Student Blogging: We used Kidblog.org to build a classroom blog across two sections of fourth graders.
Google Drive: I finally discovered a way to organize my files and avoid the dreaded thumb drive.
iPads: Students brought their own, and we used them, in some cases, in place of notebooks, dictionaries, and other reference materials.
There were other things that I happened to discover that really worked:
Debates: We started classroom debates about real-life issues including use of iPads in the classroom, homework and taking Spanish as a second language.
Active Learning in Social Studies: We connected short, focused bits of content with activities, crafts, models, videos, and collaborative projects.
Living Wax Museum: We integrated an independent reading project with further research and an oral presentation to create a living wax museum of famous people from history.
In looking at next year, I’d like to continue to expand the blogging project. I’m thinking of possibly making the blog public as I’m looping with the same students, and this would go along with encouraging and expanding their responsible digital citizenship. I’d also like to expand the debates beyond the classroom and have the students present them for other audiences.
What’s new? Our school is moving toward developing student portfolios to align with our graduate profile (a set of ideals for our senior graduates). As a school-wide initiative, it’s in its infancy; however, I’d like to expand my haphazard, badly organized use of portfolios this past year and use them more intentionally for Student-Led Conferences, and make growth portfolios an integral part of the assessment process. To this end, I’ve started an ASCD PDOnline course about student portfolios. When I finish, I plan to post a review of the course and any useful information.
Until then, here are some great links I found on Twitter @WeAreTeachers: