LinkedLearners

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Stop...Reflect...Go

Hard to believe that this week we will enter into our second half of a school year. I enter after a two week break, always a time to catch our breath, reflect, set goals and go! I love that as I look back and reflect, it is with a smile. Our first half has been not just good, but great.

There are things happening that feel like time well spent. We are moving at a comfortable pace and doing some amazing and thoughtful things. I am looking forward to returning, and continuing on the journey we embarked on.

This year I shifted completely to a standards based instruction. Text books are used as a resource, not as a guide or map. It has made more sense and the instruction feels valuable, thoughtful and a good fit for students. In math I felt myself drifting back to the text and it felt so wrong. I was allowing the assessments in the text books to pattern the instruction and I could feel how wrong it was. I began to sense confusion, frustration and drop in motivation in both the students and myself. I reached out to my PLN and with a few text conversations on a google doc I shifted back to where we belong.

This year (thus far) I was involved in collaboration through projects such as Global Read Aloud, Primary Blogging Community, and the Not Perfect Hat Club. I also have been moderating two slow twitter chats, #mtgr2 and #k2tweetpals. The students have truly been connected, communicating and learning from students around the world. They are finding how much we are all alike, and about how our differences are completely okay and fun to learn about. They learned a lot about themselves as well. They have been creative, thinking deeply and learning how to communicate through verbal and written dialogues.

Another exciting thing I have added to my classroom this year is our Hour of Empower. Fantastic decision! It is a lot of ideas put into one...Maker Space, STEM/STEAM, Genius Hour, etc. During this time students are exploring their passions, learning and sharing and having a blast doing it. This is something I am excited to watch continue to grow. This is not only student driven, it is a perfect opportunity for them to see a growth mindset in an environment they feel safe in. It is made even better when it carries back to the instruction in core areas.

We are 1 to 1 iPad this year. This has allowed for lots of trial and error exploration. It gives us a freedom and tool that really allows for some fantastic differentiation and giving students voice and choice to share their learning. One of the fantastic tools we use regularly is the new Easy Blog app.  The students can share so much of their learning with video, photo and writing.

I love that I can look back with a smile. I love that we are on a track to success. I also did away with homework, had student led conferences and am watching others get involved with some of the great things we have discovered. We continue to do virtual class visits with Skype in the Classroom and new to us this year Exploring by the Seat of You Pants. We have been reading and doing Reader's Theater with classrooms across the USA. I am not looking at all the ways we need to change...I am looking at ways to continue and expand!

As I look at all of this success....99.9% is due to the fact I am a connected educator. This mostly comes from my involvement on Twitter and the PLN I have met there. I know they will continue to move me forward, challenge and inspire me.

As we move forward my goals are to dig deeper. The students are maturing and ready to go deeper. They will become more able to make choices, reflect and communicate. This great that has been happening...can only get better. They will teach me and stretch me. We have robots and coding to learn more about. We have a new green screen and tools to make movies awaiting us. There are new books to crack open.

I look forward to Fairy Tales and Mysteries. Research and more connections. We have Global Play Day. We will start meeting with some of our distant classmates more regularly for reading buddies and math partners.

I am an excited and motivated teacher. We have uncharted territory to discover and journeys to continue.