Sunday, May 23, 2010

The End of the Year

Well, it is the end-of-the-school year! With a high pitched almost tangible frenzy in the air at school, I am feeling excited about summer, proud of my students accomplishments and yet I am feeling a little melancholy as well. The older I get, the more I realize that change is hard. The end of every school year brings changes to my little world. Our school will have teachers moving to different grade levels, students shuffled into different classes, and I will have a new batch of promising readers in August...a fine mix of "newbies" and "veterans."

As I have been administering the required end-of-the-year reading assessments, I have been able to reflect about what went well this year and what I would like to improve on next year. Here is my progress report: This year I think I did a really good job of nurturing a love for reading with my students. We laughed, cried and discussed lots and lots of great books. That is good...Grade=A. On the other hand, breaking words into syllables to decode continues to be tricky for my students...Grade= C+. I diligently collected photos and video clips of my students and I will give them a digital portfolio of their reading development along with their writing journals as a gift...Grade= A. I could go on and on, but certainly I did a good job in a lot of areas and of course there is room for improvement in others.

It is hard evaluating yourself honestly, but I know it is one of the most important tools that teachers can use to promote personal growth as professionals. I would love to hear about your personal successes and perhaps areas that you could improve upon as a teacher. After all, change is hard but oh so important!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Web 2.0 Tools

After my son's birthday party (wild!!!), I needed some quiet downtime, so I began "playing" online.  Life has been funny these last few months because I've had little time to allow myself to "play" and find something new.  I've struggled to write and struggled to find some sense of calm, but tis the end-of-the year season and that's the way it is.

My friend, Tony at Learn me Sumthin', is always inspiring me to do more.  Whether he knows it or not, I come away from district meetings wanting to challenge myself after talking to him.  Tonight, I typed Web 2.0 tools into google and came up with this hub called Go2Web20 .  It's an index of many Web 2.0 tools and categorized for easy finding.  While I haven't tried to see if it's blocked at school, I'm wondering what all could take place if our students knew of this Web Hub of applications.  There's kid video sites, survey sites, art sites, educational game sites, collaboration tools, and more.  What if purposeful assignments took place on a Web 2.0 tool?  What if students' could not wait until they could get online to continue their learning?  What if....?  So many avenues to explore.  I'm going to be thinking about what I can do with this site and see how to use it purposefully.

IWEB: Electronic Portfolios

As the year is winding down, I've been reflecting on my purpose for having my students create Iweb portfolios.  Originally, our tech specialist asked my class to experiment on this application and see what all it could do.  So, we focused second trimester creating, adding, experimenting, and sharing ideas together.

When my colleagues and I had a brainstorming session, a big disadvantage was that students could not work on these at home because it was solely intranet.  If we truly want students to internalize and apply classroom learning, bridging that home/school connection is a must.  That's why so many Web 2.0 tools are becoming ever popular with students to explore.  It matters not what platform you use, PC or MAC, one only needs access to the internet.

Now my scope has changed.  The IWEB has become a centralized place to house their learning.  Whether working on Pages, ComicLife, Kidspiration, or more, my students transfer their finished products to their Iweb pages.  They have even imported quick movies to document their reflections and to keep book lists of all they read.    My student, N, is learning how to import Garageband into Iweb.  It's an application I'm playing with and want my students to try this year.  The latest step was to connect our pages together and create a more website look.  The last week of school, parents will be coming in to see what all they have done and we'll burn everything to a cd.    As I think about next year, my goal is to begin early enough and keep adding all throughout the year.  

My passion has always been primary students and their learning.   The possibilities with this application are endless.  If first and second graders created their portfolio with a couple pages, continue on throughout their elementary career, think about the growth we would see when they left as fifth graders!!  As a fourth grader, they could look at something they created in first or second grade.  It may spark ideas for other projects or new ideas.  But, what an authentic Mentor Text. This is also a wonderful tool for parent/teacher conferences.  I showed each students' portfolio on the smartboard to parents and they enjoyed seeing a visual snapshot into their child's learning.

Thinking about my Big Ideas for learning next year,  the IWEB is going to be a place to begin learning together, and a continuum of learning throughout the year.

Learning is a treasure that will follow its owner everywhere.  ~Chinese Proverb