Monday, February 23, 2009

Self Directed Learning

Sometimes it's hard to practice what you preach. I wanted to share my experience this weekend participating in ED21 Unconference. I spent spent Saturday morning enjoying some very inspiring conversations centered around 21st Century nnovation and education. The different strands presented included 21st Century; learning, teaching, real world, and leading. I was able to help out in connecting the conference with the edtechtalk community through broadcasting the conference live on and was engaged in the chat with both onsite participants and virtual attendees. Here is a link to the recordings

My thoughts about 21st Century innovation and education are; learning starts with me. If I am able to continue to be a life long learner, I am able to model this for my students. I have to understand that my students are learning in a new type of environment and I must constantly evaluate my own teaching and adapt to all the changes and at the same time practice good teaching. In regards to the real world, well I have to prepare my students to participate/collaborate in this new millennium. And finally in leading, Web 2.0 does truly level the playing field. I as a classroom teacher do have a lot to contribute to the conversation. It is my job to get other teachers involved, connect with administrators and outside leaders to collaborate and move forward in education and innovation.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

What does student engagment look like?

Atypical day at pd..... I've been trying to teach my students our school's 3 R's (Responsible, Respectful, and Ready to Learn). So, when I go to a meeting or PD session, I have to practice what I preach. Which isn't that easy. We had a recent classroom walk through day. Team of peers and others walk through our classrooms throughout the day and observe classroom instruction. Usually this kind of activity is not welcomed by teachers. I truly could go either way.

Nevertheless, the team was focusing on observing student engagement. We got some constructive feedback. But actually, what I really took from our PD or this whole experience was my own reflections on my practice and specifically how I engage students in my classroom.

These were the ideas we focused on.
  1. Communicates learning goals / objectives
  2. Encourages active learning
  3. Gives prompt feedback
  4. Emphasizes time on task
  5. Communicates High Expectations
  6. Encouraging student to teacher and student to student interactions
  7. Develops reciprocity and cooperation among students
  8. Respects diverse talents and ways of knowing
My takeaways: I'd say that I incorporate a lot of the ideas into my teaching already. It's good to see them articulated here. It reminds me of a tip I once heard from a motivational talk. The presenter asked us. Have you PEE'd today? That is did I Plan, Execute, and Evaluate? This ideas encourage active teaching for myself and modeling active learning for my students.

My next steps: Focus on planning these ideas into my lessons. Learn how to adjust my teaching so that I can engage students in my class in new ways. Be open to learning from others, especially my own students.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

"How Do You Make a Great Teacher"

Listened in on Bill Gates on TED Talks, thanks to Wes Fryer's Tweet. Some really powerful ideas. I have been in education for a few years now, going on 15. But, just have come back to teaching in the last three years. So, the question for me is "How do I become a great teacher?" Am on the right path? Is all this measurable or not?, I am not sure. Just asking the question is a step in the right direction.

This past week was big motivation for me. I/we documented our activities on our classroom blog; Third Grade Discoveries. It seems that when I am willing to step out of "what's normal" I am able to get closer to being a great teacher.