Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer Reflection Time

Completing a school year always brings me to reflecting on what I liked and what worked and what could be better and what didn't work at all. This year, I've been slow in working through this. We had so many changes last year with moving into a new building and having new technology in each classroom in this building. Changes for the good.

With the building changes and the budget changes, I'm sure that we will continue to change and grow in many new ways.

Our videoconferencing program - completed year 7 last year - will continue to offer programs from our wonderful state museums and other state institutions. We also use VC with NASA Digital Network, Sea Trek, These institutions offer expert classes for our students. We have taken these opportunities and expanded them in our curriculum to specific class to class projects with RAP (Read Around the Planet), Carolina Connections (4th graders around the state studying the state regions), PPS Megaconference, UK Poetry Day, and others. We have collaborated with other schools using the school wiki and used this collaboration to present shared content to Megaconference Jr. (Mega Jr. is a 12 hour around the world live VC.)

As we expand these programs and opportunities each year, we are only limited by our imaginations and our resourcefulness to meet our students needs while pushing our students to be their best and reach for higher goals in their own learning. For the 2010-11 school year, the teachers will be responsible for facilitating the vc classroom during the conferences, along with any follow-up. The teachers can simply come 10 minutes early to set-up materials, seat students appropriately, and maintain good behavior and aid the instructor with materials. Ending the conference should only take an additional 5 minutes in clean-up and returning materials to the mailing box, leaving the room ready for the next vc class. With each teacher being responsible for her class, the dl coordinator can simply set-up the vc schedules from the teacher and grade-level requests.

The biggest challenge will be planning for, setting-up individual class projects, and arranging rehearsal times, but the richness of these opportunities for our students will keep us focused on the end products.

Another big change for me personally, will be returning to the classroom to teach the computer lab. I loved this before and will enjoy the increase in student contact as we prepare our students for technology use/skills that they can integrate in their class projects, science fair, and daily lives. Remember, our students do not live in an analog world - it is definitely digital and they need instruction that will allow them to be successful in choosing technology to help them meet their learning goals.

Of course, "thoughts" of past years and future years do not touch on the details, but those will be worked out. Now, after a week at the wonderful NC outer banks -- this year on Hatteras Island - I am truly enjoying summer vacation -- time to grow a garden, experiment with new, healthy recipes, and enjoy the beauty in the world. But at the back of my mind, as always, is the next school year and the things I can do now to prepare and enhance my teaching to be a better instructor, communicator, and learner.