Final Reflection

 

pictures courtesy of Mrs. Arsenault’s Class

It is amazing how full I feel after the past 6 weeks.  I am full of new knowledge, new ideas and inspiration.  I definitely feel that this experience has made an amazing impression on me as a student and a teacher.  I feel much like the Very Hungry Caterpillar.  Every day he consumed more and more until he was ready to blossom and go out into the world with his new wings. 

As I reflect on the past weeks and look forward to the future, 3 words continue to stick in my brain, “Explore – Create – Share!”  I kept coming back to these 3 words. 

EXPLORE
Feeling inspired to “explore” and try new things in your classroom empowering.  As I reflect on the Summer, I felt like we all were in the same class, but had the freedom to explore the content in our own way.

CREATE
After the discussions about creativity and how it cannot be taught, but developed.  I felt as if I was given the course goals and the road to get there was my own.  I kept thinking about the words “it is the journey and not the goal that is what you should remember”

SHARE
I have never been around more people willing to share!  Everything is public and is shared.  The notes, projects, photos, questions and reflections were shared. After this open experience I will be more likely to collaborate and share ideas and projects with colleagues.

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Take something old and look at it in a new way…

Much like a student arriving in my Kindergarten class, I felt nervous arriving on campus 6 weeks ago for my first day of class.  I expected a traditional introduction process with the instructor going around the room asking us our names, grade level, content area and perhaps something about ourselves.  I was mistaken!  We were instantly grouped and sent out with our cameras to capture a unique photo of ourselves.  I loved the instant interaction with classmates and also the fun way we used technology to introduce ourselves.  I knew at this moment that this course would be different.  I loved how it felt when I looked at something so simple in a new way.  This would not be the last time…

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Fantasia and Building on Background Knowledge

After discussing the Shulman article and “Fantasia.”  It really hit home. My classroom is the first “grade school” experience for young students.  Kindergarten is an important time to start building important academic and social background knowledge.  My students come from different pre-schools, daycares or homeschool experiences.  They bring a variety of background knowledge and possibly some misconceptions.The understanding understanding videos showed individuals who were overly confident about what they knew about a topic.  During our discussions I started to think about pre-assessments and post assessments and just how important they are.  We not only have to teach concepts, but we have to battle the existing misconceptions that are already established in our students’ background knowledge.

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In today’s world, do we have a reason to memorize anything? We can find any factual information we might need in seconds via the Internet Perhaps instead of learning facts, it works better to practice critical thinking, to have students work at evaluating all the information available on the Internet rather than trying to commit some small part of it to memory. – Willingham

Willingham makes a great point.  We CAN find factual information in seconds online.  Or can we?  I remember having encyclopedias as a child and never questioning anything in those books.  I was so trusting.  This discussion made me think about how important critical thinking is for our students and their generation.  There is so much information available about any one topic.  Anyone can publish and put ideas online.  I find that when I read online I am considering the source as much as the content itself.  I also think about how my students need to consider the same when searching and reading online.  One of my ongoing goals include incorporating these types of skills into the lessons as I teach them how to search for information online.

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What is tpack?

I felt like I was one of the only people coming into this class who didn’t know about “TPACK.”    Technology Integration is usually discussed as such a separate entity.  The visual model alone helped me better understand how I should be integrating my pedagogy, content and technology.  I teach other colleagues how to use different tech tools to use in their classrooms.  If I can take this approach when showing them a new technology, I feel confident that they will have a better understanding how it will fit into their teaching and content areas.  I will no longer just say “technology integration” but instead I will say I am “integrating pedagogy, technology and content knowledge” into my classroom.

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Creativity is a fuzzy idea, everyone has a different view of it.  It cannot be “taught” but… it can be developed!

During the two weeks on campus, we were given many opportunities to use our creativity to show what we know about a topic.  In our group we had five unique people with different view points. We each had ways of adding our own unique touches to a project.  Each person brought a different “creative color” to the canvas.  At first, it seemed so messy.  Everyone was throwing out ideas at once and the time constraints created stress.   After some discussion and organization, we were able to appreciate different viewpoints and the mess started to look more like a masterpiece.   I felt my ideas and creativity developing even when I didn’t agree with individuals in my group.

I also started to realize that this community of colleagues had a wealth of information.  One of my favorite times of the day was when we shared tech tips.  These tips often triggered some really great conversations and ideas within our group.

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Flipping

I really enjoyed listening to my classmates and a former MAET student discuss “flipping the classroom.”  I love the idea of having students apply what they learn IN the classroom instead of the other way around.  I also remember my initial reaction when I first heard about this idea, “Well, that is probably just for secondary education students.”  As I listened and reflected, I thought, well maybe it could work for my young students as well.  I had to look at “flipping” in a new way.  I had to put on my Kindergarten teacher glasses.  I think this idea would be very beneficial for young students and their parents.  I often have parents ask me “how I say things.”  It would create a stronger school-home connection because the parents would be able to see concepts and vocabulary in small lessons or short “how to videos” that show centers around the room.  In a sense, the videos could be for both students and parents.  I could use video to read stories and ask guiding questions for parent to discuss with their children before they come to class.  This would create an opportunity for children to prepare and feel comfortable with the lesson the following day.

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Future…

 

Continue to Dream…

I am excited to continue developing my Dream it Proposal.  This has created a new passion for using technology to help Kindergarten students develop oral language skills.  I chose writing as a topic because I see so many Kindergarten students struggle writing a story.  At first I was discouraged because I couldn’t find a lot of existing classrooms that are using technology in this way.  As I continued to work on my project, I realized that this is an opportunity to publish an newer idea that may help young authors learn to love storytelling.  I am excited to apply for grants to get iPads for my students.  I will continue to update my proposal to reflect new technologies.

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Twittergarten

I strive to create a social learning and sharing environment in my classroom. I am excited to develop a classroom Twitter feed for my students to make daily posts.  Parents, teachers, and colleagues  can follow what our class is learning about.  We can connect to other Kindergarten classrooms as well.  Making social connections is an important part of learning.

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Profesional Learning Network

I will continue to develop my professional learning network.  The connections made this summer have inspired me to look beyond my school colleagues and seek more learning opportunities online.  Since our “on campus” session ended I have already made connections to weekly Twitter groups and Facebook discussions.  Last year I created a Facebook page for Elementary Educators.  I plan to continue this page and invite others to be contributors on the page as well.  I am definitely more open to making my ideas more public, open myself up to critique and grow from the feedback!

 


Blogging…

I am planning to blog every day this school year from a Kindergarten teacher’s point of view.  I have maintained a classroom blog for the past six years for my parents and students.  I plan to expand my blogging to provide a place to reflect and invite other teachers to interact and discuss my posts.  I am excited to use this space as a place to reflect, celebrate when things go well and to learn when things fail.  It is a new, exciting (and a little bit scary) adventure for me.

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“repurposing makes a technology an educational technology”

I teach Kindergarten. I have having to repurpose tools and technologies all the time to fit a Kindergarten students’ diverse needs.  I am constantly revamping activities, centers, and technologies to include visual, concise and clipart/photos for my young non readers.  Even emerging readers need clipart and/or photos to help them understand instructions.  

As I continue to blossom as an educator, I will take all these lessons along with me.  I will try to use a fresh set of eyes and remember the idea of repurposing, looking at old things in new ways.

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butterfly image: http://theveryhungrycaterpillarblog.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/beautiful-butterfly1.jpg

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Resources:

Shulman, L. (1999). What is learning and what does it look like when it doesn’t go well. Change, 31(4), 10-17.

Willingham (2011) Why Students Don’t Like School

Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (1998). Understanding by Design. Alexandria , VA : Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Chapter 2: Understanding understanding.

Mishra, P., & Koehler, M. J. (2009, May). Too Cool for School? No Way! Learning & Leading with Technology, (36)7. 14-18.

Mishra, P., Koehler, M.J., & Henriksen, D. (2011). The Seven Trans-Disciplinary Habits of Mind: Extending the TPACK Framework Towards 21 st Century learning . Educational Technology, 51 (2) 22-28