Tuesday, January 5, 2010

head ABOVE water

Well, it has been a long time since I actually sat down and wrote a blog post. I have not abandoned my blog or the technology that I use. In fact, it is partially because of new technology that I have been on a writing hiatus. This school year I began almost all new courses to teach, added a SMARTboard and took on the head coaching position of our high school football team. Adding these to an already full plate proved to be more than I could handle.

After reading Dean Shareski's post, In Search of a Reflective Practitioner, I had a light bulb moment. I realized what was missing. This whole time I thought that my "drowning" feeling was due to the new subject load, adding a SMARTboard in my classroom and other things. However, I now realize the drowning feeling is because I feel less effective.


I have not reflected. I have not retained new knowledge. I have not "put my thoughts through the writing process". Without this deeper level of thinking, the exact deeper level I strive to get my students to do, I feel that less effective feeling.

So, without further ado, some reflection.

1. SMART board

This is a great addition to any classroom. The possibilities that this tool brings are amazing. However, it does not replace good teaching. Like an advanced overhead, it can only support the learning. There are incredible possibilities of engagement, Darren Kuropatwa has proved that.

I have had some successes in using the SMARTboard in my room. A grammar Jeopardy game on sentence errors was engaging and beneficial, producing a class average increase of 20%. Another success is the day to day organization and "lecture" style use. However, a projector could have done the same.

I do need to incorporate more, student lead activities. I need to get them out of their desks and up to the board. This has proved to a: wake them up, b: give them a unique experience to help them remember a concept, and c: allow for a larger amount of the class to be more involved in large group discussion.

2. ELA 20

This is my first time teaching ELA 20. I quite enjoy the themes that we use to read, write, speak, listen, view and represent with. (Wow, I sounded like a curriculum writer there) Recollections and Anticipation allow for that deeper thought process.

Combine the themes with the PLC focus I have been doing on ELA and I feel more confident now in what I am supposed to be doing than ever. But, as everyone who has had to teach a new course knows, it is a busy journey. The writing I am getting out of my students is more thorough, however, the basic mechanical errors and structure errors are still there. A better focus in this area is a MUST!

I do plan on using my blogging portfolio next term with a new batch of students. I think that if it is planned well enough, the students will be engaged and see the benefits of self/peer/teacher/and world wide editing. They will have the possibility of receiving feedback, both useful and non, from anywhere.

3. Media Studies

This is my first time teaching this course as well. I struggle with what exactly to do, knowing that writing is a more needed priority for the students I am teaching. The analysis of media is interesting, but I believe the course in its entirety needs refining.

As it was with my ELA 20 course, the Media Studies 20 course was a busy journey as well. I found myself constantly using examples of today's more current media. This was key! Relevance was sound and learning was evident.

I had the most engagement when I had my students debate on student selected topics. (BLOW energy drink's unethical marketing scheme, Cell phones use in schools, etc.) The students related best to these topics and our debates were fun, interesting and allowed for deeper learning.

My students are currently working on module 4, which is a major project. I look forward to seeing what their research and products look like. I will also enjoy the deep reflections that will be required of them.


So, that is some of my reflections of this school year thus far.

I am not much for New Year's resolutions, but I do know that if I don't reflect more through my blog, I will be missing out on crucial conversations and self awareness.


pcone said...

Hey Eldon! Great to read a blog post. You aren't they only one; most of us aren't publishing much.

I've been feeling sorry for myself for all the new preps I had this year until I read what YOU are doing. "Smarten up Pat!" I said to myself.

I'd like to comment more, but my brain just went blank. I'd better get at my marking for tomorrow. End of semester is nigh.


Jennifer said...

Wow Eldon, reading this post really resonates with me. I experience the same feeling of a loss of effectiveness if I don't reflect once in a while. I find that in the library it is especially hard, as I often only learn something to teach it for a day - and can quickly forget both the application/lesson. I found that one of the best ways for me to document what I achieve is through "daily goals" and "work log" notebooks that I keep on my desk at all times. I try to document what I get accomplished every day (even if it doesn't seem like much.) This way I can go back, more easily remember, and when it is time, reflect. My major time of reflection is usually in May and June when I write a full report for our school administration of what I did in the library for the year (including sample units/lessons taught with/for teachers.)

Keep up the great blog posts!

Eldon said...

Thanks Pat and Jen.

I do feel clearer when I reflect. Nevermind, as a colleague reminded me today, that our ever increasing need for accountability, the reflections help one to prove growth.