At the end of the retiree celebration, someone shared a story about walking across the field. A straight line is the quickest, but if you follow your interests and enjoy the things you discover along the way, it would be more of a zigzag. I’m not sure what the intended meaning of the story was, but I’m proud of the unique path I’ve taken, and I want to zigzag with purpose more. I also welcome my students on my learning journey.
This is a reflection of where I have been this year and the influence I hope it has on my classroom next year. The main themes of the reflection cover games, Edmodo, flipped classroom, TPRS, and BYOT. Some were the major parts of this year and others are next years big hopefuls.
GAMES The desire to use games has exploded in class. The students request games and are equally excited to create their own. The biggest hits were Zondle, Quizlet (especially the short lived Multi-Player mode), and StudyStack (for bug match of course). They were allowed to create accounts so it would track their scores and progress on the different concepts. The students were extremely motivated by the games, especially since they could earn different digital badges on Edmodo for attaining the necessary score.
* GOAL FOR NEXT YEAR
I want to increase the higher order thinking of the questions. Most of the games were definitions for the east of creatidon. The games can be more robust with more complex questions mixed in. There were a few games of Rags to Riches where the students were challenged, and they liked it, and did not avoid it. It is still important that the students master the vocabulary, but that is just one piece of the puzzle. On some of the vocabulary questions, I should provide phrases so the students see how to string Spanish together.
Edmodo is the underlying connection to almost everything I did this year. The way I set up my classroom was not different, but the tool that facilitated the digital learning environment was different. Edmodo worked much more efficiently than the blog I had used the past three years. The students were able to join the group for their class (and parents link to their child’s account). Because they were members, they were able to easily contribute. Using Edmodo as a classroom management system means class can be as productive even when the teacher is out for a day. Using the different tools and components provided within Edmodo the class can run smoothly and almost independently.
- Alert : remind students to bring the necessary items to class, like a device to access Edmodo or headphones. Students are encourages to have notification settings programmed so they receive a text when there is an Alert.
- Message : This is where students would be provided with step-by-step instructions for the day along with any accompanying links or documents. Videos, documents, games, etc can be linked or embedded to provide students with notes or practice. Practices can be provided for different levels or skills. Students wild have options.
- Reply : As a Do Now Task students reply to the message with an answer to a prompt or question. This is a regular start to class, so the students would anticipate it.
- Assignment Submission : From the teacher perspective, grading assignments are so easy. From the student side, the students need to click Turn In twice for it to save – once to get to the assignment, and once to actually turn it in.
- Quiz (as a formative, self-check activity) : I don’t really use the Quizzes on Edmodo for grades. However, by using the fill in the black option, it can be crafted into a great self-check activity for students. They see their score and the correct answer if they got it wrong. This has been my favorite creative use on Edmodo.
- Survey : End of class exit ticket or check to see how far everyone got in the series of tasks. This way I can be prepared for the next day based on exactly what they completed.
- Direct Message : students can ask clarifying questions of the teacher. Sometimes they also use it to voice complaints they have about the actual sub.
* GOAL FOR NEXT YEAR
More of the same. The main difference for Edmodo, I want to have a pre-school year training for any students who are interested in personalizing Edmodo. There are so many options for students, especially if they have a device to download the App.
This year I stopped giving students vocabulary lists and grammar notes in class. Instead, they were provided with videos to watch on their own and told to take notes. I either found appropriate videos from YouTube or created them using Educreations. It was not a full flipped classroom, but it was what worked best for my students and our setting. That reflection is enough for it’s own blog post.
* GOAL FOR NEXT YEAR
Have the videos done and posted for a series of lessons so students could work ahead or preview upcoming topics.
A small percentage of students have an iPad and bring it with BYOT. I want to encourage them to download either Educreations or Showme so they could record their own demos. The students love being the teacher. If the content presented is correct, it would be worthwhile to publish on the class Edmodo page. At the end of the AR Verb Unit the students used a mini microphone and the Interactive Whiteboard to record their explanation, they loved having them published. I want to encourage more pride in learning – that is what leads to being a life long learner.
A non-technology class aspect that I have used (but want to expand the use of) is TPRS. Our middle school foreign language department uses short novels in the target language to emphasize and show the language in a real context. My goal for this year was to create a digital resource for every chapter of Pobre Ana to make it more comprehensible. I succeeded and created a Prezi, a Pixton, a GoogleMap Mashup, a Glog, a GoAnimate Animation, some Vokis, a Popplet, an Animoto Video , and a Smore. There have been individual blog posts about the success/areas to improve for almost each chapter.
* GOAL FOR NEXT YEAR
I want to do more on a daily basis to make sure the target language is comprehensible. I started my summer by voluntarily attending my colleague’s workshop on TPRS (Michelle Kindt est très magnifique !) It was not the first or second time I attended a workshop on the method, but something clicked this time. I will credit Michelle’s passion and energy. I want to seriously use TPRS in my classroom on a daily basis. I start off strong but tend to decrease the storytelling as the year goes on. I have used many mini-stories, but my goal for next year is to ask the stories. I want the students to have more control of the story outcome. Another part of the TPRS goal is technology related. The tools of digital storytelling would be great for presenting the stories to students – for review purposes or if the students were absent. The iPad apps Educreation and Showme would combine images, text, and audio in the target language. Voicethread would be another option for story presentation.
This is the direction of the school district for next year. So, I was doing lots to mentally wrap my mind around how to make this work best in my classroom (and how to convince co-workers of the potential). Our AUP has allowed BYOT for a few years. I have mentioned to students that they bring in devices if they are frustrated by the slow speed of our netbooks. This year was great because (most days) we had 1:1 netbooks. However, they were hand me downs. And by the end of the year they were slower than the attention span of a middle school student. The students who were excited to use technology brought in their own. It was inspiring and I can’t wait to expand it next year. The best choice I made this year for my own professional development has been joining the #BYOTchat on Twitter. I am also on the district’s 21st Century Environment Committee, so I can help set some of the policies and directions for the future.