This year is slightly different than previous years; I actually get to prep for a 1:1 iPad classroom instead of a BYOT environment. I thrived with BYOT, but it did leave some room for improvement with equality (self-explanatory) and consistency (students did not always have it with them if they had it taken away by their parent as a behavioral consequence). To be consistent with my team, I am also going to mix up the work flow for my classroom.
Google Apps and Scripts and Add-Ons are going to be central to my classroom. Google Classroom will be utilized by all four of the core teachers on our team. This will make it so much easier to share GoogleDoc templates for students to edit and we will be able to see their work in real time. I will use Doctopus and Goobric to grade the Google Docs. Normal quizzes can be completed with Google Forms and graded with Flubaroo. Teacher presentations will be created and shared from Google Slides so the students will be able to add notes to their own copy. I created a Grading with Google guide to help my team members utilize all these tools together (as Google Slides of course!).
This year with 1:1 iPads I will have so many options for formative assessments. Formative and Quizizz are new to me. I have been exploring them this summer and I am excited for the potential. Quia and Zondle will both be paid yearly subscriptions, and I am considering paying for both of them. Quia works on iPads if you click the small <play HTML version> button. Quizlet and Kahoot are past favorites for students and the teacher. Quizlet is better for focused review (if the students are taught how to star the cards they need extra practice with). Kahoot is always a loud and exciting day in class.
I am going to use Remind for a lot more this year. It was very successful with the small groups I had last year. This year, each class will have a Remind group. I will be able to share out links to student work as well as general reminder messages. Because my students are all under 13, their parents are encouraged to sign up for Remind accounts as well, so they will get the messages. I’m excited to create digital badges using Canva to send through Remind to students as they go above and beyond. This will communicate to the parents what their child has accomplished and hopefully make the students proud of what they did as well. Above are some of the example badges I have already created, and there will be no limit to what I could make a badge.
I added to and re-did some of my class expectation memes with imgflip.com. I image the first week of school for students can be overwhelming with information and boring to hear so many sets of rules. Instead, we have a laugh and go over the expectations for Social Studies class using memes they will recognize.
Since students will each have an iPad, there is no reason for each assignment to look the same. I created a Menu for Creating with choices. Last year I gave them one or two choices, but throughout the year I realized I cared less about the final product and more about what they could demonstrate they learned. At the end of this year, student feedback was that they wished we had done more projects. I can’t change the past, but moving forward I will give students more creative ways to show what they learned.
For the menu options, on the class website I provided example apps to use to accomplish each style task or how-to videos. The sketchnote option is something I played with this summer. I love adding artistic touches to my notes. It is almost doodling with purpose. I created a sketchnote with Adobe Draw to introduce myself to the students. My sketchnote hero is @SylviaDuckworth – she has an amazing and inspiring collection on Flickr. I do not think every student would aspire to this level of detail, but I know some who would.
Something I want to include more of are active breaks in class. Sixth grade is the first year that students do not have recess. They love throwing a foam ball to answer questions, so I will continue to use this easy review strategy. However, I also want to use GoNoodle for a couple active minutes. Student feedback last year was that some activities were really intense, like analysis of multiple maps to answer a single complex question, and they needed a little decompression time before jumping in the next activity.
Professionally, I want to develop my Social Studies PLN. I’m a fan of #sstlap and #worldgeochat on Twitter, but I have just been an occasional attendee. This year I’m also going to seek out more Social Studies specific professional development – literature, webinars, research papers, conferences, etc. I love historical fiction, but I am going to branch out to read a wider geographic and time range of stories. The Covenant by James Michener was a college textbook for my South African history class; I felt like I effortlessly learned about South Africa, so I want to read his other books. I am looking into possibly attending the Pennsylvania Council of Social Studies fall conference. I am also going to keep my eyes open for other professional development opportunities from the Newseum or National Archives. Both have online series, and I was on vacation during one that looked great from the Newseum. I not only want to learn from a Social Studies PLN, but I want to do a better job curating and sharing my ideas and digital resources. The Outliners feature on Diigo will also be an easy way to share ideas with my PLC.
Now that I rambled, felt inspired, and worked through some anticipated challenges, I feel prepared for another great school year. Happy new beginnings everyone!