The school year ended, for me, two days ago. As most of us do, I reflected upon the year: What went well, what fails did I have, how will I change things for next year?
There were many good things that occurred this year.
- Google Maps – This was a big one for me. I slowly began to integrate Custom Maps into my curriculum. The result? A fun interactive way to do State Reports.
- Splitting the 5th Grade Curriculum with my Partner Teacher – Amber Pursley. She taught ELA and Science; while I taught Math and Social Studies. Together we planned for Writing and ELD. This arrangement allowed for each of us to be creative and push ourselves and the students.
- Teaching more digital citizenship to my students and staff.
- Having students enter films in the California Student Media Festival. They didn’t win, but we got our feet wet!
- Getting a 3D printer via Donors Choose & Chevron.
- Having a student do research on the 3D printer on her own. She knew more than any of us – and it was one of my shyest girls.
- Having an AWESOMESAUCE class! They were kind, respectful, worked well together.
These were more like ‘FAILs’ (First Attempt In Learning), so I can change it up for the future. Maybe it should be called ‘What I learned’.
- That really great, “It’s only going to last a month” Road to the Revolution lesson. Yeah, that thing lasted like 3 months! My bad. I had it set up that students would be self guided with questions and tasks. Brilliant idea, right? Not so much. The students were answering the questions, but not retaining the information. So in the middle of the lesson I took out the questions and only had them focus on the tasks. The tasks covered the Stamp Act, Famous People, the Boston Tea Party, and the Battles at Lexington and Concord. Changes will include: Deadlines for each task, better oversight on my part (making sure they are using the resources that I provided for them, and NOT gamifying it. I’m sure there will be more, as each group of students has different needs.
- Depression sucks! Started the year in a major funk. Fortunately, things got better!
- Silent Sustained Reading (SSR). This one wasn’t so much a fail as it evolved throughout the year. By the end, I liked what I had. It started off as all students reading, or listening and following along, for half an hour. By the end of the year it had evolved into a half an hour of (your choice): Raz-Kids, reading a book, listening and following along, or Duolingo (there were 5 different languages students were learning). Students often switched it up and didn’t do the same thing everyday.
- Coding – I started off strong, then it kind of fizzled. Not sure how to transform this. I do want this in my classroom. Will work on this problem during the summer.
These were things that frustrated the living daylights out of me, and I had zero control. There were a lot this year, so I’ll try to stick to the most frustrating.
- NO YouTube! – Not for teachers or students. At one point there were work arounds that my students found. We used them to enhance our learning, but they eventually got blocked. There were a myriad of reasons given: not enough bandwidth, can’t filter out the bad stuff, TESTING.
- NO online editing software – I started the year off using WeVideo. My students have 1:1 Chromebooks so everything we do is online. We have 3 old iPods we use to videotape. We were in the process of editing our video class rules when ALL editing tools were blocked.
- The ever-changing focus. First it was focusing on opinion writing, then it moved to speaking and listening, then it was ‘You MUST use Engage NY (aka Eureka Math) with fidelity, NO supplements allowed. Okay, full disclosure on this one. I supplemented, then stopped using it. So I guess that wasn’t so frustrating. A teacher’s got to do what he/she feels is best.
All in all, it was a good year. As they say, it’s all in your perspective. I chose to focus on what I could do and change. I tried not to worry about things that were out of my control. So, the ‘Good’ I’ll keep, the ‘Bad’ I learned from, and the ‘Frustrating’ I can only hope it changes for the better next year.