Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Effective Integration of Technology

I try to be a pretty progressive teacher. I would like to think that most days I succeed at the attempt, but one area that I am lacking is in effective use of technology. Now, if you were to ask others, they might say that I'm one of the most tech-geek teachers they know, but I know the truth - that technology for technology's sake is not effective. I use my projector system every day, I can do online research with the best of them, but I want to explore technology that truly gets the job done, not just technology that looks pretty. It reminds me of a passage in Robyn Jackson's "Never Work Harder Than Your Students", which says something to the effect of needing to evaluate every lesson and if it doesn't get the job done, get rid of it - even if it's your favorite lesson, if it doesn't achieve the goal, it's not worth it.

Enter in my good friend @approx_normal - a few weeks ago she sends me a link to this video and it really gets my thought process going...

The basic idea is to flip your classroom - send your "lecture" home as homework (via podcast or CD) and then in class, do more exploration, assignments, activities, and labs. I LOVE the idea!! Ever since that day, I've been trying to figure out how to implement this for next year. How I could use Jing videos, etc to create an online virtual "textbook" for my students to watch and take notes.

Then, fresh on the heels of this video was a twitter discussion with @jasonchri, another AP Stat teacher. He uses technology on a daily basis, and I've been following his tweets with great delight as he is also trying SBG in Stat this year. He has his class set up so that reassessments aren't always formal reassessments, they could be updating the class wiki, working on an applet, etc. He also utilizes Google Docs for quizzes, feedback, data collection, etc. I would LOVE to be a fly on the wall in his classroom for a few days! Browsing around his website got me to thinking further - Could I integrate this idea and the idea from above? If so, what an awesome way to turn the learning over to my students!

I know it's crazy to be thinking about summer projects in the dead of winter - but here's where my PLN comes in... Tell me about technology use in your classroom. What technology tools do you use? How do you use them effectively? How do you decide a tool isn't for you?

Thanks in advance!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Halfway there!

First semester is over :)

It's been a few months since I've blogged, but life has been overwhelming at times! Between new textbooks, new grading system, teaching at both HS and uni, and some personal stuff, I am so grateful for the downtime of winter break. Here's a quick recap of the semester...

If you go back, you will notice that most of my summer posts were about my foray into Standards Based Grading. This has been the biggest change for me professionally and I am very pleased with the results so far. On their semester final, I felt most student scores accurately reflected their progress through the semester, so for that I was pleased. However, I did still have quite a few kids up to the last reassessment day clamoring for the points they needed to get the highest grade they could going into the final. I'm okay with that though because instead of asking for extra credit, etc, the kids really had to show some demonstration of mastery for that grade to raise.

For all of the good that I had with SBG, Technology was the bane of my existence this semester. When I set up my room in August, my projector was not working and it took 15 weeks for them to get it fixed. Now I know there is a lot of red tape, etc, but seriously?!?! I could have gone to Office Depot and PURCHASED a projector and had it installed within days!! This meant that I was 100% crippled in terms of videos, applets, 2.0 tools like Jing, etc. The day the new projector was slated to be installed, we had a 2 hour lock-down that started 5 minutes before school was to be released - UGH!!! Once I did get my projector fixed though, I was like a kid in a candy store - I was giddy with excitement :) On another technology grumble, last year, I had ordered 15 laptops for my department - they have YET to be delivered.. WTH???

The Immediate Future
This next semester is shaping up to be just as busy as the fall. Partner Teacher and I have been asked to present at our staff PD day about SBG, a prospect that both excites me and makes me nervous. I look forward to implementing more technology this semester, with Jing, classroom wiki, etc.

The More Distant Future
While this year has been (mostly) amazing, I am always looking for improvement. Next school year will bring a mix of good and bad and I'm already nervous about it. I will be moving over to a new classroom in a brand new buildling, with the goal of math and science collaboration/integration. Part of me is excited about exploring new methods of reaching my kids and exploring collaborative ventures with the science department, but a huge chunk of me is sad to be leaving the building that has been my home for over a decade, friends that are like family, and current collaborative partnerships. Our close-knit department will be divided and that scares me to no end.

As with all semesters, I leave this one with mixed feelings. I am pleased with the improvements I've made, but I am always looking for ways to make things even better.

For now, though, it's time to work on my Christmas list :) I wish all of you a very happy holiday break!!