It happens every year. Those summer days dwindle and I find myself quickly approaching a new school year. What will this year be like? What will my students be like? How is this year going to be different than the last?
Like most educators, I never really stopped teaching. I am always reading, researching and pondering. Trying to make my classroom better. I have so many ideas for my class and knowing where to start can be overwhelming. So, I guess one thing I need to do is just write them all down somewhere so I can begin to make sense of it all.
1. Evernote as a paperless classroom tool. Last year, when my school went to Macbook Air laptops, I used Google Drive for virtually all assignments. However, when I was playing with the iPad app (we are switching to iPads this year) I didn’t see a copy option. This is essential to giving to students assignments and making sure they cannot edit the original or end up working in the same document. Perhaps I can get around this with the web browser option or I could have them get the assignment from Edmodo? Still working on this one, but Evernote is definitely a possibility.
2. Blogging. I really want to introduce blogging into my 8th grade U. S. History class. After doing some research for my MAET classes this summer, I am excited about how blogs can allow for deeper thinking and more writing in my classroom. My idea is to keep a running list of things we are learning about during the week and then have students pick one to blog about. I also want to push myself to blog more (I guess this post is a good start).
3. Ditching the textbook. This is probably the thing that has me the most intimidated because it seems to be very time consuming to find internet sources and perhaps get into authoring my own textbook through iBooks Author. However, I really don’t enjoy using a textbook in my history class. It just leaves a bad taste in my mouth and I know my students don’t like using it either. There is so much more information out there on the Internet that we could be reading and using the textbook seems like a cop out. Sorry if this statement offended anyone.
4. Standards-based grading. This one, along with the ditching the textbook idea are really two areas where I could use a partner to work with. I have been toying with the idea of going to an SBG system for a few years, but haven’t been able to figure it out so far. The eighth grade GLCEs may seem “neat” and easy to convert to an SBG system to the naked eye, but they are “messier” than they seem (overlapping concepts, themes, and timeframes). However, I think it would be a much more valuable learning experience for my students if I could shift to this way of grading, rather than assignment grades.
5. Increasing parent communication through technology. I suppose the student blogs would be one way to do this, but I have also thought about doing video updates (having students record our classroom at various times during the week and then post a compilation).
6. Edmodo. I still plan to use this as my main classroom website. It went pretty well last year. The only thing I struggled with was keeping up the grading portion of the Daily Warm-up prompts (quizzes). Perhaps I will tell students that I will only give them an official grade on one per week and they won’t know which one? We always discuss the answer as a class anyway. I also want to get all pre and post tests onto Edmodo as well.
Well, those are my ideas. I know some are “high and lofty” and I know that I will not be able to fully implement all of them in one school year. However, I hope that by writing them down and posting updates, I will take steps toward making them happen.