Blog Archive

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Moving to a Student-centered Classroom

Being that I teach 2nd grade students, passing on the control and transitioning the learning to be more student-centered can be intimidating for the students and for me.  I begin each school year by creating a lot of structure and making sure my students know my expectations very clearly.  In the beginning we do our projects together.  I take it step by step, modeling every little detail.

In my lessons I often say things like, "I don't know the answer to that question but I know how to find it!"  I show them how to Google their questions.  I show them how to look at maps online and YouTube videos. I show my students how I blog to communicate with others.   I try to take every teachable moment possible to demonstrate how to take learning into their own hands.

Once I know that my students are grasping the basics, I give them more freedom.  For example, at the end of this last school year I had my students do a research project.  This was very student-centered and each student worked at their own pace.  They Googled to find information and pictures and created their own slide presentations.  There were some reluctant students whom I had to show more support to but for the most part, the class was very eager to have the independence and make the learning their own.

As far as "teaching students to demonstrate their master/understanding without explicit requirements," I feel like the modeling and setting of the structure in my classroom takes care of that.  When my students know that I have high expectations in all that they do, they will understand what I want to see when they are in control of their own learning experiences.

Digital Distraction

I would say that my way of controlling digital distraction is by authority.  Being that I teach very young children, I feel like I am the one who needs to model and teach how to use the devices in the proper way.  I want my students to get the most educational time from the school day that is possible and we do not waste any time in my class.  It is my hope that the structure I provide in my classroom will continue on with the students as they progress through their years in school.

I do utilize some of the third level, self-control.  Especially when we get to the latter part of the school year I give my students more freedom in choosing their learning activities.  If they have extra time after finishing an assignment I will tell them to choose a learning activity.  They will often ask me if their choice is appropriate, and usually it is.  I also have some choices listed on my blog and on our school website.

I really don't think there are any "resources" that I would need to let my students have complete self-control.  Complete self-control is something that should come with more time and experience.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Top 3 Reasons Teachers Must Integrate Technology

Technology is everywhere you turn.  Our students' lives are immersed in technology.  The following are my top 3 reasons teachers must integrate technology:

1.  Gone are the days (thank goodness) of the teacher standing up at the front of the classroom and talking, talking, talking.  Students need to be engaged in learning activities where they are free to solve problems, collaborate, and think critically.  The role of the teacher is no longer the teller but the motivator and coach of the student, guiding students through meaningful activities.  When students are engaged, they are happy and will love learning and coming to school everyday.  Not only that, but the teacher is too!

2.   With the use of technology, possibilities are endless and are not limited to the pages of a book or the thoughts of a teacher.  It is unbelievable to me that any question I have about something can pretty much be solved just by Googling it.  Each year I think of different projects my students can do because technology is constantly changing and evolving.  Just as an example, check out Skype for Education and you will see that others are out there waiting to collaborate with your class on a project that your students will never forget.

3.  Technology is the future for our students.  In order for students to compete in a global marketplace, they must be tech-savvy.  If children learn tech skills while they are young, it will just be second nature for them when they are in college or out there competing for a job.  

Thinking about integrating technology might seem a little scary or nerve-wracking to some educators but there are very simple steps one can take.  If you are an educator who is timid about integrating technology, just try one thing at a time.  Start small.  Partner up with another educator.  Read educational blogs or look around on Teacher Pay Teachers.  The lesson ideas are out there in masses!  Do it for your students because their futures depend on it.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

21st Century Skills

Well, it is very hard for me to choose only one 21st Century skill as being most important for my students' lives outside the classroom.  I am very much an advocate of teaching 21st Century skills.  If I have to choose one, I would choose communication.  Communication is a skill that is required in pretty much any level of job that you have, along with being needed with one's spouse, children, family members, and friends.  I want my students to know how to use technology as a way to communicate with others.  That is why I do many of the things I do with my students, including blogging, emailing, and other ways of posting information online.  We talk a lot about  how we are sharing our information with a global audience.

I'm not sure what my Technology Infusion Plan will consist of yet but communication is key in any type of project.  I could have my students blog, email, post in padlet, communicate a message through voicethread, blabberize, or voki.  My students could make a Google slide presentation and present to the class.  The way I would assess one of these activities would probably be by using a rubric.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Philosophy of Education

Being a teacher is one of the most important jobs a person could possibly have.  The young children I work with look to me for guidance, love, compassion, and understanding.  They are there for me to influence to become adults with the qualities that I instill in them for the short time that I am a part of their lives.

My students are the center of focus in everything I do in my classroom.  It is important to me to meet the needs of every single one of them.  They all have needs, whether an IEP student, low student, average student, high achiever, or high ability student.  I do whatever I can to differentiate for my students and provide learning opportunities for all ability levels.

Learning must be engaging. If I see that my students are not engaged in a lesson I change what I am doing to make sure that they are being active learners.  Teaching is not about standing up at the front of the class talking all day.  I am not that kind of teacher.  I make sure my students are doing and participating.

As a teacher I remind myself that I am preparing my students for a global workforce.  Integration of technology is a vital part of this.  My students will be expected to use technology to collaborate, communicate, gather information, and more.  Not only does technology integration allow for these skills to be developed in my students, but it also greatly engages my students as I mentioned above.

Teachers, parents, and community members must all work together to better the lives of children.  Like the saying goes, "It takes a village to raise a child."  Now that I am also a parent I understand this even more.
All must work together, communicate, and take an active role in the education of children.

Creating connections with my students is also imperative.  My students should feel comfortable with me and know that they can ask me for help at any time.  It is important to me that my students like seeing me everyday.  One of my favorite things for my students to say to me is that they wish school didn't have to end for the summer.

Probably one of the most essential parts of being an effective teacher is being a dedicated professional.  I take on extra jobs in my school so that I am not just having an effect on my own students, but on the students in the entire school.  Another part of being a dedicated teacher involves constantly learning and changing.  This is highly important to me.  I constantly seek out ways to improve myself so that my students benefit, whether it be attending workshops, reading online, taking classes, collaborating with peers, reflecting on my practices, etc.  

I saw a quote online just the other day that very much sums up the way I feel about teaching.  It says, "I call my students 'my kids' because in our year together they aren't just kids on my class list, they become a part of my heart." Children truly are a joy to work with and I feel blessed to call so many "my kids."