“Reflection” is one of those educational buzzwords that can be both overused in conversation but underused in terms of practice. As I come into my tenth year of teaching, I find myself not only reflecting more and more but taking a look at how I fit into those parts of the puzzle. My early years of “reflection” were about using my education jargon and looking good on paper – never admitting that I could possibly be any part of the negative equation. Now, I’m focusing an honest eye on my teaching and how I am the main factor in what works and what fails. Below are my teacher goals for the 2016-2017 school year and how my past reflections have played a roll.
- Grade Book Makeover: After reading this article from Caitlyn Tucker (FOLLOW this blog!), I realized that I had been using my grade book for the most basic of reasons – recording grades. I wasn’t actually using my grades to see HOW and WHERE my students could improve, have improved, or needed direct assistance. Tucker’s article walks you through how to set-up your grade book using specific goals and categories with particular focus on literacy measurements and skills. For example, I would have just had a singular column listed under “Projects” for a large and detailed argumentative essay that my students would have spent weeks working on researching and writing. Instead, I’m going to look at the specific goals of the ENTIRE project and break those down into subcategories like “Claim”, “Counterclaim Reasons”, and “References”. Each of these will be assigned a specific literacy goal and will be based on the already designed rubric. This will also apply for any short answer piece that my students complete. Instead of listing it as a 10 point assignment called “—Paragraph”, it will be assigned an argumentative, informational, or narrative tag and be given a very specific goal and description. Does this seem like a ton of work? Yes, but the nice part about my grade book is that I can easily maneuver and copy from year to year, semester to semester.
- Genius Hour/Passion Projects: I’m going to be honest and say that this is the most worrisome of my teacher goals for this year. I want my students to take more initiative and personally driven approaches to their learning but need to feel that it has structure. I have an entire Pinterest board devoted to this topic and have turned to a few resources for a blueprint including this article from The Primary Professor and this post about hacking student learning. I plan to use these two articles as a “blueprint” and want to include teacher-student conferences and student created rubrics.
- Interactive Sketch Notebooks: Interactive notebooks have taken off as one of the best ways to engage students but personally, I feel like they can be a bit elementary school-esque. One of my goals is to combine a skill that I already teach my students (sketchnoting) with an interactive notebook feel. I need my students to see the structure of a notebook but want them to feel engaged through sketchnoting and interactive portions. If you are looking for more information on sketchnotes or doodling, check out this article from Cool Cat Teacher.
- Museum Days: As a history geek/teacher, I am always looking for artifacts to show my students. Because I have a textbook free classroom, my students are taught early on about primary and secondary source analysis – this has naturally led to the creation of “Museum Day”. This will be a day once a unit that allows students to work collaboratively to examine artifacts and catalog them as an archivist. So far this year, I have found an authentic World War II medical kit and a 1950s home science kit. My students will have the chance to rotate through stations and work with these artifacts as well as letters, interviews, and other primary documents.
- Digital Move: This goal is somewhat contingent on my technology situation. Despite this being a tech driven environment, there are many students who lack internet access at home, a cell phone, or a computer. I’ve applied for a new cart of 30 student devices and hope *fingers crossed* to have an answer soon about my application. This past year, I shared a laptop cart of 30 with two other teachers – this wasn’t ideal in any way as we all taught the same subject and needed the computers for similar units. Many of my materials have been online for years but I would like to truly go digital with my content and student products. This past year was the first time that I required all written products to be submitted electronically and I graded those electronically (blog post soon on this process). Throughout this summer, I’ve been moving my content to Schoology and love the interactive feel of the site!
Do you have any teacher goals for this year? Let me know in the comment section below! And don’t forget to check out my sneak-peak classroom reveal!