School is out for 2011

2011 has been a fabulous year! In true “Kathleen Morris style”, I have taken on a lot and juggled many different pursuits, but it is all worthwhile to reflect on what has been achieved.

Some of my 2011 highlights include:

  • Blogging – it goes without saying that blogging was a big highlight of my year. We published 112 posts and 4660+ comments on our class blog, and received nearly 25,000 visitors. Out of my 22 students in 2KM, nine students earnt their own blog which is quite an achievement for seven and eight year olds. They all say they will continue next year. I hope so!
  • Writing for BayFM – As author, Mem Fox, says, “we’re currently wasting a lot of time by giving unreal writing tasks in our classrooms….You and I don’t engage in meaningless writing exercises in real life—we’re far too busy doing the real thing”. Writing for a real media outlet was an incomparable experience for my grade twos! Read more about it here.
  • Edublog Awards – even though my class received some good results in the 2011 Edublog Awards, this is irrelevant. Seeing the students excited about nominating and reflecting on their choices was fabulous. They felt like they were a real part of the blogging community by participating in these awards. At the award ceremony, class morale was high as we cheered for people we did and didn’t know.  That is what blogging is all about – reflection, collaboration, creating and celebration!
  • Sharing and Encouraging Other Teachers – I have enjoyed presenting at various events this year, both online and face-to-face. It’s terrific to see teachers become excited about new possibilities! Teaching a unit to post-grad education students at Deakin University was also a source of rich professional growth and enlightenment for me.
  • Having a wonderful PLN – my professional learning network is wide and diverse. Each person in my PLN helps me to become a better teacher. Every day I am reflecting, brainstorming, questioning and chatting with a really inspirational bunch of educators via Twitter, email, Skype or blogs. I couldn’t teach without you!

In 2012 I am looking forward to:

  • Teaching Grade Four – I am teaming up with my teaching partner, Kelly Jordan, again and we hope to convert our two classrooms into one. I’m excited by the possibilities of working with older students!
  • ISTE – last week, L.A. teacher, Linda Yollis and I were accepted to present together on how our classes collaborate through blogging. ISTE is being held in San Diego in June. My class has been collaborating with Linda’s class for three years. We have become good friends and we have never met in person!
  • Technify Your Teaching in 2012 PD – I have been writing Tech Tools for Teachers for two years. Each fortnight Simon Collier, Matt Limb and I produce a how-to guide for an online tool. We decided to run a full day of hands-on professional learning to kickstart 2012. The response was overwhelming and we filled up all available spots in less than two weeks. I’m looking forward to the day and hope it will be the first of many Technify Your Teaching PDs.
  • Exploring New Technologies – blogging, global projects, iDevices, Skype and web 2.0 tools will continue to be a big part of my classroom. Next year I’m interested in trying Edmodo and I want to delve more into movie making. I’d love to get my students using Skype in ways other than whole class sessions. I’m always getting new ideas from my PLN and love trying new things!

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What were your highlights of 2011?

What are you looking forward to in 2012?

13 thoughts on “School is out for 2011

  1. Hi Kathleen

    I just wanted to write an congratulate you on such a successful year. You have been a real inspiration to me this year, and I just wanted to take the time to thank you for that.

    I am in my second year of teaching, and would not have been able to start and continue my class’s blog without your website(s). They have provided invaluable information for me in this process. Thank you for your support on Twitter, which has provided a rich PLN for me. Thank you for mentioning me on your blog. Both of these actions have enabled me to connect and learn from more and more people, and I am very grateful for this!

    I am so thrilled that you are receiving recognition from the nominations that you have received from the Edublog awards (among others) and hope that this continues. You are a true leader in your field, and I look forward to following and learning from you in 2012.

    Merry Christmas!

    Juliet
    aka Miss Revell – now sans Rockets 🙁

    • @ Juliet,

      What lovely compliments, thank you so much. I really enjoy seeing others get involved in blogging and global collaboration. I have loved looking at your blog this year and seeing all the wonderful things that you are doing with your young students.

      Happy holidays and look forward to connecting again in 2012!

      Kathleen

  2. Hi Kathleen,

    I love how you’ve summed up the year here with such outstanding highlights! It’s such an inspiration to see this post and to think about all of the fabulous learning your students get because on your willingness to push yourself to try something new. What you look forward to in 2012 is a testimony of this.

    I’m excited that you’ll be going up to grade 4! I remember when I switched from grade 2 to grade 3 and was amazed at the difference. Then going from grade 3 to grade 5 didn’t seem like that big of a difference once I realized they were the same just in bigger bodies.

    I also look forward to hearing how you are trying on Edmodo. I have a few classrooms who tried it and loved it. I, however, have not done much with it because I need to see through the initial steps of establishing a blogging culture in our district. I will continue to focus my energy in blogging because every reason why they would hesitate to start a blog would be the same reasons for hesitating in other online collaborations such as Edmodo. However, I hope to learn with you about Edmodo so I can support the classrooms who are using it or have the readiness to use it.

    The highlight that I am very excited about is your coming to ISTE! I can’t wait to meet you in person!

    Merry Christmas, Kath, and many blessings to you in 2012!

    Kind regards,
    Tracy

    • Hi Tracy,

      Thank you so much for your support! You are such a good friend and member of my PLN. Meeting you will definitely be a highlight of my time at ISTE!

      That’s funny about teaching different grade levels. On one hand I feel like it will be totally different but on the other hand I know they are still kids and not too much will change! I know I’ll be able to do a lot with them.

      There are a few teachers on Twitter who got me interested in looking into Edmodo (@mrpbps, @rakt, @henriettaMi). A friend of mine and grade six teacher at my school, @teachmrlimb, has been trying it this year so I look forward to talking to him about how to implement it. I will see how I go as I don’t want to take away from the blogging culture we have established. Stay tuned!

      Have a lovely Christmas and enjoy your break!

      Kath

  3. Hi Kathleen,

    My highlight was definitely having you as a lecturer/tutor at Deakin. You’ve inspired me to start my own student-teacher blog, which I am to build up during uni and then throughout my teaching career. Thanks for all your awesome ideas, particularly Xtranormal, class blogging and PLNs on twitter. It’s pretty amazing someone as globally connected could teach us.

    If you have time over the holidays, I’d love any feedback you have on my new blog: http://www.kapnoullas.blogspot.com

    Thanks again and hope to cross paths soon,
    Anna

    • @ Anna,

      Wow, thank you so much. I’m glad you enjoyed having me a Deakin. It was an excellent experience for me too. The quality of the teachers who will graduate from that course will be really high. So many of you are really enthusiastic and so dedicated. It’s a joy to work with people like that.

      I am so very impressed that you have started your own blog. Good on you! It is so reflective and interesting to read. You are definitely on the right track so stick with it. The next step is to build up a following/network and my biggest tip for that is to start commenting on other blogs regularly. Twitter is also great for letting people know about your blog posts and finding a PLN.

      I have found it useful to find some people who don’t already have a massive following, that way they will have time to comment on your blog. This is how Linda Yollis and I became friends. Back in 2009, we didn’t have many/any classes to collaborate with through blogging so the timing was right. And the friendship/collaboration grew and grew!

      Here are a couple of ideas of blogs you might want to visit

      Stef Galvin – graduate teacher from Melbourne
      http://sgalvin.global2.vic.edu.au/

      Michael Graffin – graduate/relief teacher from Perth
      http://mgraffin.edublogs.org/

      Stephanie – graduated in 2011, teaching in 2012. From NZ
      http://traintheteacher.wordpress.com/

      Hope that helps,
      Kath

  4. Hi Kathleen,
    Thank you for an excellent summation of a huge year in your classroom and in your own PLN. So true, you have taken on so much but the highlight has been your willingness to share your experiences and thoughts through your blog and twitter, which I follow passionately! You have been an inspiration to me as I have tried to set up my school blog and my own personal blog.
    I can’t thank you enough for your fortnightly posts, your amazing students sharing and collaborating, they show just what exciting learning is!!

    Next year I will be working across two schools but have an extra role of working with staff in one school to help set up class blogs YEAH!! I will be emailing you for help once again. Everyone is just so excited, now that we have the go ahead to ‘unblock’ parts of the internet so we can go full steam ahead to blog & collaborate.
    Million thanks again to you and Kelly, you both are such an inspiration and can’t wait to follow all your adventures with Year 4 in 2012, also hear about your visit to ISTE, that is so exciting!!!

    Have a well deserved break
    Cheers
    Raff 🙂

    • @ Raff,

      Thanks so much for your kind words. That really means a lot 🙂

      It sounds like you have a very exciting role ahead for 2012. It’s great that everyone is excited – I’m sure you’ll be able to do wonderful things.

      Enjoy your break!
      Kath

  5. Season’s greetings Kathy,
    I have just completed one year of blogging. My situation is strange in that I am Head of a small (small school) and whilst having teaching commitments, I have no class which makes commitment and continuity hard. Your comments about your own struggles starting up have been so helpful. I am also hoping to find new ways of Skyping and I am interested in developing some movie making skills. I’d like to have a go at the type of work that The insandouts have been doing in NZ, their ‘streettalk’ work is outstanding http://streettalk.edublogs.org/ . I am excited that we have had 100 different countries visiting our blog!
    There’s a lot to learn and I am beginning to investigate using the blog to support learning for children with special needs at both ends of the spectrum.
    Your enthusiasm and achievements are really motivating.
    I’d like to recommend the work of one colleague to you that is such a good example of small class blogging. Catherine Monaghan http://www.middlehampri2.posterous.com she has achieved a great deal in two terms. I think every aspect of the curriculum has been blogged about and it is just a wonderful set of work to visit. In England blogging is still relatively uncommon in schools. It is therefore great to a school with no specialist and no technical advantages achieving so much.
    I look forward to seeing your work with older children in the new year.

    The thing I like most about blogging is the digital staffroom… do you take sugar in your coffee?

    Best wishes
    Mr E
    Hawes
    England

    • Hi Mr E,

      Great to hear from you!

      You’ve included some great links and I look forward to checking them out more.

      It certainly must be hard not having your ‘own’ students but you are to be commended on the excellent work you have been doing. What a role model 21st century principal you are!

      Your last comment really made me laugh! I love being part of a digital staffroom.

      Happy new year and I look forward to following your work in 2012,

      Kath

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