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?

Looking Back 2004-2011

I finished university at the end of 2003 and started teaching in January 2004.

Like all graduate teachers, the beginning of my teaching career was a steep learning curve. Fortunately, I felt like I had a lot of role models around me on staff. As I embarked on my career, I remember thinking a lot about what makes a good teacher and what sort of teacher I’d like to be.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how much has changed in the past eight years. I know I’ve changed enormously since 2004 but have all teachers? Are those teachers who were role models for me in 2004 still roles models?

Sadly, in the majority of cases, the answer is no. The simple fact is, some teachers are teaching the same as they were in 2004 when the world was a different place.

There is no denying that technology has changed the way we live. So many of the tools I use now in my classroom, professional learning or administration have only come about in the last eight years.

Here are some examples:

  • Interactive whiteboards – I didn’t even see one until about 2007. Now most classrooms in our school are equipped with interactive whiteboards and I use mine for every lesson.
  • iPod Touch – Launched in 2007, I started using iPod Touches in 2008 and they’re regularly integrated into my curriculum.
  • iPad – Launched in 2010, I started using mine in the classroom this year.
  • Edublogs – Launched in 2005, I started blogging in 2008. Edublogs has now reached one million blogs.
  • YouTube – Launched 2005.
  • Twitter – Launched 2006.
  • Flickr – Launched 2004.
  • Facebook – Launched 2004.
  • Diigo – Launched 2006
  • Skype – Launched 2003.

The world had changed so much since I began. Who knows what the next eight years will bring. All I can say is I plan to ride the wave, embrace change, reflect and reinvent!

Image: 'The tube'

Image: 'The tube'

How has your teaching changed since you started in the profession?

Goals for 2011

The school year begins for us in Victoria, Australia in a few weeks time.

2010 was a steep learning curve for me; I started to do a lot of things differently and this has influenced how I plan to approach the 2011 school year.

I am again teaching Grade Two and, like 2010, I will be sharing a large open classroom with Kelly Jordan. We team teach almost every lesson and I find this a very effective and engaging way to teach. We will be greeting our combined 42 students on Friday 4th February and we have a lot planned for them!

2KM 2KJ classroom

In terms of technology integration, these are a few of my goals for 2011:

  • Start blogging on Day One: As I have blogged about numerous times, blogging is a huge part of my classroom and the benefits for my students have been priceless. Before the holidays, I met my new students for an hour and we spent the bulk of the time blogging and skyping our blogging buddy, Mrs Yollis. I sent a letter home to the new families encouraging them to comment on our 2010 class blog over the holidays and many of them have. This year, Kelly and I have decided to have a combined class blog. After all, we do almost everything together and last year we found that we were putting almost identical posts on each of our class blogs!
  • Teach ICT skills incidentally: Last September I blogged about how I try to take every opportunity to teach my students various ICT skills as they arise. I find this a really effective way to truly integrate ICT into the curriculum. With the help of many of my readers, I have compiled a Google Doc that suggests some of the ICT skills that could be taught to students in an incidental manner. Check it out and feel free to add to the list.
  • Increase meaningful global collaboration: Last year, my class was part of some wonderful global connections. The majority of these were informal, however we did set up some more structured projects. We worked on a joint blog with Mrs Yollis’ class called Collaboration Corner where we collaborated on projects about our lunchboxes and schools. The highlight of 2010 was our Ugandan Global Project where we worked with six classes across the world to raise $20,000 for a Ugandan school. My aim for 2011 is to continue with regular informal global collaboration while also structuring some more purposeful formal collaborative projects. Stay tuned!
  • Integrate more inquiry based learning: This method of teaching and learning is something I haven’t had much experience with, however, through learning from my peers such as Edna Sackson, I am gaining an understanding of how valuable an inquiry based approach is. Put simply, I believe students learn best when they make discoveries for themselves and I want to integrate more questioning, exploring, experimenting and problem solving into my classroom. Technology can be a wonderful avenue for this. At my school, our integrated studies units of work have traditionally been heavily fact-based. I hope to change this in my classroom and learn more about inquiry based learning from my PLN in 2011.

Leave a comment.

What are your goals for the new school year?