Teaching Reflection

Teaching Reflection.

The concept of “How” do I …?” is often a discussion for educators and students.  “How do I … ?” fill in the blank … “solve this word problem,” “write this conclusion,” or the thousands of examples in which teachers explain, model, and demonstrate for students how to do something.  As we close the school year, perhaps we show students how to “reflect on the year.”  I would agree that the “How?” of learning is possibly one of the most important skills.  Students need to learn how to learn and develop metacognition.  With our help, they can develop perseverance, develop grit, and work through the struggles and failures of learning.  However, I believe we must start with “Why?” and finish with reflections about their “Why?” This is probably the most important aspect to model and discuss with students.  This year, we were proud to see our students in all of our schools set and work towards personal goals.  The teachers and students are certainly reflecting on those goals as we approach the end of our school year (and some are possibly setting new ones for the summer and for next school year).  

Here are some ideas to finish the year strong:

  • Lead reflective discussions (perhaps use Pear Deck since teachers control whether responses are displayed for the class, plus they’re displayed anonymously)
  • Share your own personal life lessons on setting, achieving and/or not reaching goals
  • Discuss favorite or memorable lessons and ask students to explain why they were so memorable (this will help show that you are reflecting as a teacher on how you can make lessons better for students)
  • Have students create bulletin board or whiteboard wall art that explains, “Tips for “incoming” students.”
  • Consider tracking goals using Sheets and Docs – perhaps students can track some type of personal progress over the summer
  • Watch and discuss Angela Duckworth’s TED Talk – “Grit: The power of passion and perseverance”
  • Have individual student-led conferences to help students finish strong
  • Create a “Pride Wall” for goal achievements where students can share their accomplishments

 

In the end, start with “Why,” and continue to come back to that throughout the year.  

Plan – Do – Check – Act – it’s all a process, especially for learning.

What Do You Do With An Idea?

What Do You Do With An Idea?

 

My two-year-old son recently received the book, What Do You Do With An IDEA?  He loves the illustrations and how the story changes from black and white to color.  I love the message that this book delivers.  When my children are ready, I’ll definitely spend time discussing it’s theme.

I also found that this story struck a chord with me, both personally and professionally.  I often have a lot of ideas myself.  For those that know me, you might say I’m sometimes a “flight of ideas.”  In fact, just this weekend my closest friends outside of education teased me about this.  However, this website and blog started with an idea and although sometimes the first step in any journey is the hardest – we just have to start.

This also speaks to the message of the book – sometimes people will think you are silly, foolish, too ambitious, or even crazy – and you need to be resilient, thick-skinned, determined, and not easily discouraged.  I would also add that we need to teach children to be open to constructive criticism, different perspectives, new ideas, reflection, and the capability of iteration.  Of course, rejection doesn’t feel good, but rejection can lead to the next iteration – an improvement, a redesign, a different perspective.  Like in the book, our ideas need attention and love – whether that be research, redesign, time – until our idea is ready to be released.

This process is different for all people and creatives.  As Malcom Gladwell recently examined in his Revisionist History Podcast, some ideas are “perfect” on the first few iterations, while others, take years upon years of iteration.  As educators, the theme in What Do You Do With An Idea?, also speaks to the design thinking process.

Finally, as educators, it behooves us to inspire curiosity in our students.  This starts with a love for learning, understanding the learning process, and becoming self-directed.  If we do not, their ideas – “crazy” or not – will only remain ideas.

Google Docs & Forms to Differentiate

I recently presented at the EdTechTeam GAFE Summit held in my school district, Marlboro Township Public Schools.

It was a great event! I learned valuable new instructional strategies and ways to use emerging instructional technologies.  As we approach the start of the school year, I’m sharing and have attached my presentation slideshow on differentiating with Google Docs and Google Forms.

It’s a simple concept in that the teacher can share a Google Doc with a student and set him/her off on an individualized project and learning paths or provide specific links to differentiated content or activities.  Additionally, if you’re using adaptive learning programs like Study Island, ST Math, or others, you can link directly to those websites and sign-in pages.

Below is a skills checklist to get yourself started and a link to my slideshow and resources.

  • Understand basics of Google Docs and Forms
  • Understand Sharing Settings of Docs and Forms
  • Can insert hyperlinks into a Google Doc
    • Understand concept of linking Docs to Docs
    • Insert Link Shortcut Keys (Ctrl + K)
  • Can utilize Google Search to find resources, texts, videos, etc. to curate information
  • Can insert YouTube Videos
  • Understand how to add Sections in Google Forms
  • Understand new Forms Quizzes feature

Google Docs & Forms to Differentiate NJ GAFE Summit16 Slideshow