This is the final week of CEP810, Teaching for Understanding with Technology. To say I enjoyed this course would be an understatement. I have been teaching for fourteen years and NEVER had an interest in pursuing a Masters. I was frustrated by my credential program, in which I felt I was merely jumping through hoops to earn a piece of paper. I have been incredibly grateful that this class has felt like the exact opposite of jumping through pointless hoops. The assignments have been engaging and have led me to think about my own teaching practices.
CEP 810 asked us to take a look at our Professional Learning Network (PLN). What I saw was a very one-sided network in which I was taking information from others, but not actively participating. I created a Twitter handle and blog specifically for my professional pursuits and my presence on the web is growing! It also inspired me to grown my real world PLN. I am planning to invite others from staff to informal lunch gatherings so that we can share ways we are incorporating technology in the classroom. I am excited to connect with others on my staff who are making do with very limited infrastructure.
The Network Learning Project was a very fun, engaging process. There were two big things I took away from that project. Somewhere in the middle of the process I realized I was spending a whole lot of time and energy building these cat shelves. I can’t remember another educational experience in which I was so engaged and so focused. As I thought about why that was, I realized the power of the lesson came from the fact that I was able to choose what I wanted to learn. As an English teacher there are certain skills I need to work on with my students, but if I can allow them the freedom to choose their topic I think their engagement in the activities will increase! That leads me to the second thing I will take away from this project. I am going to flip this project for my kids. I am going to ask them to CREATE a YouTube video that teaches others how to do something that they are experts at. In this way they will work on key writing, communication and creativity skills, all while realizing they have something positive to offer someone else.
The lessons from the Cooking with TPACK assignment remind me to remain flexible when I create assignments. Just because I envision using a certain tool, a particular way, doesn’t mean that my students won’t come up with other ideas all their own. I want to plan my lessons with that flexibility in mind, because there is just as much learning that happens in deciding HOW to tackle a project as there is in completing the project.
Finally, I have realized the power in creating work for the purpose of sharing. Knowing that each of the assignments I was completing were accessible to my fellow students and others was nerve wracking at first. However, as the assignments went on I began to really enjoy the feedback from the instructor, classmates and others. (I even got some random followers on my blog. That is the power of a cat tag!) Social media, which feeds the desire for feedback from others, is a big part of students’ lives. I would like to tap into that this year. I want to give my students opportunities to present their work to a bigger audience as well. I hope that if they begin to see their work as something bigger than just an assignment for the teacher to grade, then they will put greater pride and effort into the learning experience.
One thing is for sure, this year is going to be a fun adventure in my classroom!