Pre-Thanksgiving Thoughts for Post-Thanksgiving

Standard

Recently I attended the Midwest Google Summit and was inspired by the energy, creativity, and truly innovative thinking that defined the conference.  Back in the classroom for a week, I am frustrated that I cannot instantly reach the level of so many of those innovators.  Nonetheless, I aspire to use technology to make learning as effective and engaging as possible.  I sit here days before Thanksgiving and I have thoughts jumbled in my head about how I can revamp my teaching upon return.  Here are my thoughts:

Have students reflect on their learning openly and online

Why?
I want students to reflect on their learning as I reflect on my practice.  I want students to understand, like teaching, learning is a continuous process that changes over time.  To steal a quote from the conference “education’s biggest measure of success is change”.  We look for student progress but never ask them to reflect on the process.

How?
I am considering the students begin a blog or a website.  I want students to share their learning openly to a community outside of themselves.  This way students are not only being reflective, but they are able to receive and learn to deal with feedback from others.

Post & Organize Course Material Effectively Online

Why?

I am not the most organized person.  It just happens to be a fact and there are plenty of people that can vouch for that.  If I can find an effective way to manage and post course material for students I believe they will benefit greatly.

How?

 The first change I am making is turning all of my notes into a google presentation.  I previously used Smart Notebook but now realize that without using all of the interactive gadgets it really is not any more special than power point.  The added benefit google presentation offers is the ease in sharing it with students.  No more printing off notes of the lecture.  No more “slow down” or “can you go back?”.  If students are gone… the notes are there!

The second change is that I want to utilize my google site in a more effective way.  I want to make sure that the day’s lesson is clear and obvious for students, and if they need past material it is simple enough to find.  Finding the right pieces to the site is essential moving forward.

Moving forward…

Those are two of the biggies that are on my mind.  Other concepts that I have thought about and need more insight on are:

1. How can I use google forms on a more consistent basis to help our class reach the learning goal?

2. How can I post our class progress that will be beneficial to student learning?

3) How do I create a website that parents feel comfortable using?

4) At what point am I just trying to hard… just shut up and teach math…

Midwest Google Summit 2014 Reflections and New Apps

Standard

Sitting here at 6PM after the first day of the google summit for education my brain is overloaded.  Not the normal exhaustion that a school day brings, but a plethora of ideas and tools that I am excited to learn.  Here I offer a few of my reflections and key take-aways as well as a list of the apps that are either completely new to me or I am excited to explore more.  If you have other thoughts or other useful apps that you know about or learned this week please share them in the comments below.

Start, stop, share.  I love this phrase because it is simple.  For change to happen on a large scale it needs to start small and have a clear direction.  This simple phrase has given me that direction.  It is clear attending this conference that people are excited to start the journey that we all need to take to define 21st century learning.  People are open to sharing ideas and failure is encouraged in every session I attend.  We, like our students, are life long learners and I cannot wait to begin modeling that with my students and encouraging the explore because learning truly is an adventure!

Here are a few key questions and comments that made me deeply think about myself as an educator and is interesting food for thought.

  • What form of literacy will students need in the 21st century?  Is posting/ commenting on facebook/ twitter the new look of civic engagement?
  • communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking => are students doing this EVERY day?
  • there is a massive teacher gap, technology is pushing us to innovate and sometimes fail, but it is an adventure
  • We work in an industry whose greatest measure of success is change
  • before students are asked to present to the whole class, have them present to small groups
  • assessing students on collaboration and other 21st century skills needed => goes on report cards but not transcipts
  • a teacher asked students to find an oceanographer on twitter and ask them to help with a project
  • scheduling times with students to take reasessments on google calendar
  • teachers need to demonstrate what getting frustrated looks like so that students can see the proper way to deal with it
  • “Students should have their own personal (public) twitter.  It will be on their resume some day”
  • “I prefer google community (with reminder texts) because I get a notification on my phone – planners take up too much space”

A list of apps that I learned about today

Apps I LOVE

g(math) – google add-on; I love this because it allows me to write formulas, expressions, and equations into google docs and forms.  Really excited about the graphs that I can make in forms.

Google Calendar  – I already use this, but like the idea of setting appointments with students.  Especially with math reassessments needed to demonstrate proficiency

Google Keep – keep.google.com – A student found this and shared it as away to make awesome checklists.  I haven’t had a chance to explore it, but I remember being very excited about it.

TLDR – cool app; not sure if I’ll use it as a math teacher.  Shortens articles so students can see if an article is right for their paper.  Stands for “too long didn’t read”.

Twitter Bingo – okay, this is more of idea, but I loved it!  Used on a field trip or possibly for opening inservice to make an experience more interactive!

Tweet Deck – check it out if you love twitter.

Screencastify – easy way to record whatever is on the screen

Apps/ Websites I Plan on Exploring More

code.org, madewithcode.org, blackgirlscode.org  – using code to bring equality to classrooms; teaching a 21st century skill to all students

Google Draw – this looks like an awesome way for students to organize ideas; if you have ways you have used it please share!

Move it – chrome extension that gives students a mental break

Skype Qik – I was told it is like snapchat, but can be 42 seconds long..intriguing.  Did you just get the snapchat notification about “snap pay”?  My mind can’t even begin to handle this.

 

Mostly there are tons of things, but I am hungry.  Who is going to party tonight?!  I’m happy to learn of awesome things you have done and share my seemingly small resources compared to the giant known as google.  Please comment.  I’m all about learning more!  @mr_ulrich_uw

*not proofread and I’m a math teacher so get over any grammar/ spelling issues…*

 

Keeping The End In Mind

Standard

Being 24 years old, the world is my oyster.  I could literally do anything with my life.  Where do I go tomorrow, what will I be doing in a year, where will I be when I am 30?  So many paths to choose and I am left paralyzed.  Instead, I try to focus on what I want out of life: to leave my mark on the world and to help people be successful through meaningful relationships.  Even though what I want out of life is still a little fuzzy, focusing on the end calms my nerves and allows me not to worry about how I will get there.

Today I came across a book titled Beginning Javascript (or something like that).  Learning how to code has been on my mind for some time, and my mind instantly thought about the reading required to master the first skill, then the next, then the next.  I turned to my roommate who is good with computers (to say the least) and asked “Where do I even start? What do I need?”  His response was simple.  “What do you want to make?”

This blew my mind.

We take take a similar approach to learning in education, worrying about all of the different ways to teach students and never take the time to ask the question – what do we want our students to be able to make/ create?  We plan the skills we will teach, but not the problems they will help solve.  I think that it is time we stop looking at learning as a set of unconnected and truncated skills and start asking students what they want to create. Our job changes from giving directions to giving support and allows students to figure out what learning means to their lives.

When students look at school through the lens that learning is a list of things teachers ask them to remember they are overloaded and paralyzed at the amount of work that is before them.  They realize only after notes, homework, tests, and papers will they have the opportunity to create and do something meaningful.  If instead we ask them what they want out of life and help them fill in the pieces, I believe we will have motivated students eager to ask for our help.  The importance lies not in how to get there but having the end in mind.  If we want students who think, we have to let them.