Global Collaboration & Community Reflection

As I worked on this unit and met my cohort members, it was a nice reminder of the power of my PLN.  At a time in the year where it's easy to feel worn down and overwhelmed by the demands of teaching, returning to these friends (some new, some old) was refreshing.  I worked on the digital citizenship lesson with two people I had just met.  We did a Google Hangout and then worked collaboratively through exchanged comments and Twitter direct messages to develop our lesson. I can safely say that it is to a level I never would have gotten on my own. 

That sentiment--reaching places I never would have by myself--typifies participation in a PLN for me.  In my own classroom it makes me a better a teacher and opens my students (and colleagues) to ideas and resources we would not find just on our own. We are no longer on teaching islands in our own individual classrooms.  We are connected--working to make teaching and learning better for everyone.  As I move forward, I have a renewed dedication to my participation on Twitter.  I'd like to be more regular in my interactions.  Additionally, I'm working to really get my blog off the ground and running to share some of my thoughts, ideas and resources with my PLN and get their focused feedback and ideas.  Finally, I have decided (with encouragement and help) to get my ideas in order to apply for the next Google Innovator Academy this summer.   I will definitely be bouncing ideas off of and sharing with my PLN to try to make that dream and reality.

None of this would have happened without the support and encouragement of my PLN.  I am so thankful that this program has reinvigorated my participation in and development of my PLN.  I so look forward to this collaboration throughout this summer.

Project Based Learning & Student Agency Reflection

Figuring out what student agency will look like in my classroom is a challenging one since for the first time in my career, I"m moving out of the classroom and into an instructional coaching position.  When it comes to student agency, I hope for 2 things next year: I hope to work with teachers to allow their students more agency and empowerment, and I hope to show the teachers I work with next year that I value them by encouraging them to be autonomous and curious in their teaching and plannning.  In my Moonshot thinking reflection, I stumbled up on a thought for re-working the traditional research project.  And I think that thought could very well influence my coaching and teaching for the next long while.  I'd like to work to develop a What If curriculum.  My moonshot would be to create a curriculum that encourages students to answer a What If question.  I'd like to design a semester long curriculum that could immerse students in Moonshot thinking by giving them ultimate freedom to wonder, create, ideate, try, fail and try again.  I would like teachers to help ALL students be inspired to dream big, not be afraid of failure and accomplish things they didn't think they could.  

I'd like to see this course offered to all graduating seniors. I'd like to see them work to make meaning of the 4 years that are high school. I'd like it to be a new version of a capstone.  I'd like to help them connect the dots between what school has prepared them to do and what they are actually able to do right here and right now.

So, to make a long story short, I suppose, I hope that in the next year, I have this idea off the ground and a little closer to a reality. I hope that I am influencing student agency through my instructional coaching and my new visions for a curriculum.  Until then, more wondering...more dreaming...what if...

Flipped Learning Reflection

While I was putting my 9 month old daughter to bed tonight, we were reading a classic: Pat the Bunny.  I watched my
 daughter light up as we played peek-a-boo with Paul and sniffed the wildflowers with Judy.  And I had to chuckle to myself as I knew that her engagement with this book had a great deal to do with the book's interactive nature.  The same is true for flipped learning.  By providing students with content that invites interaction, we are engaging them in the learning process much more than in other models of teaching.  That engagment is empowering for both students and teachers.

Flipping learning empowers teachers by arming them with knowledge and time.  I mean, what teacher doesn't need more of both of those things on a daily basis?  In the flipped classroom, I like that teachers are asked to think very closely about how time is used in their classroom and how to be most efficient and effective with both their and their students' time.  The tools that are available now for use in the flipped classroom arm teachers with what we have always wished we could know: who gets it, who doesn't, what the class is stumbling on and what the class is knocking out the park.  When teachers have this information at their fingertips, they are able to ask (and try to answer) questions they were never able to before.  
A flipped model makes teaching and learning more effective and more engaging.  Teachers are able to design instruction that best meets the need of all of the learners in the classroom.  This contributes to student engagement.  Teachers are empowered by becoming partners with their students in the learning process, showing them that learning is certainly more about the process than the product.  So, while I know that flipped instruction empowers teachers, what i find most exciting about it, is its ability to help teachers empower students.

Please find below my EdPuzzle Flipped Learning modules.

Embed gadget

Visual Literacy Reflection

Visual literacy seems to be the icing on the cake when it comes to the other units that we have completed so far.  But it's a necessary schmear of icing.  I think that too often good information can be overlooked because it's not aesthetically pleasing. Simultaneously, I think that good visual design can enhance an already good message.  

In the classroom, I think that visual literacy can absolutely enhance learning.  Visual literacy is not always just about things appearing pleasing, but it's also about organization and logic.  Additionally, in our increasingly more digital and visual world, it is important to teach our students how to understand, break down and create images.  If we can teach our students how to do become consumers and creators of visual media, then we are helping them to navigate the world in which they live at a deeper level.

For this project, I really liked the challenge of turning a traditional syllabus into a more visually appealing one.  And while I thought the visual elements would be the most challenging part, I actually found that the eliminating of and highlighting of the language was the toughest part.  Overall, I'm really happy with my final project, and think that it will serve as a much more effective syllabus because of its transformation.

Learning Spaces Reflection

It was clear to me before I started sketching out my dream space that space is the third teacher, but it became even more clear to me after working on my dream space.  As teachers, we can put our objectives on the board as much as we’d like, but the truth

is that a space does communicate (perhaps in a much stronger way) the objectives of the class and what we as teachers value. There are so many facets of space that can help to influence the learning that takes place--from room to move to negative space to sources of lights to flexibility of furniture, each decision about our learning space sends a message to our students about what they are going to be expected to do in that space.  As I move out of the classroom and towards instructional coaching, I think I will work on stressing the importance of space as part of any quality unit plan.  Additionally, I will continue to work to get my idea of a school “NOW” Classroom off the ground.

K. Aquino's Assessments Assignments Matrix

Assessment Reflection

The benefit of using technology as a part of assessment is unquestionable.  The instant information it can provide along with the ease of communication makes it an essential part of the assessment process.  From tools like EdPuzzle, Formative and Actively Learn, I"m able to see, in fairly real time, how my students are interacting with texts and what they need more help with.  I can tweak my lesson plans to meet their needs on a daily basis because I am able to track their progress as they read and write.  Additionally, as a teacher of writing, I'm much more able to be a part of the process rather than just an evaluator at the end.  When documents are written in Google Docs, I can have writing conferences with students in their papers outside of class.  How's that for meeting students where they are?  All in all, though I know I COULD work without technology--and still be a pretty good teacher--there's no way that my instruction could be catered to my individual students in the way that it currently is.  I am a better teacher with this technology; I can't really imagine going back to not having it.  It brings so much information that was once very time consuming and difficult to gather right to our fingertips. With these evolving assessment technologies, as long as their used thoughtfully and intentionally, I think we can't help but be better teachers.