Category Archives: Reflections

Lesson Close

I have a hard time blogging during the school year, but I love to spend the summer reflecting on the past school year and thinking about my goals for the coming year. I have been watching #lessonclose and loving all of the ideas. And then I saw this one….

It all came together for me. I love the flow chart, I love the google sheets, I just love! Thank you!

I started using exit tickets more consistently in my seventh grade class this past school year. I saw was able to use the data to form flexible groups based on my plans for the day. I saw a lot of growth and could pinpoint which concepts students were struggling with. I sometimes had days that students weren’t ready for the exit ticket, and I had to quickly change my plans and save it for another time. I want to see some self-reflection about group work and so I created the rubric below.

I also wanted to find a better way to quickly assess different skills and I’ve been using formative.com so I created this…

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I did all this before I read @rawsonmath‘s post. Now, I’m seeing things in a new light. I think I can still use some of the tools I have created, but I’m seeing the organization of everything a little differently.

Thank you!

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The Past Year

This past school year was one of my toughest. There were a lot of reasons for this, I won’t go into all of them, but one of them was having access to technology. It was a lot to have constant access to technology. I love having iPads in my classroom, but I struggled to use them to transform my teaching without completely changing the way I teach. I need to rethink how my classroom runs and what I do.  Some thoughts….

  1. I quickly realized that I have the ability to run several different activities inside my classroom simultaneously. IPads make running stations or differentiated lessons much easier. I can distribute and collect work in a different way. We can keep unfinished card sorts or puzzles using the camera or explain everything. The paper everywhere problem is significantly streamlined. This class flow is very different.
  2. My students can and will collaborate to complete activities in different ways on the iPad, there is a different dynamic. Students are more willing to share ideas and engage in group work.
  3. Organization! Sixth graders struggle with organization. It just hard and the iPads are a game-changer. Things that used to get lost are easily stored in google drive. The sheet we use for estimation 180 was easily found and started every week, rather than handing out a new one every week. Students were able to see how they became better estimators as the year went on.
  4. Formative assessments! The world of technology has opened up my ability to quickly assess what my students are understanding. Formative and Pear Deck make it quick and easy to assess students without a lot of paper or correcting. I can bring students together and still have everyone participating and asking questions.

Now that I have seen the way the iPads effect my classroom I want to change the way I teach to match the new ways I have to reach my students.

My Day at Google

I found myself at Google last Friday. A wonderful organization, Ed Tech Teacher, along with Google organized a Jamboree for about 200 educators. We had the opportunity to heGoogle Manar from Googlers (Google employees) as well as amazing technology educators (including Jenny Mageria…check out her blog!).

The last hour of our day was spent listening to a panel of Googlers answer questions. The questions were mostly about the working culture at Google. While some of my colleagues felt as like they were bragging, I heard some really easy things that make an exciting working and learning environment.

1. Everyone’s ideas are heard.

A young software engineer talked extensively about her early weeks on the job. She initially felt intimidated and learned quickly that this was a place where her questions would be heard.  When she asked a question everyone turned to listen to her. This made her realize her opinions mattered.

After Google’s recent decision about Blogger, Google held town meeting style forums for Googlers to ask questions about the decision. The forums lasted for hours and allowed everyone to feel heard.

This takes no money. This is part of a culture where people want to come to work because they feel like they are part of something larger than themselves.

2. You are asked to step outside your comfort zone on a regular basis. You never feel like you know exactly what you are doing.

Several of the Googler talked about being kept on their toes. They are asked to do things that require them to solve problems. Their job descriptions change occasionally and they are constantly learning and growing. In a company setting where you are trying to get the most from your employees it is clear you will get more if they are kept on the verge of comfort. At first this sounds like an awful situation, but after teaching sixth grade math for so many years it is easy to see how this would be a positive. Many teachers teach the same topic and grade level for year after year. There is always a greater learning curve when something is new. The same is true with our students. If we can keep them challenged then we will see more from them.

3. The best way to deal with change is cause it.

The world of technology changes so fast and all the Googlers must keep up with it. They have found that the best way to deal with it is to be on the leading edge. What would this look like outside the walls of a company? It would be children doing great things like this. How do we inspire our students to create and make something better for themselves? How do we get students to stand on our shoulders, use what we know as their teachers, and put it together into something great?

Overall, I had a great day at Google. There are many other takeaways that could be applicable to a education setting. The culture we create in our schools is the culture our students emulate. If we have a culture of collaboration and creation our students begin to mimic it.