Reflections

Well, I’ve been sick this week. I have had to make several day plans and have had a lot of time on my hands. This had led me to two realizations.

The first is that I have successfully integrated my SMARTBoard into my daily lessons so seamlessly that I didn’t even realize how much I use it until I had to plan for a teacher who would not have access to my laptop. I am using it for science and math almost every lesson, plus other lessons here and there, and for other topics that might come up during the day. Our last inservice was about inquiry learning. Although I don’t plan inquiry learning, the SMARTBoard has allowed me to explore my students’ questions as they come up.

The second thing I have discovered is what a world of learning there is available out there! I have had time to explore blogs, Twitter, and other classroom projects that I might not have had time to discover otherwise. I participated in an EdChat with hundreds of other educators about what is essential for our students to learn (besides curricular outcomes) in this day in age. There is an article written about the benefits of Twitter and #EdChat that I came across http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/1105/journal_201002/index.php?startid=17#/16

One of my esteemed colleagues online said “I have learned more in a few short weeks from my Twitter PLN (Professional Learning Network) than in many workshops I have attended. I feel like I am learning every day, and also that I am beginning to be able to contribute to my real-life colleagues in Regina Catholic by passing on links that I have come across to other teachers, and to my online colleagues with my own knowledge.

It is all very exciting. I have talked a little bit to my students about what I have learned. I think that my enthusiasm for learning is apparent and contageous for my students as well. This much was evident when they had their first blogging experience to tell me what they had learned during this science unit. (mmeforrest.edublogs.org)

How exciting!

PD Day

I spent the day with the other SMARTBoard teachers today. This morning we reviewed our goals for the project and were given time to work on responding to blog questions, updating our own blogs, and sharing what we are already doing with others. During the afternoon, we had a presenter speak to Inquiry Based learning. The last hour was dedicated to my own colleagues sharing what they do. This, to me, was the most valuable and inspiring part of the day.

First I learned about SUMO Paint. I was absolutely tickled with the kaleidoscope function! I was like a giggly 8-yr old playing around with it! Not at all sure how I could use it with my students, but it was fun none-the-less.

We then learned about webbly. This teacher had his students become experts on a science topic in their unit, create a website about this information, then created a class webquest to learn the unit. A neat project, but a little beyond my little ones.

We saw how a high school teacher used a wiki to share her lessons with students for absent students or just for review. I have sent up my own wiki to share information with my parents.

My goal coming out of today, aside from the collaboration I spoke of earlier with my colleague, was to get my kids slowly blogging. I created a blog tonight on which I posted a question. I am hoping in the next week to have my students respond to this question by commenting on my blog. It would be ideal to have my students blog once a week about their learning in my classroom. Lofty dreams, but not unreachable! kcassidy (http://classblogmeister.com/blog.php?blogger_id=1337, http://primarypreoccupation.wordpress.com/) can get her grade 1 students blogging, I should be able to get my grade 3s going!

#EdChat on Twitter

So, this Tuesday, I participated in my first #EdChat on Twitter. It was an amazing experience. I was chatting with over 150 teachers from all over the world about the impact of technology on their teaching. These teachers came from many different socio-economic communities (from students who only have access to tech in the classroom to those students who have regular access to technology on their iPhones), different countries with different curriculums, to different levels of comfort with technology on the part of the teacher. This #EdChat focuses on one question per week and happens on Tuesday nights for one hour. I look forward to continuing with this weekly!

A whole world out there…

So, through my adventures on Twitter, I came across a Facebook group called TEACHERS LOVE SMARTBOARDS. I became a fan and was given a free download for a smartboard application called “combination safe”. This is a notebook application that has a combination lock and a math question. You answer the math question using the combination lock. If you get the correct answer, the safe will open! You can set the question and the answer. Fom this page, I was also referred to a podcast called GET SMART WITH SMARTBOARDS. This is a free download from iTunes. So far, there are 8 episodes. I downloaded all 8, but have only listened to the first. It is full of neat information. There is also a website to go with it that has all the links they talk about in the podcast. Also from the Facebook group, I found out about some teacher training online. It has many lessons for use in the classroom as well as accompanying videos to show how to use them!

I am just so grateful that I applied for this program and that I was accepted.

My progress

So, I set up a WikiSpace today for my parents. I have been sending out links that I find to my parents by email, and inevitably they delete the email and then ask for the links again. This goes for some of the assignments. To combat this, I set up this WikiSpace. It was very easy!

It is kind of hard to believe that four months again, I really had no idea how to use a SMARTBoard, no idea what SMARTNotebook was, no idea what a wikispace was and had no idea how blogs worked (although, I did know that they existed!) I have come such a long way! The only reason that I know about these things is because I have the technology at my fingertips now! We always say that our students become more motivated to learn new things when they see where they can apply it. It seems to be the same for teachers. I could have learned all these things before now, but because I have the means to use it on a regular basis, I am more motivated to learn!

This motivation and urge to learn has also spread to my students! Today, one of my students came to me and told me that they had downloaded a 30-day trial of SMARTNotebook so that he could create a presentation for the class! AMAZING!

So, all my board members out there… When you are looking at continued funding for this project, amazing things are happening!

A project goal

So, my kids were invited to our grade 5/6 class to see a few of the Comic Life presentations that they were doing. Their teacher is in the first year group. We have come up with a project that would answer both her goal of mentoring and my goal of learning.

We are going to have our kids create Comic Life projects using pictures of themselves. We don’t have the details all hammered out yet, but I am excited to follow through with this! Yeah!

Feeling success

Well, this week has been super successful with my smartboard lessons. I have taught a few science and ELA lessons and I still can’t get over how successful they were. My students are engaged, learning, participating, and they are able to transfer their knowledge into their work. It is inspiring!

Tomorrow I am having Leanne come to the school to start learning how to create a Centios Question set. Should be good!

Science unit

So, I am teaching a science unit about the properties of matter. We have talked about characteristics of each of the states of matter (solids, liquids and gases). I have taught this unit for many years. Many of my students have always found it quite dry and boring.

This year, since I got my SMARTBoard, this unit has come to life for my students. Even something as simple as providing colour pictures of the examples I use has made this unit exciting. In the past, I had students stick a card into the correct category, today, my students moved pictures of objects into the correct categories. They were answering questions, raising their hands to give answers… They were even disappointed when they couldn’t “prove” that they knew their stuff because I didn’t have enough pictures to move!!! They were explaining their reasoning too! (It is one of the requirements for them coming to the board.)

I created a series of four lessons and reviews to use for this unit. Today was just the first. Hopefully the rest will go as well!