It's been awhile since I have written, partially due to taking on a writing job in July that took WAY more time than I anticipated, and partly because I sometimes don't know if the topic in my head is right for this blog or another forum. Although all of my posts somehow relate to bringing out the potential in kids so that they flourish, some of my writing is more specific to the classroom.
Today I am thinking of ways that I plan to venture out with my students, try new things, and model being a learner. Here are some ways I hope to enliven my new class:
1) Leaving some design decisions to the students: I am a little bit conflicted between allowing students the opportunity to "own their learning space" and my personal desire to have things completely organized and ready to go at the beginning of the school year. This year, I will give students more responsibility and ownership. They will determine the class jobs we need, help with some room layout decisions, and be active decision makers. I am excited to see how this change impacts their enthusiasm for school.
2) Diigo for educators: After going to Vicki Davis' workshop, led by Suzie Nesticos at ISTE11, I decided that I should really work with my students to collaborate better on group research. Diigo for educators allows me to create a class group and is an amazing tool for sharing, and a safe way to allow my students to share highlights of resources, annotations, and suggest and bookmark items of value for the entire class. This could be a bit of a risk, since this tool may be new to parents and even to colleagues. I will let you know how it goes!
3) Kidblogs for individual student blogs: Last year my students blogged on a class blog, but I did not see the enthusiasm and ownership in them that I had hoped to see. I can pinpoint several reasons for this: having to write about events from the class and not items completely of their own choice, students not getting to decide the name and appearance of the blog, blogging was a class job for 3 students per week, and more. I think that having a Kidblogs class account where each student will have his/her own page, opening up my blog to comments from the world using #comments for kids, and allowing students to write about their passions will give them a more engaging blogging experience.
4) Connecting globally via Skype: I do believe that Skyping must have an intentional place and not just be an "add-on" cool thing to do. My first experience last December, Skyping with my friend Greta and her class in Argentina was memorable and one I will never forget. I have some ideas to incorporate Skype into my social studies curriculum as well as my language arts curriculum. I am excited about this project, the Skype mystery state project : http://mysterystate.wikispaces.com/
5) Trusting my own judgement: Last year I was a bit nervous because I was new to both 4th grade and to my school. There were times that students reached out to me on google chat when I was checking email, and I wasn't sure if I should respond. What I know, now, a year later, is that those students who reached out to me still want to say hi and consider me a trusted adult to talk to. Many times, students wanted to ask a quick question about homework or invite me to look at their work on a google doc. Since relationships in teaching are SO important, I will be glad for the chance to connect with students via the web.
I am sure that as soon as I hit "publish post" I will think of many other ways I plan to do things differently this year. What do you plan to do to engage and excite your students for a wonderful school year?