Friday, June 17, 2011

Lifelong Learning

I just spent two days attending the Martin Institute for Excellence in Teaching's Summer Conference in Memphis. The theme was Teaching for Tomorrow. In his opening remarks, Lee Burns, Headmaster of PDS, quoted hockey great, Wayne Gretztky, saying "I don't skate to where the puck is, I skate to where it is going to be." As educators, we must look forward to what education will look like in the 21st century. One of our guiding questions for the conference was, "What does it mean to be well educated in the 21st century?" There were many great thinkers and presenters on subjects ranging from Twitter to Leadership, Differentiated instruction to glogs. My brain is full! This conference renewed my passion for teaching and reminded me why I love my profession. I am still reflecting and absorbing all I heard but here are some of the ideas and strategies I want to improve upon and/or implement this year.

*Giving students a larger audience for their thoughts, ideas and work. This can be done through class blogs, voice threads, wall wisher, wikis, videos (like this one I did with my JK students) and many other Web 2.0 tools. When children (and adults, for that matter) feel they are being heard, it is very empowering for them. I have also found that when students know that their work will be presented to parents, friends, on the web, etc., the quality of their work improves dramatically.

*I want to be more of a contributor and collaborator with my online Professional Learning Network. I have primarily been a "taker" on Twitter and PLN sites. I plan this year to contribute, give help, collaborate and comment more.

*I am so inspired by the leadership at my school, and particularly, our headmaster. He has set in motion a "big picture" model that I hope more private schools will embrace and implement. He says we are a private school with a public purpose. You can read more about it here. So what does that mean for me? I hope to broaden my students' idea of community. Just as we have obligations to our families and friends, I hope they will recognize their need for involvement in and commitment to the Memphis community and beyond.

*I did a presentation on Google Earth, which again reminded me of my need to continue learning, sharing, and collaborating. See previous post for information.

*I am going to explore the following sites and find ways to use them in my classroom and share with others. Search for lesson plans and resources by keyword or State standards make interactive posters improving education strategies and research and Learning management systems

There is so much to learn! How could anyone ever be bored?

PS- great article about the conference

Friday, June 3, 2011

JK boys talk about God

Another school year has come to a close. As I reflect on the year, I am reminded that I am extraordinarily blessed to work in a place like PDS. Although no school is perfect, it is pretty close. I am amazed, challenged and encouraged daily by everyone. I truly believe there is no more talented, loving, smart, creative, supportive group of people anywhere. And the boys.... They are the reason I love to go to work each day. I could (and should) write a book about the cute, funny, insightful things they say every day. One of my favorite end of the year projects is the movie here. I give them a choice of about five different questions. They draw a picture while they think of ways to answer the question. I film each one with a flip camera, drop it into imovie to edit, add some music from itunes and upload it to vimeo for parents and friends.
Happy summer everyone!