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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Education can’t keep up

There are so many thoughts running through my head. 

First, there is the THANKS for the support from my post yesterday.
Second, there is the TEACHER-THAT-NEEDS-TO-SET-HERSELF-FREE thoughts…

I feel like a first year teacher.  I feel like I’ve never been in the classroom before.  Our world is changing so fast and we as educators can’t seem to keep up.

No cell phones in classrooms, but everyone uses cell phones everywhere else.

No cheating on tests but in the workforce we call that maximizing your potential or collaboration.

Students must LEARN all this knowledge … but unless you are a surgeon, when are people EVER on the spot so much that they can’t look something up?

What if? What if? What if?  These are the things that circle my mind today. 

We went back to work yesterday, and I could feel myself getting ENERGIZED to teach.

But how?  Every couple of years, it seems my educational philosophy shifts… just enough to cause … a complete overhaul in my classroom.

I’m doing it all differently.  I’m thrilled.  I’m scared.  I feel like a first year
teacher.  And I love it. (And secretly hate it.)

I’m re-creating the stage for the ultimate Apprentice reality series.  Only – I am in charge – and you have to pass to get “hired!”

I’ve changed the layout of my room. 

Imagine this:
  • Students will now be in 3 man pods.
  • One person will be designated as the leader for the task and they will rotate jobs within their groups.
  • They will grade each other.
  • I will also grade them.
  • They will be given a list of “tasks” – (a video / a PowerPoint / a paper / a portfolio / etc.)  that must be completed by the end of the marking period.
  • They can choose, as a group, which task they would like to complete for each unit of study. 
It will be:teacher_cartoon
Skills Based
Research Oriented
Technology Rich
Student Led

They must collaborate.  They will rotate groups and rotate leaders within their groups.  They must motivate.  The group leader will have extra responsibilities, have a different assessment rubric to rate the performance of the group, and will receive extra “credit” for how the group performs.  Like. In. Real. Life. 

So few of us actually work independently anymore.  And even if you do work alone, you still need to develop good people skills.  Besides that, I have the benefit of access to technology and I believe students need to have the ABILITY to understand a map or political cartoon or information found on the internet. 

So, students come in … collaborate together… pick their “mode” of assessment … and then answer an “over reaching” question using that medium.  All the while, I’m watching and guiding what they are doing – and they are holding each other responsible and accountable for work.  AWESOMENESS.

It is a complete re-vamp of my teaching style.  In one weekend.  Complete with lesson plans.  Ready. Set. Go.

I have to write rubrics, create classroom expectations, create posters, create teacher rubrics, narrow down my thoughts into how questions could possibly be answered in these mediums, design lessons to teach the essential skills needed to use the mediums, and …. look like I’m an old pro at it.  Because one slight pause – and students will sense indecisiveness… In order to make sure high standards are met, I have to make sure the entire package seems professional.  Have I said, “Ready. Set. Go.” yet? 

I’m so excited.  Without crushing my spirit – What do you think? Would you like to come learn in that classroom?  Have I mentioned how excited I am?

Ps. Don't forget - Bloggy friends - Tomorrow I am starting Friday's Confession Booth.  Just so you know - my confession is something funny and small - nothing deep like my past few posts.  It can be anything ... just post and link up! I'll be posting at 7am EST. and the link will be open then! 

pps. I was looking for motivational videos.. and found this. God is Good.. He knew just what we all needed.

ppps. I'm testing the "timed" posting now that I'm back at school... hopefully this works!  
Picture is from HERE

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At August 25, 2011 at 2:09 PM , Blogger Shell said...

Oh wow! This all sounds so exciting!

Good luck!

At August 25, 2011 at 3:52 PM , Blogger justin and marsi said...

that's awesome! it's so nice to hear a teacher fired up about teaching. i know we've all had those teachers stuck in the same teaching rut they've been in for years. Good for you for changing it up and challenging not only your students but yourself!

At August 25, 2011 at 6:29 PM , Anonymous Angela said...

It is so great to read about a teacher who is inspired to teach, and to teach well! I hope my Henry has a teacher like you when his school days come :) Have a great school year!

At August 25, 2011 at 8:45 PM , Blogger championm2000 said...

As a former high school teacher (and now instructional coach), I think this plan sounds awesome! I love that you are changing the way you teach instead of just lamenting that times have changed. Your students will appreciate it--if now, years frm now when they are out in the "real world."

As a parent, I hope my kids are lucky to have a teacher as motivated as you.

At August 25, 2011 at 10:51 PM , Blogger Meredith said...

I am super energized for this coming year too... I keep writing ideas down for the different groups.

My high schoolers will be blogging, and being accountable for practicing.

I put a lot of my room back together -- hauling music stands and posture correct chairs (AKA - HEAVY) across the room to their respective corners. I moved shelves. I got a useless staircase that doesn't go anywhere out of my room, and I finally took off my "i'm going to miss you so much over the summer <3 <3 <3" notes off of my white board.

Music is ordered.

I am so excited!!

And yes... I would want to learn in your class!!
(can I be in the cool group? )

At August 25, 2011 at 11:02 PM , Blogger Non-Stop Mom said...

I want to move back to PA and put all of my kids in your class. Can I?

Not sure if you saw it or not, but I posted a bit of a confession tonight. It's been rough today - really rough.

And now my phone, which is my ONLY connection to the outside world, is acting all wonky and I can't access fb or twitter AT ALL. I'm lost. But I can get to blogger, so I'll see what I can do tomorrow, as long as everything is ok.

That which doesn't kill me, right?


PS - I read your post from yesterday(?) - the one about fear. I just can't even respond right now. There was a horrible, horrible tragedy in Wichita this morning and it's just been eating at me all day. You can probably google it, but I just can't think about it anymore.

At August 25, 2011 at 11:16 PM , Blogger Kristen said...

Meredith - you already are in the cool group - just for commenting! I really really really do love my job. And - I love this "firing" in my brain that happens pretty much non-stop. And I'm thrilled that it is happening about teaching again. I'm still feeling overwhelmed... but it will be ok. Thanks for the positives! I just want to be "GOOD" at making a difference.

At August 26, 2011 at 10:13 PM , Blogger Kisses4Kaylee said...

As a fellow educator, I have to confess that I LOVE this approach. It is very similar to (albeit, a little more organized) some changes I am making in my class this year. You nailed it on the head-- teaching changes so rapidly. I struggle with the "old-school" me who believes that everyone needs to master grammar and read classics to have cultural knowledge and the "new-wave" me who questions why kids today need to read Shakespeare every year of high school when they cannot understand the language and would be so much more engaged in some contemporary literature. Best of luck with the new school year~ let me know how it goes with the projects...we can compare notes (after I return to my students on the 6th, that is):-)

At August 28, 2011 at 6:23 PM , Blogger Heather said...

This sounds amazing! I'm sure your students will benefit both from the new approach and especially from the enthusiasm of their teacher.

At August 28, 2011 at 9:55 PM , Blogger Hilary said...

I LOVE this idea! I want to come visit your room. You are a fabulous teacher! I can't wait to hear how excited the students get. Best of luck!! You rock!


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