ED676 Course Reflection
Part 1: On the discussion board you will see a link to my PDF that I re imaged for my fourth grade class next fall. I shared my work with my colleagues last week, and the entire team is excited to enhance our Ecosystems Science Unit. The unit plan I submitted shows the current readings, and then shows a typed up version of an idea that I got from an article I read in my STEM class. For those of you who are unfamiliar with STEM, it truly fits Meenoo’s conversations greatly, as it’s very student-centered, and is a playful approach to teaching. Re-imaging a unit plan in my school is something that I am lucky enough to be able to do. As we read about in “Thrive” there are some schools that forbid their teachers to stray from the pre-packed curriculum. My principals, however, are open to our ideas, and my entire district is supportive to STEM methodology. My unit plan starts with the idea of teaching kids about recycling through a more exciting way that the current articles we read in our science books. Students will engage in an activity based off of “Caine’s Arcade.” Caine is a young boy in California who created an entire video game center out of cardboard, and recycled items. My students will do the same, after watching the video. Each group of kids will receive one large cardboard box, filled with recyclable items such as bottle caps, paper towel rolls, egg cartons, jars, etc. The kids will create a functional game out of the material, and will be allowed to use tape. The students will build using the engineering process, of imagining, designing, building, evaluating, and then re-designing if necessary. Once the kids are finished with the building of the games, they will write a set of instructions and we’ll spend the afternoon playing games. Later in the PDF attachment you will see a write up about the cross-curricular opportunities and also ways we can empower our students to reach the community through this unit. Students will have a lot of choice after being given the assignment. I hope that this is something that my colleagues and some of you will read through and consider using in your own classroom!
Part 2: Final Class Reflections
I didn’t know what to expect when I took this class, but as soon as I received my copy of “Thrive,” I propped my feet up and began reading. Often, when I do grad work it’s more of a chore, but this course was so intriguing, as I loved the topics discussed. I loved reading about the “simple” things, and then thinking about them in depth. For example, we’ve all been encouraged to have a mentor. Perhaps we even started off our careers with an assigned mentor. It wasn’t until I read “Alone in the Classroom, Why Teachers are too Isolated,” until I realized how much time teachers really do spend behind their desk, working. The power that comes from networking and collaborating is so strong, and I can speak for myself by saying that this is often something I forget. I’ve come home after long days and realize I’ve gone days without interacting with other adults. This is certainly something I will now be more aware of, after taking this course.
I thought a lot about my student teaching experience as I went through this course. One of the many things that I remember about student teaching is the fact that I reflected so much and how my mentor at the time explained how important that was. She had me make notes each note and journal about the day. It really helped me become a more thoughtful teacher. Although time consuming, it was the best thing she could have done for me.
How many of us actually take the time at the end of each day and reflect on what happened? Did students learn the material? Which students struggled and why? What can I do better next time? All of these questions are vital in order to increase teacher and student productivity and successfulness.
Lana M. Danielson writes, “Because of their ability to reflect, great teachers know not only what to do, but also why.” Great teachers have a purpose when teaching and their activities, procedures, and assignments have a reason. I enjoyed reading “Fostering Reflection,” and especially found the four modes of thinking to be areas that I need to be more aware of. Formulaic thinking, situational, Diliberate and Dialectial thinking are modes that require an increasing degree of analysis and data seeking. I often thought before this course reflection was simply “how did the lesson go?” but there’s certainly more levels to student evaluation and grades. The importance of utilizing colleagues, writing down notes, and listing questions are now things I will consider in my own teaching. I think the “four modes of thinking,” has before always just been lumped into one way of thinking. I am excited that I will start off my new school year with the importance of mentorships and self reflection in mind.
My two mentors have always been great “go to” people in my building, but taking this course encouraged me to step up and become more involved with their teaching in terms of how I can use them to better my own. On my Blog I wrote about Ashley, who is my mentor that has really helped me with tech over the year. She’s given me some great resources to put into my own classroom, and I hope that everyone takes a peek at my Blog post about “Plickers.” I would have never gone out on a limb and searched for this formative assessment resource, but thanks to someone I’ve worked closely with and already trust, I was able to bring new tech resources to my students.
Meenoo, I want to truly thank you for gathering great materials for us to read this year. I also want to thank my classmates for sharing posts, blogs, and creative unit plans. My favorite thing about this course was that although a structure was provided, and guidance was present, Meenoo really gave us each the opportunity to be stylistic in the way we share. Blogging, for me, was something that I would have never imagined doing. Now, I will continue to read educational articles and post on my blogs, for everyone to share! I think it’s such a fantastic way to get lost on the internet- reading one another’s blogs. I want to thank Meenoo for teaching us, but allowing us to leave this course in our own greatness that we’ve each created!
Happy Teaching, fellow classmates, and enjoy a well-deserved summer vacation!