A Summer to Remember
Have you ever wanted to scream and shout and say, “I can take it anymore?” As I glance back to reflect and think of my experience as an MSUrbanSTEM fellow I wonder about my audacity. How dare I have the audacity to think I would be able to participate in this endeavor and come out knowledgeable and unscathed.
This summer I felt bruised and battered and war weary. How dramatic is that? Dramatic, yes but there is a thread of truth running about how I felt during my first few days as a student in this program. So many new things being presented, at the same time, which made me overwhelmed and I wanted to quit and I am not a quitter! I normally don’t stop because something gets difficult or hard to grasp. I felt like a character in a movie where the marine trainees are in boot camp and the weakest link was being encouraged by the stronger trainees to continue. The only reason I did not give up is because I am very selective about any educational activities or professional developments I attend. I read, research, and completely investigate an opportunity to see if it is worth my time before I sign on. It is horrible going through an hour and not learning anything or having anything to take back to the classroom that will help me, help my students. Feeling the way I did, I cannot tell you how many times after the first few days that I wanted to quit. I am so glad that I did not give up. This experience over the summer has been wonderful. I learned things about myself as a learner and a teacher that made me a better educator. The MSUrban STEM instructional team is phenomenal. I have never seen a group of such hard working dedicated people. In summary this was an excellent learning experience and a summer to remember.
I learned so many new and exciting things. To name a few, I learned how to post something on Facebook, send out a tweet, design a video, make a Meme, collaborate on a ‘stop motion’ video, develop a digital portfolio by creating a website, and established a digital personality. I read several articles that provided background and clarity to me of the topics discussed during class. I discovered so many new and exciting technology tips and interesting tidbits that my classmates wondered about. This new found knowledge is important because it completely changed my way of thinking and made me adjust the way I teach. As a result, it has made my craft richer. I have avoided social media and have been missing out on so many opportunities. I see the value of social media that I did not see before. I had to totally readjust my thinking. All of this is the results of being in this program and having the professional business information regarding the use of social media being presented to me. I still struggle with maintaining time to keep my digital presence current. However, I am glad that I am now part of a community of people all focused on being the best at what they do. That’s wonderful. My family is rejoicing because I'm on Facebook. The difference in what they do and what I do is that I'm finding great ways to teach my students and become a better teacher.
It is apparent to me that this summer has opened my eyes to the many changes in education. It is critical, as an educator, that I stay on top of new and innovative ways to teach. As the student population changes educators need to change to meet the demands of the student in front of them. As I compared my teaching now and how my teaching will be in the future, I can see it will be vastly different. I have used and probably will continue to use some aspects of SMART goals to design my lessons. The Power of SMART Goals: Using Goals to Improve Student Learning by Jan O’Neill and Anne Conzemiu prescribe that teachers should strive to create lessons that are strategic and specific, measurable, attainable, result-based, and time-bound. As a teacher I have always been goal-oriented in my design to build capacity with my students. This is an admirable effort however, I now understand that I need to refocus the way I analyze learning outcomes. Some of the required readings over the summer highlighted to me the importance of measuring students’ understanding and not task completion. I never looked at student mastery in this way. In the article, Performances of Understanding by Tina Blythe and Associates, it demonstrated to me how to look for deep understanding. Not goal attainment or achievement. I am slowing but gradually learning how to design activities that allow the students to show what they actually learned. Furthermore, if understanding was completely solidified, I should be able to create a similar learning activity in another subject or situation and the results should validate understanding. That to me is very powerful. This is what should happen to develop sustained learning for my kids.
What is on the horizon for me? That’s what is exciting about this wild ride I am on an MSUrban STEM fellow. I do know that I have left this summer with actual strategies I can use immediately in the classroom. For example, another article that left a lasting impression on me is, What is Learning and What Does it Look like When it Doesn’t go Well? by Lee S. Shulman. The idea of identifying students as amnesia, fantasia, and inertia really opened my eyes to a new way to approach possible gaps in learning. I am going to share this article with my students because I think it will help them identify their short coming and possibly help me help them. This will lead to a more open dialogue. The objective is to help them be the best they can be. Specific next steps for my students are: 1.) Create a Bio Prezi – A short Prezi presentation of your life and the use of symbols of how you learn best (metacognition awareness), 2.) Create a short video brainstorming your Science Fair project and how you developed your final topic using WeVideo, 3.) As a team, role-play the IB Learner Profile traits in action, 4.) Quick fire – Find symbols of letters to spell IB Key Concepts in Science (Relationships, Change, or Systems) and 5.) Incorporate science concepts with some of these strategies to gauge understanding (formative or summative assessment) using the article, Disciplining the Mind by Veronica Mansilla and Howard Gardner.
I plan to continue to learn new things and complete the following: 1.) Create a PowToon as a welcome to a new school year, 2.) Create my own Bio Prezi as an example for students – will be use to explain how to use Prezi, 3.) Share some of the short videos that I have created with students to help them brainstorm and to show them how to create a WeVideo and 4.) Share the concepts of Deep Play, Quick fire and WOW with my students.