It’s that time of year again! The month when teachers have to start retraining our bladders, setting alarms, and (if you’re like me) getting used to skipping an afternoon nap – that’s a tough one! I’ve been so fortunate this summer to attend many great PD sessions that stretched my perspective and challenged me to create an awesome learning environment for my students. Check out a few of my teacher goals for the 2017-2018 school year!
ONE WORD: ENGAGE
After reading Matt Miller’s Ditch That Textbook toward the end of last school year, the idea of using one word as a focus for what I wanted my students to do in my classroom really stuck with me. After thinking about my goal for my students, I came up with ENGAGE. Why engage? I want my students to be constantly engaged and conscious of what’s happening, not only in our classroom but in the world around them. I never want them to become bored or complacent in my classroom or in their lives outside of school. I always want them to be on the edge of their seat, figuratively speaking, both inside and outside of my classroom, ready to make their contributions to the world!
My classroom is a flipped, blended, and gamified learning environment where I hope all of my students can learn and succeed. 2017-2018 will be my fourth school year flipping my American Government classes, and I feel like my version of the “flipped classroom” has been evolving over time. My first year flipping, I created videos that were WAY too long to hold my students’ attention (and be effective videos) and requiring students to view videos at home. Now, my videos are 3-5 minutes long (mostly!) and my students view them as a Bellringer/opening activity in the classroom. I LOVE my in-class flip! As an addition to my in-class flip this year, I’m planning to present my units as HyperDocs. I tried this last year with my Executive Branch unit, and it was very well received by my students. They loved being able to work at their own pace, review information as needed, and view all of their unit assignments at once.
A question that has always plagued me about moving toward this individualized instruction is: what do the students do if they finish before everyone else? I’m planning to offer a Passion Project option to my students, as well as other extension activities, including a “Hashtags through History” bonus activity! More on that later 🙂
Thanks to access to a variety of fantastic technology tools, my students can create projects that classrooms of the past could barely dream about. Why, then, should I limit my students to creating and submitting the exact same project as evidence of their learning? This year, I plan to focus more on offering students choices in how they prove they understand a concept. No more one-size-fits-all assignments where students are required to create a Google Slides presentation. I plan to create a “You Choose” bulletin board that includes a variety of options for projects, including (but not limited to!) Google Slides presentations, screencasts, Adobe Spark or Canva infographics, and MORE! I was totally inspired by the Show What You Know Bingo activity from the HyperDoc Handbook, and created my own!
TRANSPARENCY AND COMMUNICATION
I am NOT great a parent communication. There. I said it. This is definitely an area where I can improve, and I plan to do so by revamping my Google Site. I want my Google Site to be a communication hub where parents can view websites and information that their students will use, classroom expectations – what students and parents can expect from me and what I expect from my students, and a place where I can share the day-to-day happenings from our classroom. I hope my Google Site can serve as a springboard for increased classroom transparency and communication!