End of the Semester Analysis!!!!!!!!

Wow! It’s the end of the semester!!!! I’m actually really excited, and really tired! I have looked through my tweets and daily creates and blogs, and have figured out how this semester has gone. . . drumroll. . . . It’s gone Okay. I think that my blogs have been average. I think that I got the information across that I wanted to and I did the assignments that I had to do.

I noticed that my blogs have been pretty much on topic. . . “pretty much”. I see that I go off on tangents, especially about my family, which isn’t something that anyone wants to read about! Even though, I fully intend to continue to use this blog as a conduit for writing about my children and their weekly changes, and what is going on in the Dyas household (so if you want to keep reading about my life, feel free to do so, I’ll always listen to your comments). I think that I stuck with the students and their needs, especially how it’s my responsibility to make sure that learning is fun for my students, how I need to change the ideas of my classroom to fit their individual needs because they won’t all learn the same way. I think that my posts have changed a bit over the course of the semester. I came into this thinking that my classroom would be done my way, but as I’ve moved forward, I’ve changed my ideas. I know now, that my ideas, while good in some cases, can’t be the only ideas. I can take the ideas from others and maneuver them to work in my favor.

I have been specifically concerned with bullying. I think that this is the one thing that I’m most afraid of dealing with in my classroom. I refuse to allow bullying of any kind, from teacher or student. I’ve witnessed both, and I know that, no matter who is doing the bullying, it has an impact on the one being bullied, always negative. I hate to think that that kind of thing will happen to students in my class, but it will, and I’ll need to deal with it. I want to try to make my class a no tolerance zone, a safe environment for students to come and be themselves, a place where they can feel safe. I want my classroom to be a place where students don’t have to be afraid to say what they think, to be who they are, to do as they please (within boundaries, of course). I want students to be able to know that when they are in my room, no one will call them names or make them feel as if they are less than what they are.

I think that my literature and grammar comics are great! I think that’s something that I can really use in my classroom as an assessment tool. They’re quick and easy. I can just look at them and know exactly what my students are understanding and what needs work. They’re fun to make, and I think that students will be able to do them and not even know that they’re learning. Here’s one of mine,

Commas save lives. . .
Commas save lives. . .

See? Totally fun!!! I think that this is the sort of thing that I can revisit in my classroom and use for my classroom without any problem. Bitstrips is something that all the students can have access to because it is a Facebook app and can be found on iPad and iPhone, which is something that many students use.

I also think that using social media as an assessment device is a good idea. Twitter has come forth as a quick way to assess student knowledge, as I’ve noticed over this semester. I think that I can use Twitter for comprehension assessment. I would have students tweet during the readings, giving me what sticks with them, showing their understanding of what is happening in the reading.

One of my very first blogs was misunderstood. Several people thought that I was saying that I wanted to get rid of math from the curriculum in schools. This was obviously not true because if that were true, then I would  want to get rid of the entire core of school, which includes my content area. If that were my goal, I’d be pretty dumb because I’d want to get rid of my classes, which would lead to no jobs for me, which would lead to bankruptcy, the poor house, and ultimately begging for quarters outside of the coffee house (an exaggeration I know). But I didn’t mean that we need to get rid of math. I meant that we need to put more creativity into the classroom. Math is something that I don’t enjoy. The only time I ever use math (I mean me, not everyone else as I understand there are countless jobs and careers out there that use math, my husband works in one of these) is when I balance my checkbook. This is something that I had to teach myself, something that would have been nice to learn in math class as it’s actually relevant to everyone’s life (unless someone choses to only use cash which I think is becoming a thing of the past). I know that math is inevitable, and I in no way think we need to get rid of it. I think that we need to stop getting rid of the classes that students want to take, art, music, drama. Things that students like will motivate them to actually want go to school, in my opinion. If all they have to look forward to is math, science, english, and history then they (unless that’s the only thing they’re into) won’t want to go to school because they have nothing fun to do in their curriculum. I just wanted to clear that up, since I seemed to have been unable to get my original point across.

I think that my blog and comments have been a bit pedestrian with a few exceptions which allowed for humor. But My tweets have been pretty insightful. It’s hard to be insightful when you have to limit what you say to one hundred and forty characters, but I think that I achieved it in some cases, not all, but some. I’d never really used twitter before this class (with the exception of one). I literally had seventeen tweets, and one follower before this class! I now have twenty-eight followers (I know that isn’t many compared to most, but it’s good for me because most of those following me are in my personal learning network and I’m getting teaching ideas from them, and sharing some of my own). I was following nine people, which has now gone up to one hundred and twenty-eight, mostly my personal learning network. I had twelve tweets before this semester, now I’m up to one hundred and eighty-eight. I’m seeing the beauty of twitter, and I think it’s a good tool for my PLN and my classroom because I can use hashtags to put things in order.

Finally, I went through my Daily Creates. This was the most fun. I am my own worst critic and I always think that things need to be thrown away if they aren’t perfect. Well, in this case, I had no choice but to use what I wrote, and it seems as if they’ve been enjoyed. I got to show my humor and my “talents” (I use air quotes because I know that much of what I came up with wasn’t terrible, but I can’t see them going anywhere). In many cases, however, I can see a short story or even a novel (not that I would ever move on something like that as I’m not nearly good enough!) But what I did get out of the Daily Creates is that I can move forward in my writing as long as I’m not afraid to share what I write with others (which I am). The first step is what counts.

It’s been an amazing semester, and I’m glad that I got everything done to the best of my ability, however feeble said ability is!


Unlearning and Innovation

Innovation is an obvious word to include in learning. We have to be able to make changes. We need to be open to change. I really like what The Mindset of the Innovator says about the enemy of innovation: “Isolation is the enemy of innovation”. I think that this is true. We need to be able to learn from others, to be open to learn from others. We can’t teach ourselves everything and can’t be expected to teach students if we aren’t open to use others as a sounding board or take advice from those with more experience. That’s why I have a Pinterest board with nothing but ideas for my classroom including writing prompts, graphic organizers, and ways to get students into reading with lesson plans for specific books. I think that we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we just need to make changes and be willing to work with others for those changes.

Unlearning, in my opinion, is harder than innovation. I think we all have an idea of the classroom we want and can’t imagine having to unlearn everything we think that the classroom should be. But, according to The Unlearning Curve, we need to stop thinking of the classroom as a place of stifled learning. We need to think of our classrooms as a place where everyone, including the teacher can learn. I chose a few of the ten things that teachers should unlearn, the ones that I like the most, to discuss. We need to unlearn “the idea that we are the sole content experts in the classroom”. There are hundreds, maybe thousands, of people who know more about my content than I do in the state of Nebraska alone. I need to be willing to connect students with someone more able to answer questions, or be willing to connect with those people myself. The classroom is no place for pride, it is a place where students come to learn. If I can’t answer the question, it’s my job to find the person or people who can. We need to unlearn “the idea that every student needs to learn the same content”. Yes, there is a curriculum that we teach, but at the same time, not all students “get” the same thing from the same reading/assignment. We need to figure out what students are picking up, and figure out how to use that to their and our advantage.