As soon as we started thinking about what digital tool we wanted to use for our final projects, I had the idea to make a website. What I really wanted to do was to use technology to develop a lesson to flip my classroom, but I felt as if it would be a large undertaking, and I didn’t have all the materials I would want to develop it at the current time. I thought having a website that my students would check regularly would be a great plan, and it would be a place for me to post the videos I hope to create to flip my classroom this year. I also thought it would be a great plan because I post agendas with assignments and homework for two weeks in my classroom, and my website would be another good alternative. I had some other fun ideas for it also, like posting my Mathematician of the Month on my website in addition to in my classroom, and having a number of online resources for my students to reference. I thought this would be a good way for parents to stay informed as well seeing sometimes handouts don’t always make it home!
I think using the website I created is a small but important shift for my classroom. I think it will help students feel connected outside of school, being able to check their assignments or use resources to help them complete their work. In the past year I also tried to incorporate more online lessons into my math class in order to better prepare my students for PARCC. Having a website for the students to reference to find directions and links makes much more technological sense than handing out a piece of paper with that information. I think this will also help my relationship with parents. Many parents feel “out of the loop” at this stage because students in middle school aren’t talking to them as openly. I think having this website with resources and assignments will help parents keep tabs on their students and receive information they might be missing.
I think passing out a piece of paper with instructions and URLs to an online assignment was demonstration of me being a digital immigrant, and this website is a small shift in my status. I also hope some of the projects I have planned for the upcoming year to work in conjunction with my website help students become producers of knowledge rather than consumers. Some of my favorite lessons while learning and teaching were through discovery, and it makes me sad the curriculum in my district has moved away from some of that. I hope to help students connect math to their lives and see its importance, as well as integrate more critical thinking and higher level questioning. With so much strict and scheduled content to cover during the year, I felt as if I was not able to do this as much as I wanted to last year.
As I also mentioned briefly in my presentation, advisory over the last year was tough. We had 25 students per advisory for 35 minutes per day. This year we are moving advisory to only one day per week, and hopefully we will have slightly smaller, more personal class sizes. I’m hoping to get to investigate some of the other tools with my advisory class during the course of the year, and even work on some projects to have them creating. Adding some of the tools to my website if I can, such as my own StoryMap, would engage my students and help inspire them to make their own.
This course was really one of the best I have ever taken and I feel as if I learned many useful strategies and tools to use in my classroom. For the first time ever I felt as if I wanted to teach social studies because I kept thinking of ways to use these tools with our 6th grade curriculum. I also know I learned a lot about my own beliefs and the way I view the world. It was unlike any other course I have taken, and is the reason why I love teaching in the first place. I really hope to gear my teaching in such a way to use more technology in the classroom, but in a meaningful way. This class has helped me realize that using technology doesn't always enrich a lesson or a student’s experience, and I hope to create more projects over the year that help my students become critical thinkers who are producers of knowledge, now just consumers. Who are digital natives because they can analyze digital texts, not just because they can navigate social media. The world is moving in a direction where it is increasingly important that they have these skills, and I hope to help influence this aspect of their lives in a positive way.