Disclaimer: Taking a post for reflection before finishing the book “The Numbers Behind NUMB3RS”.
It’s May 31. I finished the school year with students last Tuesday. Summer starts!
Yesterday was Memorial Day, which many refer to the weekend being the official start of Summer!
However, June 21 shortly after 12:00 noon (Central Daylight Saving Time) is the Summer Solstice.
So when is the start of Summer?
As I end the Month of May, I’m looking back and forward. I look back at the past school year and how I feel the school year went. It was my first year in a Project Based Learning (PBL) environment. I learned quite a bit. The top 5 achievements that I made? Well. . . .
5) I took an online class this past spring. I found the class thanks to my Personal Learning Network (PLN) Plurk. Someone posted a study that was being done, and by participating I was enrolled into a class for free. The class was Math in Everyday Life for Grades 6-8. It taught me quite a bit about how to set up projects for students to really dig deeper into math. Hands on activities and different ways to help students achieve greatness in math without the dreaded hours of homework. Which we know those hours are just doing the same problem over and over.
4) Going to conferences and presenting. First, I never would go to conferences myself. I’m not sure what it was. I think it was partly due to the fact that I was lost and didn’t know what to look for nor how to sign up. Thanks to the great staff that I worked with at Turning Point Learning Center and my Plurk PLN, I started to find places to go and how to find them. Along with that, I posted recently about how Ginger Lewman wrote a presentation proposal for me. Due to the pushing of this, I was able to make my first presentation that went great. I hope to do more in the future.
3) Building class projects. This past year I was able to start the yearout by soaking my feet in the work of PBL. I slowly dabbled my feet in the water until I felt comfortable to start taking steps. I’m still not 100% into building projects, but having students work out the math they need through hands on investigations was a great way to start. I shared my first experiences in earlier posts. I started out with students looking for news in a newspaper and finished with them scaling up cartoons and pictures to be larger. I hope to be able to continue the progress that I have started in my next position and building projects for students to work through successfully.
2) Growing a Professional Learning Network. Before this year, I knew a little about PLNs, but I never really had one outside of the people I worked with everyday. I have grown my Plurk PLN and now I’m growing my Twitter PLN. Each day I wake to great ideas that are being shared by people around the world. I also have grown in conversations about math and other topics through the power of the world wide web. Due to my PLN, I was able to gather information on a survey. Now that my PLN is larger and from information that I gathered in the survey, I want to do another and dig deeper into the math fears or greatness that people have.
1) The biggest achievement that I had this year. . . . was giving up control in the classroom. If you’ve never been in a PBL classroom, then you don’t understand what I’m saying. Giving up control doesn’t mean that you let students run around the room and be crazy. It lets you give students the choice to do as they need, when they need. Instead of students asking to use the restroom, they just let you know they are going, and they return shortly. When students need a break from sittin in a chair (even if it’s only been 20 minutes) let them have a break. Students learn to take ownership of their learning. Does this mean it works on the first day for every student? NO! Every student is different. It gave me a chance to get to know students more based on how they learn. Giving up control for the benefit of student achievement can be scary, but so rewarding.
I feel that every teacher should step back and look at the past school year and look at their achievements. We know that not everything is perfect and we often look at what we did wrong. Take the time to reflect on the greatness of the past year. Share what happened in your classroom and your learning.