Friday, August 16, 2013

Planning and Getting Ready

   Three days of in-service behind us and the anticipation of a new school year is only building.  Since the end of last school year I have been excited for this year.  I completed my final attempt for initial National Board certification and fingers crossed, I'll get the needed 6 points.  I also was a part of our district's Leadership Academy that was composed of district staff from the central office, support staff, administrators, and teachers.  I really enjoyed the experience and grew as a teacher-leader on my campus.  Having these experiences behind me, I felt I could use the summer to grow my capacity as an educator even further.  

    I had two opportunities to grow and had time to reflect how to implement these ideas this school year.  It started back two days after school ended when I joined my school's implementation team for Common Core.  Moving to these doesn't scare me as I am pleasantly surprised to see that I am using several strategies already.  These include: text complexity, various sources, higher-order thinking question, argument with evidence over persuasion.  Where I see I need to grow is having students have some kind of writing after reading texts.  Any kind of writing from an exit slip to a paper.  I'm glad students can do short and long writing.  I want to make sure my children can read a text, take notes, in order to create an argumentative response.  I do some work with this but not very well with specific texts.  I want them to say "This event's effect on the people came from [specific text sections]" rather than "I think the event was caused by."  The emphasis on this type of writing occurs for me in my class before this year happened when students did their Key Question homework.  Each week students had 4 questions (1 each day from that lesson's focus). They chose which question they wanted to answer and needed to write a minimum paragraph response and support their answer with evidence from our class work or from their own outside research and knowledge.  I want students to take a stance and know with evidence rather than saying "because I think so."  Preparing to use Common Core has helped my planning and I look forward to the new challenge.  
  The other major learning I gained came from my trip to ISTE 2013 San Antonio, TX.  This trip provided new energy for me as I heard about technology and teaching practices I had heard of but didn't have a context.  This conference blew all that away.  I was inspired and stoked for when August would arrive so my students could benefit from these practices.  My media specialist Lorena Swetnam, fellow SS teacher, ITS, and principal learned about strategies that would benefit our school faculty.  The conference is almost overwhelming but by only going to talks and stations my school could use helped me not get lost or overloaded.  It was here that I saw how I could use Twitter to improve my classroom and blogging.  Since then I now have my personal/prof. Twitter: @TylerAbernathy1 and a class Twitter @BMSsocstudies.  I plan to use the class handle to tweet out what we're doing with hashtag #comments4kids and hopefully connect with other classes and experts.  
   The other major learning came in blogging.  Blogging didn't seem like anything I wanted to do but reading others edublogs I realized I could share my experiences and build a larger PLN.  I plan to take blogging into my classroom by having my students blog.  I shared in an earlier post about my presentation to my faculty and I thankfully got positive reviews on the information.  I even got many of them to sign up for Twitter or to be a lurker and use to read edu "#s".  I also have a teacher interested in having her classes and mine blog together so we can enhance engagement and learning.  Perhaps this will then lead to my hope of having classes around the US or world join the conversation with us.  Day 1 is getting closer.  We're going to have a great year.  I hope other educators around the nation are having a terrific start to the new school year.  Always do your best.    

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