TLC and the beginning of school!
Summer is a strange time warp; there is loads of time, yet not nearly enough time. I especially felt this phenomenon this summer because it is the first summer I have been a mother. Now the only “free” time I have to garden, cook, catch up on organizing photos, prep for the upcoming year, clean or do other chores is when my daughter is napping. And as all parents know, a nap can be very long, or very short depending on anything really- so there is no way of knowing what you can actually get done. Some days it was tempting to try and nap myself, but I think that may have only happened once this summer! So although our opening TLC workshops are only a couple of days away (what??!!), I have been ruminating over the leading questions for much of the summer.
Despite being gone for 4 months this year due to maternity leave, I still had experiences with new technology within the classroom. At times, I felt like an iceberg in the ocean- part of something bigger, but very isolated. I am the only science team member on the committee. This slows progress down, and since I am a very goal oriented and check off the list type of person, I have to take a step back and remember that I am really just trying out new things still. There is no immediate success! And at other times I really felt like I was part of a team, the TLC team. Even though we are from different disciplines there were many ideas and aps that could be used in any subject.
My biggest success this year was the implementation of my websites for my classes. They are simple, but they cut down tremendously on paper usage and the students got used to checking for their homework there. What I enjoyed most about the websites was that it took away the excuse of not writing down the homework, writing it down wrong, leaving something at school etc. It put more responsibility in the student’s hands (although now they don’t HAVE to write down their homework while in class). My 9th grade websites were used all the time. The 7th graders did not use the websites very much. They often admitted that they had not been to it at all. I will try and incorporate more of my material onto their website this year. I also had one great project in 7th grade where I had previewed youtube videos on different types of intertidal organisms and created questions for the students to answer. Each student got an ipad and a set of headphones, listened to the youtube videos and filled out questions on a google form. The only drawback to this was that the students who did not finish could not edit their form (they do not have email) and they had to start over again at home in order to answer all of the questions!
My biggest failure this year was when I used an ap that navigated through the parts of the cell on the ipads with the students and I could not regain control with one of my 9th grade classes. We never used the ipads again in that class. There were too many of them, and they were too immature as a group. The other two 9th grade classes did great.
My experiences this year have helped me to broaden the approaches that I use in teaching. This is an area where I need to continue to expand and develop in order to have a varied and interesting classroom. I still have a long ways to go here, and I am confident that in time I will be able to use more and more tools to keep my teaching practice varied. I currently do a lot of notes, on the whiteboard in 7th grade and with powerpoints in 9th grade. I want to incorporate some more flipped classroom exercises, more use of the ipads, google forms and really use some of the aps that I did not get into last year, such as explain everything.
The largest roadblocks to incorporating more technology into my classroom have been time. Since last year was only my 3rd time teaching 7th and 9th grade sciences I am still also working on curriculum, homework assignments, my classroom policies, classroom management and staying on top of advising! I find that sometimes I have just enough time to get what I need to done, and not much time for additional or “extraneous” endeavors. This brings me to my goals for this year:
1. Continue to use, update, redesign my classroom websites.
2. Incorporate 1 new use of technology per unit in each class. This could be poll anywhere, ipad activity, you tube, flipped classroom, a new ap etc.
3. I would love to touch base with another Biology teacher who has used ipads in their classroom and see what they use and how they use them.
4. I would like to become more adept at using my ipad and even my mac. I feel like I know how to use them, but I want to know all the tricks!
If you are a teacher that has resisted technology in the classroom I would say to you- find someone who loves it and ask them for a couple of ideas and instruction. Then use these ideas until you are very comfortable with them and they go well. Only then try something new again. Start slow!