Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Einsteins in my classroom

Yesterday I visited OMSI. (Oregon Museum of Science and Industry) The visiting exhibit was all about Albert Einstein. While I'm aware of many of his theories and scientific contribution, I really didn't know anything about his childhood. It amazed me to learn that he was not considered a "good student" in school. He really understood Math and Science (that's not a surprise) and he got good grades, but he had a real behavior problem in class. He was a "dreamer" and didn't participate with the other students, he questioned authority, questioned what he was being taught, and was prone to tantrums in his earlier school years.

That got me thinking. Did his teachers even have a clue as to the contributions that he would bring to the world? More importantly, what of the students in my class? Could one of these children be the next Einstein? Steve Jobs? Bill Gates? The list goes on. What greatness lies in the midst of these children?

I think of my students that are my most "challenging" and am reminded how much we need to inspire, engage and allow students to love the learning process. No one should have to "survive" school. So this year, as we make those preparations to return to the classroom, I am reminding myself of the wide variety of talents, gifts, and personalities in my classroom. Those challenges we face have greatness in them. How can we help students find it, harness it, and see how far it will take them? All without squashing their love of learning due to tight schedules, testing, curriculum mandates, etc.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Podstock 2010

This July, the 16th & 17th, I attended Podstock 2010 in Wichita, Kansas. I went for a couple of reasons. It was at the ITSC Conference in Portland this last February that I met Kevin Honeycutt, After our post-session discussion, he had invited for me to apply to present how I use our clicker system. I gave it some thought and decided to give it a try. I wanted the experience in presenting, to learn more about technology incorporation, and meet some of the people I had been conversing with on Plurk. When Kevin introduced me to Plurk, I was instantly hooked and enjoy the resources, links, ideas & personal things shared.

I have to admit that I was surprised, and ecstatic, in April when my session proposal was approved. Now that it is over, I feel that my session went fairly well. While I only had a few attendees, those that attended seem to find the information I shared useful. I was able to model the system and the ways that I incorporate it into my instruction through interaction with the Active Expressions system. The company representative that was there provided great back up to the questions that I couldn't answer, such as pricing and current promotions. I am glad I had things prepared the way I did. Towards the end of the session the CPS system wouldn't work, which was disappointing and also frustrating. However, I was able to use my back-up plan with the short little videos of my class with the Mind Point Quiz show. I wanted to show how to run an ExamView test on it as well, but I ran out of time and the system wasn't cooperating anyway. Over all, things worked out well in the long run and I enjoyed my first presentation. I can call it a success.

Nothing could have prepared me for the over all experience of Podstock, as it was like no other conference I have attended. I'm not sure if it's the people, the connections many of us have through Plurk, our shared love for education and technology, or maybe even a combination of it all. It felt like an awesome family reunion combined with my Professional Learning Community (PLC). Each session I attended opened my eyes to a new concept, tool to use or consider and helped me see my philosophy even clearer. The connection to the other attendees have been strengthened. Now when someone plurks an idea, resource, or shares some personal information, I have a face, personality & a greater context to the message. I participated in discussions that have me really thinking about what I want for my students, my classroom routines & environment and how I want my students to learn.

The hard part starts now. The ideas in my head are swimming around and I'm finding my ideals are not going to immediately play out for this next school year. I need to find a balance between current state and administrative expectations and what I truly want for my students. I do not teach in a 1:1 school, so I need to find other avenues to bring about the changes I wish to bring to this upcoming year. I want to teach my students how to be resourceful problem solvers and provide them with a myriad of avenues to express themselves and share their learned knowledge. I want them to take pride in their work, enjoy the learning process, and be able to face the world they are preparing for. I now have a greater sense of the tools that I can use and introduce them to, knowing this upcoming year is going to be one of the best one's yet. And better yet, I have the best, supportive group of professionals as resources that you can find!