Beginnings and Endings

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Typewriter

Typewriter (Photo credit: toastytreat87)

Well, it has been a very busy week at school – the summative week with my beloved 1st semester classes.  I truly mean it – I have adored my classes this semester.  So this week has been both stressful and emotional.  Oftentimes, what I love about teaching is the “etch-a-sketch” mentality of being able to shake my head after a semester and start a-fresh.  Sometimes, I (secretly) cheer about the freedom from “that” group that is impending.  This time, I cry.  Each class has embedded its quirks and quarks into my heart and I adore these kids!   So, saying good-bye today was bitter, not sweet.  How is it that our experience was so transformational?  Well, I truly believe that part of the power of our family (x3) was our class blogging ( http://hunniblog20.edublogs.org/ and http://hunniblog10.edublogs.org/).  These blog sites (via edublogs.org) hosts the formative writing of my students.  Moreover, the comments the students make to each other truly demonstrates the great quality of character these kids can have towards each other when opportunity and expectation are married.  Essentially, my classroom walls have disappeared and our learning has become visible and interactive.  Yet, as I mourn the loss of my kids – I celebrate the opportunity to clean the slate and see if I can improve instruction and engagement even further next semester – mindfully and innovatively.

To meet these Professional and Personal Growth Plans (PGP), with hopes for the future, I’ve signed up for this wonderful free online course: etmooc – Educational Technology and Media Open Online Course.  It is a place where I hope to get professional support, guidance, and inspiration for integrating more opportunities to transform the learning forum of my class.

At the NCTE (National Council Teachers of English) conference in Vegas this year I was inspired by the 21st Century Learning and Creative Learning musings and philosophies of the ingenious Sir Ken Robinson who many of you probably know from this transformational RSA Animate:

Changing Paradigms: RSA Animate

This animate just makes sense.  Sir Ken Robinson just makes sense!  When I viewed this two years ago, I knew I had to work towards a paradigm shift too, if I wanted to be relevant as a teacher to my students, in their world.  Hence, I began the journey into blogging as a stage for my students’ writing.  My other identity is that of a theatre major and a drama teacher, so the concept of “page to stage” has always been in the forefront of my teaching in drama.  Blogging now gives me a stage in the ELA classroom – and the kids have been hooked.  Suddenly, audience and purpose are highly engaging lessons – as are grammar  lessons (the GUMPS – grammar, usage, mechanics, punctuation, and spelling)!  Suddenly, a grammar lesson is equivalent to a makeover session!

So in my quixotic quest for paradigm shifts, and in the course of this crazy, busy, emotional week – I signed up for etmooc (http://etmooc.org/).  I haven’t been able to hear any Webinar yet since they are at 5pm here in Calgary, and I’m still in traffic, then on the repeat session – I’m teaching.  But it is okay because of the concept where “cMOOCs are not proscriptive, and participants set their own learning goals and type of engagement.” So, I catch what I can via the twitter (new to me), google + (new to me), blogs, one taped webinar (new to me) and the main site.

Already, I read about some wonderful educators and some cool techie-apps and widgity-thing-a-lings such as “RSS”, “Evernote”, “Mural.ly”, and “Haiku Deck”.  All things that I hope to play with over the next two weeks of exams as I set to re-organize my classroom, my courses, my life, my family, my home, my health, and my virtual work with etmooc “Each Time More Online Organized Chaos”!

1 ETMOOC Orientation wk 1

1 ETMOOC Orientation wk 1 (Photo credit: dennisar)

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3 responses »

  1. Hi, Pamela –
    I enjoyed reading your blog post! There are always SO MANY new tools to use in the classroom; I think the trick is to consider your priorities, needs, and approach to instruction and then try to find one or two possible tools for implementation. Are you looking to reconfigure the way you and your students organize, catalog, and tag their work? Then Evernote or Google Drive are good options. Are you looking for a few web-based programs to enhance a student project or presentation? Then Prezi or Mozilla Popcorn Maker are good ones to explore. In other words, I find it helpful to narrow my focus to one objective and move from there – otherwise, I find myself drowning in a sea of incredible new tools that I don’t have time to learn enough to use well in the classroom.
    Good luck with your journey!

    • Ah cheers – thanks so much David! You advice is definitely valuable as the etmooc course puts me into overdrive trying to keep up. I’m really hoping this Evernote might be something I’ve been really looking for. Prezi is already a popular source with my students and I finally learned it this semester. But it is true, it all takes time and drowning is a possibility.
      I need to take this exam break to also really sit and play with the Smartboard as that is such an important tool in my classroom and my fluency on it is weak – often leaving me using it only as a projector. Cheers David!

  2. Pingback: This Week in Ontario Edublogs « doug – off the record

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