This week I found a couple of interesting tweets that had to do with reflecting after a teaching a lesson, effective ways to have communication with parents, and why technology is important but can’t replace social learning. The first tweet I’ll share my thoughts on is by Steven W. Anderson
In the article linked in this tweet, Chris Webb discusses a couple of amazing ways to keep in touch with your students’ parents. In the past, when I was in grade school, the teacher would rarely talk to the parents, and if they did, it was only about important events. This communication was also through sending something home with the student, through snail-mail, emails, or through phone calls.
Yet new technologies have allowed open communication and the ability to reach someone just about whenever you want. In this article, Webb talks about an online service called “Remind” which is a free service for teachers that allows messages to be sent out to a group of people known as a ‘class’. The teacher can share your class code and parents and/or students subscribe to your class. The messages sent by the teacher to the ‘class’ appear as a text message, app notification (iPhone or Android), or as an email. One tip for this app is to create two ‘classes’ for each group of students, one group for the parents and one group for the students. This way you are able to send messages to just the parents, just the students, or both.
In this second tweet, there is a link to an article titled “Being Digital Isn’t Just About Technology.” In this article by Steven Anderson, a huge advocate for the ways technology can enhance modern education, Anderson points out some of the ways technology could negatively impact education, if teachers don’t understand technology’s limitations. The first item he brings up is that technology should never isolate us. Spending time with others is how we learn. Anderson says he is the “first person to tell you I use social media to make connections and learn with so many different people… but I will also tell you that nothing beats the face-to-face time I get to spend with people at conferences, meetings, or just over coffee.” This means we have to get out from behind the screen often and learn together and from each other. Secondly, Anderson emphasizes the importance of listening more than talking. As the class leader, we have to be willing to listen to ideas, suggestions, and complaints and use them to grow ourselves.
Lastly, Anderson says we have to “care for” our students, and this entails more responsibility than just “caring about” our students. We have to care not about our jobs or what we do. We have to care about who we are doing it for and this is kids. We have to always keep our kids in our best interest, so if it’s easier to do an assignment online, but the students won’t benefit or learn as much, it’s a great teachers initiative to do the extra in-person work to give the greatest learning opportunity to their students.
In this last tweet by Steven Anderson, there is a link to an article titled “Ten Reflective Questions to Ask at the End of Class.” Firstly the article talks about why Reflection in the classroom is important. Reflection makes all if us self-aware. It challenges us to think deeply about how we learn and why we learn. Reflection deepens ownership; it makes things matter more because we become more sensitive to the personal connection that exists between our selves, our learning, and our work. Most importantly, reflection helps us advocate for ourselves and support others. Taking time to reflect enables us to identify what we want, what we need, and what we must do to help ourselves.
In the main part of the article, there are 10 key questions that are raised that should help anyone in any profession reflect. I will list a couple that stood out to me.
- Reflect on your thinking, learning, and work today. What were you most proud of?
- What is frustrating you? How do you plan to deal with that frustration?
- What lessons were learned from failure today?
- What are your next steps? Which of those steps will come easiest? Where will the terrain become rocky? What can you do now to navigate the road ahead with the most success?
I like how these reflection questions focus on the future, but make you realize where you struggled and failed. The people who have failed the most tend to have the most success in the end, and these questions make you face the truth of your teaching head-on. I’ll use these questions as a teacher to be honest with myself about where I succeeded and where I failed in my work with my students.
Response to a Blog Post:
As I looked through the many blog posts I could write about on Feedly, I found an article that stood out to me called “5 Great iPad Apps for Running Surveys and Polls in Class.” Surveys and Polls can serve a wide variety of educational purposes. As the teacher, you can use surveys to initiate quick formative assessments, gather informational feedback on students learning, run mock exams, learn about students interests, the progress of your class as a whole, and practically anything else you could want to know from your students.
In the special ed classrooms I’ve volunteered in I always notice the teacher has 3-5 iPads that students can use to play games to learn, take a break, to calm down, or just have fun. iPads are gaining a lot of attention in special ed classrooms and I think knowing some of these great apps would be really beneficial in my future classroom. The first app mentioned in the article is called AnswerGarden. In this app, the audience participation tool allows you to pose a question or a topic for your crowd to answer or comment on. The unique twist of AnswerGarden is that it cleverly combines the expression of the respondents’ own answers with a Twitter-like confinement of 20 characters and a representation in the form of a word cloud. The end result provides a quick overview of all answers, ranked in popularity, which can then be further analyzed and discussed.
Other survey apps mentioned in the article include “PollDaddy”, a simpler version of most survey apps. It’s generous screen size and easy to use interface make it easy for anyone being surveyed. The app “PollEverywhere” can be used to respond to polls, poll an audience, and as a PowerPoint clicker. The app “Survey Maker” allows you to get feedback in the moment. You can create simple surveys in seconds, collect responses on your iPad/iPhone, or you could poll via email, text, link, Twitter, or Facebook. As a special ed. teaher you could use whichever these apps that would be suit your students and allow them to respond in the way they like. These apps could be extremely useful in any classroom.