Change doesn’t come easily to me.  My desks have been in the same configuration for that last 5 years, and I don’t really feel like changing them any time soon.  If I can’t change my room layout without much tribulation, imagine the difficulty I encountered in changing how I teach.  But like chipping away at a dam, once I started to change, it became easier and easier to continue to change.

The three areas of biggest change for me have come in:

  • Allowing the use of the internet
  • Collaboration
  • Personal Learning Network

          Using the internet

Now to be fair, I have always allowed my students to use online resources, I’m not an idiot, but I always found the sites for them, made sure they we useful, accurate, and free of false information.  I always told myself that I was protecting them from the big bad internet.  This course has shown me that I was actually putting my students at a great disadvantage.  There is almost more value in teaching the students HOW to find the information than there is in teaching them the information itself.  I worked with my schools media specialist on creating a lesson to teach kids how to do quality searches and how to evaluate the sites they find.

 

       Collaboration

While group work wasn’t new to my classroom, thinking about the importance of the collaboration process, as opposed to the final produce, was.  Previously, my focus with group work was to make sure everyone got along so that the project got finished on time.  After coarse one I redesigned a mapping project I use in my class to focus on working well as a group.  The students had the task of assembling a map puzzle and then gave them a short time to view a map on the board to select cities and geographical features to put on their map blank.  They had to come up with a plan for how they were going to quickly and efficiently select things to put on the map.  The pressure of only having a short time to view the map forced the to be efficient and have a good group plan.  Here are two videos of the students working together on the project:

 YouTube Preview Image

YouTube Preview Image

          Personal Learning Network

The education program at my collage was hyper-competitive.  There was a great deal of pressure to be the best and outperform your peers.  In some ways this was good, because it made me self-reliant.  However, it also made me feel like I always had to do it on my own, with no help from others.  Course one opened my eyes to finding ways to connect with other educators to find help and get ideas.  My PLN has started small.  I follow a few blogs, and I have only tweeted for help once, but I am getting better.  I have a colleague who is really good at it, so I use her as a resource as well. 

Here is a link to the blog Teacher Reboot Camp which has some great sources for building a PLN.