Everyone is making New Year’s resolutions at this time of year, and I have a few in mind myself. The new year also brings an opportunity to rethink things that are going on in my classroom. There are several things I would like to try in the coming weeks and months. Even though I didn’t do school work over my winter break, I was on Twitter a lot, and I’m always getting new ideas from my Personal Learning Network, so here are a few things I’ve been thinking about.
Connect More With the Kids
This year has been so different from any of the other 24 years that I’ve been teaching. With increasing pressure for students to perform on tests, rigid requirements for how our time is spent, I feel like I am always running at full throttle. I want to do better at taking time to connect with my kids. I want to take more time to listen to what they have to say. I think our blogging helps with this. I think our time on the walking track does too. That is a relaxed time, where we can hang out and chat as we walk. But I need to do better.
Let kids know how special and appreciated they are.
A few weeks ago I was reading a blog post by Larry Ferlazzo. He talked about writing letters to some of those kids that really need to hear some positive reinforcement. You can read more about that on his blog, Larry Ferlazzo’s Websites of the Day. This is an idea that really appealed to me.
I went into my craft room. I have been an avid stamper and scrapbooker in the past, so I have an over abundance of materials available to me. I created a whole set of cards, using stickers, paper, and whatever I found to make cards. Instead of doing my usual perfectionist thing, which generally results in not getting a whole lot done, I just started putting the cards together. I’m going to try to write to two or three students per week, starting with the ones who are the most difficult to connect with, who often are also the students I feel most impatient with. Who knows where this might go? If I can set a better example, maybe they will also learn to be nicer to each other.
Introduce the Class to Edmodo
Last year I used Edmodo.com for one of my reading groups, but his year I have not introduced it to any of the kids. If you’ve never used Edmodo, it is a website that functions much like Facebook. You can use it for discussions, make assignments, include links to resources, lots and lots of possibilities. I have been thinking about using it for some of our American Revolution Core Knowledge unit. I did try it with the iPads today, and it worked, so I think we can have some fun with this and do some great learning.
Try My Hand at Glogster
I have seen lots of cool projects that others have done with Glogs. I want to figure out how it works, and then teach the kids how to use it.
Pay More Attention to this Blog
Last year I did a 365 Photo Project. Every night of the year, I posted my photo of the day and wrote about it. I’m doing the 365 Photo Challenge again this year, but I’m planning to blog less frequently. I’m hoping that will give me more time to devote to this blog and my classroom blog.
Have a Classroom Photo of the Day
I want to share the fun I have had with the Photo of the Day with my kids. I’ve actually been thinking about this for awhile, but I haven’t been sure how to go about it. I also didn’t want to commit to more than I could handle. Mary Kreul (@MaryKK on Twitter) shared a link to her class Posterous and also shared some ideas on how they got started.
My students will post our photos on our class blog. I think this will be a great learning experience for the kids. Today I set up a calendar scheduling the photographer of the day. Students will be responsible for taking a photo that tells something about our school or our day. Then they will write a paragraph or two telling about the photo. Our photographer today took a picture of the lunch chart, and explained how we use it for lunch count and attendance. It is an opportunity for them to learn about photography, improve their writing, learn something more about technology, and share our day with their families. They seemed very excited about it, when I talked about it today.
It’s a new year with new ideas, new activities, and new beginnings. What will the new year bring for you? I’m always looking for new ideas.