Monday, June 28, 2010

Some Year-End Reflections

I am finally beginning to wind down from all the end-of-school-year grading and other chores. What a relief to have some time to regroup! Having summer off is a tremendous blessing I truly appreciate. And, regrouping is a big item on my list for the break. I want to rethink almost everything I did in the classroom this year, from what kind of writing assignments I give, to what we read as a class, to how I handle the students' blogs, to classroom management. To start the process, I just read Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer, and am determined to do all I can to carve out more independent reading time for my students next year. If you haven't read her account of how she successfully challenges her students to read approximately 40 books each year, do add it to your summer reading list for inspiration. She also has a blog I am now following. Her book is just the first in a long list of materials I want to get through and work I need to do to improve my teaching next year. But, rather than share my "to do" list in this posting, in the spirit of Peggy Klaus's Brag!: The Art of Tooting Your Own Horn Without Blowing It, I am going to try first to review some successes I feel proud of accomplishing this year. Here goes:

  • Reading: I felt sad that I didn't succeed in turning every student into a book lover. Still, I am confident that my enthusiasm for reading, book talks, read alouds, and personal suggestions got almost all of them reading more and with more engagement. For next year, I am making it a goal to build even more enthusiasm for reading in my students.
  • Blogging: When my students completed their final blog posting assignment, many of them wrote with great enthusiasm about the blogging experience. Some of them even enjoyed the excitement of having their blogs read and commented on by readers from around the world. I am hoping that a number of them will keep blogging. While I was disappointed by the quality of some of their writing, there are a lot of blogs and postings in which both they and I can take pride. 
  • Technology: My students all became very skilled in using a wide variety of software applications, especially Web 2.0 tools, this year, and I got lots of feedback indicating that they enjoyed that opportunity. The technology engaged them and helped them get more from their assignments.
  • Digital Citizenship: Our emphasis on blogging and communicating in a public environment gave me many opportunities to discuss digital citizenship. The students developed a sound understanding of copyright and how it applies both online and in print and a strong sense of what is and isn't appropriate to share about themselves in public and how to practice good online etiquette.
  • My Own New Knowledge: As for me, I learned a lot about teaching, grading, and classroom management. I also learned new classroom technology skills myself, including how to use responders and interactive whiteboard hardware and software, and how to administer more than 200 student blogs. So, while moving to the classroom was never in my plans, it was a year of great growth for me. 
  • Remaining a Teacher Librarian in the Classroom: And, finally, I think I am most proud that I feel like I never stopped being a teacher librarian to the students in my classes. While I had a lot to learn about classroom teaching, being a teacher librarian also meant that I had something special to offer my students. 

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