Learning something new everyday!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Embracing the chaos...

The thing about change is that it breeds more change.  We recently began renovating our "new to us" home and what began as a kitchen reno led to moving a wall and rebuilding a staircase and... you know what I mean.

Same thing in the classroom. Having access to some new tools (iPads and SMARTboard) has provided the impetus for a progression of changes in my teaching practice. As has been mentioned several times at my district's Engaging the Digital Learner series by Will Richardson , Suzie Boss and many others,  it is not good enough to do the same things as I have always done with the new tools.  If it looks like a worksheet in the app, or on the screen it likely is and is not making the best use of the tools available.

My classroom has changed much in the last 2 years and I have learned a few things...

  • change is messy
  • change is often chaotic
  • change is not always successful the 1st, 2nd, or even the 3rd time (ie: Fred Banting who discovered insulin as a treatment for diabetes), but is worthwhile
  • change leads to more change
I have become more comfortable with giving up some of my control on the classroom environment and learning to the students, I am adjusting to a noisier, more collaborative environment where students are learning from each other as well as others around the world. I am comfortable with having students making some choices for themselves about where they will work,
what they will work on and when. This means that often throughout the day my students will be working on different projects, in different spaces, at different times.
Yes, there are times when it seems like it is chaos.  Like when I am working with a small group at the writing table on their next goal and the wifi goes haywire for those posting on Kidblog 
and someone else who is testing to see if pumpkins float or sink spills the water. But students are amazing and are learning to help each other (we have 4 students who are our resident iPad experts) , 2 others who know where to find everything and so on. My students now know that if they lose wifi there are several options as we are always working on similar things in different ways. They are learning to solve problems and be persistent and take responsibility for their own learning.

Change is not easy or neat or clear. It is exciting and my students and I are loving learning!


It has been a long time between posts here. I've been struggling lately.   I'm struggling with maintaining balance in my life and with the parts of my life that are the most important. This is difficult because I, like so many others, want to do it all and it is just not possible.

I have my faith that keeps me grounded, my husband that is my voice of reason and my rock, 3 kids that that are my light, and a profession that I love. Beautiful right?  Yes.

My difficulty is coming to terms with the many pulls on my time. I am a wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, believer, teacher and learner.  I love my job and I love learning. So, while I am passionate about sharing my learning on this blog, it does take time and I am working on how to make that time in my schedule. I want the same for my kids and my students alike.  I worry that today's children will have even more demands on their time and choices to make of what things/people get their attention. Therefore I want to provide for them a joy of learning within a balanced program. I want them to think for themselves and understand what is important to them. To be able to make difficult choices thoughtfully and to understand that each one of us has the moral responsibility to do the very best we can not just for ourselves, but for others too.

Children need to learn to make choices by doing! 

They need to choose which books they read.
They need to choose which research project is most important to them.
They need to choose where to play, where to work,  and where to read.
They need to learn to work, play, talk, and learn with others. To disagree, argue and solve the problem.
They need to lean what excites them and what is calming.
They need to identify their passion.

I am learning that they can and will do that given opportunity. Yes, some may need more support than others, but that is my obligation and opportunity as the teacher to scaffold their experience. I need to provide a few choices for some and allow them to make mistakes and then try again. Other students are able to make choices for themselves without me first narrowing the field for them. We learn more from our mistakes than our successes. I know this from personal experience, embracing the opportunities provided by our new digital tools have not come easily, but have been enormously worthwhile!