New Thoughts for Next Year

The year is coming to a close and we are wrapping up our final projects with the students. Now is the time to reflect and look to a couple ideas we have written down to try out next year.

Have had a successful time with the flipping and video lessons in our classroom. We have made it easier for students to learn and understand through the use of short videos to watch outside school and discussions and activities in school. We will keep working on the flip and how we will work the nightly home learning. The biggest change for us will come as we work on our investigations and activities during the day. It was such a successful change for us, that we had a tough time keeping up with new activities to fill in the time at school. A piece at a time is what kept us on track. W learned quite a lot. The students helped give suggestions and giving us feedback on the home learning videos and class work.

One idea that we have been toying with has been letting the students stand at their desks. We have students that seem to need to stand while they are working and we need to give them a place to stand and work. A couple of years ago we did some research on using exercise balls in the rooms instead of chairs. That has been successful. Most of the students enjoy using the balls as chairs. Some use them during class work, but change to a chair when it comes down to a test. Interesting. Using little things like this have really helped students be able to move a little. We are looking at raising a couple desks in the class about a foot higher. If students need to stand they can take their work to the standing desks and keep working. Giving a few different ads and ways to work will, hopefully, help students focus better.

I have been using a 40" tall table this year to hold my computer and document camera. No drawers and less table top to pile stuff on. I prefer to stand at the desk and not sit. It keeps me up and I move around the room even more than I had before. Getting rid of my desk and gong to a table has forced me to clear items into the correct places quicker and deal with items sooner.

One idea we used this year that was not as successful as we thought it would be was using email to keep in contact with the students. We used the messaging system on our wiki in the past and that was successful. The email was not as easy and successful. The students did not use it as much as we thought they would. We used Google Docs for our writing and that was a great change. The email, not good at all. W I'll head back to the wiki messaging next year. It also kept us from using the wiki like we had in the past. By not visiting our wikis we seemed to lose some of our timing. With the things that work come the things that do not. But we keep on trying.

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Just Step Away

It is the end of the year and there always seems to be more to be done than originally thought. I am not sure how this happens every year, but it does. No amount of planning will ever take care of the craziness of he last few weeks of school.

In this time of panic and need to wrap up assignments, tests, forgotten activities, and missed lessons is the student. They are also having intense feelings of getting things done, school ending, anticipation of summer, and warm weather. This is not always a good mix. Teacher panic and student anticipation of the end. It is time to step back and bring our old friend patience in. I always have to remind myself to take an extra breath with the same questions being asked at the end of the year. Taking an extra second before I ask where their assignment is. Deciding whether the conversation about what they did is worth the time or effort from me or them. Do I give up? No. They still need consistency, but this is the time of year that could be the difference between them hating me for a long time or coming back next year and wishing they were back in elementary school. More kindness and patience and less frustration from either of us.

Taking a step back will help the sanity for all of us in the class and wrap up the year with food memories and not one ugly blow-up. Step back, Glen. Choose your battles even more wisely. You will miss them. Really, you will.
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