Friday, December 26, 2014

Mind Stretching

"A mind that is stretched by a 
new experience
can never go back to its
old dimensions."
-Oliver Wendel Holmes, Jr.

Photo Credit: Gewel Maker via Compfight cc

Some of the things that I've learned After Twitter (or during the last 6 months):

TWITTER: I started using Twitter because Edmodo started to have weekly chats. Many of my friends were on Twitter and participating in the chats. I didn't want to miss out.

Learning the language (#, RT, MT, @ etc.) was a little weird at first.  I felt very much out of my comfort zone! I wanted to jump into the chats and did--but I made plenty of mistakes! Since there's no way to edit the tweets, I laughed at myself and went on without worrying. My friends in #edmodochat supported and helped me. It was only when I joined other chats that I really felt like I made a fool of myself. People were kind and helpful. It didn't stop me from feeling dumb though. I joined many other chats and quickly started to connect with great educators. I looked at joining the many chats as opportunities to learn something new.

It didn't take long to learn the basics. I even learned how to moderate a chat.  I have made PLENTY of mistakes though! I'm still learning.

Genius Hour/20% Time/Passion Projects:   

I've loved the whole idea of students having time to research and learn about a topic of their choice- their passion.  I was excited to get my kids started.  They were REALLY EXCITED to have the freedom to learn something of their choosing.  The first time to the media center to check out several books (instead of one) confirmed to me that I was on to something that would really benefit my students.

We started off great! Kids were excited to read, blog, research etc. There were only a few kids that had a difficult time deciding on a topic. But, we went off-track for several weeks. It was hard to get the momentum back.  It was also hard to make time to help the kids prepare presentations because of other deadlines.  We decided to give 3 min. mini-presentations for our first round.  I loved hearing what the kids had learned! But I was also disappointed that some of my boys chose to talk about football which was not their original topic choice.  Their speeches were fine.  I blame myself for not keeping them on-track with a narrower topic.  It was as if one student chose to talk about football and then others abandoned their topic and just "winged it" to fit in and do what others perceived as "cool". 

For their second project, I need to rethink some management strategies.  I also have to think about timing.  We have a science fair coming up and some other school activities that might interfere with class time.


A couple of weeks before the Christmas break was a perfect time to provide time for making.  I was lucky that our Makeymakey kits came. The kids had a blast!  It took a lot of time out of the day to make our electricity projects, but worth it. I'm not even positive if that'd even be considered as a maker space by definition. I found though, that after an extended period of time, that some kids lost motivation for making anything.  I made the time very flexible and actually combined many elements of Genius Hour.  I'm not sure if it was the time of the year, my lack of supplies for other kinds of making, or something else.  I wish that the classroom was bigger.  I felt like the kids would have benefitted from more space to move around and spread out in the room.


In our data-driven world now, assessment is always on my mind.  I'm not in the camp that thinks that assessment is a bad thing.  I just worry that the emphasis on data and assessment has gone overboard.  It's a topic that could take several blog posts to scratch the surface.  I am trying to find other forms of assessment. Fitting that tonight, another great educator shared with me some things that he's trying. I love his ideas! I'm eager to try some of the ideas out on my students. I'm also trying to give kids more ownership in their learning and progress.  I think that through reflection that my students are really growing.  I need to take the time to have them do even more reflection on their learning.


I have learned an enormous amount about leadership by participating in the various chats.  More importantly, I learned about leadership by reading the blogs and tweets of leaders who I've really come to admire.  Although I've connected and chatted with many principals, superintendents, and other leaders, there are a few people who I consider as real mentors.  I'm excited to draw from their rich experiences as I work my way through the administrative certification program.  I value their thoughts and am very grateful that I've been able to connect with these great individuals.


I've learned more during the past 6 months as far as Professional Development than I have at any other time in my career.  I felt like being on Edmodo made me a connected educator.  Twitter took my level of connection to another level.  Voxer is making those connections that I've made on Twitter even stronger.  I feel like I've known some people my whole life.  I can't wait to meet them in person!

Overall,  I have changed.  The changes in me have been good changes.  My mind has been stretched and will never go back to the time BT (Before Twitter).

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