Tuesday, May 31, 2016

An End of Year Reflection: Where did the last 3 months go?

Wow. It's been a whirlwind of a year. Today is (somewhat incredibly) the last teacher day and it's been 3 months since this blog was updated. 

Let's do a quick recap: 

If you haven't heard about BreakoutEDU, it's time to jump on the bandwagon. This community is on fire! BreakoutEDU is an Escape Room for the classroom.

(Check out this clip from the Big Bang Theory as Leonard, Raj, Amy, and Emily solve the clues with little trouble) 

The East Noble tech team had the opportunity to participate in a BreakoutEDU at the MACUL conference in March. Very soon thereafter, we ordered 14 kits for our district. The teachers at North Side Elementary were first introduced to BreakoutEDU at a professional development day. They loved it! I had teachers ask if they could do a game with their students the very next day. 

Over the last month and a half, I've helped teachers run numerous games and have created a few games from scratch. The feedback has been unanimously positive from teachers and students alike. 

Not only are these games set up to provide students an opportunity to review classroom standards, but also gives students a unique way to collaborate and learn to work as a team. For many groups, the biggest challenge was learning how to communicate and to listen to all group members.  

Google Cardboard

A few weeks ago, the Technology Director gave each of the Technology Integration Specialists a Google Cardboard Viewmaster and told us to test them out and get a feel for how we'd like to use them in the classroom. 

Since then, my students and I have traveled to Athens, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Santa Monica Pier, Eiffel Tower, Bahamas, St. Louis Arch, the Arctic, and more. We've rode a roller coaster, traveled in space, and went on safaris with elephants, lions, and giraffes. 

I'll just leave you with a couple of quotes from the kids: 

You can visit ANYWHERE! 
You can't experience the full wonder of a place without actually going there!  
 And the quote that we heard from almost every student:

How much is this?? Where can I buy one?? 

MakerDay 2016 

East Noble School Corporation started an #ENMakerRevolution with our first annual (hopefully!) MakerDay. District-wide, K-12 students were given a problem to solve, materials, and a set amount of time to plan, design, test, and re-design their prototypes. 

I have to say, these kids have been exceeding my expectations all year long. I don't know why they keep surprising me, but they do. The students were able to test their prototype, observer the shortcomings, and go back and revise it to create a more efficient design. But to watch their thought-process and see their designs develop was amazing. The hardest part, as a teacher, was taking a step back and allowing students to work though a design that I knew was not likely to be successful, but then learning from that failure to create an even better model. 

When we started planning for this day and coming up with the questions to present to students, we thought about the likely possible solutions. What they students ended up producing was nothing like I imagined; but it was much more creativity and complex that I had ever dreamed up. 

Senior Walk 

In a few days, the Class of 2016 will walk across the stage as receive their diplomas for 13 years of dedication and hard work. But 2 weeks ago they made an equally important walk. Seniors returned to their respective elementary buildings to look back at how far they've come and to show our youngest students what they are working towards. It's the start to an incredible annual tradition. 

Final Thoughts 

This has been my first year as a Technology Integration Specialist. Throughout this year, I've felt like a first-year teacher in many ways. The toughest challenges were different than the ones I had anticipated at the beginning of the year. And the rewards came in the most surprising ways. 

The year is done. And I'm anxiously looking forward to growing professionally this summer with a few conferences planned (or, maybe more than a few... including my first trip to ISTE!), some books to read, certifications to earn, and, hopefully, more blog posts! 

#SummerofLearning2016 #62DaystoGrow 

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