Looking Ahead

It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted. I’ve been meaning to, but I guess life got in the way.

On Wednesday, I’m heading to FETC. I have been to FETC 4 of 5 times in the past 7 or 8 years. I love this conference; every year I find something new to use in my classroom. Sometimes it’s just a great idea and sometimes it’s something that costs money. I’m lucky that I have an administration who believes in technology and usually these things I find are purchased for me. In the past few years I have received a Mimio for my whiteboard and software to monitor all the computers in my classroom.

For the past few years I have toyed with the idea of being a presenter at FETC, but I never know what to present. It seems that the things that I know how to do are ‘old news’ by the next year. However, looking at this year’s offerings, maybe not. They may be old news to me, but there are so many teachers out there who are just learning about some of things that I have been doing in my classroom for years. One of the things that I like best about FETC is hearing how other teachers use technology, and one of the things that I like about teaching is hearing how other teachers teach the same skills and concepts that I teach. Hearing a new perspective is refreshing and makes my job more interesting.

While in the shower (don’t all great ideas come to us in the shower? 🙂 ) I thought of a way to combine both of those collaborative ideas. At my school we have bi-weekly in house training sessions with the curriculum specialist. We have tried to make these trainings into a best practices sharing activity, with the principal’s blessing, but they are still more teaching than sharing. What I would like to do is to set up a wiki or blog page for teachers to share best practices and possibly infuse some training into the process.

If it was a blog, teachers could post what they did, or are planning to do, in their classroom, and other teachers could post comments on ways they have done that same thing, or give advice on how to improve on the lesson. If someone did a lesson that went really well, they could post that so that other teachers could try it too. I’d also love to see teachers giving advice on how to adapt lessons for other subject areas. Just this weekend I was talking to a math teacher who was saying that the short, full staff training we had last week that used a reading passage wasn’t helpful to her. I pointed out that the training wasn’t about the reading passage, but about the process and then proceeded to tell her that it was a process she used when teaching math (Modeled instruction, guided instruction and independent practice). She totally did not see that until I pointed it out!

If it was a wiki, then teachers could add to the posted lessons, but I’m almost afraid they would change someone’s lesson too much, and we’d lose the process of helping someone, or sharing best practices. If one person liked the original lesson, but then someone else changed it, the original lesson would not be there any more.

I would then like to present the process and outcomes at FETC 2009. I would get teacher responses to the process, either on video, in the form of quotes or even as a panel to present with me.

This is obviously in the very early stages of planning and I have a lot of thinking to do, but I’m kind of excited about it already. I need to think it out more (though posting here helps me do that – and already has [blog vs. wiki]) and present it to my principal. I could pilot it at the end of this year (after state testing) and then continue it at the beginning of next year. Piloting it this year would let me know if it would work and give me data and samples for the FETC proposal which is usually due sometime in July.

If there is anyone out there still reading this blog, I would LOVE to hear ideas and input.