Since I am participating in a couple of online community challenges this summer, I thought it would be neat to connect the 2 of them whenever possible. The #Kinderblog13 blogging challenge and the #clmooc on Google+/Twitter/Flickr are both looking for some reflections this week.
As a kindergarten teacher, I am increasingly asked to teach a strong academic program. I confess that I am at odds with this approach. The world of exploration and discovery will always be the place of ideal teaching and learning, at least in my mind and heart.
The movers and shakers who are directing education (CCSS and educator evaluation) are forcing teachers to move away from the more natural learning environments and instead pushing us to create and show very specific results every step of the way.
The focus is on demonstrating student learning through assessments. The more time I spend on assessing, recording, graphing, checking off, reporting student learning, the less time I have for creating more meaningful learning opportunities.
It boils down to time. Time that is in short supply. Time that ends up being taken away from other aspects of my personal and professional life.
Teachers are being drawn to $$ boxed curricula, at least in part, because they need the ready-made assessments to present the teaching and learning and therefore prove their own mastery of curriculum planning and assessment. That also means they teach the $$ boxed program to achieve those learning goals prescribed by the assessments. I am at odds with the strong academics being foisted on early childhood education.
That is my confession. My credo is always going to be challenged by the market-driven $$ powers that be. Let’s see if this year marks a change and I find a healthy balance between my own credo and the needs of the evaluators.
Cycle 3 of the Connected Learning MOOC in Google+ is calling upon participants to create a map and share it with the community. I thought I would try again with Prezi and this time I found success.
After spending hours weeding my flower gardens, I took some pictures and in the air conditioned comfort of my computer room, I created a map of something called a #LearningWalk. It was yet another opportunity for reflection.
I am developing my thinking and creating new products with the #clmooc, Making Learning Connected, based in Google+ and running most of the summer. Since this is only my first real day of summer vacation, I feel I am right where I need to be with this project. I created a few artifacts for Cycle 1 and never made any for Cycle 2, the week of toy hacks
This week in Cycle 3, we are asked to create a map. There’s a part of my head that is always running through ideas for a science based curriculum. It makes sense to tackle the project early so I can bring it where I want it to be by summer’s end. Creating a visual plan or map should serve me well. I am a visual person. (I swear I could learn almost anything from a video.)
I am using Google Docs to create my spreadsheet. That means I need to get refreshed on shortcut keys. While a right-click helps me everywhere else in my world it seems, Google Docs wants you to use their Control-whatever keys for everything. No biggie, but just as I find it odd moving from a Mac to a PC, from MS Office to Open Office or Google Docs, I move on a bit more slowly than I would like. That is the part of projects I like the least.
What do I like best? The part where I go inside my head and shuffle thoughts around. I am an intrapersonal learner, preferring to work alone. So mulling over tools and docs and connections all by myself works well. Of course an overnight reflection can cause me to throw the whole thing out, but I digress, yet again.
And now I have a call to action by #clmooc. This spreadsheet and the LiveBinder that goes with it are works in progress and their development will extend well beyond the start of the next school year. I am always looking for great resources to help bring the learning home to my students so be sure to share some of your own ideas.
It’s never too late to join in the action on Google+ #clmooc. With so much of the summer left to go, you really should check out the fun and interactions with teachers from all over the world!