I would like to improve teaching and learning in my classroom by finding ways for my students to direct their own learning with technology. I have a SMARTBoard and I know that I can design lessons to teach using it, but I find that it is very time consuming because I am SMARTBoard proficient, but not savvy. My biggest concerns are that I am underestimating what my students can do with technology or that I will ask too much of them. I would like to move away from just having them work on cookie cutter learning sights and instead have them collaborate, design and create something lasting and meaningful to them.
Collaborating with others helps me come up with new and fun ideas for my class. Next week, I am having our building technology teacher come into my classroom and teach my students and me about Puppet Pals, which might be the program I will use to have my students write their books this spring. I am very excited to learn about the program. I have a mentor through the statewide mentor program. She also taught technology before retiring and has been very supportive of me. This course has been immensely helpful to me, as well. I have already made new friends and I feel very supported in my ideas. I appreciate the input that I am getting from others and it was through our discussions that I picked my research topic. I am one of five kindergarten teachers in my elementary school. My principal allowed me to use professional development days to observe a couple of the other kindergarten teachers, which was very helpful. I read an article on Edutopia that stated that new teachers should “observe as many teachers as possible, and seek out the ones that I would like to emulate, regardless of the academic discipline in which they teach” (Johnson 2011). I am very fortunate that each teacher has shared their ideas and materials with me. They are very encouraging and I know that if I need a sounding board, I can talk to any of them and get assistance.
Johnson, B. (2011, November 30). Making the Most Out of Teacher Collaboration. Retrieved January 22, 2015, from Edutopia: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teacher-collaboration-strategies-ben-johnson
McCarthy, M. M. (1977). The How and Why of Learning Centers. The Elementary School Journal , 292-299. Retreived from Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1001090.
This article was written in the late 1970s, but still seems relevant to classrooms today. The article explains the purpose of centers and states, “the learning center tries to deal with the reality that pupils learn at different rates, have different interests and needs, and are motivated when they are permitted to make choices based on these unique needs and interests” (pg. 293). The article seems to be written for teachers who are either unfamiliar with learning centers or are struggling with implementing them successfully and gives ideas and guidelines for learning center activities.
Bittel, N. (1978). The Learning Center as a Tool in Individualized Instruction. Improving College and University Teaching, 67-68, 70. Retrieved from Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27565182
This article was written in the late 1978 and discusses the importance of allowing teachers to observe successful learning centers in action before implementing learning centers of their own. The article focuses on how centers can be used to individualize instruction for all students, objectives for students and teachers, and the goal of learning centers. The author states, “The new goal in teaching is not so much to disclose facts to students as to develop in them skills which enable them to discover for themselves as individuals. And students learn best through their own experiences, including their involvement with a variety of instructional materials” (pg. 68). The article is old, but applicable to classrooms today.
Christensen , A., & Kelly, K. (2003). No Time for Play: Throwing the Baby out with the Bath Water. The Reading Teacher , 528-530. Retreived from Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20205238.
This article discusses the importance of retaining play in kindergarten classrooms instead of giving in to pressure to increase student literacy performance through other instructional methods. The article urges teachers to implement high-level play and states, “high-level play in the classroom occurs in two major arenas, manipulative materials play and dramatic play” (pg. 529). The authors suggest that teachers incorporate manipulatives in dramatic play and allow students to act out their favorite stories to assist students in extending their literacy learning and understanding. They also discuss the importance of monitoring and adjusting dramatic play to maintain high-level play. Overall, this article is a good resource to read before beginning a dramatic play learning center.