Reflections

Reflecting on your teaching and lessons is a powerful, yet simple, act that can improve your practice. We are hitting the mid year mark and I wanted to reflect back on tools, lessons, activities that I have done this year and share some thoughts that may help you as you reflect or plan new units.

1. Innovate like a turtle – Vicki Davis, Cool Cat Teacher

I want to do everything, try everything, teach everything…but I can’t. At Miami Device Vicki Davis shared that she only tries one or two new things each year. That made me stop and think. I want to do so much, but at what cost to me and my students? So I sat on that thought for a bit. And now I admit that if I do all new units, I will not do them all well. Something will fall to the side and not get done and I am not willing to let that happen. My innovations this year are my digital safety unit and maker unit. The rest of the year we will revisit activities from the past- and they will still be new because I haven’t taught them to this particular group of students.

2. Learn from your mistakes

I have always tried to do this with students, but this year it happened during a teaching unit. I realized I tried to do too much and needed to cut out something or never finish. I admitted it, kids said thank you, and we moved on. No big deal! I will go in and edit that unit for future use and make sure next time it is a better fit. I have a bulletin board up now called Fantastic Failures and it features Michael Jordan, Walt Disney, and JK Rowling to name a few celebrities who failed and fought back harder. During the coding unit we are doing now and the maker unit next, I feel it is important kids know that they ARE going to make mistakes and they have to learn from them.

3. Be Connected

I can not express enough how much Twitter has improved my professional practice and my teaching. The resources, connections, and ideas I find there are phenomenal and FREE! I went from a chat lurker to a participant now! I share my ideas and get excellent tips from others. I have made connections with teachers around the globe! I am the only media/technology person in my school. It makes it hard to bounce ideas off of people, but on Twitter there are tons of others like me! Want to know more about Twitter check out the Tweechme App by Susan Bearden.

4. Share! Share! Share!

Share what you are doing with building colleagues and the world! Don’t hide your light! Someone else wants to do what you are doing but may need a push or a jump off and you can provide that. I blog and present and Tweet because I realized that as much as I am getting from others, it is also my responsibility to share back.

5. Take time for yourself

That is the hardest thing for me. I always want to do this or that and help them…but if I do for everyone else and not myself, I will not be able to continue. Give yourself permission to be selfish on occasion. Say that nastiest of words.. NO. someone else will pick up the slack, and if not, maybe it wasn’t that important.

6. Brand yourself

I have been adding my name to the world! www.nancypenchev.com, www.nancypenchev.edublogs.org, nancypenchev@gmail.com, #mrspmedia Put yourself into the world as a business…because you are one!

7. Be happy

Don’t let others steal your joy! There are people who do not want you to get ahead, to flourish, to be joyful…don’t let them do it! Smile, nod, bless their hearts and move on!

 

As your reflect on the year so far, what have you learned? What will your resolution for the rest of the school year be? Feel free to share in the comments!

 

In January I will be presenting at FETC about blogging, Girls Building STEAM, and Helping Teachers with Technology. I will post my presentations and what I learn!

Maker Challenges

In January my 3-5th grade will begin Maker Challenges during Media for 6 weeks. Because my kids often need directions to start, rather than dream it up on their own, I have created a few challenges to pick from as well as open challenges for them to create something on their own.  For each challenge I created, I found a youtube video showing examples and sometimes how it can be made. Here is the Resources page.

 

Here is the directions form from my Problem Solving Unit Google site.

Maker Challenge

Directions

 

  1. Select your group of 2-3 people. You may work alone if you feel it is needed.

  1. Select a team name. Come up with norms for how your team will work.

Norms are how you will work, how you will make decisions, how you will speak to each other.

  1. Decide on specialties

  • photographer: takes pictures all along during the Challenge

  • materials: gathers the materials and ensures everything is neat and in order

  • communications: makes sure all notes are complete and that Mrs. P is informed

  1. Select a Maker Challenge (remember your norms!)

  1. Use the design thinking model below to begin and continue your process.

 

Step 1 Arrow, Black, Silhouette     Step 2 Arrow, Black, Silhouette         Step 3 Arrow, Black, Silhouette       Step 4 Arrow, Black, Silhouette Step 5

Imagine         Plan                 Create                    Test                 Adjust

                                                 

                                                  Test and adjust repeats as necessary.

 

Use your thinking form while you do the steps above.

 

Challenge Timeline

week 1: form teams, select name, create norms, view the model challenge

 

week 2: select challenge, begin design process, submit materials request

HW: research using the resources page

 

week 3: begin build, test, adjust, reflect

HW: research and adjust plans

 

week 4: continue build, test, adjust, reflect, complete build

HW: complete reflection form on Edmodo

 

week 5: create presentation, load presentation to Edmodo

HW: invite parents to Maker Museum

 

week 6: Maker Museum and share

Below is the thinking form I created for the unit.

MakerChallengethinkingform

Here are the maker challenges I made for my students to select from: maker challenges

I can’t wait to see what happens! Thanks to T.E.R.R.A. for the amazing grant to purchase materials, like sewing machines, recyclable jewelry kit, robots, glitter, glue, googly eyes and more!