Thursday, 30 August 2012

A New Blogging Adventure!

Photo credit: truenewzealandadventurestours
Flickr Creative Commons
I realize that I can barely keep up with this blog at times, but I hope to be more consistent in the new year.

While I plan to continue reflecting here, I'm really excited about a new collaborative blogging adventure that I will be participating in during the new school year!  Last year, I was part of a small group of teachers who were at various stages of using inquiry in their classrooms.  We didn't start meeting together until later in the year but building a small community was very beneficial for all of us as we thought about different ways to improve our practice.  Due to transfers in the district, we will not all be in the same building next year.  As we are all busy, and even chatting while working in the same school was hard to schedule, we will be sharing our adventures on a new blog this year.  So far, six other teachers have indicated that they will be participating in this.  It will be a great way for us to share what is happening in our classrooms and comment on messages to one another.  As well, I hope that you will join in the conversation as we progress.  We represent different subject areas and grade levels so I hope to call on experts within my Twitter, blog, and real life PLN for input as the year progresses.  I'm always amazed at the power of collaboration in real life and online.  As somebody who HATED group work as a student, it's fantastic to realize how meaningful collaboration can be when structured around common interests and motivation to learn.

We only have a couple of introductions up right now but please consider subscribing or adding us to your favourite RSS feed so that you can stay tuned for more content as the year progresses.

Monday, 20 August 2012

Changing It Up!

Today, I worked on getting
 unpacked and organized!
Can't wait to decorate!
It's been a while since I last blogged!  June flew by and then I spent July taking my first master's course.  It was all about Inquiry Learning, one of my absolute favourite topics!  I learned a lot but, between online discussions and papers, I didn't have energy to blog too.  Since then, I had two "I am not a teacher" weeks (including three weekends, of course!) to decompress before getting started with my new year plans!  I had a bit of a slow start then suddenly became flooded with ideas for my new job!  I'm so glad to have an "always on" PLN through Twitter!  It's great to read your blog posts and articles as I seek inspiration!

I just realized that I haven't blogged about my new job...oops!

After an elementary school practicum, followed by nearly six years working at a secondary school, I'm heading back to elementary school!  As I told my students, there are no scandalous stories associated with the move; I was transferred from my school alongside several other teachers due to my level of seniority and declining positions at the secondary level.  While there is sadness as I think about the staff and students I will miss, I am absolutely ecstatic about this new opportunity!  It feels like many things are falling into place perfectly with this move!

As I continued to learn about about inquiry learning last year, I found myself thinking of ways to include the flexibility of elementary school in secondary school.  I would love to see an inquiry-based secondary model which would include cross-curricular learning opportunities which might include several classes blended together.  I can imagine the benefits of teaching English and Social Studies to the same group of students, for example; so much can be accomplished if a teacher can work on literacy skills through both subjects.  English would work well blended with electives, as well; imagine the dynamic in an English class if students were grouped with others who have like interests and were able to engage in inquiry projects and lit circles with like-minded peers!  Conversations around the BC Education Plan and discussions about inquiry learning had me thinking about changes I would like to see in secondary school.  The more I thought about that, the more I realized that I would love to teach in an elementary school.  As a result, I'm really looking forward to the cross-curricular freedom that comes with the elementary schedule.  We don't have to switch from math to science when a bell goes; if the students are engaged, we can continue.  If we are working on a time-consuming experiment, we can add time to science.  As well, students will be working on literacy skills across the curriculum.  I will be teaching every subject except music so there will be lots of opportunities to engage students in inquiry learning and meet learning outcomes from multiple subject areas through in-depth projects.  I'm really looking forward to engaging students in their areas of interest as we explore the grade 6/7 curriculum together!

As well, I'm excited about spending more time with a small group of students; as I worked on Assessment for Learning practices last year, I couldn't help but feel frustrated by the sheer number of students I needed to speak to as the end of each term neared.  I became overwhelmed at times and, while I made some positive strides regarding assessment, I didn't do everything I would have liked.  I have been reading a lot more about assessment can't wait to get started with this new elementary group!

OK...I can wait!  There's lots to do before the new school year begins in two short weeks!  It's amazing how I feel like I've been simultaneously thinking about and ignoring September all summer!

If any of you in the blogosphere have transitioned from secondary school to elementary, I'd love some tips!  It has been a while so I'd love to hear your thoughts!