Sunday, 24 February 2013

A First Time for Everything

Reflecting on Milestones and Celebrating Successes

Over the last few weeks I've had a number of occasions to reflect on "the first time…" If you're a parent like me than you are probably well versed in the concept of "firsts" --- steps, words, etc.

This summer I went camping on my own for the first time with my boys. It was also my first time leaving my camera at home and only taking pictures with my smartphone. Recently I finally put together a photo album of the best pictures and sat with my boys to reflect on our trip. Looking at the album we reflected on my eldest son's first time cooking a hot dog, first time camping without mommy, and first time taking a picture with daddy's smartphone!

Approval vs. Affirmation
With our boys in a Montessori program, I've learned that when a child excitedly informs their guide (teacher) that they've completed a task (a characteristic of first time experiences), they are not told "Good Job" or "Well Done", but rather "You did it!" or "Congratulations".  Instead of training children to depend on a subjective note of approval from an external source, this is designed to ensure that the children are affirmed in their own recognition of an objective sense of self-satisfaction. It's the difference between tentatively asking the teacher "did I do it right?" vs. confidently informing the teacher "I did it right!"

To this end, I had some of my own FIRSTs that I'd like to share. Not for your approval, but simply because I see myself as that Montessori child recognizing my own milestone and running up to the guide (my Twitter PLC) to proudly exclaim "look what I've done!"

Cooking Class
Due to our school's reorganization at the end of September, I now have the challenge (and privilege) of adding a grade 7 Family Studies class to my teaching assignment. This is a huge addition for me. I am already responsible for teaching Science and Technology in our DT lab (including responsibility of the major areas of Safety, Tool Maintenance and Material Inventory), as well as teaching Information Technology, and generally being "the computer guy" in the school. Between all the classes I teach in IT and DT, I have 23 classes across 3 grades and multiple levels (regular, gifted, MID, Behaviour, LD/HSP). Family Studies makes 24. As such I have been reticent to really get into the cooking side of things, preferring to stay in the theoretical (nutrition labels, healthy body image) and the technological (designing cookie cutters to print out on our 3D printer) as these things are more within my comfort zone.

On Friday December 14th however, I took the plunge and did my first cooking class. Recognizing the significance of this "first" experience I took time during the class to "live-tweet" what was happening, since ongoing documentation is an important part of self-evaluation. Of course with technology comes problems, and I couldn't get reception for some reason so I've had to post these tweets after-the-fact. You can see my tweets organized here on Storify - a program I am also using for the first time!

As a result of this “First Time Focus” I am pondering how to be more diligent at this practice in my own classroom. Report Cards are supposed to reflect the reaching of milestones, but how often do milestones coincide with a board determined report card date? Why should celebrations be limited to these structured times without reflecting the fluidity of individual learners! I'm wondering if I can use BYOD to get students to document their DT projects at the end of each class, and then compile a photo album at the end to assist them in preparing a self-evaluation.

Too often we have trained students that self-evaluation is the lowest kind, and that the evaluation that reflects real learning and leads to good grades comes from the teacher alone. The pendulum needs to swing back a bit I think.

February 23, 2013

(SIDE NOTE: as a result of writing this blog I've decided to try changing my teaching a little bit… yeah for professional reflection! ATTACHED HERE are my notes on ideas I might try with my next set of classes in Semester 2. If you have feedback that might help me tweak these ideas, practically or theoretically, please send me a note on Twitter or in the comments section)

DT Project Self-Assessment Notes

A work in progress

Device Use:
-having a smartphone or camera in class is a BIG responsibility and a HUGE privilege. DON’T treat this lightly or abuse the privilege, it will be taken away!
-you will ONLY get permission (in writing, attached to the class clipboard) to have your devices with you at times when you ACTUALLY have DT. So for example if DT is in the morning, you CANNOT have your device with you in the afternoon. If you have gym the same part of the day as DT, we will need to make alternate arrangements to meet at your lockers before class to get your devices or to put them away at the end of class before going to gym.
-we will need to agree to some kind of class code of conduct regarding these devices and consequences for improper use

Procedures for Self-Reflection Documentation
-document your journey from start to finish using your smartphone or camera
-take a picture of each thing you consider a milestone – at minimum, take a picture of your progress once before the end of class
-ensure these pictures are taken SAFELY (ie. Make sure the machines are OFF and that you’re not a hazard to someone else who is working)
-NO people in the pictures! [for privacy/security] [though you may have yourself in the picture at the end with the finished product if you have parent permission]
-curate an online compilation of your pictures and narrate them in some way

Self-Reflection Content Expectations
In your reflection you must mention (either along the way or at the end):
-What tools did you use?
-What procedures did you do?
-Include dates
-Did you struggle at any point? Where? Why? How could you have done better?

-Curate as you go! Don’t wait till the end to put all the pictures together
-You may use any method you wish to curate your pictures (Facebook album, Instagram, haikudeck, prezi, flickr, etc) Perhaps you will teach me something new? Since this will be posted on the internet, hopefully you will get feedback from others besides myself!?



Includes comprehensive outline of tools dates, and procedures
Good outline of tools, dates and most procedures
Mentions some (but not all) tools, dates and procedures
Misses key tools, dates, or procedures.
Thoughtful, honest reflection
Reflective, but superficial
No reflection
Excellent, well planned photos, capture minor steps as well as major ones
Good photos, documents key steps, with some detail.
Photos include only the major steps, some photo flaws
Photos incomplete, missing major steps. Violates privacy expectation!
Curation has been shared and has received feedback. Is easy to transfer for school to share too!
Uses a curation method that encourages and promotes sharing
Curation hasn’t yet been shared
Curation discourages sharing