For my formal evaluation this year, I am recording my experiences as a first year gifted education teacher here in my blog. This will be my second of four reflections designed to explore successes, failures, and where I can improve instruction for my students. I spent my second quarter teaching at East Middle School, the other middleschool in our district.
We continued working in Quest Atlantis. Since a big part of the grant I won dealt with incorporating Quest Atlantis in my classroom, we spent a little more time working on quests at East than at North. I had all students working on the same mission at East, and I also provided them with a mission guide to help them record where they were at with their missions. The increase in structure and exposure to the program helped students gain a better understanding of how to navigate through the program and the mission more effectively. Also, the fact they were all working on the same mission increased the amount of collaboration that occurred between students. When I do missions in the future, my plan will be to assign the same mission to each class during each quarter I have those students and also provide some type of guide to help direct them through different aspects of their mission.
I posted two of the East news stories above and below and if you would like to see the rest of them you can click here. I re-examined the rubric I used to evaluate the students’ news stories and re-designed it to reflect what I was looking for in a final product. You can access the new, improved rubric by clicking here. Students truly appreciate having a rubric to help guide them when they design a project. Although there was a rubric during the first quarter, the new improved one was far more descriptive and gave the students a better idea of the characteristics of an effective news story. Also, I had students from a friend’s classroom in Australia commenting on and evaluating the work of my students. Students were genuinely excited when I shared with them that there were Aussie students watching and evaluating their videos and appreciated the feedback that was given to them via the web.
ECS Shout Outs, a microblogging application I have been using with my students, continues to be an experiment for my students and me. Some students “get it” and utilize it far more often than others. I was hoping it would be more collaborative than it has been, but by nature, it is probably too informal to be as collaborative as I would like. Still, I was able to get students sharing with students and teachers on a more global basis, a goal I believe twenty-first century classrooms should have. I pasted a few of my favorite shouts below.
Finally, a new tool I have been utilizing to collect both assignments, information and feedback from students is Google docs. An example of one of the forms I used can be accessed by clicking here. The information I collected from that form is gathered in a spreadsheet for easy evaluation and access by me or anyone else I want to share it with. The spreadsheet for the above form can be accessed by clicking here. I think google docs are a fantastic way for students to complete assignments, evaluations, and reflections and easily share them with the teacher or others designated by the teacher.
In conclusion, I am looking forward to going into the second half of the year. I plan to continue utilizing web tools as a means to encourage students to collaborate with others and share their work and ideas with a larger audience. I continue to hope that my students are learning as much as I am in this adventure I am experiencing of becoming a gifted ed teacher.