Archive for the Professional Reflection Category

Goal Post #2

Posted in 2015 - 2016 Professional Reflection, Professional Reflection on October 22, 2015 by Mister A

This is my second reflection of the year with regards to my professional goals for 2015-2016 school year.  I haven’t kept up with the journal I started as well as I had hoped as the new welding course I instructed was extremely time-consuming.  Since that class is completed now, I will have more time to focusing on my professional goals.  The first quarter of the school year is nearing an end and it seems like time just goes faster every year.  I am not sure how to measure the goal I have of  “improved professional reflection is”.  Let me know if you have any ideas Tammie:)  The change I will make as a result of this periodic blogpost is that I will begin writing daily in my reflective math journal.  I will set it on top of my computer so it is right in front of me to remind me to be more reflective on a more consistent basis.

I finished my first real adjunct professor teaching position last week and really learned a ton.  I think the class was mostly a success and a real learning experience for me.  Although many of my welding students were far beyond the curriculum and objectives of the course, they still showed a tremendous amount of growth based on a pre-TABE test and a post-TABE test I administered at the beginning of the course and the end of the course.  There was not one student who took both the pre and post tests who did not show a tremendous amount of growth.  I believe I differentiated very well to meet the needs of both higher level students and students who struggled a bit with mathematics.  I have a great curriculum set up now in D2L and am excited for the opportunity to teach the class again, if they offer it to me.  I feel blessed to have been able to teach the class and again, I feel like I really improved as an instructor because I taught it.  I think it helped our program too, as I now have a far better understanding of the welding program here at the college where our program is located, and I think it was beneficial to the college as well.  Our relationship with the college has only improved as a result of the classes I have taught in collaboration with them.

In the 094 developmental math course I teach in conjunction with the college seems to be going fairly well.  I began utilizing a program called Edready which is an online integrated learning system that other programs in the state have been using.  Previously, I was using a program called gradpoint, which I had success with, but I was asked to begin using Edready by my supervisor.  I think the success my students experience will be similar, as I believe that both programs are effective and that the biggest component that aids in my students success, is my own familiarity with the program.  It seems that a larger percentage of students are sticking with the 094 class than in previous years as 7 of my 10 enrolled students have continued to attend on a regular basis.  Historically, I usually finish with about half of the students I started with, so as far as attendance goes, we are a little ahead of the game at this point in the 094 class.

chic symph

Chicago Symphony PANO

As far as Hiset Preparation has gone so far this year, I believe I have learned to get students through that test.  No student has taken the test twice and failed it on both occasions (knock on wood).  I get a little frustrating that preparing a student for the HISET, preparing a student for the COMPASS, and preparing a student for a College level mathematics course, are such different animals.  Also, some of the strategies I utilize in prepping someone for the HiSET are not the most effective teaching methods to use when teaching for retention.  I have to constantly remind myself that the HISET is but a stepping stone, hopefully to improved educational opportunities or a better employment situation.  That is what I have been told anyhow.  I have become very familiar with the OPT2 practice test and find it very useful when instructing students.  Proportional reasoning continues to be an area that must be focused on for students to be successful.

Finally, the first quarter of the year really flew by.  I think that having Julie here has really improved a lot of areas of our program.  She is a phenomenal teacher, and I believe our program will continue to grow and improve as she continues to learn her new position.  She really seems to “GET ” education and what we are trying to accomplish up here.  It is great to have someone to bounce ideas off and get feedback from.  She has been a very welcome addition to our team.

edin and friends lunch

Edin with his NEW Friends

On a personal note, I visited my son at Northwestern University over teacher PIR days.  Man, what a cool school.  I think he has really settled in and found himself a new home.  The fact that he is so happy and learning like a sponge has eased some of the grief I have felt as a result of not having him around.  He spends his time with like minded and incredibly passionate and intelligent people.  I am both happy for him…and very lucky to be a part of his life.  I love watching him grow into an even FINER young man.


Domain 4E and Domain 3E

Posted in 2015 - 2016 Professional Reflection, Professional Reflection on September 18, 2015 by Mister A

I am being formally evaluated this year which occurs every three years in our district.  My goals last time were to begin a mathematics program to attain another endorsement on my teaching certificate.  I finished that last December.  It was a difficult couple of years as far as how busy I was with things, and I vowed to my wife not to go back to school again, ever, as it was pretty stressful.  But it is a great feeling to finally be done and certifiable as a teacher in our state until 2024.  I learned a lot in the math program, and even won a small scholarship to help pay for my last couple of classes.  I was able to take some face to face classes for the first time since I got my initial teaching certificate which was great because I was able to see how other teachers taught in an environment similar to the one I am currently in.  But as a teacher you should always have some type of goals, which is the purpose of this blog post.

For my goals this time around, I have chosen to look back into working on professional reflection and improving my professional learning network.  I have fallen away from that a bit over the last couple of years, as my mathematics course load left time for little else.  However, I missed writing in my blog as it provides me with an outlet to really think about what I am doing in my classroom, what others are doing in their classrooms, and how I can better serve my students.  People should probably do that in every profession in which you have clients, which is pretty much, every profession.  I plan to try and write a reflective post every couple of weeks and also keep a written log of day to day things in my classroom, as I am having several of my students do the same thing.  Okay, this is getting a bit longwinded, so I will cut to the chase.

The official title of my first goal is Domain 4E:Reflecting on Professional Practice and Engaging in a professional learning community.  I believe I have a pretty good one established with twitter and perhaps my blog, although, probably not a lot of people read my blog anymore.  I have neglected these things over the past couple of years, but since our superintendent is kind of pushing this type of thing a little bit, maybe it is a good time to get back to it.  I hope to be able to share some of the things I have learned with regards to social media, with some of the teachers I work with during the course of the year.  I believe some of them will be open to it, while others, will not.  I probably need to work harder at sharing with other staff, if that other staff has any interest.

Domain 3E: Using Assessment in Instruction is the official title of my second goal.  This is the third or fourth time they have changed the way they do formal evaluations in our district and it seems like they are just using different words to describe the same things they did in the previous methods of evaluation.  For this goal, I plan to have my students do all their work for me in a mathematics journal.  I will correspond with them in this journal, and provide feedback on where they are at in the mathematics curriculum.  It will provide my a forum for checking for student understanding more effectively, and also a place where my students can also use the habit of mind of metacognition (reflection) about how, when, why, and where they learn the most effectively.

If anyone has any questions, comments, suggestions, or even reads this blog post, please feel free to comment on it.

On a Personal Note: My oldest son is off to college.  He has turned out pretty good so far, and I am extremely excited for him.  He is in an environment in which I believe he will truly flourish, even more so than he already has.  He has such passion and love for his chosen field, that the sadness I felt about his absence, was greatly diminished by the excitement I could see in his and my beautiful wife’s eyes.  Indeed, I am a lucky man.


Posted in classroom tools, Prime Number Posts, Professional Reflection with tags on September 24, 2011 by Mister A

Zunal is a sweet application. I paid twenty bucks for three years worth. web quests are an excellent way to differentiate in the regular classroom and also to help gifted students achieve objectives more quickly than it might take in an ordinary classroom setting. I used Zunal to deliver a 7th grade webquest and an 8th grade webquest to my students over the last week and a half. The web quests were easy to tweak and update as we moved through them and Zunal has a huge bank of webquests designed by other teachers that you can use, edit, and remix to meet your own classroom’s needs.

20110924-091502.jpgOn a personal note, I was reading someone’s blog the other day and they said they don’t blog if they don’t have something they feel is worthwhile saying. I think I have felt that way before, but I think I am going to approach blogging a little differently his school year. I started blogging because it made me reflect about what was happening in my classroom. I plan to force myself to blog even if I feel at times that I have nothing to share. Forcing myself to reflect once a week or so can only help me improve my ability as a teacher.

2010 – 2011 School Year Final Reflection

Posted in Educational, Professional Reflection on June 11, 2011 by Mister A

Andrew Howe - North Dakotan Farmer/Chinese Teacher

Summer has been happening for about a week now and a post about my school year has been brewing in my mind…well, for pretty much the whole school year.  This post will focus mostly on the second half of the year in which we completed a unit on China.  I met a man last summer who was moving to Jishou, China to teach English to middle school students there and I told him it would be very cool if we could somehow connect our classrooms.  He thought it sounded cool and we shared skype and gtalk details with each other and ended up doing some pretty cool things, I think, with our students.  Much of what we did could have been done better, but it was the first time doing what we did for the both of us.

Jishou Middle School #1

The purpose of this post is to share what we did during the course of the year and possibly get some feedback from people like Dean, Jokay, Angela, Kim, Scott or other people in my PLN who might possibly glance at my blog every now and again.  The best way to do this is to simply share my students’ final projects.  Each student made 5 wiki pages which they linked together via a navigation bar at the top of each page.  One of the best example navigation bars/websites can be found below.  I believe the navigation bar at the top of each page allowed each student to have what was the equivalent of their own web site.

Erica’s navigation bar

4Erica’s Homepage

4Erica’s Blog page

4Erica’s Chinese Province Project

4Erica’s Chinese Pen Pal page

4Erica’s Chinese Language page

Each student created a homepage that had the purpose of sharing with their Pen Pals and their classmates who they were.  The home page was a kind of biography or compilation of their lives up to this point.  Students also created a blog page where they were assigned blogging tasks at various times during the quarter.  The Chinese Province Project page was a place for them to gather research and display their prezi, glogster, or powerpoint that demonstrated the important aspects of the five themes of geography for their chosen province, municipality, or autonomous region.  The next page down was the Chinese Pen Pal page.  Each student created a one-slide biography of their pen pal which they shared at the end of the quarter.

刘容- Maddie B.

They also posted the slide on their wiki page along with the letters that they wrote to one another as you can see if you take the time to look at Erica’s example or any of the students examples.  We used audacity to create the major components on the final page.  Mr. Howe was kind enough to stay up until 2:00am china time a couple of days and teach my students some common phrases that his students used and also help my students prepare questions for two meetups we had via QQ towards the end of the quarter.  Students created audio files on their Chinese Language Pages where they practiced their pronunciation of several of those phrases.  What really impressed the Chinese students was the fact that we made the effort to learn their language.  They (the Jishou students) had a belief that most Americans were too arrogant to attempt to learn something about another country’s culture.  I believe it allowed them to be more open with my students when we held our two meetups.

一中的学生 - Jishou Pen Pals

When I do a unit like this in the future, I will do a couple of things differently.  First I will definitely make the province project more problem based.  Each province in China, faces unique problems that students could use as topics to incorporate the 5 geography themes.  The research they did, did not have as much purpose as it could have had.  Secondly, I will not start exchanging letters until the quarter I begin the unit.  Students were a bit confused when they had to change Pen Pals when I switched middle schools during the year.  I will also take any suggestions of ways I could improve this unit based on anyone’s evaluation of my students’ projects.  Any feedback anyone has on this blog post (I don’t believe I finally made 100) is greatly appreciated.

A student at East Middle School created the Animoto below to share what we learned during the quarter.

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jishoumeetseastmiddleschool – Peace2, posted with vodpod

2009 – 2010 Final Reflection

Posted in Professional Reflection on June 9, 2010 by Mister A

For my formal evaluation this year, I have recorded my experiences as a first year gifted education teacher here in my blog.  This will be my final reflection designed to explore successes, failures, and where I will improve instruction for my students in the future.  And since I believe a video can be as meaningful as a well written essay…I had one of my students create a news story about what we did this year.  I have embedded it below.  I also created an Animoto video to show what we did with the Grant money we were awarded last fall.  I might be pushing fair use a little bit, but I just love that piano song, and Coldplay never got back to me.  Thank you, Jane, Shelly, and Mary for all your support.

Lizzy’s News Story

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more about “Mr. A’s Grant.wmv“, posted with vodpod

Qwest Grant Video

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more about “2009 – 2010 Mr. A’s Classroom79 tobymac“, posted with vodpod

Dean Groom is Real

Posted in Educational, PLN, Professional Reflection with tags , , , on June 1, 2010 by Mister A

My second group of students did their web conference with Dean Groom on Friday.  This time I invited several members of my twitter PLN and to listen in and also provide feedback for my students.  They included Gerald Aungst, Kim Harrison, Scott Merrick, Bronwyn Stuckey, Crista Anderson and Susan Wanke.  Although we experienced a few technical difficulties and it was a bit hectic having thirty students in my closet sized classroom, things went off very well.  The fact that I was able to increase my students’ audience to the extent that I did (with the help of what has become a very powerful PLN) may have been one of the coolest things I have ever done in my classroom.  I have tried to get teachers in my school district involved in Twitter and Second Life type virtual environments for this very reason.  It provides me with the opportunity to shrink the world for my students and show them that there are teachers in this world willing to truly go out of their way to help others.

In the first web conference Dean and I did, I didn’t ask a bunch of teachers to come, for fear that things would not go off well.  That was probably a mistake, but I am learning to take more risks with web learning tools as I see the benefits of sharing my students’ work with other teachers on a global level.  My students think it is so cool that not only did one Australian get to see their presentations and read their stories on our wiki, but other teachers around the world are looking at and evaluating their work.  If you would like to read their stories and comment in the discussion tab on our wiki, please click here.  Each chapter is linked at that page, and written on a google doc.

Third Quarter Reflection

Posted in Professional Reflection on April 11, 2010 by Mister A

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 third of fourth reflection designed to explore successes, failures, and where I can improve instruction for my students.  I spent my third quarter teaching at North Middle School.

To deliver instruction and collect student work this quarter I utilized a tool called a wiki.  I will make the wiki public for a short time, so you can check it out.  Click here to access it.  I now have a complete record of everything we did, and I can modify permissions anytime I want so that I can share my students’ work with others whenever I find the need.  I was able to get some help developing many of the activities completed by my students.  Dean Groom and Angela Cooke helped me tweak and develop the activities to fit the unique needs of my students.  Many of the activities we completed in our Utopia unit this quarter were designed specifically for gifted learners by the University of William and Mary.  I utilized many of the resources they provided along with those shared by Dean and Angela.

The first activity we did was called “the Perfect Classroom Project”.  Students were given the task of designing what they believed to be a perfect classroom.  They worked with a partner or in groups of three to create “The Perfect Classroom”.  Each group had to describe in great detail what their perfect classroom would consist of including ideal teachers, rules, curricula, classmates, furniture, and classroom layout.  Each project had a visual component and a wiki page.  The project wiki pages can be found by clicking HERE.   This activity gave students a great introduction to the concept of utopia and also provided an excellent background for the remainder of the unit.

We read the book Animal Farm by George Orwell as students answered literary analysis questions as they read.  I did not have enough books for all the students, but the book was available on-line, so I did not have to have a book for each student.  Many of the students preferred utilizing the on-line versions of the book.  The Animal Farm resource page can be found by clicking here.  Wikis are so very simple and such an easy way to share on-line resources.  There is also a wikimail component which provided me with a great way to share information with my students.  It also gave students a means to share information with one another. Students were even placing links they found on the wiki that they believed would be helpful to their peers.

Each day we reviewed the assigned readings, students would complete a writing activity designed to get the kids’ creative juices flowing.  The activities page can be found by clicking HERE.  Students did their writing on their own wikipages, so I have a record of these activities and so do the kids  (CLICK ME).  The kids really liked these activities and did some incredible creative work, as you can see by looking over some of their pages.

The final assessment we created was a collection of short stories which were compiled, shared and edited on the following set of wikipages.  Students were assigned the task of creating a short story that somehow incorporated one of the themes from Animal Farm.  They created a commercial for their story along with a Power Point slide.  They presented their slides to our class and then in a Web conference with Dean Groom which we recorded at the following link.  I had been telling tales of Dean all year long, and many of the students believed that Dean was not real and something I made up, as I sometimes fabricate stories to amuse my students.  Many of them were in disbelief when Dean led a Critical Friends Session in my classroom from 10,000 miles away and thought it was the coolest thing ever.  The adobe presenter conference may have very well been one of the coolest things I have ever done in my classroom.

In order to see the book embedded below you must go to this link to see the book in fullscreen.

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We have published their collection of stories using a program called Blurb Booksmart.  You can purchase the book by going to the following link.   If you would like to purchase a book for one of my students, please let me know.   I can provide you with a discount code and a shipping address.  To view the book online, you can access it by clicking here.

We continued working in Quest Atlantis where I assigned a mission called the Plague Unit.  It is a Persuasive writing unit which fit right in with what the English teachers at North talked about when we met at the beginning of the quarter to discuss what We would be covering in ECS.  I provided the students with more structure and a unit guide to help them through the process of collecting information and defending their opinion. And I believe the success of this learning tool continues to increase as I continue becoming more adept at utilizing it in my classroom.  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.  We spent a few minutes line dancing one Friday afternoon.  The kids had a ball as you can see below.

Finally,  the second component of the grant I won last fall dealt with delivering some type of professional development to willing teachers.  I did five sessions covering five applications that I have used in my classroom and in my professional practice.  Topics we covered included googledocs, wikis, social bookmarking, second life, and twitter/microblogging.  More than 10 teachers reaped some benefit from the sessions, (I hope).  Even if they didn’t, I learned a ton about teaching and demonstrating applications to teachers and hope to continue sharing some of the things I have been learning.  My PLN has been so kind in how much they share with me.  I plan to share some of what I have learned with others in the future by teaching two workshops this summer at the Montana Institute for Educational Technology (MIET). I will also be teaching a class at MSU College of Technology next Fall about virtual environments in education.  I have found that I kind of enjoy teaching teachers even though only a few teachers came.  I really learned a great deal about delivering professional development.  Below is the PREZI I utilized for the session we did on Second Life and Education.

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In conclusion, I am looking forward to going into the final quarter of my first year as a gifted and talented educator.  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 have settled in to this position and continue becoming increasingly comfortable as I work my way through the year.  I am learning and developing new skills each week that help me be a more effective teacher.  I hope that both students and teachers I am dealing with are benefiting from some of the concepts and ideas I am trying to share.