Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Reflections of Year 1 - I'm still alive!

What a year it has been! I'll be honest, I'm not sure where to begin, I have so many ideas flowing through my brain. There are many things I want to tweak, change, and just plain throw out from the previous year. I knew this would be the case even before I asked for feedback from my students.

At the end of each semester, I asked my students to fill out an End of Course survey for me through Google Docs. Both groups did so, but second semester students were much more open and brutally honest. Perhaps because they knew they wouldn't see me for two months! Truth be told, their honesty has helped me, where they may have thought they "tore into me" I see critical feedback which is part of the process. While it may be harsh, I can see through it and perhaps read into why they feel that way. A few of them left their names and I am grateful for that, others did not, which was their choice and I am still grateful for their feedback. Below are word clouds (made possible by Tagxedo) that summarizes some of their free response answers! In future posts, I am going to talk about real hard changes I am making to the course, but here is what has propelled me into a weeks worth of reflection so far!

Here is the positive!
Students favorite activities/units
These units are ones that I want to keep doing, add more to, and truly make into PBLs (Problem Based Learning Units). Most of them are at the beginning stages of that, and perhaps might be why students enjoyed them. They had more flexibility in how they showed me their understanding and how they went about learning the objectives.

What students enjoyed about the class
This is the qualitative data, the "make me feel good about myself" stuff. But in reality, it has EVERYTHING to do with the students I had this year. I don't know what it was, but this year (my 6th year) was my favorite year in all my classes, flipped and non-flipped. I had more fun and a better understanding of my students this year than I have in the past, which may be why the students (most, not all) enjoyed this year as well.

Now onto the not so positive reviews/remarks. However, I still view these as positive (forever the optimist!), because they show me that I will always have room for improvement and I should never become "comfortable" in doing something. I would be considered, if after my first year of trying something new, all my students were amazed and loved this. I am thankful there were some who questioned and challenged me, because it is they who are helping me become a better educator! I'm doubtful they see it that way though!

Units/Activities students didn't like
The word cloud above doesn't show the whole picture, many students added other comments next to what they didn't like, which was extremely useful. They told me why they didn't like something, how it could be better etc. These nuggets of information are invaluable! These units are where a lot of work will be done this summer, I want to include them into the fold of PBL and allow students more of a choice in showing me how they understand the objectives. If there is a group project, allow them to work alone if need be. I, as much as the next guy, understand the pitfalls of a partner who does nothing! I am still a proponent of working on at least one group project a quarter though! 21st Century Skills of collaboration!

The one below is more of a puzzlement however!
Least favorite parts of class
I am unsure of what to do about this one. This is definitely what I need to reflect on the most and will certainly be a future post!

I hope your summer is off to a good start and good luck with your reflective process!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Relaunch and the living's easy!

Ten months have gone by and I have been silent. I started this blog last summer as a means to be reflective and transparent. This clearly did not work as I planned. While I may not have written about my year, I can say that I have been reflective which has been a nice process. 

My new goal for summer vacation and beyond, to restart the blog with my summer adventures of making the changes necessary in my Civics course that have come from student suggestions, my own thoughts, and new research and learning. Secondly, to write about my new adventures in trying to become a school counselor. This fall I will be starting my practicum at my school in the counseling department and I couldn't be more exited!

So be on the look out, I am recommitted and excited to restart my blogging journey!