Next Year’s To-Do List

Recently, a colleague and Twitter-user, @icmcwaffle, Tweeted, “I’m ready for next Wed. when this school year will be complete…time to look at possibilities for next year…” How true!? Naturally (for me anyway), teachers reflect at a school year’s close and wonder what improvements can be made to achieve more the following year… Given the parameters in which a teacher is placed and the continuity between past and future school years, this may differ. However, I believe it to be helpful to consider some change that will likely lead to facilitating a more successful school year than the one that is now at its close.

Personally, I see change forced upon me as I move from 8th grade U.S. History to our high school to teach 9th grade U.S. History — teaching the same students I have just finished with and picking up after the Civil War where I am leaving off this year. There are apprehensions I have for such a move, and while I am not completely excited for it, I cannot help but recognize the amazing opportunities this provides for me and my students.

Given the level of mutual comfort that I will enjoy with my students and the ease of transition that will occur for them and me, I should be able to implement a greater degree of change and strategy for classroom function and technology use. The following is what I’d like to do next year.

Thinking Like a Historian
This framework was adopted and trademarked through a collaborative effort between the Wisconsin Historical Society and the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater under Nikki Mandell and Bobbie Malone. It develops the process of historical inquiry in students and utilizes five categories of historical thought. I was able to construct a “Beta” version of this process mid year with my 8th graders, but it failed to provide the substance I desired. Starting this at the beginning of the school year and creating a procedural knowledge will create the return-on-investment I desire. View the website for more.

“This Day in History” Classroom Homework Calendar
Begun during the course of the past school year, I’d like to emphasize and promote the use of a class calendar to which students create and contribute daily elements from class. On our class wiki in Wikispaces, I created a calendar structure where each day is a link to a new page. Students can post notes, reminders, handouts, etc, for anyone absent. Check it out here; remember – not fully implemented.

Student Pages in Wikispaces
Another thought popped in my head over winter break this school year and I had to get it started. Due to a recent push toward signifying which state grade level content expectations are being me by each assignment, I desired to include the students more. I create a template page with all of the GLCEs in a table with empty cells to the left of the GLCEs. Students can create a page for themselves at the beginning of the year to which they can post the work that demonstrates their understanding of that GLCE by putting a link to it in the empty cell to the left. We did this to a reasonable degree this year, but still many with nothing. Hopefully teaming (below) will help with this. Let me know what you think.

A a teacher who desires to spend more emphasis on media creation, the largest obstacle is what to do with the videos. Fliggo creates a YouTube-esque platform that users/members can post media to and share. That is an ideal situation for embedding these files within our wikipages or elsewhere. See it for yourself.

Having spent so much time with my students will allow me to have an increased command of their personality, character, and preferences; what cliques exist, and who participates in various activities. Given this, I can deliberate over students and successfully generate teams of four into which the students will be responsible for all work, activities, and participation. Teams would be responsible for all work and participation of its members; all absences and attendance would be handled at the team level; competition can be commonplace, emphasizing quality and exhibition of academic performance; failure rate can be non-existent. As a result, I can emphasize the state high school content expectations rather than grades. Have a peek at my “Handbook“; it is a work in progress.

That seems like a good list. For now…
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