Metanalysis Blog

Blogging.

It has been through blogging that I am reminded of how much I’ve learned, experienced, and changed in a matter of weeks. After a class at Warner, I reflect quite a bit in my head. How did the new information make me feel, do I agree, can I use this in my future classroom? Many times when I do this, I have a great idea come into my head, a correlation, or a question I would like to ask. I repeat it over and over in my head so I don’t forget the thought. However, by the time I get home, and I have 2 little ones wanting to play 500 questions, and I think about all of the work I need to get done, and how behind I am in everything, the thought completely escapes my mind.

Has blogging helped me with this issue?

The answer is yes! Of course it has. Keeping a blog makes me want to relate to everything, and I am constantly thinking, “should I share this?”, “would this experience help others if I post about it?”, “have others experienced the same thing?” It has also encouraged me to keep a notebook and paper in my car so I can quickly jot down a word to remind me of my thought, so I may later share them on my blog.

“The so-called ‘information revolution’ itself is actually, and more accurately, a ‘relationship revolution.’ Anyone trying to get a handle on the dazzling technologies of today and the impact they’ll have tomorrow, would be well advised to re-orient their worldview around relationships” (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006).

I look at my blog as a medium to share information, and build relationships. The previous quote really embodies that idea. I feel that at first, when the cohort started with each other, it was through our blogs we really got to know each other. I remember sense of humor really shown through at first, which helped me connect with certain individuals. Now, through Integrating Science & Technology, I see it as a support system for one another. It gives us a chance to complement each other on things well done, engage in debate if we would like, and offer suggestions, should someone be struggling with a specific thing.

My blogs allow me to see my growth as a teacher. This was very relevant as we blogged throughout camp. I blogged about my struggles, what was done well, and my interactions with the campers. The blog acts as a tool, which allows me to go back through and reflect. Have I fixed the things I was struggling with, and how? In fact, as a first year teacher, I may make myself blog a certain number of times a week, and then do a monthly blog, in which I go back through and read about the struggles, as well as the good things that happened. I could assess myself to see if I addressed the struggles, and in which ways. So the blog could be used as a personal teacher evaluation tool.
The blog has been an integral part of my time so far at Warner. I think it was through the blog that my mind opened up to creative ways to use technology to teach students, in ways that relate to them, and engage them. One quote comes to mind when I think about the role of technology in education:

“…all children can learn science regardless of age, sex, cultural, or ethnic background, disabilities, aspirations, or interest and motivation in science” (Barton & Yang, 2000).

Technology can be a tool used to help all students participate in science. One example of this is how technology is enabling voices to be heard, which were never heard before. One way this has been done, is through use of communication devices. Blogs are another perfect example. A student may be too shy to talk in class, however they feel comfortable to share ideas through a blog. Another quote I think about is:

“Hands-on inquiry tasks can range from capturing no features of authentic science to capturing many features of authentic science” (Chinn & Malhorta, 2001).

A part of hands-on inquiry usually involves some sort of technology; whether it is a probe, a projector for students to use to display findings, an iPad to use a specific program, or Microsoft excel. Like hands-on inquiry, if the technology is used appropriately, it will usually increase a student’s engagement and understanding. Some examples of technology not being used appropriately occur when a device is used to just use it, there is no relevance, or need for it. Also, if you do not have a strong understanding of how to use the technology, and capability to do basic troubleshooting, it is a sign you should probably not use it in your class.

Blogging for, and incorporation with, Integrating Science and Technology, has allowed me to see my growth as a teacher in just a few short weeks. It has also opened up my mind to new innovative ways in which technology can be a useful tool in the classroom, while keeping me aware of the negatives as well, so they may be avoided.

References:
Barton, A. C., & Yang, K. (2000). The culture of power and science education:
Learning from Miguel. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 37(8), 871-889.

Chinn, C. & Mulhatra B. (2002). Epistemologically Authentic Inquiry in Schools: A
Theoretical Framework for Evaluating Inquiry Tasks. Science Education
86:175 – 218.

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2007). Sampling “the new” in new literacies. In M. Knobel & C. Lankshear (Eds.), A New Literacies Sampler (pp. 1-24). New York: Peter Lang.

Are we the teachers, or the students…Day 6

“Every student should be a student teacher and every teacher should be a teacher student” (Michie, 1999).

I heard this quote this weekend, and it really made me reflect on my experience with the campers from the Freedom school, and not only what they learned about science, but what I learned about teaching. We joke in class about how science is messy, but after this week, I realized teaching is just as messy. However, that messiness, forced me to see my own strengths and weaknesses.

My lows this week: My worse moment happened after the campers had left for the day, and Ceb, my camp partner, informed me that the reason one of the campers was shutting down for a while was because he was called “stupid”, and it hurt his feelings. I felt terrible that I had no idea that had occurred. I felt helpless, and there really wasn’t anything I could do, because before I even knew about what happened, the issue was resolved. I was also very frustrated about the execution of how the data was collected for the beach investigation. We got everything we needed, but we could have been more efficient, and we really needed to put more focus on procedures in the lab setting (plating), for the campers sake. There were definitely more things that I could name, that I need to work on, but if you read the previous posts, you will get the idea.

My highs this week: I really feel Ceb and I created a safe and encouraging learning environment. Our campers really made their voices heard this week. When one of our campers felt that he could just walk up to the whiteboard, without being prompted, and start leading the class, I really felt we were doing something right. Our campers never had a hard time sharing ideas, or asking questions. Some may have been quieter than others, but their voices were still heard. When asked a question, they, for the most part, readily answered. One high happened during presentations. During the first round, we had a camper who was frustrated with what was going on. However this came through him telling everyone how bad they were doing. So I removed him from the situation and took him outside with me. On the way out, a professor offered to have him sit with them, but without really thinking it through, I said no. Looking back, it may have been easier to let him go and sit down, but it just didn’t seem right at that moment. After talking to him, I found out he was upset that they had worked so hard, and he felt the presentation just wasn’t good enough. So I asked him “What would you change? What would you do differently? Instead of focusing on the bad, let’s do something about it.” After a couple of ideas were thrown around, we decided on one that Ceb had originally thought of. We quickly made the changes. The other campers were great in responding to the changes, and the presentation went slightly smoother.

So with this being said, I want to touch on what happened on Day 6

What could have been done better: Our team’s main weakness was how easily distracted they get. All week we were able to find ways to limit distractions and focus on the campers strengths. However, presenting in a very loud room, with many people proved a hard distraction to get away from today. The team could have been more focused, and I should have been more creative in designing ways to mitigate distractions and keep campers in engaging roles. With that being said, our campers showed great flexibility when we decided to switch the format of how we were presenting midway through. Once we did switch the way the campers were presenting, things were a little more copacetic.  If I could do things over, I would set up little mini stations that represented what we did each day. The campers really wanted to do PowerPoint, so I would have a slide to go along with each station as well.

What I learned about the campers: These campers are bright, and they need to be continuously engaged, and feel like what they are doing really matters, in order to keep them participating. Throughout this week of camp, there were times where it seemed they weren’t paying attention, but when called upon, they had a strong understanding of what was going on. If they didn’t, the other campers were happy to explain what was going on.

What I learned about myself: Today, and this week, I forged strong relationships with the campers, which I knew would happen, but I wasn’t sure to what degree. This group of 6 individuals really have had a strong impact on me. They taught me how to customize a lesson plan to fit the needs of different personalities, strengths, and weaknesses. They showed me just how flexible we all can be when things go awry. Regardless of mishaps, there was always a lesson learned and points taken.

This whole week I really feel like I did more learning than I did teaching. I think this is OK, because despite areas that definitely need improvement, I feel the campers did learn a lot at camp. I feel it is important to constantly be learning. A part of me feels that if you didn’t learn, you weren’t listening, or you weren’t paying attention. So after my first week of teaching, I’m going to leave you with these words…
Listen. Pay attention.

References:

Michie, G. (1999). Holler if you hear me: The education of a teacher and his students. New York:
Teachers College Press.

Day 5…Closure but not quite the end

I had the choice to blog right after camp today, or wait until after work, and blog really really late at night. This is what I had to weigh…do I write a blog while the experiences are still fresh in my head, or do I wait until late at night when I am beyond the point of exhaustion. I realized exhaustion was reached much earlier this week, and there was such a range of emotions today, that I really wanted to take in and reflect on everyting. I have some great regulars at work, whom I knew would ask me about camp. This would be my way of reflecting on today, before actually putting it in a blog.

Today I got to experience Harambee, again. Again, it was amazing. I love Harambee, and I wish I could wake up every morning to Harambee. I even got recognized at Harambee. It was a great feeling, and a great way to start my day. At Harambee, one of the campers let me know he would really miss seeing Ceb and I, and he said that camp went by too fast.

Today was a little bittersweet. Even though it wasn’t officially the last day, it felt like an end. I realized today that I was really going to miss our campers, and the relationship I built with them was special. They were my first “students” and it was a successful experience. For Day 4, the relationships I was able to make with the campers was a “ + “ for me. I feel I was getting a better understanding of how to read these campers, and figure out what they needed. This showed in many ways, but specifically today while making a video. One of our campers had their feelings hurt by the others, and didn’t want to participate. After tries from his piers to get him motivated, I finally got to his level and told him that we were family. I asked him if he ever gets mad at his family. I told him I do. But I also reminded him, that as a family, we needed to stick together, even when upset. He agreed, and rejoined the group. I knew being a part of a team and or family meant something to this camper. He was the one who would remind us that we were a team.
One thing I want to work on, is continuing to keep the students engaged. Especially during activites that are outside. I think how I worked with my campers, while conduction the creation of a presentation. I feel this was my weakness today. I realized I should have had more roles. Roles and individual tasks would have made the presentation creation more efficient.

I’m happy I got to connect wit the campers. I’m happy with the campers understand ing of what we did.
First week of camp was a success!