Mirror, Mirror, Reflecting on the School Year

I had chosen to use my work as a reflection of my values.
-Sidney Poitier

School is finally out! I have a 10 week summer stretching long before me.  Since this isn’t my first go-round with summer vacation, I know how quickly it vanishes.  I used to make a long list of things I wanted to accomplish both at home and for school.  I would find myself frustrated at the end of summer having accomplished less than half of that list.  Instead, I’ve learned to enjoy the time of no deadlines, no paperwork, no alarm clock and no schedule.  I’ve learned…to reflect.

Teaching, for me, is a calling.  It is rewarding and draining all at the same time.  By the end of the school year, I need to recharge and reconnect with me. Reflection of the year happens slowly over the summer.  At first, I just need to decompress.  I also congratulate myself on the things that went well.  We all need to do that.  Later, I begin to think of things that I could have done differently or that I want to change.  Sometimes, it is just a matter of tweaking something and other times it is more drastic.  Reflection helps us to stand back, out of the fray, and look at things a bit more objectively.

Using iPads the last year and a half has been a major source of my change.  It has definitely been a “learn-as-you-go” operation.  So much of what we have done has gone well and so it is easy to rest on that.  Test scores are up, student achievement is up and parent approval is high.  Those are all things to celebrate, especially in such a short amount of time since implementation.  Still, there is always room for improvement.

I’ve been using iBooks Author to write some leveled texts for my students.  I’ve also written a few books for content areas such as Social Studies, Science and Math.  I wrote many of those toward the end of this year and was unable to utilize them much with my class.  I want to write more books this summer and have them ready to go for student iPads in the fall.  I also want to do more personalization of the books with the students to increase their interest.  My goal is to write a short “All About” book for each student in the fall.

In addition to the iBooks Author, I want to incorporate iMovie and create short videos for students and parents.  I just purchased Roxio Toast 11 so I can burn DVD’s from iMovie.  The new MacBook Pro doesn’t have iDVD. So many skills and some good content can be incorporated when students make their own iMovie.  This also puts their engagement through the roof.

Wow…I’ve been out of school 3 days and I have quite a list.  I’m sure I will work on this and tweak it over the coming weeks.  I can’t wait to see how it will all turn out!

How does reflection work for  you?

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PaperPort Anywhere

Organizing is what you do before you do something, so that when you do it, it is not all mixed up. -A. A. Milne

One of the few challenges we have faced in implementing iPads has been the inability to get work off of the iPad.   Our district network is not set up to allow student email at this time, although I hear it is in the works.  Teachers are able to send email but students are not.  Dropbox is also not available as an option through our network. There are times when I have photographed student work with my iPad camera so that it is on my iPad.  We have also set up class wikis so that we can upload items to the wiki for a variety of uses.

On PaperPort, I have created a variety of folders.  Each child has a folder and I have a folder for images as well as iBooks that I have created on iBooks Author. The original account is created online at the PaperPort website. The PaperPort App is free and is downloaded on each student iPad.  As students create work or books to be saved, they choose to open the document in PaperPort and upload it to their folder.  It’s very simple and my kindergarten students can all do it themselves.  They are also able to go into the PaperPort app and download books that I’ve uploaded into their own iBooks libraries.

From Paperport, I am able share documents with parents or administrators as needed.  The iBooks I have created, I have shared with my grade-level team through PaperPort.  They simply go to the folder and download it to their student iPads.  This app makes it easy to scan, organize and share documents.

With a classroom full of busy children, we all need a little easy!

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