Changes in time and a look at them goals

Well, this year has been super hectic! Our school has made the move from 52 minute periods to 75 minutes, meaning that some of my lessons have shrunk by 29 minutes (from a double session to a single) and some have grown by 23 minutes. At first I was a bit hesitant about the change as I've loved the lesson length of 100 minutes for practical lessons and 52 minutes for Health classes but 75 has proven to allow me to "trim the fat" from my practical lessons and to think smarter about what I really want to see my students achieve in all classes. It's been a steep learning curve this year as our school goes through an array of changes including the structure of leadership roles, class locations and the time length of classes and planning time allocation.

At the moment I can't help but feel that the goals I set myself at the start of the year have turned out to be fairly ambitious given the pressure I feel at the moment to keep up to date with the work load I'm under (I'm sitting next to 3 different piles of assessment tasks to correct). One goal was to create quality feedback and to be timely with my feedback to students. I still want to do this and in some regards have been able to do this already, however it is still a skill I've yet to master. Some things I've learnt however are:

  • Set yourself an achievable standard. Don't get excited about marking and returning everything in a very short period of time. Whilst it's great, it does set an expectation that you will always be able to do this (when the reality is often very different).
  • Video feedback is time consuming... I really wanted to film students performing a skill that they want to develop. I filmed them, then found it hard to find a way to provide them with a copy of the video, let alone the time to sit with each student in class to go over their video. I'm still trying to find a best practice for this method of feedback.

I'm currently happy with my tiered lessons, though I'm now flirting with the idea of differentiating some tasks, but will need planning time to plan these out well, before submitting them to my colleagues to see if they're interested (we all do the same "report assessment tasks").

As for my goal of continuing to work with technology, this year I've decided to set up a website for my Yr11 VCE class and I've been very happy with it's progress so far. I've used Weebly (free) and so far the students and I have gotten some great use out of it! The most important aspect of the website has been the blog where I can outline everything we study as we study it, making it a handy revision tool come exam time (next week). 

Oh and I've started playing around with making videos... look out!

Back to school for 2014!

Well it's the start of the new school year and I've been busy plotting what I will be attempting to do in my classes for 2014. Last year I made the decision to not reapply for my role as head of department in an attempt to give myself more time to change my practice and to hopefully assist the HPE team in a more grass roots kind of way. I've set some goals that I will slowly map out at the start of the this term to ensure that they are successful! They are:

1.) To scaffold my lessons to provide a more challenging environment for more of my students. I'll do this by creating a variety of tiered assessment pieces that will provide students with choice when it comes to being assessed. The use of Stile will assist with this.

Example of how my classes look to me.
I can create lessons and then drag them up when I'm ready for students to do them.

Stile is a relatively new comer to the world of cloud based education. We had an opportunity to trial their system within our school last year and many of us loved it and asked for it to continue on so management ticked that box for us. In it's most basic form it allows you to create "online worksheets" for students to complete and once they have you can correct it online and send them individual feedback. I'm hoping to use it on the next level up though by creating a more "flipped classroom" look with explanatory videos to be created on a host of topics from healthy eating right through to how to swing a golf club. If I model the videos right... I'm hoping the students will make their own in return with the use of their iPads.

What a lesson looks like (mixture of introductory video and then exploratory style questions.

2.) To increase the amount of meaningful feedback being given to students and to do so in a timely fashion. My goal is to construct better tasks that assist me in enhancing the quality of feedback given to my students. I also hope to construct a series of self assessing items using various ICT tools.
I'm hoping to do this using a variety of tools including:
iDoceo is an app I picked up last year. It's not a free app but it has been worth the money spent. It's everything in one for me in terms of a "teacher's chronicle" so much so that I didn't buy a hard copy book this year to record student progress and marks.

Example of iDoceo at work.

3.) To continue being a leader within my school when it comes to integrating tech tools in a meaningful way both in and outside the classroom.

I love being able to show my colleagues new and exciting ways to do something, as well as just introducing new tools. The main reason is because I strongly believe that we're more powerful as a team than as individuals and whilst I can think of how to use new tools I'm forever impressed by the new things I learn from my colleagues.

I have other exciting plans too but I might save them for future posts!

So what are your goals for 2014?