I tend to fall into the same trap over and over. I play to my strengths. A common trope right now in the leadership world is making sure that we operate from our strengths instead of work on our weaknesses, and I can understand why. Why would I work harder on things that I could delegate to those who are gifted in that area? I decided about two weeks ago that I was going to take on a new learning opportunity that I have no background in.
I am a history teacher by trade, hopefully you already know this. My wheelhouse is compare/contrast, primary sources, reading, and writing. In general, I like to tell stories about the past. Very little of my day-to-day brain power is delegated to the math or science part of my brain. While I do enjoy learning things that I am naturally inclined to, I started thinking about times in my life when I really enjoyed learning new things. The nerd part of me began longing for the merit badge system of the Boy Scouts (now the Scouts).
There are programs out there for adults that are merit badge based, but I cannot afford their prices. So I thought about an area that does not cost too much to get into that flexes the math and science area of my brain. It would be a bonus if it provided a skill that I could use in the future (potentially). So I settled on Amateur Radio, better known as “Ham Radio”.
My first step towards getting on the air was passing the licence exam. The initial licence costs under $20 and a book or app to study. For this exam I bought the book and the app, but I found the app much easier to study in small amounts of time. I had a little under a week before the local ham radio club offered the test, so I studied my tail off during that time. I showed up on test day and passed the test. I am now waiting on the FCC to issue me a licence.
In the mean time (since it can take a couple of weeks), I ordered my first radio. I opted for the handheld variety to start out with. I also signed up for the local ham radio club which conveniently is right around the corner from my house. I am going to keep updating my progress and how much I’ve learned. Who knows, maybe this will start the trend of me having all kinds of other learning adventures.
In my last post, I promised that I would be using three new technologies in class. I got two of them done and the third will come the week after Spring Break. Let’s take a look at what I used:
- GoFormative – This is a platform to quickly take formative assessment data during a lesson. I liked this more than Google Forms in certain scenarios because it will allow the kids to draw instead of just type and it collects the data in a way that it is easily usable. This is really helpful with things like my touchscreen Chromebooks in my classroom.
- Exploros – I liked Exploros to a point. It was easy to set up to use my Google Classroom and there are a variety of topics that are aligned to our state standards. The problem is that it is still very much a read and answer curriculum. This wouldn’t be bad for days when there is a sub in the classroom, but it really is mostly reading. It’s got a lot of resources though, so if you’re short for information on a part of History it’s worth taking a look at.
After Spring Break I’m going to give Flocabulary a try, so I’ll have a write up for that when we’re back in the rhythm of the school year.
This time of year is always the time where I start to get nervous. Not because of a test coming up or because of a specific unit. I get nervous that I’m doing things wrong. As I reflect on this, it’s funny because I know I’m going out of my way to do the right thing and teach my students the correct way.
I think some of this is because I feel like I’m becoming stagnant in the technology I’m utilizing in the classroom. I want to be on the forefront of technology on my campus, but that is tough to do. I’m going to rework my lesson plans in the next few weeks to take some risks using technologies. Some that I’ve heard of, but haven’t utilized are Exploros and GoFormative. I’m also going to spend some time looking into other things I can use and try them out.
I think I’m also letting good be the enemy of perfect. Our district has moved to listing learning targets in very specific ways. I’m still adapting to this new way of communicating the point of the lesson to my students and it’s a learning process. Hopefully through trial and error I’ll be able to learn how to do this better as a teacher.
Next week my goal is to post how I utilized at least three new technologies in the classroom and my experience with them. Stay tuned for more on this.