Wednesday, August 1, 2012

My Goals for 2012 - 2013

For the last week of our #cyberpd, Carol Wilcox will be hosting a wrap up of the event over at Carol's Corner. Some will share their take-aways, others will share their goals, some will share their language "cheat sheets," and some will share how their thinking has changed over the course of the event. Since tomorrow is my first day back to school for professional development (students come next week), I thought that I should clarify my thinking about my goals for this school year. As I look at my notes, I see that many, if not all, of my goals can be connected to Opening Minds and what I have learned through participating in this event. Many of them are things that I have already been working on but want to improve.

Goals for 2012 - 2013
  1. Create a Dialogic Classroom.
    According to Peter Johnston, "a dialogic classroom is one in which there are lots of open questions and extended exchanges among students." (p. 52) I want these conversations to carry across all content areas and times of the day. I want to teach students to listen to each other, respond to each other and not need the conversation to go "through" me. I want to teach them how to have a conversation in groups that is responsive to the speaker and that alleviates the need to raise their hand to gain the attention of others.

    Why? "Thinking well together leads to thinking well alone." (p. 96)

    How? By having a list of language to use with students that will help facilitate these types of conversations available to me at all times. Possibly try to have one of these conversations with other classes in the building or outside the building using Skype.
  2. Increase student reflection and build a sense of agency.
    My hope is to take more time to ask students questions like: "How did you do that? How did you know that?" (p. 31) to begin to help students reflect more on their own thinking processes and to help them build a sense of agency.

    "This narrative makes what might have been a series of unplanned and unconscious steps into a packaged strategy linked to a goal - a strategic action that can later be invoked for planning and refining." (p. 32)

    By expanding the use of ShowMe to provide another avenue for students to share their thinking and by increasingly using student blogs as a way to share deeper ideas and thinking. Possibly add using Skitch to label a photograph with ideas and thinking.
  3. Allow more time for exploration/experimentation/play.
    I plan to add two new areas to my classroom this year: a Build and Create center and an Explore and Wonder center. The purpose for these new areas is to provide students with time and space to follow their interests and passions.

    This will give them more things to think about and share with others and will sharpen their thinking in less academic areas. I always begin the year having students share what they are passionate about and these passions can fit into these new areas. An added benefit is that students will find these areas fun and engaging.

    I have begun collecting items to place in these areas: rocks, shells, coins, blocks, gears, magnets, etc. I will also ask the students to share their collections and ideas for these areas.
These three goals reflect my most current thinking. I have kept a sticky note by my computer all summer and as thoughts ran through my head I would jot them onto the note:

  • add Explore and Wonder Center
  • add Build and Create Center
  • don't add more tech tools - use the ones I am currently using in better ways
  • okay, learn to use Skitch, Evernote and Shelfari - think of how these can connect to other goals
  • expand use of ShowMe to include deeper thinking
  • connect more with other classes
  • learn to have conversations
  • have students reflect more
So this post has allowed me to take my sketchy goal ideas and flesh them out and really consider how to achieve them during this school year.

I do have one thing that I would like to share with you before I end. While reading Opening Minds, I have been reminded of the book Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel Pink several times. I read this book a while ago so I had to go and find the RSA Animate of the book and watch it at least three times during this last month of #cyberpd. I have embedded it below to share with you. There are so many great connections here.

Thanks Carol for hosting this final session. I am so glad to have the time and opportunity to think about these things.

Reviewing the Whole Conversation
If you are just now joining this conversation about Opening Minds, here are some links you might be interested in checking out:
July 11: Chapters 1-3 Hosted by Cathy Mere at Reflect and Refine: Building a Learning Community
July 18: Chapters 4-6 Hosted by me here at My Primary Passion

July 25: Chapters 7-9 Hosted by Laura Komos at Our Camp Read-A-Lot
July 26: Twitter Chat using #cyberPD
You can view all the parts of the conversation in one place at the Opening Minds Jog the Web created by Cathy Mere.  This includes the Wallwisher, all of the participating blog posts and the Twitter Chat archive.

Also, Cathy Mere had a guest post on the Engage blog of the International Reading Association called Professional Learning Conversations: #cyberpd. In this post she gives a detailed description of the entire event, how it started and how it has grown over time.


  1. Jill- I'm totally impressed by the way that you have managed to distill all of that thinking and create a coherent whole. The what/why/how format really works- I think this would be terrific to share with an administrator or a parent at a beginning of the year conference.

    I still feel like I'm trying to line up spaghetti noodles in terms of synthesizing. Think I'm going to leave it for a day and then come back to it.

    Hopefully we will get to meet in person some day! Do you go to CCIRA in February?

    P.S. I'm definitely coming back to view the video after I get the rest of the posts rounded up.

  2. Jill,
    I love the way Carol described her "spaghetti noodles" thinking. It's exactly what I've been experiencing, so I absolutely loved the way you were able to point out your what/why/how for your goals. I think this idea will come in handy for me as I work my way through finalizing my goals for this year.

    Thank you for helping make our #cyberPD such a great success!

  3. Wow. Thanks for that RSA Animate. It TOTALLY lives on the same block as Opening MInds.