OETC Flash Reflections

I am home from #OETC16 and I am so. Tired. 

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Humanoid robot I met in the exhibitor hall.

 

I feel like there are a lot of things I learned that need to settle in my head. But one of my favorite moments was during a session on formative assessment, when the presenter had us play along with a Kahoot.

 

Now, Kahoot is not new to me. In fact, it’s a very popular resource used by many educators in my district, not just my school. And I would recommend it to anybody, because it really is fun, fabulous formative assessment.

But this presenter was using it differently than had ever occurred to me. She used it to present statements such as, “New teachers are likeliest to use technology if it is available to them,” and then the crowd responded true or false. (That one was false — new teachers are less willing to step out of their comfort zones. Older teachers will test out new tech more quickly when it’s available to them.) And I thought — wow. It had never occurred to me before then that I could use it to address misconceptions instead of straightforward quizzing. It was perfect, because of how immediate Kahoot gives you feedback. I’m sure that other people have been using Kahoot this way for ages now. But it was a eureka moment for me. And because it’s a new way to use a resource that I already know how to use — and my students already know how to use, and my colleagues already know how to use — I feel like I am much likelier to use it in a new way.

There were a lot of other solidly good ideas and resources that I intend to explore, but rather than cramming everything into one big post when I’m already pretty beat, I think I’ll do them more justice by doing separate posts. So now to sleep, perchance to dream, and hopefully I won’t hear any car alarms go off at three a.m. since I’m no longer in downtown Columbus!

 

Oh, RESA

Where have I been for over a month, you might ask? Oh ho ho, I’ve been right here this whole time! Just, you know, less chatty.

The thing is, I had to redo some RESA Year 3 tasks. What is RESA, you may ask? “RESA” stands for Resident Educator Summative Assessment. It’s a performance assessment that, in Ohio, a beginning teacher (“resident educator”) must pass in order to obtain a five year professional license.

I am actually on Year 4 of RESA, but I needed to redo some of the tasks from Year 3 because I failed them. I failed both tasks that required video of a lesson. Because I had procrastinated a fair amount, I found myself panicking over uploads last year as the deadline barreled ever nearer. I did something that was against the rules — I edited the videos before I uploaded them. I was thinking smaller file sizes would upload faster, but that was against the rules. So my submissions were automatically failed for me to redo this year, in addition to Year 4 tasks.

If you find yourself required to video lessons, I have some tips:

  • If you can, practice recording before you need to record. That will help you work out any audio or angle issues in advance. Plus, video recording myself teaching over and over has been a very beneficial reflection tool for me this year — I’ll talk about it in a later post.
  • Try out different devices and settings, considering what you truly need. Originally I was recording using high definition, which was contributing to long upload times and processing errors. The uploading part of the process went much more smoothly when I switched to recording in standard definition.
  • Ask for help. Other teachers may have had to record lessons before, and may have really good tips for you. I even had a colleague hold the camera for me during part of their prep period once! (Thank you again!) One of my other colleagues this year has been on the phone with the RESA support folks trying to upload her video. It is better to ask for help than to move forward wrongheadedly and fail the task, like I did.

1197119420758017922nicubunu_Film.svg.medUltimately I used an iPad and a device called a Swivl that I really enjoyed using (but that I had to practice a lot beforehand — I will probably write a review of my experience sooner or later). It worked really well, except for the times I messed up while using it!

Anyway, the point is, I finished and submitted my last make-up RESA tasks last night. (Not only did I need to submit video, I also had to answer several extended response questions along with it.) Nine days before the deadline instead of bumping up against the deadline, because I learned my lesson last year! Therefore I hope to be using this blog again to reflect more starting this month. Thanks for hanging in there!

 

Rewind to 1993

A friend of mine, who uses English as a second language, posted this on Facebook today:

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“In my old posts in the past, my English was so miserable, I feel embarrassed.”

I relate to this feeling. Sometimes it’s hard to put yourself out there because, even though you might be proud of yourself in the moment, you might be embarrassed in the future. Honestly, it’s a fear I have every time I post here on this blog.

Interestingly, in doing some new year cleaning today, I came across an artifact from my past: my third grade “Learning Log.” This was a bracketed folder which we added our own writing to throughout the year. We were, I think, supposed to include samples of writing from several different genres: poetry, fables, fairy tales, biographies, etc. Apparently, though, I got really, really hooked on writing poetry.

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I especially liked writing poems that involved the word “underwear,” which eight-year-old me thought was the height of comedy.

By December I had over two dozen poems in there. Because some of them were typed and printed out, I assume I did some of them at home — because we had a computer and printer at home, but I don’t remember having much access to them in third grade.

Throughout the log, my teacher wrote little notes of encouragement or requests for clarification (I did veer into Suessian nonsense territory every now and then). Gosh, she had beautiful cursive handwriting. She wrote an overall evaluation and grade every few weeks. At the end of the log there is a certificate indicating that I no longer needed to turn in the log for a grade.

But not before I got to publish my own original fairy tale! And by original, I mean derivative and embarrassing, but I was super proud of it at the time. I wrote it and illustrated it all by myself. We even wrote them on special paper and bound them together between laminated cardboard covers, like real books!
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The book itself is lost to history (thank goodness!) but the first draft, from October 1993, survives.

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Stop trying to make “sprarkling” happen, eight-year-old me.

So why dig this up? This stuff is over twenty years old.

Because this was my beginning point. Before third grade, I learned how to make letters; then make letters into words; make those words into sentences; then make those sentences tell more and more. I had used reading to absorb the thoughts and ideas and stories of others. But with writing, I had the chance to communicate my own thoughts and ideas and stories to others!

We all start somewhere as learners. Some of us move faster on that journey than others. Some of us start further back, and some of us have head starts. Is it embarrassing to look back and see where we used to be? Maybe. But I like to think of it as looking back and realizing just how far I’ve come.

And I’m still going. Hello, 2016!