Saturday, April 16, 2011

Am I Preparing My Students Properly?

Today is the Saturday after my 4th graders completed LEAP testing week. It is my least favorite week of the year. I came home everyday totally exhausted and frustrated by what I observed happening during this high-stakes, high-stress testing week. I saw some of my students who are nervous, anxious, and sometimes just downright angry. Most did well and proceeded through the week with all the enthusiasm of facing a root canal. But I also saw several of my students who suffered a complete meltdown during testing. It seems inhuman to make 10 year olds go into "testing lockdown" for about four hours each day.

Well, it is now behind us and we have five weeks of school left in this school year. Now the fun begins! I have so many great projects planned from now till the end of school. Don't get me wrong, my students have participated in some great projects throughout this school year, but for the last several weeks we have concentrated on "test prep". I have been questioned by my students several times during these last few weeks as to when we will get back to doing "fun projects".

I am reflecting on how I've done in preparing my students for their future.

I discovered this Prezi from Ashley Azzopardi who is currently studying to be a primary teacher at ACU, in Sydney, Australia

My goal this year was to teach my 21st century learners in a 21st century way. I teach in a school with an 85% free and reduce lunch population made up of about 1/3 white, 1/3 African-American, and 1/3 Hispanic students. Yes, I have a very extensive set of grade level expectations that I must cover in my social studies and math classes. I am responsible to collect a weekly assessment from each of my 75 students as well as a participation grade. My students have outperformed other 4th graders in our district on each of the five interval assessments we took during the year. But that's not how I'm measuring my success.

I'm reflecting on how well I met their needs as learners in the 21st century.

This year my students have blogged, made glogs, used Edmodo as their learning platform, and Skyped with classes across the country and in Canada. They have taught other classes about Marid Gras and backchanneled during a guest speaker presentation with our buddy class in Kansas. They have received over 1,500 comments from around the globe on their blogs thanks to my being introduced to the hashtag #comments4kids on Twitter. They have commented on the blogs of other students around the world. They begin most days chatting with each other on Edmodo. I post their assignments to Edmodo and they turn them in when they are completed. I have gotten to know them better as individuals as they post questions and responses to each other on Edmodo. They love being able to use a social media type website in the classroom. They share a netbook with another student and use websites I've bookmarked on a Symbaloo webmix each day to practice lessons they've been introduced to through the use of our IWB. They've collaborated with other students in online projects and one even won a Glogster challenge hosted by another student in another state.

But is it enough?