Final Project Writeup

My project proposal was written in haste due to a miscommunication of the due date… it was an unfortunate sign for the project outcome. I am not unhappy with the base start I have for this enormous amount of information I want filed on my wiki for my Writer’s Workshop classroom, but I am not thoroughly pleased with how it has turned out either.

Proposal Review

I did do what I set out to do- I created a working wiki for my future Writer’s Workshop classroom with lessons based on the ones I used in my 2014-2015 classroom. I actually went above and beyond what I contracted for when it comes to the lessons. I contracted for six lessons but ended up creating over 20 nodes with information and lessons that is going to be a valuable start to my future workshop style class I teach. Each node may not include in-depth information like I planned, but each one is necessary for getting my class on track. I also have lists started for future nodes that will be created on different pages such as the Writer’s Craft page. Time was not on my side to create more in-depth lesson pages because of the mountain I had to climb to get permission to post everything I have created so far. I think the pink candy floss I bribed my mentor teacher with is what did the trick!

Project Process

I missed out on posting the first two weekly reflections, but once I got rolling with my project, I was able to post reflective information detailing what was happening with my work each week. In my first Weekly Reflection 3/28/16 you get a sense of how frustrated I was getting such a slow start to everything because of permission issues. I felt like my ship was sinking before it left port. Like I said before, my project proposal was the perfect indicator of how my project outcome would be! I work best in big blocks of time, rather than an hour or two here and there, so posting as frequently as I hoped didn’t go as planned. It hasn’t all been bad, though. Weekly Reflection 4/4/16 is proof that I have enjoyed working on this project and it is going to be a valuable asset to me in the future. This is when my project started to take off because I switched from Wikispaces to the much more user-friendly platform, in my opinion, of PBworks EDUHub. This move alone, made me much happier and more willing to dive into the scope of the project. I opened my personal writer’s workshop notebook (WWN) and set sail across the sea of writing lessons I completed with my students.

I originally opened a PBWorks account so I could complete my final project for two other courses I am in this semester. When I started using it, I found it so much easier to format and it had many more options/templates for an educator to use. So I made the decision to put all three course projects on the same wiki. I will need to rearrange the information in the future, and I regret the URL name I chose, (onlineresourcefiles), but I like the way everything turned out. I received 100% on both of those assignments, so my plan was a success!

So just when I think things are going well and I am feeling like I am going to do OK, the project tours come about. In my Weekly Reflection 4/11/16 I talk about how well everyone else in doing in their projects… and how much I feel like I am not. I came to the realization that what I am doing is useful, but menial. I need to post the lessons and the meanings behind them. I said that is difficult to do though, “because Writer’s Workshop is a class that is very much structured by what students are struggling with. I make those lessons up as I go…” and I was right. It is very difficult to make something that is concrete when I change up my lessons and wording for each class because the help students need is so unique. My higher functioning classes didn’t receive nearly as many mini-lessons as my lower functioning students did. And the lessons were much different.

Aha moment here: maybe this wiki isn’t going to work so well after all… If each of my classes is so different, it may be really difficult to have them use a wiki. I might have to create a wiki for each class and use links to pages that will cross over and create new pages for the classes that need differentiation.

In any case, I was right that it was very difficult to make more lesson pages. Weekly Reflection 4/18/16 told more of my internal conflicts I struggled with about adding rationales to my pages. I don’t really want my students to know why we do every lesson. I looked into more sites with information about writer’s workshop and added or refactored over a dozen new pages or nodes.

Project Pitfalls

I had a conversation with Professor Morgan after class met on the 19th and I wish that conversation would have happened long before. I guess I’m not used to asking for help on assignments, which is ironic because I encourage my students to ask about anything at any time. Through that conversation it occurred to me what I should include on my pages to add the pedagogy and/or rationale- basically my thoughts on why the lessons are taught and why they are useful. I get it.. but I don’t have it. I’ve been told that less-confident teachers are often the best because they are always striving to better themselves and their lessons. Well I must be one great teacher because I have zero confidence when it comes to knowing what I teach is exactly right.. So when it comes to telling why I taught something, I have a hard time putting it into words. Professor Morgan said to imagine what I would say to rationalize the use for my class to my peers, or admin. Had we sat down to chat sooner, I know my project would have a completely different outcome. When I add on to my pages in the future, I will be sure to include nodes to explain the rationale.

I never was able to get pictures to format correctly for my notebook page. (Funny, because I switched for easier formatting!) And I still have yet to see what the wiki looks like outside of the admin view. Maybe I will get to see it on the day of my presentation…

Project Progress

New things added since the last weekly reflection:

I really like the pages and information added since I had the conversation with Professor Morgan. I feel like I am on the right track for adding the rationale behind the lessons even if I am not confident it is all correct- it’s a start! I’m very glad to have the standards aligned to some of the lessons as well such as Writing Process and Personal Narrative because my weekly lesson plans need to be aligned to standards for admin when I am teaching, so this is one step ahead for me to have them aligned.

Project Pay Out

All in all I may not have lived up to the deep connection of adding the rationale behind it all, but I am really excited about the functionality of this wiki for my future classroom. It is going to be a great starting point to set sail from. I will be able to add the lessons as I see fit and may have to make some adjustments for certain classes depending on the mini-lessons they need. As I use it, I will also be able to decide exactly how to categorize the pages. I am not sure if I want them to be categorized by lesson topic, or by project. Maybe what I should do is make a list of all the lessons like I have started in Writer’s Craft and then I can link to them for each class as I see fit. Yeah, that would totally work… I think.

I realize that the more I learn, the less I am sure of as a teacher. But I am OK with that. I have so many possibilities and ideas floating around in this sea of information in my brain. It gives me hope that I am going to be able to face any challenge brought forth with a plethora of possibilities in which to overcome it.

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Weekly Reflection 4/18/16

This week I had the advice to add more rationale behind what makes Writer’s Workshop a best practice for teaching, to add more commentary. I have come to the conclusion that is not what I want for this wiki. I will give credit where credit is due, but all of the material within my wiki pages is mine that I have created myself, or with the guidance of a mentor teacher steering me in the right direction. So I am left feeling torn about what to do now- include more substantial material and supportive references/resources OR make this how I envision it for use with my students in the classroom. I know my wiki pages look like a bunch of lists just linking to other pages, but those lists really are the meat and potatoes of my classroom.

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Weekly Reflection 4/11/16

I have perused the sites of fellow classmates and have come to the conclusion that I suck at this. Everyone is doing a phenomenal job with these projects and I feel like mine is lacking a lot compared to everyone else. I am doing what I want with my project, but I need to add more material and I just don’t know what else to add to the pages I’ve already made. I know I need to make more pages, and they are coming, I just need the block of time to do it. I’m hoping to find that time early this week.

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Weekly Reflection 3/28/16

I have started a wiki page at WikiSpaces but I am having a hard time navigating there.  Nothing looks the way I want it to and I am not understanding the layout of the pages I am creating.  I am hoping that I find some other pages to look at to get a better understanding of how it all works.  I am also trying to create new ways to revamp the lessons I taught because of permission issues.  I am off to a very slow start on this project and am completely frustrated in it.  I am not liking being late for all the posting deadlines and feeling like I’m drowning in a final project.  I do not want to switch topics because I do want to make this work… I just need more than 24 hours in a day to get everything accomplished that I have going on right now!

Weekly Reflection 2/1/16 – 2/8/16

As I expected, the other self-portrait I had hopes of posting didn’t work out.  I saw an Instagram picture on Facebook a friend of mine posted that was sort of a word collage that described her.  It was very interesting the way it was put together with different size fonts and colors.  I really wanted to do that for myself, but in the end couldn’t get to to work the way I envisioned it, so it was a good thing I posted the self-portraits when I did!

This week was a week of reflection for me.  Thinking about what my identity is and what it means to me.  I thought a lot about my stepdaughter and her big dreams for her future, but thinking about how her social media posts don’t reflect the kind of professional person she aspires to be.  I fully believe those posts will come back to haunt her… unfortunately.  Chapter one of the Rettberg book talks about how we use social media to communicate with others about how we see ourselves, which is what was my connection was for my thoughts.

I am very careful about what I post on social media.  I have been told by employers what is allowed and not allowed on social media while I was an employee.  Is this going to far?  I’m not sure how I feel about it.  But I followed their rules.  This is the way the world works nowadays.  On one hand, I feel like my social media posts are my business and if I am not to be discriminated against for my religion, race, sexual preference, political views, etc. then why am I subject to discrimination for my social media habits?  It is a fine line.

Much discussion was had about multiple identities and what constitutes an identity.  Micah had one of my favorite posts to date about identity and how “Different people highlight different traits of each person.”  I know another person commented on this same type of concept as well, but I can’t remember who… I went into a long response to Micah about my thoughts on it all:

I agree with this 100%. I feel like I lead multiple lives sometimes, because I am a different person for each aspect of my life. I act a certain way with my family, another while I am a teacher, and yet another when I’m with my friends, etc. Identity has everything to do with who is identifying you. That’s why I chose three pictures to post for my self-portrait… One selfie showing me close-up; one climbing a rock wall showing a little of my adventurous side and although no one would know by the picture, my family side because I was on a class trip with my oldest son; and finally a picture from my wedding day showing my loving, fun, party side.

The quote from Simply Zesty‘s article sums up my explanation of my self-portraits quite well.  Fisher says, “So why not have a go at establishing your identity right here and now, in the media that exists for us at an increasing rate? It is the most real identity you can have, right now.”