I haven’t blogged much. I don’t have an excuse–it’s not like I’ve been swamped with teaching.
All I can say is that I’ve been lost in Right-Brain-Land.
And it’s a place I encourage all teachers to visit.
For much of the school year, I find myself locked in my left-brain. I suspect most teachers do, too. My mind focuses on giving feedback, assessing students, planning the next lesson, evaluating how I handled the situation with <insert name here>.
This doesn’t leave much time to dream about big ideas, pushing the boundaries, imagining what could be.
In my spare time (is that an oxymoron?), I write. My master’s degree isn’t in education; it’s in writing. And any great writer will tell you that you need to let go of your self-editor when you draft. Dream. Imagine. Let your ideas roll out of your fingers, onto your paper.
The same goes with teaching. Every teacher needs time to read new books, explore new ideas, and re-create teaching methods and curriculum ideas.
That’s what I’ve been doing the past few weeks. Listening to books on my iphone, journaling, browsing through my Twitter feed, reading blogs, trying out new apps–and most of all, imagining how I can use these nuggets of knowledge in my classes.
Tomorrow marks one month before school starts. This also means it’s time to leave my right-brain-land and start sorting what I want to do right away in my classes, what I want to do the future, and what isn’t going to work for now. Here’s what I’ve been working on:
1) I’m gamifying my classroom. I’ve loved the idea ever since I started research back in January. I piloted a gamified unit in February, learned what worked and what didn’t, and am launching my beta gamified classroom in August. At first, I dreamed of creating games for each class I teach, complete with narration and lots of game elements.
Now that I look at it with my left-brain, I can see the immense work involved. Instead, I’m focusing on one Game of Thrones-ish type game for all my classes. I can focus more on fine-tuning it, and more importantly, focus more on developing my lessons.
2) Speaking of my lessons, I’ve been re-working my curriculum so that it better follows Understanding by Design. Although I’ve followed the concept (sort of) for a few years, I’ve sat down with a binder of blank templates and established the objectives and skills to focus on for each unit. It’s been hard work, but it’s good work, too. This will make my teaching more focused, and in turn, more effective for my students. (Plus, a slightly less-stressed me.)
3) The last major area I’ve been working on is weeding down all the pretty, shiny apps I’ve found this summer to the ones I want my students to bookmark and focus on this school year.
You’ll find those eight apps in my next post.
If you haven’t been to Right-Brain-Land yet this summer, go visit. Spend some time on Twitter, read some books, do some imagining of crazy ideas that would never work in your classroom. Then let your mind go, imagine, and tweak all those ideas to make them fit you.