Saturday, July 21, 2012

My Goals for the 2012/13 School Year

In one of my latest blog posts I wrote about all the things I've changed over the course of the 2011-2012 school year as a way to better my teaching practice. If you've read it you can see that it was quite a year for me and I have no doubt that this up coming school year will bring many exciting and new changes too.  However, as much as I like to learn (and I am certain I WILL learn a ton), I have set three specific goals for myself for the 2012/13 school year.  They are as follows.

  1. Better utilize mentor texts with my teaching.
  2. Be mindful and focus on the choice of words I use with my students.
  3. Instill a sense of wonder in my students.

You'll notice that not one of these goals is specifically technology driven.  I can assure you I am NOT dropping technology from my teaching practice.  With a year of twitter under my belt I  have a reputation as a lead teacher when it comes to integrating technology into a grade one classroom.  I'm honoured people see me this way and I really love exploring developmentally appropriate uses of technology.  I love helping others discover how amazing it is for teaching and learning. But, I am about so much more than just using technology. Ultimately I am about becoming the best educator I can be in all areas of my teaching and learning. Technology is one area I am keen to learn more about but it is only one of several areas I am trying to learn more about.  Twitter has been great. It has allowed me to get connected with so many truly passionate teachers in so many areas. I am very thankful for that. Here is a closer look at my three goals for the 2012/13 school year.

Better Utilize Mentor Texts With My Teaching

In the past I've shared some good literature with my students but lately I find that I'm missing many opportunities to be sharing it more frequently.  Literature is so key in the development of my students and I know that I can teach, share, and better motivate them by utilizing the books I have available to me.  In addition, I must admit that I love reading blog posts about good children's books. I love the conversations I've had with teachers such as Cathy Mere, Laura Komos, and Carrie Gelson as they so openly share their passion for books.  I want to be like that too - so passionate about something so important.  By setting the goal of better utilizing mentor texts I think I will re spark my love for good literature which in turn will inspire my students to have a similar passion.

To help achieve this goal I have created a wiki that I will add to and I hope others will add to as well. It will be a  list of mentor texts that are used by teachers and the WHY they are using them. I will also make sure that when my timetable is set in September time for literature sharing will be front and centre in my daily structures. I have arranged my cupboards as well to better store my mentor texts. I have so many books in my room that I often forget what I have. Having a section specifically for storing my mentor texts will help me better access them. I will also continue to utilize my school librarian and my amazing book loving friends near and far. Any other suggestions?

Be Mindful and Focus on the Choice of Words I Use with My Students

Last October I read a book called Choice Words by Peter Johnston. I actually felt pretty good as I read it because I believe I use a lot of the words/phrases that he recommends we use when we interact with our students.  It's a good book and one that I will be revisiting before this summer is over (along with his latest book Opening Minds).  However, as much as I connected with him and what he was writing I want to be even more mindful with the words I use with my students in all areas of my teaching/learning. 

This goal is partly inspired by Aviva Dunsiger.  Last school year  I read and watched as she documented her journey with descriptive feedback. I watched as her students began to provide similar feedback to one another. I didn't need to be sold on the powerful descriptive feedback  has on increasing student learning but she did make me more aware of the multitude of places I can use it, out side of the 1:1 conference time I have with my students.

I'm hoping to achieve this goal by (re)reading Peter Johnston's books. In addition this summer I've been reading books on conferencing with young writers, and reading more about working with young mathematicians.  They too talk about specific language to use when speaking with children. I am going to try my best to implement what I have been learning.  In addition, I expect with the projects that I'm involved with at the school district level that I will continue to have visitors in my classroom. I hope that they will be able observe the language I use with my students and provide me with important feedback.  I am also hoping to work closely with the early literacy and numeracy helping teachers and learn along side of them.  Of course I'll share my learning here on this blog too, which means I should be able to receive feedback from my wonderful personal learning network. And if I get brave enough (which since I've just put it here on my blog for the world to read I'll have to find that bravery) I will record myself while I'm teaching to see what I really sound like. I know Aviva did that a few times last year and it was so inspiring for me to read her reflections on the the experience. What other suggestions do you have for me to look into?

Instill a Sense of Wonder in My Students

In a nut shell, I want to work with and continue to support my students' curiousity. I want to look into doing some passion based learning with them.  I love what I saw Kathy Cassidy do with her  class. One class blog post that stands out is when she had a firefighter in her room and instead of the fire fighter teaching the children about his job, the children asked him questions about his job.  The students were learning exactly what they wanted to be learning and from what I can tell they had appropriate questions to fill his entire visit. How powerful is that?

To continue to instill/support/foster this sense of wonder I want to utilize the Wonderopolis blog on a daily basis.  If you aren't familiar with it I highly recommend you check it out.  I also want my students to walk into our classroom, see a picture, and wonder about it. I want them to talk and share their wonders. I want them to explore passion based learning particularly with socials and science curriculum although I'd be game to have it occur in other areas too.  I want to be their facilitator, helping guide them while allowing them to be at the centre of learning.  I want them to wonder all the time, to take the time to notice and be curious about what's around them. I want to find a way to make the concept of "Genius Hour" work with my grade one students.

In addition to utilizing Wonderopolis I am meeting and talking with other like minded teachers interested in passion/project based learning at the early primary level. I have also read The Passion Driven Classroom and hope to utilize what I learned from there too. What other suggestions do you have for me?

Perhaps these are not the three goals you figured such a tech inspired teacher would set for her grade one class? Don't worry, I still have ever intention of fully utilizing technology in my classroom.  With our successful Innovative Learning Grant (meaning some  iPads in my classroom) I look forward to utilizing technology to meet my students' literacy and numeracy needs as well as allow them more opportunity for creative expression and global collaboration.  I am still just as excited as ever to bring the world to my students and my students to the world.  Technology will be integrated into most things  we will be doing but it will not be the key to what I do with my students.  I have a lot of little ideas I want to implement and I've started recording some of them on my special  wikiTheir learning, not the technology, is my focus. Helping them become the best they can be is the WHY behind my teaching.

What are your goals for the 2012/13 school year?


  1. Karen, thanks for sharing your goals here! I love that they're more than just about technology, as technology will be a wonderful tool for you to meet all of these goals. I look forward to reading your blog posts on these three goals of yours!


    1. Thanks Aviva. I look forward to following your journey into your new grade level.

  2. I am so excited! #2 & #3 are two of the goals Ann and I are focused on next year within our classroom... How exciting will it be to have these focus points of connection through the year! Ann is reading Choice Words right now (see her recent post) and it is on my list to start soon. And we both recently read The Passion Driven classroom and are brainstorming how to mesh some of the ideas from this Amazing book into our learning environment. (along with how to use Wonderopolis more each week to support non-fiction literacy!)

    2 years ago one of my goals involved mentor texts, and one of the things I am so glad I did (especially years later) was on the inside cover I used mailing labels to record the purposes I used the specific mentor text for. For instance, I may have used a book to cover the genre of fantasy, then later to discuss sensory words, and maybe again later in the year to highlight author's purpose. Each time I utilized a mentor text, I recorded this information inside the front cover separately. This also really helped in collaboration with other teachers, or when someone requested a book to teach a specific skill. Prior to this I organized books by specific skill, but when this became a focused goal I began using mentor texts intentionally for a variety or purposes.

    Thank you, thank you for sharing your goals! So inspired to work on finalizing mine :)


    1. Love that we are sharing two goals together next year. LOVE IT! I also like your idea about using labels inside books to help remember how you use them when you share them. My wiki will allow me (and others) to record the WHY behind the books we share and cross referencing is totally acceptable too. I need master list to track how I use my "special" books. So much to think about still. SPINNING HEAD as usual. Thanks for sharing Celina.