When I first became a teacher, I had all these idealistic plans of how perfectly my classroom would always run, how the lessons would always be engaging and active and open-ended, how my students would be perfect learners, always motivated to push themselves to that next level, wanting and craving more, more, more.
After all these years, I have become less idealistic, and much more realistic when planning. I know that interruptions will happen, technology will glitch, and heaven forbid, the occasional student just might not be 100% engaged, 100% of the time.
That knowledge, however, does not prevent me from dreaming this time of the year, as I start thinking about new lessons and units for the upcoming school year. This summer, in particular, I am trying to think about social studies lessons for the upcoming year. This is my 3rd year in a row teaching Eastern Hemisphere 7th grade social studies. The grade level content expectations outlined by the State of Michigan are horrendous, covering enough material to keep college seniors busy for an entire school year, and certainly over the top for 7th graders. This makes teaching the class an additional challenge as I try to hit as many topics as possible from the list created by the state, but still give my students what I consider to be worthwhile, deep thinking activities to provoke them to really become involved in a topic and think how they can use their newfound knowledge to make a difference.
One of my goals is to use video clips more effectively. It is easy to pop in a video and discuss during the scenes, or after the entirety of the movie. I want to become more efficient at using just short clips however. With the help of United Streaming from Discovery Education, I want to find shorter clips that enhance exactly what we are learning about, and use them more often, instead of the long videos that are more overarching for a topic. I think my students will be more engaged with shorter clips, and I will be able to provide more stimulating discussion and writing prompts.
I know how I want this to look in my classroom, and have used in some in the past. Time is the one factor which makes this process intimidating. How do I ever find time to search, preview and think through video clips for each lesson, or even several lessons a week?
Isn't that how it is in teaching..... time, time, time.... If I had more time for planning, I would be able to create more engaging and meaningful lessons!
But enough blogging about what I want the lessons to look like, and back to planning the lessons, including how my students will blog their own reflections!