I read an interesting post from Kathleen Morris this afternoon, looking back on her life as a teacher since 2004. She reflected on how much her teaching has changed especially with the changes in technology during that time.
In turn as I walked my dog this evening I too have been reflecting, since I started teaching year 5 at much the same time. I became one of two year 5 teachers in 2006 taking over from another experienced and competent teacher. I arrived into a year group with a strong academic program, rich in sound lessons and activities. Yet as I reflected on the years since then, so much has changed in more ways than I could have thought possible back then.
In 2006 year 5 had a maths text book and a maths mental book for homework. Every student followed through the book from page 1 to 100. A page or so a day, all students completing the same pages whether they understood or not.
In 2011 year 5 has four differentiated maths groups, we have no text books and our lessons are a mix of hands on lessons, worksheets to reinforce, together with SMARTboard pages, mathletics, studyladder and many other websites. Students are regularly pre and post tested and as a result they move up and down groups depending on the topic we are currently learning about.
In 2006 during novel study every student read the same book, one per term and then completed worksheets to show their understanding of it.
In 2011 year 5 offers a choice of novels to read, three in term two and six in term three. Students then complete their own choice of differentiated activities chosen from a matrix and written to cater for all learning styles. When they hand a task in they must self reflect on their learning. If a task is not considered good enough it will be sent back to allow them to make improvements to it. As a result they learn to seek help and guidance along the way.
In 2006 during HSIE all students followed the same program, learning from the same books and completing the same worksheets. They completed the same assessment tasks too.
In 2011 our HSIE units are driven by inquiry questions. All students have a matrix of activites and they can choose to research in their own way and show their understanding in many ways.
In 2006 all assessment tasks were the same and students received them back with an A-D grade and a small ‘well done’ style of comment.
In 2011 as far as possible, all assessment tasks are differentiated. All students have a rubric given to them before they commence a task, so they are totally clear how they can give in their very best work. Students are also encouraged to hand in work for pre-marking and discussion. They will receive their work back with no mark but an extensive comment which points out areas for improvement, however good it is.
In 2006 I had five computers at the back of the classroom. I had never read a blog, heard of twitter, used the internet in the classroom or web 2.0 tools to learn with and from.
In 2011 all my students have a netbook. We are a blogging classroom, we use many web 2.0 tools such as edmodo, glogster, spelling city and more.
In 2006 students left the classroom at 3.00pm with a homework book in their bag.
In 2011 my students blur the reality of the school day with their extensive use of blogs and edmodo to extend their learning beyond expectations. The interested ones challenge and push themselves with their thinking, writing, problem solving and sharing.
In 2006 I thought I was a teacher. My students were there to learn.
In 2011 I know I am a teacher and a learner. My students and I learn, think and grow together within a community of learners.