Schools all over the country are finishing up for the summer. As I wrap up my 19th year teaching middle school, I like to reflect back on how things went and how to adjust for next year. One thing I love about teaching, is that it works in cycles - every year there is a beginning and an end with a summer for rest and refreshment in between.
For a number of years, I've taught a computer elective and now with recent budget cuts, I'm back to teaching in my core areas of language arts and social studies. I welcomed the change, knowing that through discussing history and literature, I really get to know my students better.
As for technology, I'm looking at moving the computers away from the walls and onto desks, integrating them more fully into my daily instruction. I don't need to teach how to use computers any more. My students are digital natives.
Next year, I want to reduce my paper consumption significantly by introducing digital portfolios, daily blogging and composing written projects right on the computer (just like I'm doing right now).
This year I really experienced the difficulty of teaching writing ... I remember my wife as an engineering student and the anguish any time she had to write a paper. Writing is tough to do, but the key is just doing it and doing it a lot! That's where I think blogging will come in. It's how people communicate ideas today.
One thing I feel I've done really well this year is bringing wonderful books into the classroom. Romping with Robin Hood and his Merry Men in Howard Pyle's Robin Hood, getting kids to think about where their food comes from in Michael Pollen's The Omnivore's Dilemma and playing with words and language in Norton Jester's The Phantom Tollbooth.
Those are my reflections from room 19. So next year, while computers may be taking a more prominent place in my classroom, reading lots of good books will always be my top priority.