Monday, June 9, 2014

Reflecting on the 2013-2014 School Year

Wow! What a year it has been. It is hard for me to believe that it is once again June and that this weekend, 2,560 students from my school have graduated. I couldn't be more proud. I feel so lucky to be a part of their lives and help them be successful. Every year at graduation I get to personally congratulate many of my own students face-to-face for the first time and this year was no different. I received hugs and smiles and I cheered each of them on as they proceed to their next stage of life.
Much like our students, the school year is full of learning for teacher as well! This year, my third year of teaching, I have learned so much and experienced many new challenges and celebrations.

I began the year armed with a new tech tool: Google Glass! I used it to make demonstration videos for my students and also to make videos explaining art concepts like linear perspective and getting inspiration from the world around you. The students responded positively to my videos with a higher engagement rate than I've ever had before and better quality work. These videos have become a permanent fixture in my art classroom and I continue to use Glass to make new resources for students. Hopefully next year I will be able to try out a virtual field trip! Also tech related, many of my students received tablets to access and complete their school work. Though I didn't have much time to implement tablet lessons this year, next year students will have the option to complete some of their art projects on their school tablets in order to give them more exposure to digital art and solve supply and scanner issues. Students will also be able to use them to photograph their work so 3-dimensional media is finally possible in my classroom!
This year, I experienced a training about Formalized Instructional Practices where I was reminded of the value of measuring student learning through all parts of the instructional period and also how to help students set their own learning goals. I have now implemented FIP into several of my lessons and the majority of my synchronized instruction. I am excited to further implement these strategies next school year.
I also learned how to best prepare my students for Student Learning Assessments so they meet learning targets. This new practice of evaluating student learning in the art classroom was very challenging for me as my students barely met the minimum growth the first time I gave the test. For the second time around I used study guides, review games, and increased the number of motivated students taking the test. Because I teach online, students are able to choose to take my SLA rather than being required to. This was a tricky issue to combat but a much higher percentage of my students hit their growth targets the second time around.

I implemented a discussion board in my classroom for the very first time this semester and even though it was extra credit, I received extremely high engagement. I asked students to reflect on contemporary and relevant questions about art. I used Scholastic Art magazine to start the discussions. I learned that some of my questions were more text-dependent than others and not all of the questions inspired high quality responses. I also only tried a handful of assignments where students needed to respond to each other. Next year I would like to implement more responses that encourage student-to-student interaction and improve the questions to be more text-dependent.
It has been a fantastic school year and as always, I am excited to take what I have learned and make next year even better. To close this entry I wanted to share an email I received from one of my graduating seniors this year. I feel incredibly lucky to do what I love every day and to make a positive difference in my students' lives. This is why I do what I do!

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