Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Reviewing the past and looking forward to the future

This week I celebrated my birthday. I have always found that birthdays are a great time to look back over the past year and reflect on what I have accomplished and look forward to the new challenges that the new year brings. (I never seem to have the time for this reflection at New Year's!) I also just wanted to take a moment to thank my family for all the love and support that they have given me over the past year. I have been so busy with teaching, blogging, presenting, interviews, and writing, and I could never get it all done without a fantastic family standing with me supporting me all the way.

Over the last year, I have done four webinars with the help of Sophia and the Flipped Learning Network. I have been interviewed for three articles as well as an interview for a podcast with Troy Cockrum with the Flipped Learning Network. I did a presentation for my school district about the flipped classroom and another presentation for my state foreign language conference (CCFLT). I have also been elected to the Board of CCFLT. I have also been fortunate enough to have great conversations with many teachers not just from across the country, but around the world about the flipped class. These teachers have provided valuable insight, suggestions, and a sounding board that enables me to keep my sanity! (My husband likes it too because I have other people to talk to about the flip besides him!) I am also very excited about the new Flipping 2.0 book which is available for pre-order now! Being able to contribute to this great book with so many Flipped Class celebrities has made me feel awesome!

Although all of that has been wonderful, for me, the best part of last year was the success that my students felt in my classroom throughout the year. So many of my students did things that they never thought they could and surpassed not only their own expectations, but mine as well. There were still some things that did not go as planned, and as always, there are changes that I am making for the next year. However, I believe that if I ever stop thinking that I need to evaluate and make changes to the curriculum, it is probably time to find something else to do!

I have been fortunate to be accepted to speak and the AATSP and the ACTFL conferences this year as well as helping to organize/present a Flipped Class PD at CU in Boulder. I am also going hoping to present again at the CCFLT state conference as well as the Flipped Class Conference in Mars, Pennsylvania.

Looking towards next year in the classroom, I am working on moving all of my thematic units to a more "Essential Question" approach. I love the idea of focusing on interpretive, interpersonal and presentational aspects for each unit. Some of my units are already using this method (unintentionally) but I want them all to be incorporating all of these elements. I am also (this was a goal from last year) working on incorporating more PBL in my classroom. I am doing a bit of this, but I struggle with how and where to have the students present the work in the "real world". I am hoping that as I present and attend AATSP next week I will have some more great ideas. Nothing gets my creative juices flowing like a good conference!

In particular I need to work on my Spanish IV curriculum. In the past I have been a little looser with this class and moved from topic to topic as the students showed interest, but since my class has grown to 17 this year, I need to have a slightly more formal structure while still allowing the students to explore their interests and continue to increase their conversational skills. My planned units are Technology, Environment, Short Stories, Superstitions, Current Events, Ancient Cultures and Art. I am adding Technology to the Spanish IV curriculum because I did not get to it last year in 3, and I think it fits better in 4. I am adding the Ancient Cultures unit because I have already had some students show some interest in the theme, and I am thinking about a unit in conjunction with Math about Mayan math and culture. After going through the new state teacher evaluation this year, I am exploring ways I can cover some Math in the class without having to actually teach tons of math. (Scary stuff!)

In Spanish III, I am doing some tweaking and moving the Environment unit down from IV. After seeing what many other teachers are doing, I think it makes more sense in the lower level. I am also working on a collaboration project with Math for this class as well. I am still working with Steve Kelly and Zach Cresswell, but so far I am thinking about a statistical comparison of US culture with a Hispanic country (student choice) culture.

Although it is only July, I have so much to do and I am so excited about the new school year. I only managed to take about a week or two off from thinking about school, but I think I am ready to jump back in and see what cool things I can come up with to make this year the best yet. Stay tuned!

PS - If you will be at AATSP in San Antonio, let me know! I am looking forward to meeting lots of you face-to-face. Contact me here, email, or via Twitter at @SraWitten. I will be posting about the sessions I attend at the conference for those who can't be there next week.