Ramblings on curriculum and standards

There was no set curriculum for library specials that was provided to me when I began my job in 2013. I only had a set of standards called the Information Fluency Continuum (IFC). With these standards, I had to create my own curriculum for 7 different grade levels.

I would spend hours on nights and on the weekends developing different lessons for grade levels each week. Being a brand-new teacher, I did not know my students or culture of the school. It took one whole year to determine students’ weaknesses and strengths, as well as become accustomed to the culture of my school. Some lessons flopped, and other lessons were successful. I finally made it through my first year with many changes I wanted to implement for the second year.

Now in my second year, I still spend as many hours working on lessons. We have many new transfer students this year, plus a new ELL population to the school. I have grown this year through creating new lessons to match the IFC standards. With each lesson, I took careful notes to revise for my third year as a teacher.

Currently, I am a participant in a study group called “Explicit Direct Instruction.” The group has helped me realize that clearly defined learning objectives taken from the standards help drive instruction, not the standards themselves. I was not being the best teacher I could be for my students.

This year, I have bookmarked websites, have filled notebooks with lesson ideas for grade levels and taken notes from conferences. My goal this summer is to create units and/or lessons with learning objectives taken from the standards. I need to create learning objectives from the standards to drive my lessons. I need to incorporate more movement into lessons, more ways to reach diverse learners.

I know I have a good start, but trial and error, experience and practice will help me develop a finely crafted and effective library curriculum for my students. I think an effective teacher frequently assesses their methods internally and innovates instructional strategies to match how their students learn. Each day is different. Each student is different.


Thing 17: You Pick

After looking at the article “Top 100 Tools For Learning,” I explored some assessment tools that made the list this year. Some tools were new to me, some I have recently learned and some I have used in a different capacity. The tools included:

  • Kahoot: This is a new tool to me. I have created an account for Kahoot, and I love it so far. I continually look for new ways to assess my younger students. With only a 30-minute lesson each way, I need to make assessments meaningful and relatively quick. I do not create formal exams, but rather informal checks for understandings and/or reflections. I like that Kahoot has a game-like feel to it. Students like anything with sounds and fun colors. As soon as students answer a question, I can see if they understood the target of the lesson. This will help me determine if I have to reteach the main point or if I can move onto another target
  • Google Forms: Since this winter, I have participated in a Google online course through my local BOCES. One week’s topic was all about Google Forms and how to use the tool as an assessment. So far, I have used Google Forms with my first- through fourth-grade students. I have posted reflection questions and assessments using the tool. This tool has saved me from making countless print copies and I love how the data automatically uploads into a Google Sheet. This helps me determine if students master a target. Students have found this tool easy to use, and I only had to provide directions a few times
  • Socrative: I have used Socrative with older students last year, but I helped upload questions into the tool for a professional development study group at my school this past week. Teachers were asked questions about explicit direct instruction. To lead a group discussion, we pulled the answers on the board that teachers answered and talked about different strategies other people used in the classroom. I like how I could export the results into an excel sheet to use as reference

Thing 25: Power Up Your Browser

Part 1: For this part, I explored the different settings that Google Chrome has to offer users. I did not know how many features I had missed under the settings in the browser. Here are some settings I explored and changed:

  • Default browser: I made Google Chrome my default browser for my laptop. Internet Explorer is also installed, but I prefer Chrome to search and to complete work. I utilize Google Drive for school work, so the change made sense
  • Appearance: I gave the browser a theme and checked the setting to always show my bookmarks bar. With my bookmarks always visible, I have saved clicks accessing websites
  • Privacy settings: I have changed the settings to ask if a website wants to physically track where I am and to send notifications. For this section, I reviewed all the privacy options available and set options to fit with my style

Part 2: In the second part of this assignment, I added three new extensions to Chrome that I will continue to use and that I would recommend to others:

  • Pinterest: Very often, I search for lesson ideas or library inspiration. In the past, I would search other Pinterest boards, but now I can search through the Web and click the Pinterest extension button at the top
  • Readability: When I look through articles on websites, there can be numerous ads. I like that I can click this extension and the ads are not visible. This has helped me to focus on the content and message of an article, rather than looking at the ads and becoming distracted
  • Delicious: When I see a tweet with a link or something neat that pops up on my RSS feed, I usually email the link to my email to store in a separate folder. I decided to store links using the Delicious extension. I like that the steps to store a link are now less, and everything is now in one spot