Reading Year in Review and What’s Next

This year, my goal was to read 70 books. I exceeded that goal with about eight books. Another goal was to read more children’s literature and middle-grade literature. Overall, that was successful.

Here are my top five books read from 2015:

  1. The Hired Girl
  2. The Uncommon Reader
  3. Serafina and the Black Cloak
  4. El Deafo
  5. Legend of Ghost Dog

For 2016, I will move my reading goal down to 65 as I will get married this year and move into my first house in late winter.

Some reading goals are:

  1. Finish Anne of Green Gables Series
  2. Finish A Series of Unfortunate Events series
  3. Read The Peculiar Series again by Ransom Riggs
  4. Read a classic book a month (will start with The BFG and finish Anne of Windy Poplars)
  5. Blog about my reading progress each month
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Thing 22: Productivity

Update from last year: I continually use Evernote for book study groups that I participate in at school. This site helps me keep notes and reflections organized, but other than professional development, I do not use it for anything else. 

HootSuite

This year, my school has a Facebook account. The district’s website was brand-new and schools needed a social media presence. I am one of the managers for the school’s Facebook account, and wanted to use Hootesuite to manage the account. I hooked up my Twitter account (for professional use mainly) and school’s Facebook account. I appreciate that though these are two different sites, I can check accounts from the same place. It is easier to log into Hootesuite, rather than log into two separate accounts; it has saved me time. On Hootesuite, the schedule-updates-for-a-later-time feature is helpful as sometimes the day can be busy, but I can still schedule posts like “Half day tomorrow, dismissal at x time” or reminders of events that occur. I do have to be careful that I post to the correct account. So far, there have been no issues with this tool, and I do plan to continue to use it.

Scrible

This tool looked interesting to me. When I used it, it was nice to see how user-friendly it was. All I had to do was add a toolbar as a Chrome extension. I do have a project to use this tool for, and it will be with the IFC standards’ documents. This year, I have written a curriculum to match standards with content by each grade level. There have been some errors along the way and some standards I can combine into one lesson. I want to use this for that project this summer. I have notes on hard copies of lessons, but I want to update the standard sheet on the Web that I have. Additionally, I want to show this tool to my upper-grade levels, as they complete more intensive research projects in the spring. This site can help them organize thoughts, but will have to be installed on the lab computers at school. That will not require much time, but will be a step to complete before students use it. Overall, I am excited to use this tool, but it will be on the back-burner until the spring/summer when I need it.

Thing 11: Coding

This past week, some classes participated in the Hour of Code. Given the choice between Star Wars, Minecraft and Frozen, the students chose Star Wars or Minecraft. This coding journey could have been a flop or success; it proved to be a positive experience for students and myself.

I tinkered with the Hour of Code website before showing students how to use the program. That way, I would hopefully field questions or possible concerns that students might have had. Before starting the coding game, I loved how there was a video that provided knowledge about computer science and programming. This gave students some information to think about and maybe consider this field a career choice down the road.

Before this week, I did not have much experience coding. I know some basic HTML, but that’s about it. Everything about this week’s lesson was outside my comfort zone, but that was OK. It was beneficial to push outside my comfort zone to try new things; I need to practice what I preach to students.

I decided to try the Star Wars code game. It took time to figure out what I actually had to accomplish to move to the next level. Not being strong in math or science, I journeyed on to finish the levels. You have to problem-solve, think of the next step and imagine different possibilities. After completing the levels, I felt accomplished and thought, “This is kind of neat.” It took some time for me to finish, but I was happy I did not give up.

In classes, I noticed students’ process of thinking. Surprisingly, students that learn non-traditionally had an easier time thinking outside the box. Students were engaged and asked to do this again. I will attempt to make coding one of my weekly makerspace classes.

Overall, coding was a new experience for me and students. Were we perfect coders the first time around? No way, and that’s OK. Part of makerspaces, coding and STEAM involves making mistakes and trying again. It is part of the learning process and the journey.

I do think that coding should have a place in schools, especially elementary, so as to spark interest in STEAM and to have students think about different college/career options. Coding showed my students to think outside the box, but realized it’s OK to not have everything correct the first time around.