Be the change, new year

Pick One Thing to Try – An Idea from Tom Whitby

image from icanread

I always struggle with New Years Resolutions. I want to change a lot of things but as a mom of 4 now and a wife to an incredibly patient man, I need to make sure my need for change doesn’t overwhelm everybody else.  Last year I therefore decided to focus on the things I would keep rather than change, which led to a year with much more laughter, appreciation, and patience all around – you should try it.  This year, I love this notion from Tom Whitby of picking one thing to change in the new year, rather than many.  Therefore, I present you with a list of ideas; why don’t you

  • Try Genius hour?  This one hour project time for students where they get to explore whatever they want under a chosen theme is a must for any classroom.  I do this with my 5th graders in social studies and science and the exploration of knowledge that comes  from it is unbeatable.
  • Try a Mystery Skype?  If you want an easy way to connect students with others, work on geography skills, as well as how to function as a team under pressure, this is the thing to try.  Easy to set up and do but the learnign that comesfrom it is incredible.
  • Student blogging? I wanted to give my students a voice for me to hear, little did I know I would be connecting them with the world. Now anyone can see what is happening in the minds of my students simply by asking them.
  • Start A classroom website?  Sick of sending home paper copies of everything and not feeling like I communicated well with parents, I started a classroom website 3 years ago.  This little hub of information allows parents and students (and strangers!) to see exactly what we are up to through pictures, videos, and blog posts.  We also have an updated calendar for any classroom events.
  • Give Choice in learning?   How about asking students how they want to learn something?  You can start small with one idea and then grow from there.  You would be amazed at what the students come up with for their learning journey and the excitement they bring to the projects, all because their voice was added.
  • Read more books?  I started to get serious about my young adult and middle grade reading last year and I cannot tell you the benefits it has reaped.  I now excitedly pass out books to students, they recommend books to me, our classroom library is bursting at the seams and there is a genuine excitement for reading.  Now reading books I can pass on to my students is one of the top priorities of my time.
  • Get rid of grades?  No really.  I did and I have loved it.  Now the focus is not on the mark on the paper as much as it is on the learning that occurs.  While I have to still do report cards, the students are much more aware of where they are and where they need to go simply because we discuss it.
  • Get rid of homework or reduce it?  Now would be a great time to take stock of how much homework you are assigning and whether or not it is worth it.  I have been on a conscious path to reduce homework in every class as much as I possible can and the end result has been happier students, that actually come to me when needed and who want to use their time well.
  • Join the Global Read Aloud?  While we will not start the project until October 6th, 2014, that doesn’t mean it is too early to join.  This global reading project picks a book to be read aloud to students across the world during a 6 week period and then asks students to connect using technology to discuss the book.  All you need to join is the book (to be chosen in late spring) and a little bit of courage, I will help with the rest.

11 thoughts on “Pick One Thing to Try – An Idea from Tom Whitby”

  1. I read Tom’s blog and it got me thinking too. Sometimes I try too many new things. 🙂 Interestingly, I just saw Lu Ann Cahn on HLN talking about her new book, I Dare Me. It’s the story of her journey of trying one new thing a day in her personal life. I like the idea of focusing on one new thing and doing it well. Plus, it gives me an idea for my own blog. I’ll be sure to link your blog as well as Tom’s to mine. Thanks for sharing your thinking!

  2. Thank you Pernille. You and Tom Whitby are two of my favorite bloggers. While I certainly admire this list, along with the benefits of focusing on one new experience, the combinations of these are truly powerful learning experiences. For instance reading about a genius hour project combined with process / showcase blog highlighting the learning experience. This individualized, social learning is the proper and necessary direction that we should taking in education. Thank you for sharing your thoughts so eloquently. Happy New Year, Bob

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