Saturday, August 28, 2010

A Parting Shot at ED526B

Over the years, we experience "good byes" in many different ways. From the first time a toddler, under the watchful care of Grandma, watches Mom and Dad walk out the door to the first day of kindergarten to the first day of college ... the list goes on. In a small sense, completing this class is the same way ... there's a sense of completion and moving on and reflection back on what has been learned and accomplished over the last seven weeks. Here are my reflections ...

First, some comments on the class structure. This was my seventh online class at Arcadia University, but the first class where a weekly online class meeting was mandated. Largely as a result of that class time together, I felt a strong sense of being part of a classroom community, rather than taking an online class that - by the way - was also being taken by x number of other students. Bob Stock and I have taken all seven classes together, so we have worked together, talked together, whined together, and certainly have connected throughout our classes. But the fact that we could hear other people's voices and were also compelled to interact with them through projects or blogs increased the sense of community.

Besides the classroom community that Maria created, she also created a sense of being part of a larger education community and mathematics community by the assignments to attend and participate in online webinars each week. Though it was sometimes difficult to connect with these webinars - let's see, if it is 9 am in Australia, what time is it in Pennsylvania?? - I did gain a sense of being part of something bigger than myself. I have always enjoyed being part of something bigger, and this was definitely an asset within the class. Besides the "feeling" of being part of this community, I also had the opportunity to hear from and connect with some high caliber people - Dan Meyer, Don Cohen - who have phenomenal backgrounds and are more than willing to share their learning with part of a larger community.

On a side note, I have many times gotten the sense that many professional teachers are "lone wolves" and happy to be that way. They enjoy being in "their" classroom, doing "their" thing, and are unhappy with anything - be it administrators, new rules / procedures, in service days - which interfere with "their" environment. They create their own worksheets and exams and rarely share any of their prized work with others. After all, it took lots of time to create this stuff - why should I give it away? I have always felt that collaboration in the business world is a positive thing and I believe the same to be true for teaching. I enjoy being able to share things that I have learned with other teachers and have no qualms about sharing knowledge or classroom materials with others. In fact, this week, I turned a couple of my colleagues onto "Jing" as a great way to create webcasts and capture screen images for classroom presentations.

So, what will I take away from this class? I will certainly take away the idea of collaboration and embracing a larger online community. I will make regular use of online videos and "musical interludes" within my classroom. (In fact, I had a trainer this week who made use of music within her one day workshop - great confirmation about the power of music!) I will make use of some of the tools I learned in class - Jing, in particular. I like the idea of being able to create webcasts that I can not only use in my classes, but put online for my students to use to review or reinforce their learning. I will have a higher expectation of my students to make use of the web to perform tasks inside the class and outside of the class.

It is difficult to complete quantify everything that I will take from this class, but there are things that will come up from time to time which will remind me of the adventure. Anytime I see a rafting trip or an escalator, I will think about Dan Meyer. Anytime I hear about a child math protege, I will thing of Don Cohen. And any time I see someone doing great collaborative work, I will think of Maria.

I have enjoyed being part of this adventure!

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