I do not consider myself a master teacher. But I feel like I have brought myself closer to that goal this year than in my previous 5 years combined. And collaboration has been the key. My advice to all teachers who care to listen:
Get on Twitter and find some like minded people there.
Here’s just a few examples of how my Twitterings have helped me and my students this year (there are like a bajillion of these too!).
I follow Danny (college physics) and he posed the question “What is a model?”. You can see my reply and explanation there in the pic. What’s awesome is that this collaboration went from the classroom to twitter, then back again. Literally the next day in class, I used the analogy of a model being like a tool. We were in a circle holding up our whiteboards to show what we had learned from a lab. I told students to think about digging a hole. What would they do first? (Get a shovel) Then I said “the board you are holding is your shovel!”. Some of them were holding spoons we decided, and since it’s pretty hard to dig a hole with a spoon, we better figure out how to make those boards better.
I think it is very important that HS teachers begin talking more with college professors so that we can figure out where there may be gaps in kids’ knowledge between our classrooms. And so we can share ideas on best practices in teaching and learning. Guess where we all are?
The best idea in collaboration since the mathtwitterblogosphere: the CCSSM Draft! Last night, a small group of teachers decided to NFL-style draft their two favorite common core standards from grade 8, along with one math practice standard, and then create a lesson with them. Here’s the story of how the whole thing shaped up over the course of a few hours on a Friday night (it’s a little long, but give it a chance!).
What I especially love about this is that it feels like our version of Genius Hour (a sort of free for all learning time). I would love, love, love for my students to have Genius Hour in my class next year and so the chance to model what it looks like and what you can get out of it is awesome! Bonus: the link I provided up there for Genius Hour also shows how powerful Twitter can be as a collaboration tool.
Man, do I feel like the major underdog on that list for the CCSS Draft! I better bring my A game. 😉 And that’s the point, right? Give kids some time to work on something they care about, and they’ll bring their A game too.