Monthly Archives: January 2014

4 Tools to Help Structure a Reflective Teaching Practice

This article also appears on Edutopia at this link

While I was in the process of preparing for National Board Certification about ten years ago, I realized I needed to develop means to carry forward the most important thing I learned from the certification process–reflection. I wanted to ensure it would become a regular and normal habit of my professional journey. I resolved to reflect regularly on my teaching practice by putting into place a structured means to ensure I was without excuse to reflect easily and often. I decided to set up a few tech tools, outlined as follows. Evernote Firstly, I use Evernote, as they say, to “remember everything!” Evernote is an amazing tool which works on all my devices, whichever one I have underhand when I need to record something – talk about being without excuse to record my thoughts, ideas, intentions and resolutions! I can use the apps on my phone, iPad, and laptop, or I can use a browser on the desktop computer in my classroom. I can email a note to my Evernote account, and clip webpages for later use, as well as articles to read later. I can take photos and easily add notes about what I have captured visually. I use Evernote’s Clearly to format articles for easier reading, and Evernote’s Skitch to mark up a pdf or a photo with comments. I recently purchased a Jot Script pen from Adonit to use with Evernote’s Penultimate app which allows me to draw or take handwritten notes, if I am tried of typing and think I can read my penmanship when I return to the note! Penultimate, Skitch and Clearly all save my notes to my Evernote account. I can capture just about anything I want, and add notes as well as tags to help me sort my notes later into notebooks by categories. Evernote is great! Diigo Diigo has quickly become one of my very favorite tools. I use Diigo to bookmark resources on the web, rather than in my browser. Why? I have a few reasons. Firstly, my bookmarks are available wherever I am since they are stored in the cloud, not just on one machine. Not only that, but I can attach a note or comment to any bookmark I save, then share it with others, and tag the bookmarks for later sorting. Additionally, I can share the bookmark with a group, and post an idea or strategy to use the resource. Other group members can share ideas with me as well. I love the ability to reflect collaboratively about ways to use the resources in my lessons. I also like to use Diigo to annotate readings for my students with highlights to draw their attention to certain details, and sticky notes with questions and/or prompts to guide their reading and elicit deeper engagement with the text. Diigo generates a shortened link to my annotated page, which I then share on Edmodo with my students. Twitter That leads me to Twitter, which has easily become one of the primary tools I use for reflection. As I share resources with my PLN, and they with me, many of us have engaged in discussions about ways to use them. I like following others’ blogs, and leaving comments or questions to open up a reflective conversation among peers. I know when my colleagues have posted something when they tweet it out. My teaching has been so very enriched by these exchanges! Edutopia Finally, I come home to Edutopia. I have so enjoyed the opportunities to collaborate with the good people at Edutopia, many of whom I have met since we are so close. Though I have been to the ‘ranch’ only a few times, I have collaborated via Skype, email and Twitter, as well as met with my colleagues at conferences here and there. More importantly, however, I have access to all those who stop by the site to read an article, and leave a question or a comment, which I hope many of you will do in response to this very post! I think we live in such an amazing time when we can collaborate virtually across the globe on common points of interest. So how about it, friends?! What are your thoughts about reflective practice? Have you structured means to engage in reflection alone and with others? Do you connect with others which works well for you, and which you could share with us all here on Edutopia? I look forward to your ideas and comments. I may find another tool to scaffold my thinking this term, and so might you! Wishing you all great reflection opportunities, and a Happy New Year as well! Don