School’s Out for Summer (Can You Hear Alice Cooper Singing?)

Officially, the last day of school, and the last day teachers had to be at school, was May 21.  I haven’t posted in awhile, however.  Here’s why.

Most teachers, as far as I know, finalize grades, clean their rooms, file away lesson plans, and head out to enjoy their summer.    I suspect most of them will do the bulk of their planning for the next school year more towards the end of the summer just before school starts in August.  And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with this.  I just choose to do things slightly differently.

After the Advanced Placement exams on May 11 of this year, I had less than a week before final exams, and until the final exams need to be graded, I usually have a fair amount of extra time on my hands.  Certainly after grades are finalized, I usually have close to 10 days in May to work.  For me, summer really begins on June 1.

So what have I done over the last couple of weeks?  I tweaked my course syllabi for each of my three classes, paying particular attention to adding information about technology expectations and consequences now that I will have 1:1 classrooms.  I planned in detail from start to finish my first units for each of my three classes – schedules, lessons, assignments, and final assessments – adding some things and taking away others.  This year, as I’ve already mentioned, I won’t be using my Wiki any longer, so I came up with a new communication system, (Edmodo, which I will write about in a future post) and that new system is launched and ready to go for the first day of school.  Since 1:1 has changed many things about my classroom management system and daily lesson plans, it also forced me to change my own personal filing system, both hardcopy filing and digital.  So that too has been re-organized over the last couple of weeks.  I even found some time to take down some old bulletin boards in my classroom and design some new ones.  As it stands, if everything goes as planned, I will return in August with only a few minor things to prepare.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean I won’t think about school or do any more work throughout the summer.  Every teacher that I know does some work over the summer.  It just means that the work I do will be at a bit more leisurely pace, and I won’t run around in August stressed about how little time there is before the kids show up for the first day of class.  When the scores for the AP exams come back in early July, you can bet I will spend some time rethinking and tweaking lessons and assessments.  And when I read an article or hear a news report about some new program or book, you can bet I will look into it and see if it can’t be incorporated into my courses.  This blog will be the place where I do some of this thinking “aloud” and explain my rationale to myself and others for why I’m making certain choices rather than others. Just as a heads up, some of the things I’m currently thinking through include the problems associated with assessing projects, problem-based learning, and whether to set my courses up on iTunes U. I’ll be posting about each of these issues along with others in the coming days and weeks.

But right now, I’ve got a homemade iced coffee and a good book waiting for me by the pool.  School is definitely out for summer!

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