The Electric Educator: 5 Goals for the School Year

Thursday, August 26, 2010

5 Goals for the School Year

Before the start of each new school year I sit down and identify five goals that I want to focus on for the year. These were my goals for the 2010 School year (you can read the full post here):

1. Improve reverse-instructional model.
2. Continue to improve the Wii interactive whiteboard for class use.
3. Improve assessments to require more critical thinking and problem solving.
4. Increase the number of assignments that require collaborative and creative work.
5. Encourage and challenge the teaching staff around me by modeling effective uses of technology.

I am happy to report that I met all of my goals for last year! Many of them are ongoing (I certainly haven't mastered reverse instruction, but I made some improvements). I am most proud of the progress I made on incorporating critical thinking into my assessments and modeling the effective use of technology. It's good to reflect on the past--  it helps determine the direction you are heading. 

Another school year is approaching and here are my five goals for the 2010-2011 school year. 

1. Model the effective use of Google Apps in the classroom. 
My school signed on to Google Apps several years ago but has only been utilizing it for staff email. I have been lobbying for the opportunity to use Google Apps with my students and have finally gotten the green light to pilot a program with my 49 freshmen biology students. 

As a Google Certified Teacher I have had the opportunity to see and hear tremendous examples of how teachers are using Google Apps in their classroom. Google Apps is a dynamic suite of tools that enables collaboration and dynamic student driven projects. 

I will be utilizing Google Apps on four specific project over the course of the year. It is more important for me to do four assignments unbelievably well than to do a lot of mediocre activities. 
  • Project 1: Student Generated Surveys (Tools: Spreadsheet, Forms, Presentation)
  • Project 2: Collaborative Cell Research Project (Tools: Docs)
  • Project 3: Infographics (Tools: Docs, Spreadsheets, Presentation)
  • Project 4: Biome Site (Tools: Docs, Sites)
2. Post weekly on my classroom blog.
I have been blogging for nearly two years now but it has been a reflective practice that I have done in my spare time. I have not incorporated blogging into my classroom. This year the ed. tech. director is encouraging all of our staff to maintain student blogs. It's a great challenge and idea and I'm jumping on board! 

My goal is to post at least once per week. Hopefully more, but I want to make sure I set an obtainable goal. Furthermore, most of the posts will be student generated. Tuesdays are lab days in my class and I hope to have one student summarize the purpose, process, and results of the lab for publication on the class blog. I'll also be featuring multimedia highlighting the culture and energy of the class. 

I am hopeful that through regular posting I will be able to cultivate an audience of parents, students, and other educators. I am also looking to form a partnership with another biology class somewhere in the world. If you're interested, please leave me a comment or send me an email and we can set something up! 

3. Improve and expand the use of 20% time in my Anatomy & Physiology class.
Note: 20% time is a corporate policy at Google that states that all Google employees MUST spend 20% of their time working on a project of their own choosing that is not related to their primary assignment. Many of Google's most popular products (such as Gmail) are the result of 20% time. 

Last year I piloted a 20% project at the end of the year after my seniors had left. The project had to be complex, shared with the world, and had to help the student learn something they did not know but were interested in.

The project was successful, but is in need of further refinement and focus. Over the summer I had the pleasure of swapping ideas with Kevin Brookhouser who is using the same concept in his high school English class. We collaborated on ways to improve the quality of the student generated projects through clear instruction and guidelines. I'm excited to put some of our ideas into practice with my Anatomy & Physiology students! This experience will undoubtedly turn into a future blog post. 

4. Help teachers at my school set and meet their goals for implementing technology into their classroom. 
I have been leading grassroots professional development sessions for two year. I have led sessions on conquering email, searching effectively, and presentations beyond PowerPoint. These sessions have been well received however I have not see a tremendous impact in the classroom. This year I will be helping teachers craft technology goals and helping them meet them. I expect that two of the most common goals will be classroom blogging and developing a PLN. 

5. Master the art of the webinar
I have led meetings and professional development sessions, presented at conferences, and spoken to large and small groups. I have not, however led a webinar. This popular form of virtual communication is becoming increasingly more common and it is something that I would like to become proficient at. As a professional, I see it as a necessity. Leading a webinar requires different facilitatory skills than a face to face meeting just like teaching in a traditional classroom is different than teaching online. I plan on attending a few webinars to observe good and bad practices and will lead at least one during the course of the year.

Those are my five goals for the coming school year. I welcome the accountability of my PLN throughout the year to help ensure that I meet my goals. Have you set goals for yourself? Blogged about it? Please leave a link to your post! I'd love to read it and see what your goals are. 


  1. John, you are an inspiration. I admire your goals! Thanks for all you've done to help the rest of us. By the way, classroom blogging & developing a PLN are definitely two things I'd like to achieve this year.

  2. Thanks for joining me over here, Renee! I appreciate your willingness to try new things. You are truly a "life-long learner."


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