I sat in front of my computer the other night, trying to determine Open Education opportunities I have had over the course of this term. I’ve tweeted and chatted and sat around a “campfire” with people I admire and am amazed at. One person’s blog, in particular, has inspired me to change how I view the technology in my classroom and to look at the “why” of what I am teaching.
I have followed Matt B Gomez’s blog for about 6 months now. I had heard of him, had conversations with him on twitter, and knew of him from #kinderchat. At the end of the last school year, I decided to start checking his blog posts on a regular basis. I had subscribed to his blog, but hadn’t really taken the time to sit and really read his writing. Over the summer, when I received an email about a new post, I would give it a quick scan and go back to whatever pressing summer task was at hand. I didn’t really read the post until I saw one that I had originally skipped titled, “Living Centers in Elementary Classrooms”. It was a re-post from a year earlier, but as I read it, I started to get excited about implementing this idea into my own classroom. I realized that just skimming these posts of Matt’s was not cutting it. I had to get serious, because this teacher in Texas had amazing ideas.
I started to go back over Matt’s blog, and now when an email comes in to tell me that he has posted, I try to find an actual space of time to read and think about his post. As with everything, there are some things that I am not sure I am quite ready to do in my class, but I have started to adapt some of his suggestions and ideas to our learning environment. I recently expressed my frustration over teaching writing with my students. It has always been my weakest subject area to teach, and I was at a loss at how to help my little people take pencil to paper and express themselves. Matt mentioned his Wonder Journals to me, which was a blog post I had skimmed. I went back to look at how he used the app Explain Everything to show a picture from Wonderopolis. Under the picture are 1-2 simple vocabulary words to help the kids recording what they wonder. I went back and read that post again and took the idea back to my class. We didn’t jump right into the writing the first day, but looked at pictures and wondered aloud at the marvel we saw. By now, my kids are starting to record their thoughts and images in a Wonder Journal of their own, and are realizing that writing is not just frame sentences and phonics lessons.
There are so many ideas in Matt’s blogs. He posts videos to show how he uses technology in the class and to highlight apps that he feels work in a classroom setting. He gave me the idea to plop a couple of our jack-o-lanterns into the school plant bed so that we could watch them decompose. His dance and alphabet mixes on Symbaloo get used a lot in my room, and have inspired me to start “messing around” with my own Symbaloo page. He has helped to show me that the iPad in my room can do far more than I ever imagined. I have started to refer other people to his website when they ask me for “good” apps and ideas for the limited technology in their rooms.
I would love to be able to walk across the hall or drive down the street to visit Mr. Gomez’s classroom and see him in action. But I can’t. Professional Development funds won’t quite cover the cost of a trip to Texas. His blogs are the next best thing to seeing inside his room, and thankfully, one can usually find him at the kinderchat for questions and advice.
Thanks for the learning and inspiration.