Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Critical Friends Group formed

For the next few weeks, in addition to "regular" Edge posts, I will be posting reactions and thoughts from my new Critical Friends Group.  We are reading Adolescent Literacy, Turning Promise into Practice by Beers, Probst, and Rief.  The book is a compilation by noted literacy experts such as Jim Burke, Yvette Jackson, Chris Crutcher, et al.  Those of you working in the field of literacy are welcome to share experiences, post comments, or contact me offline.  We will be writing about, reading, and discussing how students learn to read & write, the role of the teacher in the process, different types of literacy such as visual literacy, for example.  My first essay to read is "The Need to Write, the Need to Listen by Ruth Shagoury.  Stay tuned...

Monday, January 24, 2011

A Whack to the Side of the Head

I have been trying to figure out how to turn paper-intensive projects into paperless ones for a while now.  Most recently, I have been tweaking my seventh grade medieval project.  There are so many web-based resources I want students to examine.  Yet seventh graders need the quick turn around of papers turned in and handed back....or so I thought.  We recently began the 2011 Medieval Project.  I told kids I would be happy to work with them electronically or in paper.  It was their choice.  Right now, I have 6 kids who bring iPads to class and roughly 5 more who regularly bring laptops.  We are nearing 20% of kids who bring their own tools to school.  A small number of students missed a video on Vikings shown on Friday.  One student in her email asked if she could simply watch the video online.  "That's it," I thought and sat down to see if I could devise an electronic alternative for kids who miss class videos.  It took about 2 hours to find the appropriate videos on YouTube, create the note taking organizer, post everything to my YouTube playlist, and email the kids that they could complete the assignment on their terms at home.

Today in class, kids set their own homework assignments for the next two weeks.  Within thirty minutes of the end of school, I began receiving electronic versions of assignments.  Kids clearly have the skill to go paperless.  The assignments have been coming in all night.  Tomorrow's class will review a couple of skills I haven't ever taught seventh graders.  They need to know how to accept changes in a word-processing document, create a pdf file, include attachments, etc.  This is going to be a very exciting project!  Yes, we will also talk about filing more lost papers!

Nothing like a group of energetic seventh graders to get me off my duff and moving in a direction I have wanted to go for a long time.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Just Another Day

Ever wondered what teachers do all day?  Today, I began by checking my classroom electronics for the guest speaker who would speak this afternoon.  Packing up two laptops for transport came next.  After that, we had an assembly.  Then, it was off to drive a 12 ton bus to a local elementary school.  After checking in with the office, I headed for the library.  Using Elluminate software, I participated in a webinar sponsored by Mofet, an educational research group in Tel Aviv, Israel.  Yes, the time difference was 10 hours.  Next, I conferred with two students who were using the laptops to complete a make-up test.  More bus driving.  Took students to lunch at a local shopping center.  Back at school, we had another assembly.  The afternoon was spent with artists such as Bill Oakley, head writer for the Simpsons.  The day ended with a faculty meeting presentation about the proposed new Arts Building.  After dinner, I finished up planning for the medieval unit which begins Tuesday.  I wonder what tomorrow will bring?