lit lover book

reflections of an ever-evolving educator

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

grading marathon: day 3

Am I the only teacher who finds herself spending at least 2 hours each day of spring break grading?

I can almost see the light--it's dim, and obscured by the clouds, but there's a glow around their fluffy edges.

blogs lead the way

Like Teach42 and budtheteacher, I find myself getting really excited about technology in the classroom these days. Our school board is considering a massive shift, and our local community is greeting it with great consternation, to say the least. Through special options tax funds earmarked for educational technology, our school board is considering the purchase of laptops for every high school and middle school teacher and student in our district. Part of the plan would also include a wireless network, a network that would eventually be accessible to students at home as well as at school.

I think it's visionary, as I've stated in an earlier post, but our district feels otherwise (which I've also detailed). I won't go there again. However, what has me really excited is all the potential we have to make meaningful changes in our educational practice if the board flies in the face of public criticism and moves ahead with the proposed plan. I attended a forum for teachers only a couple of weeks ago, and I felt those first date butterflies in my stomach as I began to consider exactly how this plan could really change the way my classroom (and others of course) works.

A few days later, I met with our ILT (instructional lead teacher), and we began to map out a plan for training teachers to utilize the coming technology. She wants me to begin by introducing blogs to teachers as an easy way to create a class website. The more we talked, the more excited we both became as I explained my understanding of the potential blogs can offer, and how much greater that potential could be if every kid could be using and accessing and contributing to his/her own and others' blogs throughout the school day. We also talked about other technologies, but the ILT felt that the simplest way to get teachers who are reluctant on board would be to begin with blogs.

How great is that?

Saturday, April 02, 2005

the rewards of procrastination

I had such a good time with my freshmen Wednesday. I spent some time Monday night putting together a Jeopardy review game for The Odyssey (SO much more fun than grading the essays that are threatening to grow mold at this point). I downloaded a great template from a site which also included a very helpful planning sheet. The kids loved it. They got so competitive and goofy, and I laughed more than I have all year with them. I hope that next year, my second one with this prep, I'm able to inject more of the creative, fun aspects of learning. While I know it doesn't always have to involve playing a game, having new textbooks and switching from seniors to freshmen has been quite an adjustment for me. I feel as though I'm just beginning to "get them." So I'm hopeful about next year.

In my quest to avoid grading papers, I've been spending my time on other really productive ventures (just not quite so critical as the grading really is right now). I've begun working quite a bit with NoteTaker, an awesome Mac application that you really have to see to believe. Aquaminds makes it and they're working on a Windows version for the rest of you folks, but it won't be available till sometime in 2006. The basic premise of the software is creating a virtual notebook, but it can do so much more than that. Like export your entire notebook into a website (you wouldn't believe how fast and flawlessly that feature works--it takes less time than saving a single Word page as html and without the mangling of format). Like export an entry into your blog via ecto. Like import and/or embed documents from other applications. Like export individual pages into Word. And lots of other stuff I haven't even had a chance to play with or discover yet.

My new infatuation with NoteTaker has led me to begin a staff manual for yearbook, to begin creating a notebook that will house all of my 9th lit materials, and to my creating a notebook for my next unit on poetry (which necessitated actually writing the unit). I told a friend yesterday that once I get caught up, I'm going to be so impressed and pleased by all the other work I got done while I was procrastinating.