Sunday, September 21, 2008

course management

I have created an "online" course experience for my students who are "retreads."

Those who have taken the class before and do not need language support are doing a self-paced version. I posted all of their learning activities on a wiki and am having them post them on their Goolge site.

I'm pretty excited. I've been playing with the idea of a course management system, namely sakai, but I may be able to do most things through a wiki.

the are blogging on a "reflection" page, doing notes and activities directly on their site.

its kinda cool....

I'm going to observe them this week, it is the first full week and see if they are more on task and completing more activities than before.

I am also excited that I can rescue my monolingual students and start emphasizing language through content!!

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

how to move from great to good

I don't know how "PC" this blog post will be....this is a warning.....I'm going to use this post to vent because I find that by venting I find clarification and ultimately new direction and resolve.
I love to teach, but sometimes I feel like the cliche: babysitter. I plan, sometimes to a fault and all I end up doing in a day is chasing students around the room, asking them to get on task and then pretending not to have my feelings hurt when the call me a name (the latest is McAsshole)!

I want each of my students to feel cared for and know that I expect them to excel. I wonder how clearly I have been able to voice this message over the past two weeks?!

My biggest headache comes from my 3rd and 4th block Social Studies classes. I thought they were supposed to be "ELA", but our school has such a high course failure rate, that half of the students are what Jennings lovingly refers to as "retreads." (Retreading works for my tires.....for a time, but isn't helping these students learn to learn or live. ) So, I have half of my students learning language, and the other half retaking the class. I can't really teach language....I attempt to teach content to students who have no idea what I'm saying and chasing the other half of my class around the room with threats and plees to "do thier work." Looking at my gradebook, I see that noone is passing ----- noone is completeing thier work.

I have often told myself: "I am a good teacher, good teachers handle all situations with grace and agility and make all students learn."

Last night I was reading a book for my Evaluation class for my principal's license. In summary it said, the job of a supervisor is to fascilitate growth among teachers so that students get the best education possible. It also said that supervisors must be aware of the teacher's experience, maturity, life obsticles, and setting ----what they have to deal with inside the 4 walls of their classroom. Supervisors should give teachers, especially young teachers, opportunities to grow and that means making sure their setting is manageable.

I keep comparing myself to Jennings. However, eve with 30 years teaching I won't be as great as she is nor will I command as much respect. Yet, here I am, a teacher with only three years experience expecting the results of a teacher with thirty. And, I feel that my administration expects the same.....wouldn't my class load be different if they did?

My question: how do I move from being a good teacher to a great teacher in my current setting?

And when did I become the teacher that blames my failures on my administration(/counseling center)?

I need to differetiate....everyone says so, but none can explain to me the steps to do it. It seems that differentiation can be explained in theory by textbooks, peers and administrators but, it takes experience and intuition to do it....and do it well.

By looking at my classes, I need to differentiate and create three - four lesson plans for each class. --- Thats my next step to figure out how to do this efficiently.

I also need to make sure I acknowlege my students who are on task....

I need to plan activities that are kinesthetic and allow for movement.....maybe I won't have to chase these kids around so much...

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


Woe, there is so much to do when school starts I don't know where to begin. I keep giving myself other tasks to do too....but they are so much fun!

First Area of Distraction
Dave Tarwater and I spent my plan today attempting to put Sakai onto one of the computers in my classroom. Our limited understanding of networks thinks that we can use one of the computers as a small server. Some where we did something wrong and it didn't work. I was hoping that it would be much easier to use than moodle. However, downloading and installing was way more than we could muscle today. I think there is something wrong with where our directory is pointed. I'm going to try the download from rSmart tomorrow. From playing around I really like the cleanness of Sakai, it doesn't seem as fumbly as moodle. It also offers blogs and eportfolios....I'm very excited about this. We're hoping to replace the e-courses that the school currenlty pays for with Sakai.

Second Area of Distraction
The ILT is planning on defining the new academies that our school will be moving into next year. We will be presenting the vision during after school PD sessions over 2 days. However, we had to throw in an overview session with the whole staff given by our principal. I did the math. Getting 80 teachers to leave one area of the school after the initial presentations to go to another part of school to get the overview of each acaademy seemed like a waste of time. We only have 45 mintues after school each day. SOO......I thought it would be cool if the teachers broke into their session and watched a streaming video of the principal at the same time. SWEET!! However, UStream does not work in-district(?) and whiziq only offers a small video with the larger white board....not what I was looking for. So, Joe pointed me to Mogulus, which is pretty sweet. It sets up like a news channel with scrolling text and everything. Also, your viewers don't need an account, you just point them to your page ( You can even embed in a webpage or a blog!!! It has a chat feature ....which would be cool, but it doesn't work in district...

I've enjoyed being distracted, but I have some cool stuff going on in my classes too....but its late, I'll share more tomorrow!