Saturday, February 27, 2010

Netbooks have arrived

The netbooks have arrived and are now in my classroom. They are so cute. Monday will be an interesting day. I'm looking forward to trying them out on Monday. I want to give the students an opportunity to use them, and I want to get my warnings out of the way. Cary keeps saying, "Don't look for tools, but rather start with what you want to teach them." This is a tough statement to follow. It is hard not to get caught up in the gadgets part of it.

British Literature: They are about to start reading Canterbury Tales on Monday. I'm thinking about giving them some time on Monday to research Thomas a Becket. I wonder if I keep it less formal if it will produce more geniune learning.

Humor and Satire: The students will finish reading Taming of the Shrew on Monday and I'm trying to think of a culminating assignment for them. They will have a take home test based on three essay questions that will force them to delve into the material and hopefully have a deeper understanding of the play. I want the in-class assignment to be based around the question, "Is this a sexist play?" Again I want them to think critically, collaborate, and enjoy Shakespeare. I just haven't come up with the assignment yet.

Monday opens up so many opportunities in my classroom. I feel like so many restrictions that hold teachers down have been lifted off of my classroom.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Crazy Days

The past couple of weeks feel like a blur. I have been busy watching kids, painting kitchen cabinets, and grading papers. In an age of so much technology, is there a way to get out of grading papers? I would be all about that. How many times have I written, "vague," "show don't tell," or "this is not a thesis statement"? A lot...And this is only my third year of teaching.

It has been an interesting day. The students were given their papers back yesterday and now have a chance to do rewrites. Typically, students whine about their grades, but today was a little different. I had a student come in after school to talk about her paper. We had an interesting discussion about her paper, but it left me thinking. What and how is the best way to help the students in their writing skills. How can I explain to the students that, "I don't want crap." I feel like I have tried so many different ways of teaching writing. Over the past couple of days we have been looking at examples of writings that need work. I think this is a powerful tool. Students are always amazed by the mistakes they see on screen. But I keep coming back to this question, "What is the best way?"

A few ideas have been floating around my nogan. 1. The netbooks will allow more in-class writing. 2. Using programs in which students can collaborate together on their writing. 3. Introducing websites that can actually help them with grammar, structure, etc.

The problem: How much of this comes down to the effort a student decides to put into their paper.

I know this is raw...but I'm kinda a raw person.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

This week was an interesting week in my journey in teaching with technology. Even though I have not received the netbooks, I have seen The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly. Here is a run down of what my students were doing this week. The British Literature courses created comic books based on the epic poem Beowulf. My Humor and Satire courses were creating short 3 minute skits from the hilarious sitcom Seinfeld. (I feel like I must defend this assignment. Last semester a common phrase from my students was, "That's not funny." We started this semester talking about where humor comes from. We are discovering that humor comes from the interpretation and not the words. So they are using an episode of Seinfeld to show this.) Thanks Hutch for the help on this.

The Good...The amount of students on task in British Literature has been 100%. The students have spent three class periods creating their comic books on Thanks D-Rage for the sweet website. Some of them have come up with some very creative and interesting comic strips. The Humor and Satire students have been working together, problem solving and figuring out how to use those cute little flip cameras. Overall, the students have enjoyed the assignments and have worked hard.

The Bad...Even though the students have worked hard, some of the comic strips are still ARGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHH. After looking at two of them on Thursday, I was ready to scream. I thought because they would have to post these onto their blogs, that I would see more attention to grammar and to the details. That was not the case. The humor students did not "go over the top." I wanted them to really get into them. I wanted more and I am not getting that "more."

The Ugly...No real ugly with the comic strips, except that I wanted the website to do more, and it has limits. For the Humor students, there has been some ugly. I thought I had figured out the problems we were having with editing their scenes on the student accounts. I was wrong. It has been a mess. It has been irritating and discouraging. But at the same, we worked through and finally found a solution. The most irritating part...the wasted time. My wasted time and the students.

The Next Step...Keep trying new ways of doing old assignments. The good outweighs the bad, and I look forward to finding new ways of connecting literature with the student's lives.