Yesterday I had a chance to experience life as a Turpin Spartan...at least for a couple of hours. It started with that strange feeling of walking into a strange, sometimes hostile place. I walked through the front doors of Turpin and luckily found a former Anderson teacher who pointed me in the correct direction. I walked through the double doors and found the end of my journey...B304. I have no idea what the B means. At first glance, I wasn't sure if it was a classroom or a magical fairy land. There were butterflies as far as the eye could see. And what??? COOL AIR??? Where was I? Finally I came to my senses and walked through the door. After adjusting to the butterflies over my head and the cool air racing across my face, I was introduced to Tricia Buck. Buck is an English teacher who teaches World Literature and British Literature. After finding my seat and taking my computer out, the final bell rang and class began.
Over the past few months, I have heard a lot about Tricia Buck, but I don't believe I had ever actually met her. I was interested to see what her classroom was like and was interested in picking her brain. She has been incorporating technology into her class for the past 8 years or so. I don't know how accurate the 8 years part is, but I know that it has been a while.
Here is what happened...
1. Class started with her recapping her trip to the Underground Railroad Museum.
2. She read 3 poems from Langston Hughes (I don't teach American Literature, but if I did I could spend a week reading his poems. Powerful stuff.)
3. The students used the netbooks to listen to three selections from NPR. One was a poet who is in jail for her poetry. The second, I forgot. The third was a collaboration of Snoop Dogg and an Indian woman. (Again the Indian woman may not be exactly right, but that doesn't change the posting.)
4. The students spent time posting a response onto the class ning.
We also talked about some things that I do in class as well as what she does in class. There was a lot of overlapping, but there was also differences as well. I found a couple of things that she said to be interesting. 1. She tries different things in her classroom. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. 2. Not everything that she does uses technology.
Her lesson did engage the students. I liked the way that she used the netbooks for this particular lesson. First, the students were able to hear the words from the author. This is always powerful. I enjoy listening to books on CDs, but it is always more powerful when the author himself/herself reads the text. Second, the netbooks gave the students choice. They were able to choose which one they were going to listen to first. This may not seem like a big deal, but students love choice. Were all of the students engaged? I don't know. It is difficult to know how well they were engaged without looking at their postings. But I do think that the likelihood of the students being more engaged was higher due to the netbooks rather than listening to them as a whole.