Tag Archives: blogging

The Authentic Audience – Blogging

I am thinking Kidblog.com is working.  Currently, I do not have high expectations as far as writing skills are concerned.  I did not have the students write rough drafts.  I wanted them to write and post quickly.  Their peers did comment on the need for remediation in some areas, but this is not the forum I am using to evaluate writing skills.  (It will be later.)  For now, I am using it as one way to discuss literature, and the comments have been good.  They do have room for improvement, but without any modeling, the kids have done a good job.

Of course, I do have some students who are extremely anxious about sharing their thoughts with others.  In talking with the parents I have learned this is not shyness.  It is anxiety.  For now, I have allowed theses two kids to write their responses on notebook paper.  I hope to have them give me an alias.  As long as I know it, I can give them credit for commenting on other’s blogs.

As all of our computers are tied up with testing for the next two weeks, I will have the students complete one blog on their own.  By the end of the nine weeks, they will pick one response to revise and I will use a rubric I developed to evaluate their writing skills.

I have a good feeling about this.

Students' Apple iMac G5 computers at Faculty o...

Students’ Apple iMac G5 computers at Faculty of Informatics (Photo credit: Wikipedia)  What I wish we had at school.

English: Students working in the Statistics Ma...

English: Students working in the Statistics Machine Room of the London School of Economics in 1964. (Photo credit: Wikipedia) What we currently have.

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Filed under 21st century skills, Education, Goals, Learning, Measuring Student Success, Writing

Where to Begin?

” I don’t know where to start,” Joe, the master procrastinator in my first period class, sighs.  Thus, my day begins.

Actually, it started many days ago when I came up with the idea for this short writing assignment.  Students were given a chapter of To Kill A Mockingbird to read, and they would rewrite this part of the story from another character’s point of view.  Students were to retell the major points from one of the witnesses in the trial of Tom Robinson.

My first response to Joe is, “Start with the details of the reading selection.  Make a list of what you know.  Next, ask yourself what thoughts would this character have?  Then, free write for five minutes.  After the brainstorming, organize your thoughts and ideas.  Divide the process into chunks or small steps, ignore the others in the class, focus on your thoughts, take time to review and revise, and you will end with a good final product.”

Alas, if only I could help myself as easily, as I have had trouble writing lately.  To help me get started, I researched procrastination.  I found that about 20% of us procrastinate and there are over 600 published books on the subject.  Of course, I haven’t made the time to read any of them.  I just skimmed articles and blogs.

I did learn a few things; my problems are described in any psychology 101 class:

  1. I am afraid of failing, so I wait and use the excuse, “I would have done a better job, but I did not have enough time.”  (Notice, I do not take responsibility on how I managed or mismanaged my time.)
  2. I do not develop an achievable goal for each day.  Instead I say, “ Today, I am going to write a book.”  Instead, I should say, “Today I am going to write for 15 minutes.   A person can do any task for 15 minutes.  Fifteen minutes is plausible, manageable, and doable.  I can always write for longer.  I need to break the larger goal into smaller goals.
  3. I don’t pay myself first.  Well, I do when it comes to my paycheck.  I put money aside for retirement, rainy days, and vacations.  However, I do not always place my tasks before the tasks of others.  I could use to be a little more selfish, at least for 15 or more minutes a day.  One way I can do this is to schedule my time to write and to do it when I most creative, which is in the morning or afternoon.  I like to revise my work in the evening.

Wow!  I did it.  A little research or background knowledge, a little creativity, and a short list!  I am back on track!

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Filed under Education, Goals, Learning, Writing

Teaching in the 21st Century

Every job requires problem solving.  The year was 2010.  My school district was telling teachers to teach students for the 21st century.  I wish we had a different name for this educational change because my freshmen students laughed at the idiocy of announcing to the community that we are ten years behind schedule in preparing students for the 21st century.  What can I say?  The kids are better in math than the educational leaders.

Embracing the idea of teaching with technology, I decided to create a blog where my students and I could discuss Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird.  Within minutes, I ran into problems.

Problem 1: I have never created a blog.

Solution: I researched how to do it.

Problem 2: Not all students have a computer at home.

Solution: We could utilize one of our two computer labs in school.

Problem 3: I have to share the computer labs with the other 100 teachers in the school.   The chances of getting all of my classes in the computer lab consistently were less than the Cleveland Browns winning the Super Bowl.

Solution: Students who had laptops could bring them to class, and we could utilize our school’s set of laptops.

Problem 3: Laptops are not allowed in school, and half of the school’s laptops did not work.

Solution: I would talk to the principal and technology support department.  I learned that laptops were not allowed because our network could only support about 200 wireless devices.  I learned that the laptops were on the list to be repaired; however, with only three technology employees for a district with “over 14 modern facilities educating over 10,600 students making it the 18th largest school district in Ohio.”  (Pickerington Local Schools)

Problem 4: I learned that all blog sites were blocked by our school’s filter.

 Solution: I went “old school.”  I gave each student an index card each day to write a comment or response to the reading assignment.  We then shared them in class and posted them on the wall in my classroom.  The next day, kids could respond to something someone else said, or they could create a new response.

Many people like to compare schools to business.  I don’t think a business would ignore the technological needs of its workforce like schools do.  Nevertheless, let’s say they do.  The primary focus of the business would still be on the customer or to make money.  For anyone to improve, he or she needs to be able to create solutions to problems and then do what it takes to get the job done.  Even if it is “old school.”

My solution, which I used in B.C. (before computers), made students think critically, write well, and respond to others in a respectful, thoughtful manner.  We just had to do it the old-fashioned way, with pen and paper.  These are skills that students will need to possess in this century.

Since the school is unable to teach or use computers easily, the kids who have access to technology at home will figure it out (a valuable skill) on their own.  They will be digital miles ahead of the kids who do not have the resources.  It is ironic that schools, which are suppose to level the playing field for all learners, are creating a bigger rift.

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Filed under Lesson Plans

Goal Setting

Exactly half the year is over.  And for teachers, time to prepare for new faces, new classes, and new ideas.  What are my 10 goals for the rest of the year?

1. To keep working on this blog.  I have realized I enjoy sharing my thoughts and hearing from others.

2. To have my students use more technology in projects.

3. To use technology more in my teaching.

4. To create tests and socratic discussion questions for young adult literature.  Currently, I have four novels completed and am working on two more.  My plan is to sell them and become a billionaire because everyone wants to buy tests and schools have a surplus of cash to spend on educational supplements for the teachers.  Actually, if I can convince the students these are the tests their teachers will be using, they will buy them.

5. To get in shape and lose a few pounds.

6. To get a new car.  The 11-year-old mini-van has lost its “coolness” factor.

7. To try to come up with 3 more goals…

What are your goals?

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