The last four years have had me in a cynical mood for the first-day-district-wide meetings. However, today, I was pleasantly surprised. Our interim superintendent did not speak down at us; instead he talked about our TEAM. And, we got the great news that we are an EXCELLENT WITH DISTINCTION school district. To be honest, I am not sure what all of these labels mean, since we try to avoid labeling children, but I can tell that teachers worked hard to help students succeed. And, someone somewhere cares about our label. I just know that my four kids learned and accomplished something because of their teachers. (Ok, some of their success was genetics from the maternal side.)
Sometime during the meeting, I became won over while our guest speaker talked about education. You can get an idea of what Jamie Vollmer said by visiting his website: http://www.jamievollmer.com/ I also suggest giving a copy of his book to any one who thinks they know what is wrong with education.
So, today I learned that some business people can learn that education is different than business, that upper levels of leadership can shine, and I should not be so cynical. Now, to work this into my classroom next week…
I am glad to see my school district finally developed student and staff policies on the use of social networking sites. Two years ago I wanted to begin to use a blog like http://www.edublogs.org or http://www.wallwisher.com to have students share thoughts over Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird. However, since we did not have a policy, I went “old school” and students shared thoughts on index cards and posted them on my back wall, which is a bulletin board.
I read a WEB 2.0 article at http://learnitin5.com/what-is-web20-for-teachers. It was very useful and I have returned to it several times. The article has links and lessons to learn how to do things in 5 minutes.
I love to use response writing with literature, and I will use a message board www.wallwisher.com for students to respond to the readings and to each other. This will be part of their participation grade, which is about 10% of their total grade. (Students will have a copy of my response starters and may use the message board or pen and paper if they do not have access to a computer.)
Another idea I plan to use will be with the getting to know project I like to do at the beginning of the year. I have done this as an essay, a pamphlet, and a poster. This year I am going to use www.photopeach.com to have students create a slide show to share with the class. This will allow them to be creative, allow me to learn about them, and allow the freshmen the opportunity to get to know one another.
I am excited to collaborate with other Freshmen teachers to come up with more ideas.