Saturday, October 31, 2009

Friday, October 30, 2009

Cha Ching a Jing

In all its glam and glory....

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Welcome to English 10

Please view the following video to get a preview of what will be happening in English 10 this year!!!

The Teenage Brain - What's Going on???

This video would be a supplement to my teenage brain unit. This provides one more resource for students and their parents to understand the difference between the adult and adolescent brain.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Photosharing is Inevitable

Photosharing in the classroom is inevitable. I use visuals all the time. Although I don't use the computer to do this, I still am able to share the visuals with students. I have used Google Earth and think it's amazing. My daughter and I track Santa every year to see where he's headed. She loves it.

I use photos/pictures to help students understand the setting, theme, mood and point of view. I can use pictures to explain irony and symbolism, as well as provide brainstorming ideas for writing prompts. For To Kill a Mockingbird, I show picutres of pocket watches, soap sculptures, Indian Head pennies, and the like. The more they connect with the symbols from the story, the more they get out of it. When I teach the teenage brain, I show pictures to students of people with different looks on their faces. It has been proven that an adolescent brain can't always distinguish between someone who is sad versus someone who is angry. I find this to be true when I do this activity.

Photosharing is going to be a part of our classrooms soon. Hopefully our districts can keep up with technology and push us to move in the right direction. I can't wait until my students can collaborate on a project using photosharing, video clips and blogging. I would be curious to see the difference in grades. I had 32 Fs at the end of this quarter. Would that number decrease if all assignments were required to be computer based? I can't wait to find out.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hargadon's Six Points

After reading Steve Hargadon’s six points, I have a few things to say. Hargadon makes a point in number two that states “topic or content may not be as important as the act of engagement.” Engagement can top topic, but it seems more difficult in a traditional 180 day school. Sure, participation is nice, but there are fire drills and assemblies and professional development and picture day and counselor day. I already feel like I give away my precious time with students to “school functions”. I don’t have time to waste in the engagement when the topic is all they will be tested on (and can’t graduate if they don’t pass the test). However, in classes such as debate and Senior English when they participate in the Socratic method, engagement should be more important than the topic. That is the whole point of those classes.

Hargadon’s points three and four go together, as far as I’m concerned. It’s basic economics…the old supply and demand thing. Every product needs to be wanted or needed. If you already have the buy in (the early adopters) then you are more likely to be successful. If no one needs the SNS, no one will use it. It’s that simple. As with all things, there has to be a need for it. But, if you go for the big bang without the baby steps to ensure you are getting and receiving what you wanted out of the product, you might wind up with the “freedom to fail”. Again, as with any product, a little research and development never hurt anyone.

My final point about this article, and a major problem I have with all these wikis and blogs and articles, is that spelling and grammar is still important. And when I am required to read an article with more than three errors for a homework assignment, I get extremely frustrated. Why would someone publish half assed work and why must I comment on it?

Friday, October 2, 2009

Wiki in the House

I must admit that making my first wiki, although a bit frustrating at times, was quite enjoyable. The entire time I was working on it, I was trying to figure out a way to use it in my class. My first impression is that when I decide to include wikis, I need to know how to use it...and then train my students to use it properly. I would also need to be able to block some of the contents from being manipulated. Once I can figure that out, the possiblities are endless. But, I must be pragmatic and take it in baby steps. I am not ready to throw out the original teaching tools completely, but a weekly assignment is possible. How could I use this wiki to my advantage? GRAMMAR.

I could completely avoid the horrible 15-30 minutes a week I spend in class on boring grammar assignments, and develop sentences and write poorly written paragraphs and have the class work on it as a whole. Each student would be responsible for correcting two of the problems, and therefore, by the due date, the writing should be perfect. Is there a way to color code the editing marks to differentiate which student made the corrections? Students would then add to the wiki which sentences/errors they were responsible for, or something of the like. I'm sure someone has a good solution to that problem. I would also post urls from the newseducation wiki (or was it a blog??) and have students complete the weekly assignments they offer. The expectations for the students would be to learn grammar. Since they would be able to see all the changes that each student has made, they would become more and more familiar with the conventions of English grammar. If they are encouraged to do this weekly, they would be able to demonstrate understanding of grammar skills such as strong verbs, parallelism, clauses, punctuation, capitalization and paragraphing. If the color coding thing works, I could show the students two transparencies...the before and after, if you will, after each assignment is completed. Repeating exposure to the conventions can only make them better grammarians....and we have such a long way to go.