Friday, August 31, 2012

Jack of all Trades and Master of None?

Is it possible to try too many new things at one time? I'm beginning to think the answer to this question may be a resounding "YES!" It could be tragic to try too many tech tools before getting a few good ones down well. One of the last things I want to do is to become a "Jack of all Trades and Master of None."

This year I'm not only writing curriculum for two...count them...TWO new computer classes, but I'm also implementing several new tools with those classes (Edmodo, TeacherBlogIt, Google Sites, etc). I hope I haven't bitten off more than I can chew. The kids seem to be picking up on the new tools nicely, however need a lot of prompting. But, "the night is still young." Hopefully they will come around. My concern is that the effectiveness of the tools will die out after the newness wears off (after all, creating a habit can be a difficult thing). I guess the outcome of that is up to me. It won't die out if I don't let it. One thing's for sure though, I definitely don't want to dive in head first and then hit the bottom. I want to dive in and SWIM for all I'm worth! I guess time will tell me whether my endeavors have been successful or hit bottom. And if, at the end of the trimester, I'm still unsure about my successes...all I'll have to do is ask my students. They are often painfully truthful about such matters. Sigh.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Week One Under Our Belt

Well, it has been a wild ride this week, but all in all it has been a hugely successful one. The first week of school is often times a rough one for both students and teachers. Readjusting our minds and bodies to the rigorous school schedule can sometimes be very challenging and tiring. But we made it through week one with very few problems. Oh, there were those times of frustration when technology didn't work the way we wanted or expected, but on a whole, things went really well. I don't know about my students, but I know I am ready for a relaxing weekend.

Looking to the future of my classes, I see great days ahead...

 My 8th graders are discovering that I mean business and am not kidding when I say we have a lot of "stuff" to squeeze into a 12 week course. We don't have time to dawdle, and we have to keep things moving if we hope to get everything covered before the trimester ends.

My 7th graders are quickly remembering the things I expect from them. (Most 7th graders had class with me last year so know what they need to do to survive.) What they ARE having to learn, however, is what it is like having a few 6th grade students mixed into the class. These 6th graders didn't have me last year so don't know all the "ins" and "outs" of my classes. As a result, my 7th graders are having to learn patience while I bring the 6th grades up to speed.

My 6th grade students are catching on quickly. I really appreciate the way they listen and strive to keep up. They are at a definite disadvantage because they have not had the experience of being in my classes yet, whereas some of their classmates (7th graders) have. However, they have figured out that they can rely on the other students in the class to help answer questions when I'm not able to get to them right away. They'll be fine and will soon be right up there with the 7th graders. One negative I do see occurring with them, however, is their lack of keyboarding training. This lack of skill is really going to slow them down if they don't find a way to increase their skills. A suggestion I have for them is to find some sort of keyboarding game on the Internet so that they can practice. Practice! Practice! I would like to enlist the help of parents in this area. If students don't learn the proper technique for keyboarding, they will suffer in the long run.

I am truly looking forward to the upcoming weeks. We are going to continue to work hard and refine our 21st Century technology skills.

Now....go enjoy the weekend!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Changing Once Again

Someone once said, "Change is good." And I believe in most cases that is true. But enough is enough already. After teaching language arts for 18 years, I was asked to change what I teach to encompass an entirely different curriculum - technology. That was 5 years ago. Since then, I've changed and/or rewritten my curriculum every year to accommodate the curriculum decisions made by my school district. And true to form, this year proved to be no different. Once again I found myself changing my curriculum to fit the needs of students in this ever-changing world of technology.

Allow me to introduce the two NEW technology courses I am now teaching...21st Century Skills and Technology Communications.

21st Century Skills is a required class for all 8th grade students. The purpose of this class is to prepare students for their upcoming experience at Oskaloosa High School where a 1:1 computer/student program is currently being implemented. After lengthy conversations with the high school instructors, I developed this course around the skills they said they want students to have when they arrive at the high school as 9th graders.

Technology Communicationsis an elective course open to 6th and 7th graders. The focus of this course will be to look at how we communicate ideas through the various technologies available today. We can't possibly look at all the methods available, but hopefully we can look at a variety of methods wide enough to give even the pickiest of communicators a selection of methods they can use to communicate their ideas.