Thursday, January 19, 2006

Blogging workshop

I am at an Apple sponsored workshop on Blogs and Podcasts - very interesting! I'm wondering how things are going for you all out in the field, too. Maybe this morning I'll find out more. I'm learning a lot about podcasting, which is new to me - and perhaps I'll be able to figure out how to record some short "lectures" that you can then access [in stead of reading 4-5 articles] for part of upcoming modules. That would be easier for you, I think. So - that's what I'm trying to figure out: how to do some podcasts as part of some of the modules in this course.

I hope you are getting into the routine of school, and that things are going smoothly for you. How are your classes? Have you established the schedule for picking up each class? When will you be teaching full time, and after that, for how long?

Well, break is over and I have to pay attention now!

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Workshop IV

This past weekend was the fourth workshop in the Center of Excellence for Adolescent Literacy and Learning. We focused on discussion and writing to learn. I went into the workshop with four lessons planned -- way too much, and I knew it but couldn't seem to make a decision about which lessons to focus on until the last minute. In the end, I did one demonstration lesson about Columbus and then focused on an interactive presentation on writing to learn.

I'm glad I did the Columbus lesson - based on exit cards, it made the point I was trying to make: that one's teaching goals, content, and students all must be considered in order to have a good match between the content and the strategy. Sometimes, a lesson doesn't work simply because the strategy chosen doesn't match the content being taught. It's a hard thing to learn, and it took me quite a while to learn it, but this lesson seems a good one to illustrate that particular point.

I pretty much gutted the writing to learn presentation -- well, actually, I selected only two strategies to focus on, and will leave the rest for another day. Glad I did, too, because we finally had a chance to think about the projects participants are to complete. That's one of the things I need to focus on as I debrief observed lessons and meet with participants. I have quite a few visits lined up for January, so it will be very busy. Meanwhile, I'm excited to be getting out into the schools - and wish I had done so more frequently in the fall. Can't help that now, though. Oh well, as Scarlett said, tomorrow is another day.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

I think this is my first post

I am a little worried that i didnt do something right, but i think this is my first blog post ever. I hope everyone has a great weekend before we start out student teaching experience.

Jeffrey Simpson

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

cyberspace and the blogsphere

Well, today we probably created an exponential number of Blogs - but we are all learning together! Half the class knows what they are doing - and the rest of us are struggling to figure all this technology out. In any case, this semester should be interesting. For everyone who mucked about in the Blogsphere with me today - 2 points on this assignment already! That means you only need 8 postings [maybe fewer if the posting is reflective!].

Monday, January 09, 2006

A morning at Wren Middle

This morning, I am at Wren Middle School, visiting teachers participating in the Center of Excellence for Adolescent Literacy and Learning. They are amazing! Graphic organizers posted everywhere - even in the halls! Students are surrounded by the content they are learning - immersed in it, as Cambourne recommends. While waiting to talk with a couple of the teachers, I have been browsing Internet sites to post on Blackboard for both the middle school reading class and the Center of Excellence Blackboard site. I've found some amazing resources in less than 45 minutes. I think the middle school reading folks will appreciate the links that will serve as resources for their YALIT project - and I know the Center teachers will love the links I've found, too. I need to get out into the school more often - it's truly inspiring.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Ah! The (working) weekend

Reflections on the last two classes, written on Saturday morning.

Thursday's class was disappointing for me - mainly because we didn't accomplish what I had wanted to -- I scheduled the computer lab, and everyone had a chance to "drive" Blackboard, or at least parts of it. But because of difficulties with the chat [and because I didn't just give up on it when I should have and move on] we wasted a bit of time. Now, I discover - two days later - that we were the class to uncover the fact that due to the new updated to Blackboard, the Chat was actually not working at all. Great. I just love being on the cutting edge of technology - not. In any case, I got a message this morning that it is fixed. Haven't tried it with my dialup connection yet, but I will. Seems like we have a lot of loose ends [criteria for the YALIT assignment, learning how to use the chat tool, modules for the rest of the semester] to tie up. Makes me tired just to think about all of this.

Friday, I was pleased with being able to get a bit ahead of my plans - I actually had time to teach a sample lesson and unpack the experience. I'm hoping that by doing this a couple of more times, I can frame the remainder of the semester for this class. The theory activities were OK, but felt sort of flat to me - maybe it was because it was Friday afternoon and nobody really wanted to be in the classroom. Since I think the theory part didn't quite connectwith them, I'll have to make a focused effort to make the connections between the theories and the lessons I'm going to teach. In fact, I'll need to carefully select those lessons so that I can show connections to all four of the theories as well as have students experience specific strategies I want them to be able to use when they begin their Internship. I'm hoping I can drive home the connection between theory and practice in the next couple of classes. If I don't feel like I've accomplished that task, I'll be sure to build in some activities in the modules that will help to make that connection.

I really hate to think about not seeing these students again after next Wednesday. Oh, that's another thing we need to establish - a schedule of face to face meetings after they go out into their Internship. Oh well, looks like a full, working weekend from here!

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

First class

First class, and things went normally abnormal -- for teaching that is. Just as I was getting ready to go to the classroom, the electricity went off. As I said, normal for teaching. So we got started in the atrium, and to be honest, I liked the ambience in the atrium much better than when we finally got the electricity back and we went to the classroom.

As I was driving in from Clemson today, I suddenly remembered that I had not duplicated the Biopoem handout - something I had planned to use in class. Oh well, I thought, I can just print it out and copy it at the University Center. Then, no power. So I improvised and did a People Search, which would have been perfect if students in the class had not been in a cohort together for a year or more. It worked OK, but wasn't as effective as I would have liked -- but then, it's a good thing that students know each other so well, and I did give them some examples of using People Searches in get-to-know-you situations as well as in content focused contexts.

Everything else worked pretty well, even though the wireless was down and I didn't get to everything on my lesson plans. I was pleased that I had prepared a module example - that way, students will know what I'm talking about when we discuss the online portion of class, but I realized driving home that I have a reading on the schedule that is not on the module A directions. Hope folks will figure that out - if they don't, it is one mistake out of many I'll probably make this semester.

I hope the structure of the online part of class is [or will become] clear to them - I know they are feeling overwhelmed right now. I just hope they are taking only one course in addition to student teaching/internship because in past semesters when students have been trying to handle more than one extra class, it's been really tough.

Tomorrow, I want to tackle theory base, but don't want it to take the whole three hours. I need to have them "drive" the Blackboard and before I sign off tonight or for sure first thing tomorrow morning, I need to clean out all the comments on Discussion Board from last semester and set up the Support Groups/Book Clubs. . .But my todo list is so long, and time is so short -- and there is that big football game tonight!

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Planning for the semester

I am simultaneously trying to plan for the semester and learn enough about blogging to create an assignment using blogs. In my mind's eye, I see the professional blogs as an opportunity for students to stay connected to each other and to the course during Internship. I'm thinking I can roll several assignments into the blog, but I don't want to overload students to the point of distraction. I do, however, want to organize the distance education portion of the course in a way that will be transparent to the students and not confusing. Since I barely know what I'm doing with the Blog, that will be a tall order to accomplish before tomorrow. I feel a late night coming on here, and there's a big football game tonight, too.

The difficulty with this course is that I want an interactive dialog with all the students, but there are about 30 of them -- way too many to have in a chat room all at one time. At least I think so. I wonder how many of the students are knowledgeable about Blogs, the Internet, and technology in general. I'll find out tomorrow for sure!