Saturday, August 19, 2006

Ready or Not: A new semester dawns

I haven't posted since March -- and no wonder! I've taught non-stop since last August, 2005. I had full classes in Maymester, June, and July - plus the CEALL July Institute and then moving Lori to Denver last week. I'm exhausted and the semester hassn't even begun. But it's just around the corner, and I'm enduring yet another working weekend. I absolutely have to figure out how to eliminate some of the grading burden of this course -- but I am hesitant to give up any of the assignments. Students would say it serves me right, I guess.

I did eliminate the Book Club assignment, in order to add the Blogging assignment -- partly because I'm using a textbook for the first time in several years and I didn't want to burden students financially any more than I have already, and partly because in the last several semesters the undergraduates haven't gotten as much out of the assignment as I hoped they would. Maybe it's a matter of lack of experience in the classroom on the teacher's side of the desk, I don't know. At least I didn't just add on an additional assignment. In any case, I get tired of doing things the same old way, so I've made several changes this go 'round. Having the text has enabled me to eliminate a number of articles from the required reading and quite a few participation assignments. I predict I'll eliminate even more as the semester rolls on.

I've gone through the syllabus with a fine tooth comb, as it were, trying to catch everything I needed to revise and change -- chiefly my name. Since getting married over spring break, I have not gotten around to changing all the various documents that need changing -- passport, driver's license, credit cards, etc. What a pain in the neck. But, I'll hopefully get it done in September.

It feels so strange to have a textbook this time around. I am going to use strategies from the course to have students read, process, and discuss the text -- and hopefully that will help students see how the strategeis fit in with their own content areas. I'm also going to continue to teach model lessons, with strategies embedded, and unpack the lessons so students can experience the strategies in the context of a high school level lesson. I've taught this course since 1991, and actually taught the concepts and strategies since 1974. I've taught undergraduates, graduates, inservice teachers in the States, Latvia, Guatemala, Romania, Estonia, Croatia . . . so I need to remember that although the information is very familiar to me, it's the first time these students have ever heard of the ideas. The web site for the book will be really helpful -- when it is up and running for this edition, especially the flash card feature and the self quizzes.

Well, must move on to planning the Center of Excellence workshop for next weekend -- when it rains, it pours. I'll be so glad to see September roll around, I won't know what to do [especially because college football begins -- it isn't exactly a reason to live, but it's close!].