Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Can you hear me now?

Wow! The little snit I pitched in my last posting certainly got some attention. I probably shouldn't have done it, but I was so frustrated - still am, but at least now I recognize [admit?] that I'm frustrated with myself. If I had been more rigid about the file names and due dates earlier in the semester, I wouldn't be in this mess right now. But I knew the students were under such pressure in student teaching -- and I can't imagine anyone taking another course in addition to READ 867 and student teaching - insane! So I let the file names go without deducting points immediately. That will teach me. I won't make that mistake again. But I stand by the fluid due dates for the lesson plans - that, I think, although confusing and tempting to those who [like me] are procrastinators, was needed for this class.

I wonder sometimes if any of this makes a bit of difference. If these students actually use the ideas we've discussed in class. I wonder if I have thrown too much at them - but every semester, I trim it down. This semester I really cut back, and many still seem overwhelmed. I guess it's like this for all students, now matter what level. Students just don't remember everything teachers say -- DUH! I hope that my students will think a bit about how much I've thrown at them, how much stuck, and how much just couldn't be retained at the time and realize that truly less is more. I look back on all these years in a classroom and wonder sometimes what it all adds up to. I think about my own learning and realize that I learn best that which I most need to know - what I am interested in and motivated to learn [and, unfortunately what I have to learn about like NCATE]. Learning is just not a passive verb.

Well, this probably won't make much sense, so late at night. And I've got to be up at dawn and at it again tomorrow.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Griping about students, griping about grading

I have spent three afternoon and evenings grading lesson plans/reflections for Middle School reading -- and getting more and more frustrated because students don't follow directions to append the scoring guide or upload three to seven separate files, which I then take the time to put into one file so that I can return it to them in blackboard . . . when will I ever learn?

Well this semester, I've about had it. I'm going to go back through and deduct points from diligence and responsibility for those who have not followed directions - wish I had noted this on their scoring guides, but I didn't and I didn't make notes about it [I just got more and more frustrated], so I'll maybe get my GA to go through the files to see who actually followed directions [easier to do this way because fewer than 1/3 did so].

Maybe this is just the end of a semester and I'm really really tired, but most of all I'm frustrated that students don't seem to take the time to learn the technology they need to survive in a class that has blended delivery - some delivered online. The good news was that we met fewer times over the bulk of the semester; they were supposed to be using that time as class preparation, completing their work, turning it in appropriately. Aren't teachers supposed to be life-long learners? Why do so many of them seem not to care about their work? I've resisted going through their reflections and correcting grammar, too, and these are pre-service teachers who are the first to say the kids can't write or spell or use proper grammar. AUGGGH! But I didn't put that on the scoring guide -- well, enough griping for one very early morning. I'm really worried that these students will try to turn all this work that is left to be done at the last minute, and I'll be in a frenzy of grading at the same time I'm getting ready for IRA. Well, if that happens, those who turn it all in at the last minute will lose points in D & R -


Friday, April 04, 2008

I have been reading postings on the Discussion Board for my class. Students are required to read articles and then discuss them asynchronously. Embedded in several of the postings are hints about what goes on in the classroom where the students are student teaching. I came across a heart stopping [for me] comment that referred to "pop corn reading" [a new name for round robin reading] and one that alluded to the practice of having students read text "cold" - without any preparation - with the goal to prepare students for a lecture to come. Things like this make me want to go running screaming into the night. Was I not clear about NOT having students read aloud? I've tried to be clear about the issue: if you have students read aloud, there should be a purpose for doing so -- for example, having students read text aloud to support an inference [or refute an inference made by someone else]. Likewise with the "cold reading" issue. This one comes up in both the graduate class and my undergraduate class - students just don't get that readers have to be prepared to read a text - particularly students who are learning to read history or math or science or more difficult literature. I don't know - maybe if I give them a taste of their own medicine. Hmmmmm - I'm planning class for next week and perhaps that's what I'll do. Have them read some esoteric text before a "lecture" and then debrief the students. I've got a lovely text to use!