Wednesday, January 05, 2011

This is retirement????

Retirement doesn’t feel much different than working so far! Two days into the semester and I'm working just as hard as I always do - even though I've taught this course for years and years. Of course, the first day was a total technological meltdown [couldn't go smoothly, could it?]. First, I couldn’t get the podium screen to respond – had to call a technical person to come help – but at least I had an opportunity to model what you do when technology doesn’t work. Then, my computer went completely black screen – nothing. Idiot that I am, I called the tech guy again – only to discover that I had plugged into a “plug with no electricity so my battery was dead. DUH! So, at last we got the computer plugged in and the projector going, and class went along pretty well – had to jettison the last activity, but that’s not too bad. I won’t do it right now [reading and discussing the information about struggling readers in the syllabus] but might return to it if I can remember later in the semester.

Today, technology worked fine . . . BUT - I had left my iPhone at home [felt absolutely naked without it!], so I didn’t have my trusty timer with me [thank goodness there was one in the classroom] AND I forgot my watch. Must be senility – I remember thinking clearly “I feel like I’m forgetting something this morning” as I pulled out of the driveway, but it was just a brief thought that didn’t stay long enough to be examined to any degree and off I drove sans iPhone and watch. In any case, students were pretty good about keeping me on track with time, and I did have the other timer.Last night, I didn't get home until nearly 7pm, and I was so tired that I just chose not to do any more work on today's lesson. I guess it's really true that the mind continues to work while you sleep, because I tried all yesterday afternoon to figure out how to present the assessment data from PASS, NAEP, and PISA. It would have taken HOURS to construct graphs and charts to represent the data and convey to the students my summary of what is going on with it . . . when I woke up this morning, I realized that rather than boiling the data down for students, I might be better off giving them print outs of data summaries and have them discuss and analyze the data themselves. Worked much better than I could have predicted, and was less time consuming for me. Once again, less is more!

Miracle of miracles, we got everything done in class today, even though I added a couple of reflection pieces focused on the strategies we were using [the first group work activity, having Book Clubs create a Coat of Arms for themselves, and QQTT for the position statements].One of the [perceptive] students mentioned how dated the position statements are, making the point that we've focused on adolescent literacy for over a decade with little to show for it. Now we are primed and ready for a discussion about disciplinary literacy, which comes tomorrow! So, my original goals, set mentally for this semester, of emphasizing the essential questions considered in each class session and increasing the time spend on reflection about strategy use [thus putting more emphasis on self-evaluation] have been met – so far so good. I just hope I don’t let them wane as the semester moves forward.

While I’m thinking along these lines, what are my goals – the changes I want to make – for this semester? Here goes:
1. Be more overt about essential questions guiding our work each class session
2. Do more with less: that is, throw fewer strategies at the students but spend more time on the practices and strategies we do focus on
3. Increase the emphasis on reflection on strategies and practices
4. Use a Capacity Matrix more consistently.
It’s the last one I am struggling with right now. Well, I have one ready for the topics of assessment and vocabulary, but haven’t developed one for all the other ideas – so I’d better get busy. Speaking of busy, I have to decide how I’m going to run the other section of Middle School Reading – the French students have recently posted more information on the Wiki, so I think I’ll employ a Wiki project, but perhaps I need to make that an option – so I need to figure out what other options might “go with” this sort of Web 2.0 project.

1 comment:

Ann T. said...

I have to say that I really enjoyed our classes that first week, in spite of all the technological problems at the beginning. You demonstrated how to "roll with the punches" and keep class moving right along. This is exactly how my first week back in school was. The snow really played havoc on our schedule and several other activities that had been planned prior to the snow had to be shuffled around messing up our schedules even more. But my CT--like you-- took it all in stride and made the most of the time she had with the students. We also sat down together and evaluated our goals and determined what was most important and what could be left out.