Well, I got through a week (albeit at 4 day one) with nary a sick day (yippee). I’m still not at 100%, and since it was a short week, the periods were shortened so I have less going on. Here are highlights:
1. Spreading the tech joy: All teachers at my site have–finally–document cameras and digital projectors. This has been a two-year odyssey, and we’re all pleased it’s come to fruition, but I’m not seeing it as the end of the journey. Prior attempts to do this purchase did not yield doc cameras or projectors, BUT we did end up with some really nice media carts, and nothing to put on them. They now hold the new doc cameras and projectors, but they offer another possibility that I shared with teachers. Before this week’s staff meeting, I showed teachers how to hook-up a CPU with mouse and keyboard to the projector, and voila, they add computers and internet to the mix. This was my first step into ed tech, so I’m hoping it will help others on the path to integrating technology.
2. Given the short periods, and the fact that I cannibalized the CPU I had been using for the SMART board for the project listed under number 1, I did not do much with the SMART board, but I plan on asking a first grade teacher to show me how she uses “Judy” clocks to figure out how to best implement an interactive activity on the SMART Notebook.
3. I had the fifth graders start to go to other class blogs. I’m hoping to have students start to comment and build relationships with some of these classes. It’s a start, and long overdue. I was stymied in past attempts to do this by my district blocking sites like blogger (makes some sense), and classblogmeister (brain-dead, I know). I’m sticking to edublog based sites for now to avoid any of those problems.
4. I’m starting to attend weekly grade level collaboration meetings that are held at the end of the day on Wednesdays. They aren’t really for just one grade level (K-2, 3-4, 5-6), and each group rotates, so they meet once every three weeks or so. This is really getting me a chance to work with my peers. It lets me see what their “priorities” are and support those academic goals more effectively. One of the first projects is a Reading Buddy program between upper and primary grade classes. I’m having students do a VoiceThread on it. One of the things I learned was that some classes were a lot further along in implementing this program, which is good feedback.
5. Looking forward, next week is benchmark testing. These are standards-based tests developed by the district to see how kids are doing before state testing, but I’m really scratching my head about what it’s evolved to. We are pretty far into Program Improvement (Year 5?), and are getting enormous pressure to get scores on these tests up. The only problem? They are not aligned to our new Math curricula. Students in the last test were given numerous questions on concepts not yet taught, and the same is true for next week’s test. Central office types say it’s aligned, but obviously have no idea what is going on. This is making the staff deviate from the text (which I don’t have a lot issues with myself), and teach to the test (I’m not so crazy about that, but it’s a no-win situation).
I’m trying to get the fifth and sixth grade students to finish up work on some poetry projects (fifth on their heritage, sixth on Rosa Parks and Jim Crow in transportation for a local transit agency. Once the testing is over, I’ll be able to ask teachers to help with the editing process on this more.