Looking backwards…


What went well…


VoiceThread has really become my go to for building background or schema with my students, and I think it’s about the easiest tool for doing this.  Others have derided VoiceThread as unaesthetic, but unless you are trained in Waldorf you would be hard pressed to come up with better looking K-W-L charts (which is essentially what I’m using them for). My “best” VoiceThread was “picked” for inclusion in the new VoiceThread education library as an example of what can be done.  You can see another example of my students’ work below:

After-school video documentary projects

I’ve added a sideline training students how to make documentaries. This is through my husband’s work making roads more walkable and bike-able. They do what are called “walk audits” around schools noting the problems that prevent walking, biking and ADA accessibility. Rather than simply doing a paper report with a bunch of numbers, in their last grant (Federal Safe Routes), they said they would have students at the schools audited document the audit. When I pointed out that Filp video cameras were as cheap as digital stills, we opted to go with moving pictures. Below is the first video we did:

Discover Simple, Private Sharing at Drop.io

Building and deepening my online networks

What did not go so well…

Collaboration with peers at my site

This is not as seamless as I would like. I want what I’m doing in the lab to be part of what’s going on in the class, but still have my own mark on it. I have that with some teachers, but not all. I’m still trying to migrate the teaching staff from emails and verbal requests, over to my planning wiki.

I feel really over-stretched

I don’t know how long this can go on. Some of it won’t as I likely will drop some of my extra-curriculars, but if I lose my job (see below) or get my hours cut…all bets are off.

What I’m looking forward to…

Doing more of the after-school video documentary projects

I only did two walk audit documentaries this spring, there will be five schools to do next autumn, so that should keep me busy!

Working on the state web portal

EETT grant for upper grade Math and Science

I will be working on writing an EETT grant for my district and school site. I have high hopes for this grant which will focus on math and science skills in upper elementary and middle school, and includes implementing a Gen Yes program. Hopefully, this will get computers for teachers which I think is a pre-requisite for getting them to use technology and the Internet ubiquitously in their teaching.

Doing a non-tech conference

I will definitely be returning to CUE next year, and have already submitted a session proposal with Larry Ferlazzo for March 2010, but I want to try to get down to the  CABE (California Association of Bilingual Education) conference in San Jose in March 2010, to try to expand my influences beyond technology.

Doing more with Edublogs

Looking forward to do even more with more Edublogs and working with more of the advanced features. I’ve been really happy with the threaded comments, this really makes a class blog work. I didn’t get around to introducing individual blogs to students this last school year, but that should definitely happen in the coming school year.

Research projects

I’ve been working on research projects with students this past year. The first thing I’m going is shortening the amount of “fact” based questions, and requiring students create and answer a higher-order thinking question. I’m also explicitly teaching them how to format PowerPoint, that goes beyond templates, and themes. I want to explore this more in the coming year. If it works in PowerPoint, this should carry over to videos, VoiceThread, etc.

What worries me…

Getting laid off, or having my time cut

By now, everyone knows about the mess that is the California state budget. Around a quarter of the current state budget is not covered by revenue. Keep in mind this is the about the eighth largest economy in the world.

This is how it looks where I work. The district needs to close an $8.4M budget gap (in a district serving ~50,000 students with 3, 000 students). Three hundred teacher layoffs (10%) were already planned for the coming year. Now, the almost complete elimination of primary class-size reduction (which limits classes in K-3 to 20 students per teacher) is being proposed, with classes going up to 30 to 1, and no summer school at elementary and middle school levels. Larger classes, mean fewer classes at my school site, which means fewer for me to service, and may lead to my hours being cut.

At the state, Dems would like to raid the reserve fund, and raise taxes. This is unrealistic given the recent budget votes. A big part of the problem is that most voters don’t realize how bad the budget situation is, and the level of cuts that are required. I think until the public “sees” how painful these cuts need to be, this is a non-starter.

Reps, as befits their lack of power, can afford to make their ridiculous proposals which includes refusing to do early release of prisoners, even though many are in their on pot charges, and we have a disproportionate % of our population incarcerated (that’s compared to other states).

Tonight, there is another school board meeting, I’ll be listening to see if my seniority date comes up. Wish me, and my fellow teachers luck!

New Staff

With all of these layoffs, I’ll be working with new teachers. What if they don’t want to collaborate or do the EETT grant work.

I worry that the combination of all of these will result in my being too busy.


Links of Interest


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All of Ms. Mercer's work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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