Sunday, October 25, 2009

I have begun my tech project with my senior class. The librarian and I have worked up a lesson on using the database SIRS. It requires the students to go much beyond the basics. Exactly happened what I thought would. The students "listened" attentively to the tutorial. The students were shocked to learn that they were not going to be allowed to "do their own thing" and, instead, had to complete an exercise applying the information in the tutorial. Well, they really did not know what to do. They had not actually been paying attention. They thought they would just pretend to listen and then do their thing. This is exactly what I thought might happen because all of them have used SIRS before for a health education project.
As a result, the exercise took an entire other period. Also, some students had to start over because they did not read the directions carefully. They chose the wrong article on which to answer the questions because they did not use the entire title. Anyway, they are now done with that exercise, and we are returning to the computer lab on Monday to begin their own project. I have already given them a list of 30 topics from which to choose, and they have chosen their partner. Several students I had to pair up because they had no one in particular they wanted to work with. One student was openly annoyed with me because I would not let her work by herself. I told her working with people she doesn't know is something she will encounter in the work world. Of course, I also had to ask her to spit out her gum that she was chewing while complaining to me.
I think the students are going to be surprised by the rubric I present to them on the powerpoint presentation requirement. Some have done powerpoint presentations for history, and the teachers pretty much allow "whatever." The rubric I'm using I received from the librarian, who got it off the Internet. I have reworked it to my own liking, which was a tedious task.
I am looking forward to seeing what the students come up with; hopefully they will have fun and learn in the process. If all works out, I plan to keep this project in my curriculum.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Authentic Instruction

This week Dr. Meier required us to write a 600-word essay on our readings, so I will focus on one aspect of the readings I have not already discussed.

One of our readings was Kemker, Barron, and Harmes' article about laptop computers in the elementary classroom with a focus on authentic instruction. This article resonated with me because it cited an article by Newmann and Wehlage (1993) that I have included in my literature review for my thesis. That article cites five standards for authentic instruction. In reviewing the list, I realized how much of this I incorporated into my own technology project. In reflecting a bit more, I also realized how much of what I researched for my thesis has actually made it into my curriculum this year. I find this the most exciting part of teaching. I enjoy pushing myself to being better than a mediocre teacher. It makes each day in the classroom exciting. I just do not see how some teachers can assign pages to read and questions to answer out of the textbook and sit at the desk looking busy. How boring! I know nothing terrible happens to these teachers, but personally I would feel like I was slacking and not earning my money.

Another part of this article reminded me of a study being conducted this school year at Salinas High. An English teacher is studying reading improvement in second language learners using SSR and Kindles. His control group is reading without the Kindles for SSR. The other group uses the Kindles. I do not think this is a formal action research project as we do here at CSUMB. It will be interesting to see what conclusions he comes to as to whether Kindles made a difference with students' reading.

On another note, the other day in collaboration, we were bemoaning the fact that we don't have LCD projectors in our classrooms. The Assistant Principal very curtly told us that we have gotten by without them for years and have still been able to teach. True, but I reminded her that colleges use them as standard equipment. Now I see why the statement is made that not much has changed in schools in the last one hundred years. Oh well, I just keep using my overhead and buying boxes of transparencies at $32.00 a pop. I'm doing my part to keep the economy going. :)